Introduction: 3D Paper Signs

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.

Giving a flat design some depth by pushing it into the third dimension makes the whole thing come to life even more. It doesn't even have to be a huge change to create some nice shadows for a feeling of depth. This quick piece was made with some colorful card stock and double-sided foam tape. You can get more detailed or go for a deeper effect if you want, too.

OK, here's how to do it.

Step 1: Font and Software

First off, you'll need to find a font that works well for this effect. I'm using the Thirsty Script font since has a nice flow to it and the letters are all connected. This makes placing the layers much easier.

The other thing you'll need is some software that can handle vector files. I'm using Illustrator CS5 for this. Any version of it will work. This can also be done in Inkscape if you want a free option.

Step 2: Write and Outline

In Illustrator, write out the text you want to print out. Once that's done, right-click and select "Create Outline" to get the editable lines.

Step 3: Offset Path

Now that you have the outlines, we're going to create the next couple of lines for the backing pieces of paper. So...

Select Object > Path > Offset Path...

I used a .5 inch offset and Round joints.

Repeat the process with a 1 inch offset for the second set.

Step 4: Change to Light Gray

Change the shapes to have a transparent fill and a very light gray for the lines. This way one file can be used for all three layers. The lines are used both for cutting and for lining up the layer that goes on top. The lighter the gray the less it will show up if you cut slightly outside the lines.

Step 5: Print and Cut

Print the design out onto three colored pieces of card stock. Using scissors or an X-Acto blade (my preference), cut out the three layers.

Step 6: Add Foam Tape

Cut off a lot of skinny pieces of double-sided foam tape and apply them inside the guide lines for each layer.

Step 7: Layer It Up!

Carefully move the pieces into place and only press down when you're absolutely sure that the layers line up.

That's it! You can stick with this effect of make it more dramatic with multiple layers of foam tape.