Anybody can do this. I chose a more complicated puppet, but making a snowman out of three paper circles or a four-legged creature might be a good place to start for those who feel intimidated.
NB: This is not an instructable on making a paper cutout animation, only making the puppet itself. I plan on making a step-by-step on animating--for cheap--at some point in the future.
You will need:
A pad of bristol board
Gaffer's tape (see note below)
Paint, markers or material of choice for coloring your puppet
Optional: pointed tools and pens
Step 1: Draw!
Step 2: Segment
Mark on your drawing with dotted lines where you will need to segment the puppet to add joints. Then draw each segment separately as a cutting guide.
Important: When you are drawing, account for some overlap. Note which segment of a joint you will want to lie underneath and which on top. It might help to mark which paper segment you want to lie underneath at each joint. Add 1/8" to 1/4" to the bottom-lying segment.
Step 3: Cut
Step 4: Poke a Hole in Your First Segment
Step 5: Thread the Segment
Step 6: Tape Thread to Reverse Side
Step 7: Tape Thread to Adjoining Segment
Here is the tricky part! Cut off another small piece of tape. Add this tape first to the thread itself (it helps to use an X-acto), right where the string comes out of the hole, and facing down like the first piece. If you place it too close to the hole, the joint will be stiff (difficult to position, get fluid movement). If you place it too far away, the joint could be too loose (easy to blow away). I usually place the tape about 1/16" to 1/8" away from the hole. Then secure the thread to the segment B. It might take a couple tries to see where on segment B the tape should be in order to get an appropriate look for your puppet.
Step 8: Trim the Thread
Step 9: Repeat This Process for Every Joint
Step 10: Color!
See notes below to see how I changed my design over the course of the project. You might find yourself doing this, too!