With the popularity of Pokemon now skyrocketing once again thanks to Pokemon GO, all of us 90's kids who pretended we were too old to play Pokemon throughout high school have finally stopped kidding ourselves and returned in droves to this source of childhood joy. New generations of kids are getting into the game as well, so when my mom said she needed an idea to excite her elementary school students, I jumped at the chance to make these Pokemon posters for her.
I made these paper Pokemon for my mom's elementary school music classroom. She was trying to think of a fun way to get kids excited about playing their recorders, and I suggested that she let the kids "capture" a new Pokemon for each recorder belt that they earned (For those of you unfamiliar with recorder belts/recorder karate, the students have to play progressively more difficult songs on the recorder in order to earn different colored "karate belts", from white belt all the way to black belt).
Whether you are a teacher looking to decorate your classroom or a Pokemon fan wanting to add a little spark to your room at home, these paper Pokemon are fun to make and add a pop of color to any wall!
The steps can be easily adapted to make characters from other franchises as well, so the only limit is your imagination!
Butcher paper (or other large paper to use for the character's base, cut to desired size)
Construction paper, various colors
Pencil + eraser
Optional but Highly Recommended Materials:
Computer + Projector
Step 1: Pick a Character
First, select which character you want to make. I ended up making 9 different Pokemon, so this tutorial will show snippets from each of them.
Search on Google Images for a good picture of the desired character. Keep in mind that the more colors and intricate patterns your character has, the longer it will take and the more patience it will require.
For example, Snorlax has smooth edges that are easier to cut out and fewer colors to deal with, whereas Charmander's tail flame requires a lot of patience to cut cleanly. But remember, the more complicated the character, the more excited you will be when it turns out awesome!
Once you have a picture that you like, open it in a new tab by itself and hook your computer up to a projector. I used the school's projector since my mom is a teacher, but you can purchase one fairly inexpensively if you don't want to freehand draw the Pokemon.
Optional twist for experts:
If you're confident in your artistic skills, you can definitely make these posters by free-handing them. However, tracing the images will take less time and is the more viable option for those of us who aren't blessed with drawing skills.
Step 2: Trace the Pokemon
Once your computer is hooked up to the projector, position it on a wall and move the projector closer or farther, depending on what size you want the final Pokemon to be.
Select a color of butcher paper that goes well with the Pokemon you chose to make, and cut the paper into a rectangle according to what size poster you want to make.
The butcher paper I decided to use is standard in public schools where I live (it is customarily used to cover bulletin boards), so you can use this paper if you're a teacher who has access to it. However, any large paper will work perfectly fine.
Hang the butcher paper on the wall and position it so that the projected image is in the center of the paper. Use magnets or sticky putty to affix the paper to the wall.
Use a pencil to trace the entire Pokemon onto the butcher paper. Make sure to trace ALL details, not just the Pokemon's outline. Anything that should be on the final Pokemon should be traced in pencil. Block the projection with your body occasionally to see how the picture is turning out and to check for spots that you forgot to trace.
IMPORTANT: If you are planning to laminate your Pokemon, make sure to measure the width of your laminator to determine the maximum size that your Pokemon can be. The school's laminator had a width of 2 feet, and so I marked lines on the dry erase board to make sure that each Pokemon I created was either less than 2 feet tall or less than 2 feet wide, so that it would fit through the machine if turned the proper direction. Smaller laminators mean smaller Pokemon, and so lamination is not strictly required, but it will greatly increase the longevity of your creation and help protect against tearing, color fading, and glue losing its stickiness.
Step 3: Trace the Details
Now that you've traced the whole Pokemon, keep the projector where it is and get ready to trace the layers of details.
Look at the original image of your Pokemon and determine which colors of construction paper you will need.
The base butcher paper will work as the main color (yellow for Pikachu, purple for Nidoran, etc.), and then all of the details that are different colors will be added as layers of construction paper.
For Nidoran, I picked a dark green for the inside of its ear, a dark purple for its spots, white for the teeth and claws, and then red, black, and white for its eyes. You can see the other pictures with Pikachu's and Togepi's details.
For each detail, cut a piece of the required color of construction paper that is appropriate for the size of the detail. Stick this paper up against the projection and trace the required detail in pencil. Repeat with the other details/colors, until every detail on the Pokemon has a corresponding piece of construction paper traced out.
Remember, some details, such as eyes, will require several layers of details. Like with the full Pokemon, make sure to trace ALL pieces of the detail, not just the outline, on every layer so that when you layer the pieces you will know exactly where each piece goes.
Double and triple check that you have traced all the details before you turn off the projection, because it will be extremely tricky to get it to the exact right size later on if you forgot to trace one of the colors. Each color on the drawing should have a corresponding piece of paper with all the instances of that color traced on it.
Step 4: Outline Your Drawings in Sharpie
First, outline the drawing that you made on the butcher paper in sharpie (you may go through several sharpies if you make multiple characters -- fair warning!).
I learned through the course of making nine Pokemon that while you can outline the entire drawing, it is not necessary to outline the areas that will be layered with additional details (and actually, outlining these parts in sharpie will make it trickier if your details don't align exactly with the base drawing).
So, rather than outlining every single line (as I did with Pikachu), try to outline only those parts of the base drawing that will be seen on the final product (areas that will not be layered with additional colors). This generally means that eyes and spots can stay in pencil, but outer edges and such should be outlined in sharpie. Use your best judgment, but realize that it will turn out okay either way!
After outlining the base drawing on the butcher paper, outline all of the details in sharpie as well.
Step 5: Cut Out the Details
After everything is outlined, begin cutting out the different details with scissors.
If you want the poster to look as close to the original picture as possible, make sure to leave the black sharpie edge on the cut outs, but do not leave any color on the outer edge of the sharpie (see the red Pikachu mouth for an example).
When you start layering the pieces, leftover bits of color outside the sharpie lines sometimes stick out rather obviously. I'm a major nitpicker, so I spent an inordinate amount of time on this step, but how precisely you want to cut the pieces is up to you!
Step 6: Place and Glue the Details
Once all of the details are cut out to your satisfaction, place them all on the base drawing to see how they align. If you're lucky (or really good at tracing carefully), they should all line up with the base drawing.
However, if some things aren't lining up properly, don't worry! If the part in question is still in pencil, just erase and fix the part of the base drawing that isn't working.
If you accidentally outlined the entire Pokemon and you have sharpie lines that aren't matching well, don't worry! I had this issue with Pikachu's tail. Simply make the sharpie lines a bit thicker in certain places to cover the gap. No one will be able to tell the difference when it's hung on the wall!
Use this as another opportunity to make sure that you have all of the layers and details that you're supposed to have, and make any missing parts before you continue.
If you have any messy pencil lines that bother you, simply run an eraser over them.
Once you're satisfied that you have all of the details and they're fitting nicely on the base drawing, you can begin gluing!
Use your glue stick to attach details to the base drawing, placing the bottom layers first and then building on top of them to create the final picture!
Step 7: Cut Out the Pokemon
You're on the home stretch!
Once you've glued down all the details, the Pokemon should look essentially identical to the original image, and you are ready to cut it out!
After giving the glue a few minutes to dry, cut the Pokemon out from the rest of the butcher paper. The more care and patience you use with this step, the more clean and polished the final product will look, so try not to rush it.
I found it easiest to cut off the large excess pieces of paper and then go around a second time to get the close, final cut.
Step 8: Laminate the Pokemon
This step is optional, but highly recommended if you want your poster to last a long time.
I didn't have confidence that the glue's stickiness would last, and since my mom wants these to hang in her classroom for at least a year, we decided to laminate all of them using the school's laminator.
When putting your poster through the laminator, it is useful to have another person to help you guide it and prevent wrinkles/tears. Make sure that if you have any complicated details (like flames, for example), that you put the largest part of the detail into the laminator first, so that the smaller bits will be pressed flat in the correct direction. So, if you're putting Charmander's tail flame into the laminator, the base of the tail should go first so that the small flame tips don't have the chance to get folded and wrinkled in the wrong direction.
In addition, make sure the laminator is fully pre-heated before you begin feeding the Pokemon into it, and test a small piece of construction paper before you put your creation through, just to make sure the laminator is ready and working properly. My biggest fear was that the character would get caught and torn in the laminator after all that work, but as long as you are patient and careful, you should be fine.
After your characters are laminated, cut them out from the excess lamination, leaving a small border to prevent the lamination from peeling apart with age.
Step 9: Hang Your Posters and Enjoy the View!
Use sticky putty (which works better than masking tape for school walls) to hang your laminated characters wherever you have chosen to display them!
We hung each character above a colored bulletin board in the music hallway, so that the kids could see which Pokemon they've captured as they walk by in the morning. Once the student earns a particular belt, they will be able to put a Pokeball with their name on it onto the corresponding Pokemon's bulletin board.
Gotta catch 'em all! :)
While most of the images I used to trace these posters are original artwork from Nintendo/The Pokemon Company, a few are fan re-creations, and so below are the sources that these images came from: