After being inspired by a series of photos I saw a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at cut-out art that can interact with the environment around you to make a photo that's totally unique to you and your area. And when you're done, you can turn the art into a more permanent feature by incorporating your favorite fabrics, patterns, or memorabilia to make a truly one-of-a-kind art piece. Even someone without strong drawing skills can easily make this project!
Step 1: What You Need
- White cardstock
- Masking/painter's tape
- X-acto knife
- Picture of your choice
- Felt-tipped pen
- Light box
- Picture frame with backing and glass (not pictured)
When choosing a picture to use, keep in mind the cut-out aspect. Whichever part of the picture you'd like to cut out should make a solid shape, and ideally you don't want it to be too complex and intricate, as you're going to be cutting all of it out by hand.
If you find your picture online, print it out and trim away the extra paper on the sides. Make sure you print it out at the size you'd like your final artwork to be. I printed a few copies to compare sizes to see which one I wanted to use.
As far as pens go, I personally love Zebra Disposable Brush Pens, but any felt-tipped pen will do.
If you don't have a light box, you can either use a window on a sunny day, or put a lamp beneath a glass table.
Step 2: Prepping
Use your masking tape to fix your picture in place on the light box (or glass window/glass table). Then position your card stock over top of it, making sure your image is centered and straight.
Step 3: Trace the Image
Trace the image from the photo onto your card stock. Even if you don't have the best drawing skills, you can make it look great if you take your time and follow the photo. A brush tip like on the pen I recommended will be a little more forgiving with small mistakes than your typical fineliner (Micron pens, fine-tip Sharpies, etc). Remember, you don't need to fill in any of the detail on the part you're going to be cutting out.
Once the tracing is done, feel free to go back and fill in any parts of the image you'd like to be solid black. In this case, I colored in the hair and shoes.
Step 4: Cut It Out
Using the X-acto knife, cut out the dress on the drawing. Make sure you stay on the inside of the black lines, as you'll want your image to have the outline there when you're done. You may need to use a heavy hand, sometimes the blade won't cut through card stock on the first pass if you're too light-handed, and going back over a spot multiple times can increase the chances of tears or rough edges.
After it's all cut out, you may need to go back with the marker and do some detailing. If there are any parts that ripped or you went over the line, just touch it up with the marker to give it all a clean solid outline.
Step 5: Photograph It
For taking photos outside, I used masking tape to temporarily adhere the image on top of a pane of glass taken from the picture frame to give it some rigidity while keeping it transparent. This will keep your image from being blown around by the wind while you're out in the world taking pictures.
Then just go out there and take photos! Find interesting shapes and colors in the environment around you to bring some color and life to the image. You can find some pretty patterns in unexpected places!
Step 6: Frame It
When you're done taking photographs, you can turn your picture into a permanent installation. Put something colorful or personal between the image and the backing of your picture frame, for a pattern that's totally unique to you. The examples I have here are...
- Art clipping from ARTNews Magazine
- Leaves or pressed flowers
- Birthday card
- Map from a video game insert
- Fabric scrap
- Comic book cover
But there are so many possibilities. Movie tickets, scrapbook paper, photos of favorite vacation spots, newspaper clippings, journal pages... Go nuts, and make it one of a kind!