Paper Embossing




Introduction: Paper Embossing

This is a very easy technique that everybody can use at home with very simple tools, you can use it for your greeting cards!

Step 1: Tools

You need:
  • Exacto knife;
  • Stylus with round point or anything with a round point (actually my knife becomes a stylus chaging its point);
  • Cutting mat (optional, you can use an old newspaper);
  • Light table (optional, you can use a window).
Super easy to find tools!

Step 2: Material

You need:
  • Paper;
  • Cardboard paper;
  • Tape or glue.

Step 3: Design the Image

If you are an artist you could draw your design by hand on a piece of paper, if you are not you can use the computer.
I decided to try with a simple word "Friend" and the beautiful font Zapfino.

Since the Zapfino has many variants for its glyphs I exploited this feature using different variants of the letters. A software that I have that can show variants is XeTeX, that is free and open-source. Using the fontspec package of XeTeX I created an image with all the variants of the glyphs in the word "Friend," then I chose the best combination, for my taste.

I then modified a little bit the design with Inkscape, that is free and open-source, to avoid enclosed areas. Enclosed areas in the design will be detached when the cardboard will be cut and that is a bit annoying for me. I also thickened the drawing to make the cutting easier.

Step 4: Cutting

I printed the design and sticked the piece of paper on the cardboard with the tape.

Holding the paper firmly on the cardboard with my hand, I started to cut along the boundary of the black regions. The hardest parts are the ones with the higher curvature, you may need to help yourself cutting also from behind. When cutting around a thin part you may break the sheet so hold it firmly with a finger.

Step 5: Embossing

Take the printed paper off the cardboard and reverse the cardboard. Put on the cardboard the new sheet of paper that you want to emboss. Now with the stylus you should trace on the paper along the edges of the cardboard, on the inside of the design. You should not press too much or you will tear the paper (especially on narrow parts), instead press a little and repeat a few times.

This procedure is really facilitated by a light table underneath the paper, but it is not mandatory you could use a window in a sunny day.

Step 6: Done!

With super easy to find tools you can create an expensive looking effect on your letters, greeting cards or even business cards!

Happy embossing

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    5 years ago

    Do you always need a cut
    out stencil of the text/image ? or could you use a print on a thin sheet of
    paper, lay it on top of the paper you want to emboss and then trace the lines?
    Or better even, hold the paper you want to emboss against a window and trace
    the lines of the image printed on the front of that page? I'm not sure if I'm
    expressing myself properly, but what I want to do is to emboss the decorative
    curl that is printed on my wedding invitations.


    6 years ago

    excellent! Gives me lots of ideas. I think if you were using good enough paper for the card, you could dampen it slightly ... I wonder if that would help?


    7 years ago on Step 5

    You are very generous with your education and creativity, thank you!! nat


    7 years ago on Introduction

    It was a really nice tutorial. What other alternative do I have for the stylus? Will a ear-cleaner with a soft cotton plugged on its tip work for this?

    Any other precautions?


    7 years ago

    nicely done


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, my utility knife has one of those stylus thingies now I know what to do with it!

    The end result looks great, and so easy to do. I wonder, would it work do to more "layers?" I don't know whether I can express what I mean properly, but imagine embossing a large square, then empossing some text inside the square.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I thought about that and I wanted to try but have not had the time to do it yet. I was actually thinking of making also the letters in two layers somehow. I will try and let you know!