Introduction: Celebrity Crush Cardboard Cutout

About: A mechanical engineer by training, but often seek out fun projects at home to satisfy my need to create stuff. I love halloween, cardboard projects, and attempting to teach my kids that making stuff is much mo…

Every year I strive to make my wife something unique and special for her birthday.  As with anything homemade, sometimes these gifts turn out like I expect, and other times... not so much.  This years gift, however, I just knew was going to be awesome before I even started....thanks to Adam Levine.

For those who don't know, Adam Levine is the frontman of Maroon Five. And my wife just so happens to have a huge crush on him. I know this because she brings it up every time we hear one of his songs or watch an episode of 'The Voice'. My idea for this year was to make a full size cardboard cutout of Mr. Levine and surprise her with it on the morning of her Birthday. 

Upon searching Instructables, I came upon a good one by FreakcitySF:How to make a cardboard stand up of someone!  However, my goal was to do this as inexpensively as I could, which ruled out making the print at Kinko's. Read on for instructions on how to make your very own Celebrity Crush Cutout for only about $5!

Materials you will need:
* Cardboard sheets
* Color printer
* Scotch tape
* 3M spray adhesive
* Liquid nails

Tools you will need:
* Utility knife
* Exacto knife
* Straight edge
* Photoshop

Step 1: Find and Photoshop Your Celebrity

When picking your celebrity, the possibilities are endless. We're having so much fun with Adam that we've already started working on Buddy the Elf. I'm hoping my wife reads this so she can make Katy Perry for my birthday!

After deciding on who, you then need to find the right picture of said celebrity. There are a few key requirements:

* The image must capture the full body of the person (their arm can't be obscured, their feet can't be cut off, etc)
* The person must be facing the camera (they can't be standing at an angle or your cutout won't look right)
* The image must be high resolution (it must be high enough to not pixelize when enlarged to full size)

This sounds simple enough, but it takes more time than you think to find an image that meets these requirements. I searched images using Google and qualified my search to 'Large' images.

Once you've found one, open it up in Photoshop. Then open a new file that has the approximate dimensions that you want for your cutout. I wanted mine to be 6 feet tall and about 2.5 feet wide. Then select the portion of the image that you want use - being sure to leave a small border that can be cut away later - and copy it into this new larger file. Stretch the image to match your desired height.

At this point I filled the area between his lets with a uniform gray color. This was done because I didn't plan to remove this portion later - and I didn't want the original backdrop to be distracting.

When finished, save the file as a .pdf.

Step 2: Printing and Assembling Your Image

The easiest thing to do at this point would be to take your enlarged image to Kinkos or Office Max and print it on a single sheet of paper. However, this would cost way more than I wanted to spend. As a result, I printed mine on tiled sheets using a color printer. 

Be sure to print it with no scaling (100% size). To do this, select: Page Scaling>Tile Large Pages. You will have to trim the resulting prints (to remove the white border) and tape them together. The easiest way to trim the prints is with a sharp Exacto knife and a straight edge.

The trimmed tiles are then taped together on the back side with Scotch tape.

Step 3: Prepare Your Cardboard and Glue Your Image

Its difficult to find a uniform section of cardboard that is 6 feet tall. I needed to tape two pieces together, and then reinforce on the back side with a second layer of cardboard. The cardboard was glued to each other with Liquid Nails. The resulting 2-layer sandwich was adequately strong and self supporting.

The image is then attached the cardboard with 3M 77 Spray Adhesive. This gets a little tricky when done by a single person due to the size of the paper. I applied adhesive to the back side of the image- but only on the top half. I then secured this to the cardboard. By working with only one half at a time it is easier to get a wrinkle free application. 

With the top half done, repeat the process for the bottom half.  You are now ready for cutting.

Step 4: Trimming Your Image and Adding a Kickstand

You can now begin cutting out around the perimeter of the image using your utility knife. The most important consideration during this step is to ensure your cut-line along the bottom edge is perpendicular to the vertical centerline of the image. You don't want your cutout tilting to one side!

A 'kickstand' must now be added to allow your cutout to be self supporting. I cut a triangular piece of cardboard to approximately a third the height of the cutout. I then folded a flange off of this triangle and glued it to the back of the cutout.

Step 5: Embellish and Enjoy!

I wanted to add a little something to personalize this cardboard cutout for my wife. I did this in the way of personalized Maroon Five lyrics in a word bubble.  I created the word bubble in Powerpoint and printed it on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. This was glued to a piece of cardboard and cut out. I attached it to Adam using brass push-pins.

We have had so much more fun with this cardboard cutout than I ever would have thought. Our fun mainly comes from hiding him around the house and waiting for some to come around a corner and have their heart skip a beat as they momentarily think there is a stranger in the house.

I hope you find these instructions useful, and that you are inspiried to go out and create your own Celebrity Crush Cardboard Cutout!