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Collage Masks

You will create a unique mask using collage techniques.

Grade Level



Collage, Construction

Theme/Big Idea

Artists can cut, layer and arrange shapes to create special masks.

Essential Question

How can an artist’s create masks with paper?

  • Slide Deck

Materials and Tools

  • Any type of paper or cardboard: construction paper, copy paper, craft paper, envelopes, cereal boxes, paper plates, or cardstock.​
  • Scissors​
  • Glue, glue stick, or tape​
  • Pencil


We will make a mask created by cutting, arranging and layering paper shapes.

You will learn how to:

  • Draw with scissors​
  • Cut different shapes out of paper​
  • Combine and layer simple shapes into more complex forms​
  • Organize space using symmetry​



What is a mask?​

A mask is a covering for part or all of your face. Masks are found in nearly every culture around the world. Masks have many different functions:​

Protection: Swimming goggles or masks for health safety.​

Disguise: Halloween masks that give you a different appearance or to hide your identity.​

Celebration and Ceremony: Masks that celebrate cultural heritage, traditions, or rituals.​

Transformation: Actors wear masks to become a character.​

How do you hold the scissors when you cut?​

If your scissors have one small and one big loop, then your thumb goes in the small loop and as many fingers as are comfortable go in the big loop. Put your fingers part way into the loop, not all the way in, but just up to your first or second joint (the place where your finger bends). You can experiment a bit to see what feels comfortable. While you cut, hold the scissors straight in front of you so you do not bend the paper.​

Cutting Lines with Scissors

You can draw different lines with your scissors just like you do with your pencil.​

Exercise: Cut 3 different lines from one end of the paper to the other. 

  • Can you cut a straight line?​
  • Can you cut a wavy line?​
  • Can you cut a zigzag line?​

How to Cut Basic Shapes

You can use lines to cut simple shapes. These shapes can be help you make your mask.​

1. Square: A square is a shape that has 4 equal sides and 4 corners. If you look at your paper, the corner already has two straight sides. To cut a square, all you have to do is cut two more sides.​

2. Triangle: A triangle has three sides and three corners. If you look at your paper, you just have to cut off one corner to get a triangle.​

3. Circle: A circle is like a square without the corners or straight edges. Cut a square and then round the corners to get a circle. While you cut, stay close to the edges.​

Cutting Complex Shapes

Eye Shape: The shape of an aye is like an oval with pointy ends. Cut an arc like the letter D. Then turn around the paper and cut an arc on the other side.​

Spiral: To cut a spiral, start by cutting a circle, then  move inwards and continue going around until you hit the center.​

Heart: The heart is a symmetrical shape — this means it has two sides that mirror each other, like a butterfly. To create a symmetrical shape you can fold a piece of paper and then cut half of the shape. Half of a heart is the shape of a teardrop.

Shape Chart

Here are some basic shapes that could be useful to make your mask.​

Exercise: Cut different shapes and create your own shape chart. Cut the shapes and glue them on a piece of paper. If you can, use a different color paper to paste your shapes on so they are easier to see. You can invent and cut your own shapes as well as the ones on this chart. 

Inventing New Shapes

You can create your own shapes by cutting with different kinds of lines. ​

Create shapes using straight, curved, or zigzag lines. ​

Cut shapes from paper you’ve folded in half so the forms become symmetrical. Make sure you hold the folded side while you cut the open side.​

Step 1

Look for a big, thick piece of paper or cardboard for the base of the mask. This could be a paper plate, the side of a cereal box, some card stock, or a large thick envelope.​

To create the general form of the mask, you can fold your chosen paper and cut the open side to create a symmetrical shape. Masks often resemble faces, and a face is a symmetrical shape.

Step 2

Cut different shapes from paper for the eyes, nose and mouth. Notice what kind of shape a nose (triangle) or eye (circle, oval or almond) looks like. ​

If you need multiple pieces that have the same shape (eyes, ears), you can fold the paper so to cut two shapes at the same time.​

Cut the shapes first and try out different shapes and placements to see what you like best before you glue.​

When you have everything arranged just how you want it, attach by adding glue to the smaller shapes, not the larger mask form. This makes it easier to control the glue.​

Step 3

If you are finished with the basic shapes for the mask features, you can add details. These could be hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, beards, mustaches, horns, or any other shapes you want for decoration. ​

If you finish your mask and want to wear it, you can have an adult help make two holes for your eyes and attach a string to it.​


What was your favorite shape to cut?​

Which shapes was easiest to make? Which was difficult? ​

Do you prefer to create an image by drawing, or cutting and gluing? Why?​

You learned about the different functions of masks. What kind of mask is yours?


Collage Masks
Written by Tim Thyzel, Artist Instructor​

Studio in a School NYC Team
Andrea Burgay, Associate Director
Julie Applebaum, Senior Director
Hasna Muhammad, Ed.D., Chair, Board of Directors, Studio in a School Association
Alison Scott-Williams, President, Studio in a School NYC

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