Design your own paper cut artwork: DIY

Finished paper cut

Like many crafters, I like to make gifts for my family and friends. I have gifted quite a few handmade items to my parents over the years so it is becoming a little more difficult to think of something new to make for them! Today is their wedding anniversary, and this year I decided to try a new skill by designing and making a paper cut artwork.

After a little reading up on hints and tips I decided to give it a try, fully expecting it would take me a few attempts to make anything successful, but it actually turned out well on my first try. Sometimes you just have to dive in and learn as you go!


You will need:

  • a sketch book, pencil and pens to draw your design;
  • tracing paper;
  • washi tape;
  • a large piece of coloured card to cut your design out from;
  • ruler;
  • craft knife (I used this one which has a swivel blade, handy for getting around corners and curves!);
  • plain paper or card to back your paper cut;
  • a frame for your finished masterpiece; and
  • lots of cups of tea!


1. The first step is to sketch out your idea. I wanted the design to be based around a quote and to have a nautical theme to match my parents’ living room. I grabbed some scrapbooks and keepsakes from seaside holidays we have shared for inspiration and came up with some motifs I thought I could include, trying to stick to fairly simple shapes as this was my first attempt. I started by marking out the layout for the quote and then drew in the lettering, thickening the down strokes to give the effect of calligraphy. I then added the other motifs and details around the edges. You need to make sure that every element of your design is joined up so that it will all hold together once you have cut it out, for example I had to add joining lines to the birds and the fish, and make sure the lettering was all joined up.


2. Once you are happy with your design trace over the outline to create a template, using washi tape to hold the tracing paper in place while you work.


3. Next you need to transfer your design onto the coloured card you will use to create the paper cut. You will be working from the back of the card when you start cutting to keep the front neat and tidy, so you will be transferring the template as a mirror image. Place the tracing paper face down on the card, tape it in place and then shade over all of the pencil lines on the reverse of the paper. This step reminded me of art projects when I was at school, and I was just as covered in lead by the end of it! Once you have shaded over all of the lines, you should have a very faint outline left on the card as you can just about see in the picture below.


4. Draw over the faint outline so that your template is clear and easy to follow. You should also draw in the edges with a ruler to create a border.


5. To avoid any mistakes, shade in the areas which will need to be cut out.


6. Now for the tricky part, to start cutting! I had a little practice on a spare piece of card first to get used to the knife. Start with the small sections and then gradually work your way through the larger sections. Use a ruler to guide your knife along any long straight edges, i.e. the borders. Take your time and only work in good light!


7. Take a moment to admire your finished piece!


8. To frame the paper cut I chose a frame with a mount and lined up the paper cut inside the mount, securing it with washi tape around the edges. I then took a large piece of plain paper and taped it over the top to create a backing. You could also use a contrast colour or even glitter card as a backing.


It was very difficult to take a good picture once the paper cut was framed (and if you look closely you can probably see my reflection in the image above!) but it gives you an idea of the finished look. And here it is all wrapped up…


I am pleased to report that Mum and Dad loved their gift, and I am looking forward to showing them this post so they can see how I created it!

Lucy x


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