Alejandro Chavetta mixes shapes, imagery, textures and brushes to create distinctive montages. See how to collage on the go with Adobe Fresco.

Alejandro Chavetta is the Editor in Chief for Adobe Create magazine and is based in San Francisco. He obsessively collects clippings of analog and digital art to use in his mixed-media masterpieces.

Collect some clippings

Chavetta collected random bits of imagery, masked them to show the parts he found most interesting, and saved them to a Creative Cloud library that he could access from wherever he worked. He provided these graphics directly within the PSD he shared for this tutorial. The skull and textured image layers are visible, while the others are hidden to start.

Black and white picture collage layer shows skull with a snake on the front, drawing tools on the left, layers on the right.

Create the centerpiece

Next, Chavetta selected the skull layer and used the Lasso tool to draw around the perimeter. He used two fingers to rotate and scale the canvas to make drawing the selection easier. Once he closed the selection, he tapped Mask to hide the paper background so the skull appeared over the textured background layer below.

Left: skull is rotated and almost selected entirely by the Lasso tool; Right: mask hides original background.

Let the details show through

When Chavetta was ready to add to the collage, he tapped a hidden layer then the eye icon. He repeated this until all of the graphics were visible except the top layer. Then, he selected the top layer and added a new layer. Chavetta opened the Layer Properties and set the Blend Mode to Multiply so the collage images would show through whatever he painted on this layer.

Left: Image layers revealed to add images and symbols to the composition; Right: blend mode set to Multiply on top layer.

Brush on color

The variety of brushes available in Fresco allowed Chavetta to add color and detail to enhance his collage. He held down the Live Brushes tool, selected Watercolor, then Watercolor Wash Soft. He adjusted the color, brush size, and water flow as he painted different parts of the collage. He used the Eraser to clean up any areas of accidental overflow.

Live category of digital brushes shows Watercolor Wash Soft brush selected, collage has multiple colors applied.

Mix wet and dry

Chavetta mixed pencil and paint to provide commentary and depth to the piece. He held down the Pixel Brush tool, chose Sketching, then Pencil to add notations. He also experimented with other pixel wet brushes in the Painting category to create his mixed-media composition.

Left: Vector brush tool in upper left, pencil markings on the outside of the collage; Right: Additional: black and red paint.

Add additional textures

Photographic textures can give collages a touch of realistic grit. Chavetta included texture images in his PSD. He double-tapped the layer group, tapped the eye icon to make each one visible, and set each layer Blend Mode to Multiply to see how they affected the overall composition.

Nearly finished digital collage shows image icon on the left and two additional paper texture images on the right.

Make your own statement

Gather graphics, imagery, and textures that speak to you and assemble them into a collage in Adobe Fresco.

Finished picture collage displayed on urban brick wall.

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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