Oh, how I wish somebody told me about these techniques when I started out. Papercutting is the foundation we build our business on and we absolutely love creating jaw dropping, handmade explainer videos for our clients, which will give their products more attention, but let's be honest, it's very timeconsuming. It would have saved me a lot of frustration, time and money if I knew all these tips. I learned it the hard way, but that doesn't mean you have to, so I'm giving them to you now!
1. Use a Cutting Mat
A part from the fact that you will destroy your table, working with a cutting mat is much more comfortable for your hands and gives you more control.
2. Use a Metal Ruler
Plastic rulers are great for measuring and drawing, but if you try to cut along them with a scalpel, you’ll end up shaving chunks off your ruler. A metal ruler ensures you can cut a nice straight line.
3. Only Work with Pencils
That tiny, little mark you made with your marker so you would know where to cut? Yeah, not so pretty. Only use drawing material you can erase.
4. Get a Scalpel
No, the large utility knife won't do. Your ruining your hands AND your work. Get a scalpel that fits nicely in your hands like a pencil. When you're using scalpels a lot, like we do, you would'nt last a week without a proper knife.
5. Make Tests When Freestyling
When creating something from the top of your head, make sure you test your cuts on simple copy papier. It's cheap and tells you whether your template works. You don't want to find out it doesn't work on that extremely-super-special-and-expensive piece of paper.
6. Print Outlines Mirrored
When cutting things like text, make a mirrored printout of your design. Cutting from behind gives your papercut a clean, crisp look and helps to disguise any imperfections.
7. Print it on the Paper you Want to Use
Print your outlines directly on the paper you wish to use for your design. If your printer can't handle it, go to a nearby copyshop with your paper.
8. Use Tracing Paper
When printing it on the right paper isn't an option, or you messed up your cutting, use tracing paper to get your design on your desired paper.
9. Start with Cutting the Smallest Details
Work through all the pieces in order of size. It's much easier to cut this way without tearing your work.
10. Cutting Corners
When cutting into a corner, use the point of your scalpel to cut from the corner point. Start in the point, don't finish your cut there.
This will give you a nice and neat corner.
11. Cutting Curves
When cutting a curve, turn you paper as you cut instead of your blade. It will look a lot smoother that way.
12. Fingers for Support
When you get to the final cuts - or at any time when you feel the cut is vulnerable to tearing - use your finger to support the paper as you cut. By pressing down on the section you're cutting, you reduce the pull on the paper.
13. What Paper Should You Use
I like my designs strong and sturdy, so I use 240gr - 300gr of paperweight most of the time. This thinkness is great for threedimensional designs that have to carry themselves or bent elements you want to maintain their shapes.
14. When to Use Thin Paper
Even though I like working with thick paper, thin paper has it's benefits. Your hands don't have to work as hard and thinner paper is easier to tease.
15. Don't Cut Too Deep
Of course you want your blade to go through the paper, but don't press too hard. This will not only make it more difficult to cut a smooth line, but could also result into losing the point of your blade in the cutting mat.
16. Be Gentle
When finished with a detailed design, lift your work carfully from your cutting mat. It's common for the paper to get pressed a little into the cutting mat. With detailed work, lifting it roughly could cause the paper to tear.
17. Use the Point of Your Scalpel
When cutting a tight curve, use the point of your scalpel to make tiny cuts, one smooth cut is very difficult to achieve on a tight curve.
18. Use a Pair of Compasses
The best way to get a perfect circle pronto.
19. Measuring is Knowing
Ah, I can make this box template out of a free hand sketch, you will tell yourself. But you end up doing it again, because your measurements are off. Save yourself the pain and always measure your work beforehand.
20. Have Clear Sketch
Have a clear idea and sketch of what you want to create. Papercutting is a timeconsuming technique and you do not what to have wasted time on something you won't be using after all.
21. Use a Glue Gun
For too long I used the domestic glue sticks. They take long to dry, aren't strong enough for heavy paper, your fingers get sticky and the old glue stuck to your fingers leave staines on your paper. Glue from a glue gun dries extremely fast and is very, very strong.
So there you have it! 21 Tips for papercutting. Even if you only take just one of these tips, it's worth it. One tip can change the way you work and save you lots of headaches.
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