Introduction: 48 Inch Wide Layered Paper Art Shadow Box

About: I'm an artist, designer and high school teacher. I teach digital media and graphic design. I love to create. I love working with wood, paper, clay, pen and ink, photography, videography and beyond. There is a…
How To Make A Shadow Box

My name is Andrew Jones, I am a paper artist, designer, and teacher, and my latest line of creations have me creating artwork from paper. This paper art shadow box was created using a hand-drawn concept, which was then pen-tooled using adobe illustrator, to create the required SVG files, that my Cricut Maker then used to cut the 140lb watercolor paper. This piece took me over 160 hours so far, with still more work to put into it, using my Cricut Maker that I got for my birthday, last year.

I built the wooden enclosure from scratch and designed the concept around my own passion for land, sea, and air. I grew up in the U.K. and had a fascination for castles and galleons. They always seem to proliferate my work.

This piece was truly rushed as it was for an art show, though my next piece like this will push the boundaries of paper art.

This piece is 48" Wide, 27" Tall and 10 -12 " Deep.

This entire how-to, in much more depth, is also available on my website:

or my Youtube channel:

Step 1: I Split My Design Using the Grid Theory

I split my world into 3, both vertically and horizontally. On every third, I placed an important focal point. On the left upper third grid line, I placed the sun. The right upper third was the end of the land, and the ocean starts. The top third, the sky begins and the lower third is the ocean. I tried to place elements that would balance the overall concept.

Each piece was scaled and placed in accordance with what looked good in comparison to everything else on the layout. I began with broad strokes, then built it up, incorporating texture, depth and keeping in mind how the shadows might work since the light was added.

Step 2: Forced Perspective Designing

I love adding forced perspective to my sculpt by adding visually appealing views of items like the Galleon, the Aircraft. Visually, I look at the photo and design it in layers that visually make sense. Building it up with paper, adding each layer as it makes sense to do so.

Step 3: Creating Ocean Life From Scratch

I have had an idea for an animatronic Jellyfish for a long time but in this piece, I created static beautifully detailed jellyfish to help boost the overall appearance of this paper art shadow box. It was these pieces that began my quest to be known as a paper artist. After creating my first jellyfish from scratch, I realized just how much could be created with this form of art, so I have been designing ever since, to make more and more complicated creations. When I complete my animatronic jellyfish, I'll place it here, as well as on my youtube channel :)

Step 4: Layers, Layers, Layers!

Depth and shadows are beautified and made more majestic by using layers upon layers. When the LED's are turned on, the shadows create incredible depth and richness of texture.

Making sure to grow or shrink the design as it progresses back into the set, gives the overall piece an organic feel, which helps in this design.

Step 5: Detail, Detail, Detail!

The more detail you can add, the better. To help your piece stand out and be more than just a children's paper art piece, attention to detail is key!

I will be making this piece again, from scratch to show the capacity of what I wished I made form the beginning. More attention to detail, better artistry, and craftsmanship.

Come check out my series on youtube, where I will be teaching everyone how to make these works of art and much much more. :)

Step 6: Lighting

Finally, I added a 16 feet strip of LED's that changed color. The LED's changed the way the shadow box looked with each color that was showing. LED's are perfect, as it is a low temperature, and is not a fire hazard in any way to the paper. The wood frame sat in front of the shadow box, illuminating from the front, the entire piece, and is quite stunning when lit up.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope this has inspired you to create your own paper works of art.


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