Have you ever wondered where to start when you see an amazing shadow box picture with layers of depth and design? Today's tutorial will help you to create your own one of a kind shadow box, the possibilities are endless.
Step 1: Sketching Your Draft Design
The first step to any project is your initial design, or your concept. A really quick draft of what you are thinking. I just quickly sketched a picture of what I may be looking for, something to start me off. It's super messy but it gives me an idea if I will even like the picture before I spend a lot of time cutting out something that I won't even like.
Step 2: Drawing Your Design
Once you have your idea, you need to determine the size of your shadow box. Mine is 8" x 10".
Now go ahead and draw the picture that will be your final design. It doesn't have to be perfect, you can see erased lines on mine but you need to have the main lines dark enough that you will see them for the tracing that you will be doing later. Once you have it drawn out you have to start to figure out each of your layers of the design and number them on your picture.
On my image I determined that the mountains would be the last layer and I split them up into layer 1 and 2. Those will be the first layers you will begin working on, you work from the back of the picture to the front. Next was the large pine trees for layer 3, and the camper with a pine tree is layer 4 and finally layer 5 is the grass. These are your basic layer pieces and you can add elements later to dress it up as you will see in mine at the end of the tutorial.
Step 3: Tracing Your Design
Once you have your design done, you need to start to trace each layer onto tracing paper. This step is a little tricky because you need to draw the elements that you do not see in your initial drawing. So for instance the first layer is the two mountains in the background that are number 1. All you can see from the drawing is the two peaks, but when you transfer the image onto the tracing paper you need to trace it so that the mountains are connected and have enough of the body below that we can stick it onto layer 2, like the image.
At the end of the tutorial I will have pdf's for you to download to make this picture. Once you have each large layer piece done you will have to trace all the extra details of the design on. For example the first mountain layer has the two large mountains which I decided with be gray but each mountain has a snowy capped mountain top, so that will be traced separately on a separate piece of tracing paper.
Step 4: Cutting Your Pieces
Now that all your traced elements are done it's time to start cutting the shapes out into the colors you choose. This is where the possibilities are endless. For my mountains I wanted two shades of grey with white snowy caps. Use a sharp knife and start to carefully cut your layers. You end up with lots of little pieces so my suggestion is to work on only one layer at a time, and glue the pieces to your layers as you go.
Step 5: Gluing the Extra Elements On
So I have cut the mountains out and the caps for them, I used Elmer's glue tape to attach the caps to the mountains. I prefer it to liquid glue because I find it does not warp the paper as it dries, but there are many options available. There are glue dots (they work very well for very tiny pieces), glue tapes, glue squares, tacky glue. etc., so use what works best for you.
On my snowy cap above I covered it well with glue tape and attached it to the mountain base, I off centred it a bit to make it look like a shadow.
Once you have layer 1 done work on layer two cutting the base and peaks and gluing them together.
Step 6: Connecting Layer 1 With Layer 2
To connect layer 1 with 2 I used foam spacers. These one's I purchased at Dollarama, they work great to give dimension to the piece. they have a foam center with glue on either side.
Glue your layers together and continue the steps for all layers. Your design will start to come together and as you add each layer of dimension it really starts to pop. As you work your way through your design don't be surprised if you change your colors a half dozen times like I did. A plan in your head doesn't always translate to your design. Initially I had brown mountains and a turquoise camper, but once I put the dark trees with it, I felt it was too dark. So don't be discouraged if you need to cut several pieces to find just the right color pallet.
Step 7: Layers Together
So the two mountains are spaced with foam spacers; the medium green pine trees are spaced between the mountain and the darker pine trees with the camper; and finally the grass is in the front.
Once I put my layers together in my picture I felt like the dark green grass didn't pop enough so I cut a second layer in a brighter green and I glued them together with the glue tape not a spacer and I curled the blades of grass in different directions to make it feel like it had movement.
Step 8: Adding the Extras
So you now have all your layers together but it's still a little blah, get creative and add extra elements to give your picture character. I added a laundry line and a flag line, it's your chance to make your shadow box your own.
Step 9: How to Make a Flag Line
To make the flag line, I cut tiny triangle shapes and glued them with tacky glue to a piece of string. I used the same process for the laundry line.
Step 10: Final Steps
So you have added all your extra elements, and have the picture where you like it. The final stage is the shadow box. You may have a purchased one or you could make one out of cardboard and paint it the way you like. For my project I made a simple four sided wood box cut to the size I needed and added a backing out of thin wood. I painted a sky in the background and a darker shade on the outside frame that would compliment the picture. Glue the picture into the box and you're finished.
Congratulations, you have just made your first shadow box picture, now get going and make a design that is all your own!