Introduction: Construction Paper Cartoon Character Banner

One of my favorite materials in the world to work with is Construction Paper. read it correctly...Construction Paper!!!For a long time I thought that construction paper was a supply that you couldn't do much with past Elementary School Arts and Crafts, but I was completely wrong!

A few years ago, I was working as a Resident Advisor(RA) and was given the task of creating door decorations for my hallway. I attended an Art and Design College so there was a lot of pressure to make something REALLY REALLY COOL!!! All I had laying around my apartment in excess was construction paper so I ended up making a bunch of Super Mario Brothers Characters out it. (If you've clicked on the link to my ancient blog, please excuse the plethora of typos along with the embarrassing photos.)

In honor of my birthday at the end of January, I decided to use the same method that I previously used to make door decorations to make a Spongebob Themed Birthday Banner for myself. Please note that this banner was created using entirely CONSTRUCTION PAPER!!! Using the method that I am about to share with you in this Instructable, you should be able to use almost any cartoon character, replicate it using construction paper, and cut out letters to make a custom banner.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

The great thing about this project is that it often can be done using tools and materials found around your house! Here is what you will need:


Construction Paper in assorted colors

White Computer Paper

Yarn (or other string)



Micron Pen (substitute with any thin pen or marker with a soft tip)


Exacto Knife

Computer or Tablet

Cutting Mat (or other surface you're willing to cut on top of)

Step 2: Create a Template

Once you have decided what cartoon character you would like to make, find an image of it on the internet and paste it into any program where you can resize it such as Microsoft Word. Now scale your image to the exact size that you would like to make it. It's ok if your whole image will not fit on your computer screen as long as you can scroll to view the rest of it while still maintaining the scale.

To create a template, you will need to use your laptop or tablet like you would a light table. If you're using a tablet, you can set it flat on a table. If you are using a laptop, you will need to turn it so the screen is flat on the table. When you work like this, be really careful as to not damage the hinge of your laptop. Place a piece of white computer paper on top of your screen over your image and increase the brightness on your screen as much as possible. White computer is thin enough that you should be able to see your image very clearly underneath.

Using you micron pen, trace over the image paying very close attention to where there are changes in color. I find it easiest to work with cartoon characters that have black outlines in-between most of the blocks of color. When outlining, you want to think of these black outlines as their own blocks of color. Because this is the case, these black outlines will need a double border as pictured above. When you come to areas in your image that are colored in black (such as Spongebob's shoes in my case), don't outline these areas separately if they are touching a border.

If you come across areas that do not have a black outline, they do not need a double border. I like to think of these areas as color overlays because of the way that we will have to cut them out later in this Instructable. An example of a color overlay would be the greenish sponge holes on Sponebob.

If you are making multiples of the same cartoon character, make copies of the template that you just drew NOW because you are about to destroy it!

Step 3: Cut Out Your Base Shape

To begin building your cartoon character out of construction paper, you will need to create a base that all of your pieces of construction paper will be glued on top of. This base will also serve as your black outline between pieces since anywhere there is a black outline, your base piece will be left uncovered.

Grab a piece of black construction paper and place it on top of your cutting mat. Place your template on top of the construction paper and with an Exacto Knife, cut along the outside border. When you are done, you should be left with a solid piece of black paper in the shape of your character and your template should be intact besides from the outside of the paper that you just cut off.

Step 4: Cut Out Blocks of Color

Next you will want to begin cutting out the blocks of color. I consider a block of color anything surrounded by a black outline. To cut out a block of color, select a sheet of construction paper closest in color to the shape you are trying to cut out. Lay your sheet of construction paper on top of your cutting mat and under your template and cut out the shape. If there are shapes inside of your color block with a black outline, cut those out as well. For example, when coloring out the front of spongebob in yellow, I had to cut out the hole for his mouth and eyes.

If you have any shapes that would be considered a color overlay, do not cut out holes for them. When you cut out those shapes, they will be glued on top of the color block surround it. For example, the greenish holes in Spongebob will be glued directly on top of the yellow block of color.

Step 5: Gluing

To glue pieces, turn them upside down and apply a few dots of glue evenly spread out. Spread the glue around with your finger for a thinner, more even application, and to prevent warping. Next, turn your piece over and place it on top of the base piece in the appropriate location making sure to leave your black border anywhere where there is one in the original image of your cartoon character.

When gluing on your color overlay pieces, it helps to use your template to find the exact location where they should be glued. Continue this process for the rest of your pieces until you have glued on all of the pieces for your cartoon character!

Step 6: Repeat for Other Characters

Make more characters! For my banners, I like to create two cartoon characters per word (one for each end of the word), but you can make as many or as few as you would like!

Step 7: Letter Templates

To make letter templates, you can use any font that you already have on your computer, but it's a lot more fun if you find a themed font! Most TV shows, video games, ect. will have specific fonts associated with them already. Although it might be near to impossible to find the exact font used on the internet, a lot of times people will create 'knock off' versions of the fonts and post them on the internet. For example, when searching the internet for a Spongebob themed font, I came across the font Krabby Patty. Once you find a fond that you would like to use, download it an load it into Microsoft Word, Illustrator, or whatever text based program you would like to use.

Like we did for our cartoon character templates, you will want to type a letter that you would like to use and resize it to the exact scale you would like your construction paper letter to be. Using a sheet of white computer paper, you can now use your computer or tablet like a light table and trace the outline of the letter.

You can use this template as is, but to create some visual interest, draw an outline around your letter. The outline that I drew on mine were approximately 1/4" away from the original outline.

Step 8: Cut and Glue Your Letters

Decide what colors you would like your letter and the border around you letter to be. Grab a piece of construction paper in the color of the border of your letter and place your template on top. Cut out your letter following the outside line on your template.

Next, place your template on top of a piece of construction paper in the color that you want your letter to be and cut out your letter following the inside line on your template.

Glue your letter created from the inside line of your template on top of the letter created from the outside line of your template. Make sure to center everything appropriately so there is a visible border around your letter.

Step 9: Repeat for Other Letters

Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the rest of your letters. To shake things up again, you can play around with alternating colors every other letter or making different words in different colors. Be creative! The choices are up to you!

Step 10: Attach String

Turn your cartoon characters upside down, and tape a piece of yarn to the backs of them to attach them. Make sure that you leave a solid two feet or so of extra yarn on the ends to make sure you have enough yarn to hang our tape your banner when the time comes. I personally like to tape everything while the yarn is still attached to the spool and cut after every is taped to ensure that the yarn is long enough.

Step 11: Party Time!

Hang your banner and get ready to party! I know that I sure am excited to have this Spongebob banner for my upcoming birthday! Having made these before I can honestly say that people will be very impressed when they found out that you made a banner entirely out of construction paper. If you make one yourself, be sure to post pictures!

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