Saturday

Papercut Portraits - The Tutorial


Lately, I've had a few requests to put up a tutorial on the papercut portraits I've been doing, so here it is. Fair warning, it's longish at 10 minutes and 30 seconds because I was trying to be as thorough as possible. I hope you find it useful.

*Update: Hey, those of you without photoshop can posterize images online, for free here:Go to PicNik and upload a photo and then go to the effects tab and click on posterize. Good luck!

DudeCraft - Paper Cut Portrait Tutorial from Paul Overton on Vimeo.

97 comments:

  1. That is great and amazing. I have been working with changing photos into black and white line drawings for some cool t-shirt designs and this flows out of that as well - gives me great ideas for Christmas surprises...

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  2. joe - Hey, thanks a bunch! Be sure to send along some pictures if you end up making some of these!

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  3. Thanks for posting this. I've always wondered how those were made.

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  4. robopanda - My pleasure. I hope everybody gives this a try. Let me know if you have any questions.

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  5. dude! :)
    this was great! i hope you'll do more videos.

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  6. Diane - Thanks! I would do more videos, but it's a time eater, you know? Someday soon, when my blog is my only job, I'll crank out two a day. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Thanks so much for the clear, helpful tutorial! Steve (and all your other papercuts) looks awesome. I can't wait to try this out on all sorts of ridiculous photos :)

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  8. this is great.i'm an art teacher, and i'd love to devise a non-xacto blade version of this for my 6th grade students. (xacto blades are fun... but it takes a few years to remember to cut away from the hand!)

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  9. great work! I found your tutorial via craftzine. reminds me of portraits I used to do in illustrator. I love the chicken wire rack you have there in the beginning of the video. smart idea =)

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  10. Great video! Love the project too.

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  11. Great tutorial! I'm seeing lots of possibilities. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Awesome tutorial. I really want to try to apply this to silk screening shirts and stuff. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Dude, This is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Thanks for the great comments everybody! Glad you're digging it. If you try this, send me pictures!!!

    Emily - If you work on a larger scale, you can do this with scissors. I used to have my high school kids cut stencils with scissors. It worked fairly well as long as the piece was big enough and there weren't too many fiddly bits. Good luck/

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  15. Great step by step guide.Thanks for taking the time to do this.I'm so disappointed as I don't have photoshop to 'posterise' the pic.If ever get it,I'll have a go!

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  16. Total - No need for Photoshop, really. There are online tools that will produce this effect. Anyone know of a free one? Plus, back in the stone age, we used to just make a photocopy and then photocopy the photocopy, messing with the tone controls on the copier until we got the effect we wanted. Good luck!

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  17. Hey those of you without photoshop can posterize images online, for free here:Go to http://www.picnik.com and upload a photo and then go to the effects tab and click on posterize. Good luck!

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  18. I forgot to mention that I love this! thanks for the detailed tutorial, I'll be linking on Dabbled :)

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  19. Do you know of an online site that carries the paper that you are using? I tried to google.. maybe I am mis-spelling? LOVE the video - great job! I am going to try this over the holidays!

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  20. Stephanie - The paper is made by Canson. Really, you can use any acid-free paper out there. Just pick something you like! Thanks for the comment!

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  21. This is just awesome!!!
    Thank you Paul so much for the great tutorial, I'm going to gather all the materials and try this during holidays if I can wait that long! I just know I'll be so distracted with this when I have to do my main craft! ;D

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  22. Thanks Chie! Send pics if you do one of these!

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  23. Great video! Thank you for doing it. I've been in a 'cut paper arts mood' lately and loved stumbling upon this post (I'd done searches in Google for Mexican cut paper arts, etc. and couldn't find anything instructive).

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  24. Thanks Arlene! I hope you have fun with it!

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  25. Erwin - Thanks! That's how I like my projects. Simple, yet amazing. Wish they were all like that!:-)

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  26. Paul, thanks for posting the tutorial...it rocked my face clean off of my skull!

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  27. Thanks Gene! I hope you get your face back.

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  28. Wonderful tutorial! Very well done. :)

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  29. Well done, Paul! Very thorough, well lit, well presented. I'm thinking I need to make me a papercut portrait of Pee Wee Herman now...

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  30. Thanks Alice!

    Diane - You said the secret word. AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

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  31. Papercraft on portraits looks so fun. Gota find the time to try it. Thanks for sharing.

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  32. You should do more videos like this, you did a great job!

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  33. P.S.

    How about a post on what kind of art your arms are rocking? I for one am interested in what ink and artist such as you has decided to permanetly etch into your flesh. From one sleeved fellow to another.

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  34. Hey Paul

    Awesome Tutorial! My fingers are already raw from making a few of my own. You definitely helped add some personality to my new apartment!

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  35. saberstorm - Cool! Pictures,pictures,pictures! Where are the pictures, please?:-)

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  36. Wow, these are just amazing. Talk about a fantastic holiday gift... Thanks SO much for this. I'll be linking.

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  37. Thanks Rachel! If you or your readers end up doing any, send some pics along. Thanks for the comment!

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  38. Arlene, you might be able to find more with the search term "papel picado", which is the Spanish term for the cut paper decorations you see for Dia de Los Muertos and other Mexican holidays.

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  39. Oddharmonic - Thanks for jumping in and answering that one! I appreciate it.

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  40. Great tutorial. Linked to you. http://craftevangelist.blogspot.com/2009/12/paper-portraits.html

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  41. Okay, I just found your blog and after just ONE project, am a little bit in LOVE!!

    I've been STRESSING over what to make the men in my life for Christmas, and BOOM: here it is!

    THANKS SO MUCH!

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  42. Jessica - Great. I'm glad you like it! Please send pics of your finished products so I can post them!

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  43. Hey Paul! Nice tutorial - thanks for putting it out there with such concise instructions. You have all the qualities of a great instructor.

    Looks like your studio is about as cold as mine out here on the Tundra! Long underwear, scarves, hats, gloves & layers are all part of the morning ritual.

    Keep up the great work!

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  44. Thanks Ann! That means a lot. And, yes, the studio is freezing right now. It's so cold, I make videos just so I can turn on the halogen lights and warm up. Haha!

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  45. Paul- What did you use to adhere the very small pieces? Did you spray them with the same adjustable fixative? Use a glue stick?

    They seem light and delicate. Seems like spraying them could cause some to fly away or get stick on both sides if you are not careful. Your thoughts?
    Thanks.

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  46. Mills - You can hold onto them with tweezers and spray them or, if they're very small, you can spray a Q-Tip or pencil point and then rub a little adhesive on the piece. Hope that helps!

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  47. I've been doing something similar by tearing painted paper instead of cutting it. The rough white edges add a neat dimension. You should post this over at Instructables too!

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  48. Hey Paul - any chance you could give more tips on good posterization techniques? I've used Photoshop for over 10 years and I have been messing with my photos for HOURS and still can't seem to get it down to three colors and have it look decent at all! :)

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  49. Wendy,

    It's kind of tricky, isn't it? Some of it has to do with resolution. Sometimes a hi-res image turns out better, sometimes lo-res. I think elves are involved. Mostly though, I mess with the brightness/contrast and sometimes curves until I get something I like. But THE major secret is to go ahead and posterize it at 4 layers and then just treat the two mid-tones as one single layer. Does that make sense?

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  50. It does :) I think my problem is that I'm trying to do a set of them of my kids and my brother's kids. My kids all have dark hair, so theirs are turing out OK. But my brother's kids are blonder than blonde, so I don't have a lot of contrast to work with.

    The 4 layer tip is *really* helpful though. I'm totally doing it and will send you pics when done!

    thanks much! :)

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  51. Wendy - Sweet! Glad to be of help. Do send them along! Good luck!

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  52. This is absolutely incredible! Thanks for sharing it. Can't wait to try it, and when I do I'll definitely send some pics. Has anyone else sent some in yet?

    Here's a couple of links for help on posturizing the photos, the instructions are for making 3D Pumpkin portraits, but they use a similiar technique to get the black, white, and midtones seperated on the photos.

    http://photojojo.com/content/diy/photo-pattern-pumpkin-carving/

    http://notions.okuda.ca/2006/10/27/portrait-pumpkin-carving/

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  53. catsrul - Thanks for the comment and the links!

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  54. I just did the posterizing of my 8 nieces and nephews through Picnik.com. Here's what worked best for me:

    1. Upload the photo, crop it, fix the red eye.
    2. Click "Create" and choose "Black & White."
    3. Scroll down and choose "HDR-ish." This turns on some very high contrast.
    4. Scroll all the way to the bottom and choose "Posterize." Take it down to 4 colors, then fiddle with the Details up and down.
    5. To capture and print the picture, I just used Ctrl+PrtScn and pasted the pic into Paint (I'm using a PC). Then cropped it and printed it.

    One thing to be aware of is that the 3-color papercutting technique works best on older people with interesting facial texture. It's harder to work on little baby-faced babies because their flawless skin turns them into featureless pumpkin heads. I'd also recommend doing one person at a time -- not a group shot.

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  55. Lisa - Thanks for the settings. Super helpful!

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  56. I love it. And it's much more permanent than the pumpkins I normally carve this type of thing onto.

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  57. How Wonderful ~ I came from Cathe at JSIM.....
    Loved Your Tutorial, it's Like a Late Christmas Gift~ I have been wanting to do this as Applique, Now I think I can Do It !
    Thanks so much for Sharing
    Cheryl

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  58. Excellent tutorial Paul!! I am an avid stitcher but your craft facinates me too!!! I grew up in Durham and now live in Southern Pines NC.... Keep up the great work!~~ Faye
    carolinastitcher.blogspot.com

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  59. Thanks Faye and Cheryl! If you make some of these, send me pics!

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  60. Hi Paul, just came accross this searching for Steve McQueen craft projects to make for my mum and i think it is BRILLIANT! What a fantastic idea and such a great job!
    I would love to do something like this. Where can you get cutting tools like yours? at a hardware store?
    Thanks for the tutorial it was really clear and easy to understand, I really want to try and make this!
    Cheers,
    amy

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  61. Hi Anonymous. A hobby store should have all you need. Being that you used the word "mum", I'm betting you're English or Australian and don't have the same big craft stores we do in the states, right?

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  62. Hi Paul,
    Yeah we don't have the big stores in Australia, not too sure about the UK (where im living atm) but will definately search around! I've seen a few craft stores in the high street nearby.
    Nice catch with the 'mum' haha!
    cheers,
    Amy

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  63. Wow, this looks very interesting indeed! Thanks for making a tutorial, I will certainly make an attempt at this. :)

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  64. Dear Mr. Dude,
    I just finished my portrait and had a wonderful time making it! I am going to do a post about it on my blog and link to this post of yours...Hope you don't mind! I really enjoyed making mine!
    Thanks!

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  65. Two Dog Pond - I'd love to see it!

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  66. I just came across this blog and found it very interesting indeed.Thanks for sharing.

    http://www.silkscreennow.com/

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  67. Wow! I love this. great job Paul. I am looking forward to seeing more of your work! This would be a great project to tackle. SOunds like it takes a lot of patience!

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  68. Thanks Virginia! You should try it. It's not that hard. Thanks for the comment!

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  69. You gave very good instructions, Paul. Thanks. I was wondering though... have you ever done stencils on cloth this way? I have posterized as you showed and cut the parts, but the most difficult parts were those floating small black pieces. I was wondering if anyone has used the spray mount adhesive on cloth to keep a stencil in place while painting and if the adhesive will wash out later. How else would one deal with these tiny floaters where there is no place to bridge them to the same color? Please email me at http://www.acomawestcollage.com and thank you. Kate

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  70. dear paul
    thanx for the instructions, so it is very easy to make such a portrait. for many years i make papercut portraits but always in silhouette. now i found yuor tutorial and i love to make the portraits like yours. maybe you want t look at my site how i made the portraits at
    www.portretsnijden.come2me.nl

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  71. dear paul,
    I've been paper cutting with my scissors and x-acto for years and Wow - your portraits are amazing and a great new idea. I tried my first one with a picture of our dog (a cattle dog/aussie shepherd mix) for my husband. That one ended up a few more layers than your 3 but it turned out awesome! I am now trying with humans and having a little more trouble. I saw your post about messing with the posterizing and I will try that. But also, is there some pictures (or views) that work better than others? I tried a Johnny Depp for my granddaughter but it didn't turn out very well. If you have any suggestions for picking out a view/picture to cut, please pass it on. Thankx so much for sharing your knowledge!!!!

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  72. Diana - Pictures with a single light source, containing a lot of contrast between light and dark are the best! Good luck.

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  73. Really nice work! Would you mind if I shared this video with my 2D Design class? I'm thinking this will make a really nice final project.

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  74. Thanks for sharing, Paul. I finally got around to posting the portrait I made in 2010 using your tutorial: http://blog.jenmeister.com/2012/01/in-memory-of-ian.html

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  75. Just had to say thanks again. I have made two as gifts for friends since you posted this. Both are kinda of picky in terms of their style, but both still have the papercut portraits on display in their living rooms. I'm starting a third one and this time I promise to send a photo. :D Thanks Dude!!! They make INCREDIBLE gifts.

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    1. Ha! You're so welcome! I love hearing about people gifting these. Best part of my job. Glad folks like 'em. Thanks!

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  76. Hi Paul,
    Thank you so much for the tutorial! I was able to make one for my JPop Idol Takahashi Minami (member of AKB48) as a birthday gift:

    https://p.twimg.com/AnecXs4CQAEFDvX.jpg:large

    Some of my friends (who are also her fans) told me that what I made is awesome! Again, thank you for sharing your awesomeness to us! I'm definitely gonna make another one. ;)

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  77. I plan to use this for my middle school students this next year. Thanks for being an inspiration to my young males in my art class! I can't wait to show your video and have them give it a try!

    Nic Hahn
    MiniMaitsse.blogspot.com

    PS. Super excited to be your 900th follower! Good work on your blog:)

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    1. Nic, I love it! I get super stoked when my projects are used in a classroom. My heart has always been in teaching. Thanks for the comment!

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  78. Pinned this great tutorial onto my Pinterest "lessons" board.

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  79. Charming sir, my best friend's husband is incredibly hard to buy birthday gifts for. The big date is tomorrow. I saw this tutorial a year ago, and this morning, in what is clearly some sort of Magical Fate/Muse arrangement, it came back to me. Dude's a big Star Wars fan, so I made him Obi-Wan. Thanks for helping solve an intractable problem!

    Link to photo here: http://arpearson.tumblr.com/day/2012/09/06

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    1. Very Sweet Obi Wan! Thanks for the note and GREAT job!

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  80. That is AMAZING!!!!! Thank you for sharing your technic :)

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