Customized Paper Cut Portrait




About: I love creating. I love ART in all its forms. I am a daughter of the 50s, born in 1992. I had the pleasure to be a Featured Author on this fabulous site, and you can read my interview here: https://www.ins...

Are you looking for a unique gift that will impress everyone? Well, then take a look at this idea!

I have recently opened a new Etsy shop to sell my silhouette shadow boxes, like the Christmas shadow box I made a while ago, so I'm a lot into paper cutting lately. The more I designed new sceneries, the more I thought that it would have been nice to do something similar with a customized photo, especially a portrait. So why not trying with my own pictures?

Here is the result!

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Step 1: Supplies

  • White paper or card stock
  • Red card stock
  • X-acto knife or cutting machine (I have a Silhouette Cameo)
  • Cutter
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • A photo editor

Step 2: Edit Your Photo

Choose a photo you like and open it in a photo editor. I'm going to explain you how to edit it using Photoshop.

Click on Layer > New adjustment layer > Threshold > OK
A new window will open: drag the slider to adjust the amount of black and white you want in your picture.
When you are done, select both layers then right click on one of them and select Convert to Smart Object.

Now click on Filters > Filter Gallery...
A new window with all of the filters will appear: click on the Palette Knife one in the Artistic folder. Adjust the settings on the right side and when you are satisfied with the result click OK.

Right click on the layer and select Rasterize Layer.

Step 3: Customize Your Photo

Now that you have a silhouette, use a white brush to erase all of the black spots around the picture that you don't want. You can also "correct" the image using a black brush.

Remember: all of the black parts of the image must be connected to each other! In case you leave some separate parts from the rest of the image, those parts will be cut out.
As you can see, I had to join the upper part of the hat to the one below using a black brush.

Trace a black frame around the whole image selecting the whole photo and clicking on Stroke... in the Edit menu. You can make it as thick as you want, but I recommend it to be thick enough to hold together the whole image and look good on it.

Now you can customize your image if you want! I cropped it a little and added a "You & Me" text.

When you are done and satisfied with the result, save your picture.

Step 4: Prepare Your Photo for the Cut

In case you are going to cut this picture by hand, you just have to print it on paper and transfer it on your red card stock like I did on step 2 here.

I love hand cutting, but thanks to a previous contest here I won a Silhouette Cameo so I decided to use it for this project. In case you have one too, open your file on Silhouette Studio.

Go to the Design Page Settings Window to choose the size of your page and the cutting mat you want to use. Open the Trace Window, click on Select Trace Area and select the whole image.
Adjust the Value moving the slider to the right until the whole picture turns yellow. Now click on Trace.

Select the original image and delete it so you are left with the outline only. Go to the Rotate Window if you need to rotate your image like I did and move it wherever you want your image to be.

It's time to cut it now! Go to the Cut Settings, select your image and click on Cut Edge. Then select the Material Type (Tool 1) you're going to use. I used a quite thick card stock so I chose "Textured Cardstock". Once you click on it, a new menu will open with the blade settings. I left the speed at 4, changed the blade type into Automatic Blade (choose the blade you have) and adjusted the thickness to 33.

Step 5: Cut It!

Attach your red card stock to the cutting mat and load it.

Click on Send to Silhouette and let it cut your image! When it's done, carefully remove it from the mat and separate the pieces that are not joined to the rest of the image.

If you don't have a machine, simply cut it by hand using an x-acto knife. Follow the outline of your image and try to be as accurate and careful as possible.

Step 6: Create the Frame

It's time to build a frame to keep the image up. What's better than cardboard to do this? ;D

Cut 4 strips of cardboard as long as the sides of your image and as thick as you like. I made mine 1,7 cm thick (0,6''). Make sure they are thick enough to be able to stand still! Your frame will end up being like a thin box.

Measure your cardboard's thickness on one end of each strip and trace a line. Carefully use a cutter to cut out that piece but make sure to leave the lowest layer of the cardboard intact.

One side of my strips was blue so I decided to cover them with white paper. This is an optional step, you could also paint them white instead or leave them the way they are, but remember that the inside will be visible.

Apply some glue on the cardboard layer at the end of the strip and attach another strip on it, perpendicularly. Do this with all of the 4 strips until you obtain a rectangle. This rectangle will be as big as your image.
This is a simple trick to hide the ugly cardboard sides of the box.

Step 7: Make the Back

Cut a cardboard rectangle as big as the image and trace the thickness size of the cardboard all around the sides of the cardboard piece (just like you did in the previous step). Cut along the lines leaving the lowest layer of the cardboard intact.

Glue a white sheet of paper or card stock on both sides of the cardboard piece to perfectly cover them.

Finally glue the frame on the cardboard piece. This piece will fit into the frame thanks to the cuts you made at the beginning. If it doesn't, it means that the cuts aren't accurate enough and you must adjust them accordingly.

Step 8: Attach the Image...

Glue the frame to the cardboard frame/box.

Cut 4 white card stock strips as long and as thick as the sides of the frame and glue them all around. The reason why I did this is that I didn't want to leave the cardboard look. If you prefer, you can paint the sides instead of covering them.

Your framed portrait is done!

What do you think? Please vote for it in contests if you like it, thanks!

Cardboard Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Cardboard Contest 2017

Papercraft Contest 2017

Third Prize in the
Papercraft Contest 2017

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    12 Discussions

    Cris DIY

    2 years ago

    nice work! congrats on your prize in the contest! well deserved! :) your work inspired me to do some of my own :) thank you!

    1 reply