How to decoupage on cardboard

Written by mia mcshane
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How to decoupage on cardboard
Découpage an image or a grouping. (blue-black butterfly e-collage image by Tamara Kulikova from

Découpage and collage are art forms that tend to give a high level of satisfaction to the artist. The découpage process provides a free-form avenue for the artist to put meaningful images and embellishments into an art piece. "Decoupage" refers to putting layer after layer of cut or torn paper images onto an object to create a work of art. Traditional découpage has many layers of varnish or glue applied in an effort to make the resulting art piece have a smooth, glasslike appearance. Cardboard can be used for découpage, and is a less expensive option than canvases or plaques.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cardboard
  • Images
  • Rubber cement
  • Embellishments
  • Foam brush
  • Découpage medium or white craft glue

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  1. 1

    Select a piece of cardboard.

    How to decoupage on cardboard
    Cardboard is a fine surface for découpage. (Cardboard abstract background texture image by Scott Latham from
  2. 2

    Cut out or tear images and pretty papers into shapes that please you.

    How to decoupage on cardboard
    Old magazines have many usable images. (different magazines studio isolated on white image by dinostock from
  3. 3

    Arrange images into a composition that works. Consider choosing a colour combination that you like, that will coordinate with a room in your home, or that is monochromatic (varying shades of the same colour, such as many shades of purple).

    How to decoupage on cardboard
    A monochromatic colour theme. (Old fashioned in memorian card collage image by Jean Paul Beumer from
  4. 4

    Paste images to the cardboard with rubber cement in the prearranged composition. Cover any parts of the cardboard that are still showing with pieces of paper or images. Overlap images and papers to create interest.

    How to decoupage on cardboard
    Overlapping images creates interest. (Old fashioned French communion cards collage image by Jean Paul Beumer from
  5. 5

    Embellish the composition with collected objects until you are satisfied with the results. Generally, flat objects such as lace, fabric or dried flower petals are easier to work with than objects with more dimension.

    How to decoupage on cardboard
    Lace can add texture to your design. (laces image by Anna Chelnokova from
  6. 6

    Brush over your composition with a découpage medium. A découpage medium closely resembles white glue, and can be purchased at crafts stores. White craft glue works as a découpage medium, and can be made by mixing 1 cup glue with 1/3 cup water. Both types will brush on white, and turn clear when dry.

  7. 7

    Let dry for 30 minutes. Add as many coats as you desire, letting the art piece dry between coats.

Tips and warnings

  • Images can be found anywhere: magazines, old greeting cards, fortunes from fortune cookies, movie tickets, candy wrappers, flyers, postcards, old books or vintage advertisements.
  • Cutting creates a hard edge, and tearing creates a soft edge. You can play with both methods.
  • While working on your composition, you can be simple, or more complex. Work the images until the design resonates with you.
  • Add interest, texture, and dimension with embellishments such as unique threads, wire, dried flower petals, lace or fabric.
  • Continue to add more layers of découpage medium until you are satisfied with the finish.

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