Duct Tape Art




About: I studied Maths and Computing, worked in an Operation Research department, retrained as a civil engineer, worked on site for some major projects. I'm learning to be a structural engineer at the moment! I've ...

This wasn't too difficult, and the more detail you put in, the better the result.

Patient people will be good at this!

Dont forget to vote for me in the duct tape and cardboard contest! Thanks!

Date made: Feb 2013
Approx cost: £5
Approx Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy/Medium

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Step 1: Things You Need

1. Duct tape (I used white, silver and black)
2. A piece of cardboard
3. A knife
4. Computer/printer

Step 2: Find Picture

Find a picture that you like. Something with high contrast and big areas makes it easier.

I found a cool picture of John Cleese that I liked.

I guess I should give credit to the original image under fair usage. It came from the Guardian.co.uk website and is credited to: Cine Text/Allstar.

Step 3: Quantise Picture

Use a program that you are familiar with to turn the image in to the right number of colours.

There is normally a function called posterise. That is the function you want. This is the case on paint.net and photoshop. You might want to apply an average noise filter reduction first to smooth the image too. 

I actually used an iPad app to do this (see comments for details), but it can be done in pretty much any paint software. If you don't have any paint software paint.net is free and fairly easy to use. 

I chose 3 colours. Generally paint software lets you choose the limits if each colour. Try to get a good balance.

Print out at least 2 copies. 1 for cutting through, and 1 for reference when separating layers later. I printed 4 just in case I made a mistake.

Step 4: Lay Down the Colour Base

Get your piece of card and stick down strips of white duct tape. Start in the middle and work out so that you have even strips on either side and aren't left with a small slither one end.

Next use your knife to trim the edges.

Repeat this with your next colour, but lay the tape at 90 degrees to the last set. This will help you when you strip the separate layers later.

Step 5: Cut Picture

Stick your template to your cardboard. My cardboard was A4 and so was my picture, so I just lined it up and used some duct tape on either end to fix them together.

Then start cutting! Get your knife and follow the template.

You need to gauge how hard to press the knife. You need to press hard enough to get through the duct tape but not go through the card. That's probably the hardest part. You can always practice before hand.

You don't need to follow the lines exactly, but like I said before the more time and detail put in to it, the better the result (or so I think). If you look at the finished picture you can see the shadow on the left of his face I did with a smooth curve, on the right I followed a rougher line. Decide which you think is best, and go with that method!

Once your done, remove (what's left of) your template. This will leave you with a 1 colour picture with lots of cuts in it!

Note: A craft knife would have been much easier than the knife I used, so get the best knife you can!!

Step 6: Peel Off the Layers

This part can be tricky, just be patient!

Start peeling off the layers you don't want. Use the spare print out as your reference so that you know which bits to peel off.

I found pulling the duct tape off at a 45 degree angle was best, so as not to pull off the layer below at the same time.

Use your knife on its side to start any fiddly bits.

Remember not to peel off too many layers!

Keep your knife handy as there are bound to be bits which haven't cut quite right, just cut them as they go.

Best advice is to take your time!

Step 7: Enjoy

Now you have your finished picture you can put it in a frame, send it as a birthday card or if you thought about it before starting, you could do it on the front of a school book or something.

Cardboard and Duct Tape Contest

Second Prize in the
Cardboard and Duct Tape Contest

2 People Made This Project!


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42 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

I guess I should give credit to the original image under fair usage. It came from the Guardian.co.uk website and is credited to: Cine Text/Allstar.


6 years ago on Introduction

The app I used was called "poster me hd lite". The free/lite one won't let you save the image, but you can take a snapshot of the screen (press power and home together) and crop the part you want anyway!

This app will only let you have 2 or 3 colours. If you want more, you will have to use some computer software.


4 years ago on Introduction

I just saw this and I think it would be really neat to do this for my fiance, but I'm still not sure how to do that. Can you please help ??

1 reply

6 years ago

This instructable might help some people with the posterise computer step:


cupcake lover

6 years ago

If the contest would still be on, you would of got vote! Sooooo awesome


6 years ago on Step 7

you got my vote! this is really really neat!


6 years ago on Introduction

When we saw this we said, "What an Artist!" I've never seen this tecnique before. One commenter said it's not new, but who cares? It's new to me and I'm 53! Thanks for educating me. I love the arts. (Oh, wait. I'm 56, but the other rymes! Tee. Hee.)


6 years ago on Introduction


THIS IS SOOOOOOO COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I adore this artwork! I admire all the time and talent that you put into it, but I would never attempt it myself. Do you suppose there is any way that I could get a print like this? I am going to investigate on my own about using a copy shop to do so, but any tips you have would be great.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

It's really not as hard as it looks, I think this was about 2 hours work, maybe slightly more. Obviously the harder picture the longer the time.

I didn't study art at school (wasn't my sort of thing at the time), and I didn't do well in design class. But one thing I've realised now that I'm (a bit) older is that a) with enough time and patience you can do anything and b) if you fail and throw it away, who cares! It's worth a try.

Id really recommend you pick a simple picture and give it a go! The satisfaction is so much greater than buying one!

The other option is spray paints. Do exactly the same process but cut out 2 card stencils. One for black and one for grey. Spray the black one on a white canvas first, then the grey on top of that.

As for prints, I guess it depends if you are in the uk or America? But I would have thought any print shop should be able to turn it in to a black and white picture for you and print it on canvass.

There are lots of online places where you can order prints too. Photobox, hellocanvas. Tesco. Asda. There must be lots of others too.

If its specifically this picture (in black and white and grey) that you want, I will try and convert it to black and white and upload it somewhere.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

If you could convert it for me, that would be sooooo kind of you!! I am a fiber artist and would just not enjoy doing this. Other people have those skills, and I gladly give them the props and the dollars. Or pounds. ;-) Just let me know what you decide. Thanks so much!


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I have put some images here:


but I dont think they will be good enough for you to get printed - there is not enough pixels in the original picture, and my photoshop skills aren't good enough.

It might give you a starting point though, so I thought I'd send them anyway...

Anyone out there able to offer a hand, and improve these to print quality?


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

ok, one more...


just another little tweak - I have cleaned up the edges, but it really needs the resolution increased and then the edges smoothed by someone who knows what they are doing. I think it is still too pixelated to print at the moment.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

ive put another image in there:


that one is an edit of the photo of my duct tape picture instead of the original. thats probably my best attempt so far. Id suggest it still needs a little tweaking.


6 years ago on Introduction

Remarkable! I would not have believed this was duct tape unless I'd seen the step by step photos. Well done!