collage basics ~ choosing scale

Leslie McNeil Art and Collage Quilts, Blogs, Patterns, Tutorial 3 Comments

hi everyone!

today, i’m showing you examples of recent fabric choices i purchased  not only for the graphic quality they possess, or the size {scale} of each, but even mores because of the variety of scale within each fabric.

understanding scale is vital in collage. it helps soften, layer and adds important visual interest, as well as movement throughout any collage, art, or even a quilt.  in other words, it kind of helps the eye “move” from one area to another within the work of art.

below is a photo i took that shows scale.  the first, a very large “jumbo” sized flower, is about 8-9″ in scale.  i appreciate using {and love using them}  for a couple of reasons:  first, they are fabulous for filling up large spaces–for defining a specific area, such as a rump, hump, or shoulder sections of  animals in collage.  second, the large jumbo scale is also very nice to fill in the upper portions of a heart collage.  and third, it’s quite wonderful for layering, and i often cut them in half, which really adds to their versatility in collage.

you can see how this “jumbo” scale compares to the other, smaller scale flowers. the second row shows scale in flowers that are about 3-4″ in size. in general, these are the sizes that are most common in fabrics. and they are even more useful.  i’ve set up examples from the most common size {the second row} down to the next smaller range, {the third row}, and of the variety of the three sizes {three different scales}  within one piece of fabric.


below is the closeup of those three scales, in two different fabrics; one a gray and white flower, and the other a black and white ‘pom-pom’ styled flower. both from designer Karen Lewis; this line of fabrics is called “blueberry park.”  the daisy is called “scruffy daisy” {which it is, and i love the texture you get with that rounded,  yet pointed, and slightly uneven shape. the black and white found flower, is called “dalmatian in black.” it’s cute isn’t it! i like it especially for the fabulous graphic quality that i  L O V E  using in many of my creative projects.  notice the sizes within my cutting mat; these shapes range from 3″ or so, to about .75″ in scale.

next to them are much smaller scale shapes; not necessarily flowers, but fun accents. cut them creatively, in small groups and unexpected curvy lines.

{don’t underestimate them!}

oftentimes, students overlook those tiny shapes, circles or whimsical motifs because they are so little.  but cut them apart, and layer them… and they will add sparkle, and visual interest without being ‘over the top’ like a larger flower–yet produce subtle color and texture that can really help unite a collage with a certain color, or add dimension, layered around larger flower shapes.  that’s a win-win in my book.  cut them in a creative, curvy line, small groups.  then start auditioning them in places where the collage may look a little flat.  instant sparkle!


i loved the karen lewis fabrics so much, i purchased them in several color ways!  fabulous, aren’t they? you get design punch, color, and lovely graphic qualities, as well as a variety of shape and scale.  love ’em for collage.IMG_5737

i’ve had a few requests from some of you, and also from my students–about the fabric that was the background in my latest pillow creations from my last post.  it is called “Julia’s Notes” by Peggy Brown for Newcastle fabrics.  i wish i could say i found it recently, but i’m afraid it’s probably a few years old, and i do not recall where i purchased it from.


and again, here’s the pillow that showcased that “Julia’s Notes” fabric.  Also notice that in both upper left and right corners of my pillow, i used those ‘jumbo’ scale flowers to begin, and layered around, on top, and underneath them. notice too, there is lots of variety of scale in this collage. can you see the tiny, delicate pink flowers tucked within this heart pillow? they are only like 1/2″ in diameter… but you can use more of them, and unite the color scheme, but they don’t overpower it… they just enhance it!IMG_5731

 so there you have a little bit of info about how i use scale in my collages.  if you found this helpful, please let me know in the comment section, and i’ll also answer any questions i can in reply to yours!  i hope it helped!

and of course, i’ll cover this in more detail in all my classes, as well as in an online class…

someday soon!

bottom line: choose not only a good variety of scale, but also be sure to include a variety of interesting lines and shapes, as well as color, and watch how they come together to create  definite pizazz and punch to your collage projects.



Leslie McNeil Signature

Comments 3

  1. Thank you for the information on collage….I am very interested in making one soon. I look forward to an online class, or possibly an in person class!!!

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.