Introduction: How to Make a Shadowbox Christmas Scene

Picture of How to Make a Shadowbox Christmas Scene

For this project you will need: 

- A Shadow Box
- A Sharp X-Acto Knife
- A Surface to Cut On. (I used an old cutting board)
- Mounting Tape
- A Straight Edge
- Scissors
- Paper in Two Shades of Red, Leafy Green, Plain Green, Wood Colored, Cream Colored, Orange, Yellow, Tan, Black, Grey, and Gold
- Glue
- Paints (optional)  If you have all of the above listed colors in paper and were able to find textures and prints you think will go with the picture, then don't worry about the paint. If you do want to use paint, the paints I used were Red, White, Green, Orange, Black, Brown, Yellow, Grey, and Gold. If you plan on using gold or grey paint then don't worry about getting gold or grey paper and vise versa.


I got the idea of making a shadow box picture when I came across one made out of perler beads at a convention. I was extremely impressed with their ability to make the image 3 dimensional with the use of mounting tape. I don't own any perler beads, so I wondered if I decided to make my own 3D picture out of paper. This is instructable is a breakdown of how I did it.

I started by purchasing the shadow box, a pretty logical step since it would be pretty sad to make the whole picture and then be unable to find a frame that would fit it. I already owned the paper since I love scrapbook activities and tend to by small packs of different colors when they are on sale at Joann Fabrics. If you do not already have the paper, I recommend doing a quick sketch of the scene you would like to create and figuring out which colors you need for it. Then take the sketch and a list of the colors you need to a craft store near you that sells individual pieces of paper and get one or two of each of the colors you need. many of the individual pieces don't cost more than 50 cents each so it would be cheaper this way then buying the packs of colors I own.

The next thing I did, after purchasing the shadowbox, was decide on the picture I wanted to have in it. I did this the same way I make most of my important artistic decisions, and looked around the room I was in. I spotted the tree my sister decorated leaning against our home's red accent wall and decided that was the sort of Christmas-y feel I wanted. That, and a fireplace. Fireplaces have always screamed Christmas to me and I love the look of brick.

With my basic design in my head, I began.

Step 1:

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I removed the back of the shadow box and laid it to the side. This was when I noticed an extra layer of frame on the inside which would block my picture if I neglected to take it into account. You could remove the hindrance with your own picture if you'd like, but I decided I liked it and made a mental note to remember it in the end when I'm sticking everything together.

I then used the paper that came with the frame and, using it as the template, cut a square of red. This insured I made the red square which would be the background into the perfect size for the frame.

Then I took the paper that came with the frame once again and traced the sides, this time only and inch up one side and about double that on the other side. Then I used the paper as a straight edge in order to trace a line between the ends of the two lines I had already cut. I would recommend using a straight edge instead of the paper from here on out, since I only used the paper after this because I needed some sort of guide for making my lines straight. Also, you don't really need the tan piece I made in the fourth and fifth pictures and explained how to make at the beginning of this paragraph. It was intended to look like the floor of the room the scene is in, and it does well enough, but when I look back at the finished project  I noticed the bottom of the frame looks like a floor already. I didn't realize it until I was already done, but I figured I should let you know so you can take it into account when you make your own picture.

I then glued the floor piece on top of the wall piece and glued them both to the backing of the frame.

Step 2:

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So I started the fireplace by creating the area for behind the bricks. I didn't actually have gray paper so I just painted a paper grey and let it dry. then I cut it into a rectangular shape and took a smaller rectangular shape out of it's middle. This created the shape for the fireplace. 

Then I wanted a black piece I could have behind the fireplace to indicate the inside of it. I did this by putting the whole of the fireplace against a black piece of paper and cutting a square a bit bigger than the hole so it would easily fit behind the fireplace and you couldn't see where the black ended by looking at the fireplace at different angles. I glued the black piece onto the background where I intended to put the fireplace, keeping in mind the part of the frame that would cut off the picture.

Step 3:

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After that I made fire for the fireplace. i did this by making five squiggly fire lines out of orange and four out of yellow, keeping in mind that the fire can't be bigger than the hole of the fireplace since that's what it needs to be seen through. I then arranged the fire bits in two groupings and glued the groupings to themselves. I did not glue the groupings to each other as I decided I wanted a multidimensional fire and needed two sets of flame to accomplish this.

To put the fire together I took some mounting tape and cut it into a size which would be hidden under the top layer of fire but still provide the support to hold it above the ground. I placed the mounting tape on the top piece first, then attached the other end of it to the bottom. this gave the fire it's three dimensional look.

Step 4:

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I then decided to add the bricks onto the fireplace. This process proved to be pretty time consuming but I felt it was worth it since I really wanted to have the bricks be different shades and designs, seeing as real bricks tend to be like that. I took a red piece of paper and slapped white, red, and brown paint on it and then blended them a bit by sweeping my brush right to left on the paper for a few strokes. After the paint dried I cut the brick paper into strips and cut those strips into rectangles. Then I carefully glued my bricks onto the grey fireplace base, alternating the rows to give it the look of bricks that were laid.

Step 5:

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The next step was to make wood for the fire to be burning on. I didn't have any wood-colored paper so I pulled out my paints again. Sorry for the low quality of the picture for this one, I didn't realize how bad it was until I'd already finished the project. ;p   I took the tan colored paper I used for the floor in the background and spread some brown paint mixed with water over an area. this gave the paper a slightly more brown tone but gave me room to paint in details as well. (You could probably skip adding details to the sides of the logs since they're mostly going to get covered by the fire anyways, but you'll need to know how since I did it the same way for the base of the tree.)

To add the details to the sides I took the same brown paint I had just used but didn't mix in water this time. I started by making a knot in the tree, those are the diamond shaped bits. Then I pulled brown around them to show where the wood warped. After I had the general shape of the lines down, I added several more making sure to merge and seperat the lines at random but still following the warped shape around the knots. When I cut out the two pieces of wood from this I kept in mind the size of the fireplace hole, as they needed to be smaller than that.

For the ends of the wood I left the tan paper the same color and just drew little bits of circle around a dot I made on the paper. This implied the rings of the tree. I cut out the two circles that looked the best and glued them to the ends of the log sides I had just cut out.

Then I crisscrossed the logs, making sure I did it in a way where they fit well in the fireplace hole, and glued them together. Then I glued the logs into the black area that was the inside of the fireplace. (if you want to try mounting the logs in there with mounting tape, i think that would look pretty nice. I had already glued my logs in before I thought of it or I probably would have.)

Step 6:

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I really didn't take a lot of pictures for this step and I'm super sorry about that. I think I was getting excited I was just about done with the fireplace and just ran for it. I basically made two rectangles just a bit wider than the fireplace and about two brick rows thick. These became the mantel and first step of the fireplace. Then I made another rectangle the same width as the mantel but about a third of it's length. This was to be the edge of the mantel. Then I made a rectangle the same length as the first step but a bit wider to force perspective and make it seem closer, this was the second step. I made the third step a bit longer than the second one since it was to be the last step and, once again made it just the smallest bit wider as well.

Step 7:

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To put the fireplace together I started with the pieces that would be closest to me and worked my way back. I attached the mantel edge to the mantel with small bits of mounting tape and put the stairs together as well. When I attached the mantel to the fireplace itself I doubled up the tape to make it a bit farther out than the first step. The first picture is of the tape doubled up so you can see what I'm talking about.

Then I took the fire and put it on top of the logs using mounting tape.

To put the fireplace over the logs I needed more mounting tape than was in the fire, which was two pieces. Three would be a good choice but I put four together to be safe and put a quadrupled piece on all four corners of the fireplace. Then I carefully put the fireplace directly over the fire

Step 8:

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So I decided I didn't want a tree that was entirely one color, if you do than feel free not to follow this part.


I took a green piece of paper and splotched on some green paint with a brush. then I splotched on some yellow, then some more green, then some brown, a bit more yellow, and, you guessed it, more green. I put all of these layers of color on directly after each other so they weren't dry and were able to blend together pretty well.

And that's how I got the green for the tree

Step 9:

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To cut out the tree I took my X-Acto knife and cut out a basic tree shape. (If you find this may be difficult for you, you can look up a tree coloring page on the internet, print it, and trace it with your knife over the paper. There are a lot of designs to choose from.) After I cut out the basic shape, I cut small bits of the tree out to more define the branches and make it look like a christmas tree. this made the tree look a bit sparse though so I took the bits I had just cut out and glued them back onto the tree, just a bit more inwards than they originally were.

Still thinking the tree looked sparse, I cut a few more branches out of the paper the tree was taken from and laid them to the side to attach later.

Step 10:

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For the gold garland and star I didn't have gold paper so I took my gold paint and made some. I had actually blotched some bronze on the paper and then painted the gold over it but you can't tell at all in the finished product so you don't really need to. It looks pretty as solid gold anyways.

I cut the paper into strips and then used my X-Acto knife to round little bubbles into the strips. then I cut the strips so they were just bigger than the area of the tree they would be covering.

I then took the non-painted on parts of the green from the tree, the yellow from the gold, and my second shade of red. I cut five little circles out of each of the colors and made tiny baubles for the tree.

I also cut out a small star and an even smaller star to go inside it. I attached them together with mounting tape. (Again, if eyeing it proves hard, you can look up a picture to trace on the internet.)

Step 11:

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Time to put the tree together!   ;D

I started by attaching the extra branches to the tree. Since I was at the point where I was putting the tree together, and it is supposed to be three dimensional, I then bent the top branches outward and the back branches away. this gave the tree it'd full and dimensional look.

Then I added on the garlands. I didn't glue them in flat, but instead left a bit of room so the garland bubbled out to add a bit more dimension. when I glued on the ends of the garland I pushed them under the branches to give the illusion of the garland going all the way around the tree.

I then added the little baubles all around the tree with the smallest bit of mounting tape since I didn't want it to be seen around the baubles. I used them to cover where the front branches met with the rest of the tree, as well as to decorate the tree itself.

I also added the star to the tree with another bit of mounting tape.

This was when I realized I needed a trunk so I used the same method I did with making the logs for the fire and then attached the trunk with another piece of mounting tape.

Step 12:

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It wasn't until I was putting the tree next to the fireplace to figure out how much mounting tape I would need that I realized a tree standing in the middle of a room would look a bit weird so I made a tree stand out of the same red paper and threw it on with some mounting tape. Then it was time to attach the tree.

You'll notice the white background around the picture. this was the removable white rim inside the frame which I had mentioned earlier. Since I wanted to make sure everything would fit, I placed it on top of the background to help me make sure I didn't put the tree too far to the right.

To get the tree to the amount forward I wanted it, it needed to be farther forward than the fireplace and mantle, so at least seven layers of mounting tape forward. I think I went with eight to be safe again. I made three pieces of eight-layered mounting tape and placed them along the tree. then I put the tree on the background and it was attached to the rest of the picture.

Step 13:

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Looking at the picture so far I felt that it was a bit bare in the top left corner so I decided to hang a picture there. I took my paints and made a super tiny picture of things that represent Christmas time on the red paper I had used to make the ornaments and tree stand. Then I cut it out and used the black paper that had provided the inside of the fireplace to make a quick frame for it and mounted it all together with a layer of mounting tape for the frame and a layer of mounting tape for the picture.

Step 14:

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All that was left to do then was to put the entire picture in its frame and wrap it up for Christmas.


I hope you have fun making this, or something similar if you have a different picture in mind. This is only my second tutorial so if you could comment with ways I could improve them from now on, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, If you end up making a shadow box picture or something similar, you should show it to me! I love seeing things other people make and I'd like to see how helpful my tutorial was, or how I could become more helpful with it if it proved to be a bit confusing. Have a wonderful day! (^w^)/

Comments

jessyratfink (author)2014-01-09

This is so cute!

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