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Life Size Cardboard Cutouts - Can You Make Your Own?

Updated on May 8, 2011

Cardboard Cutout

Cardboard Cutout by robynneblume
Cardboard Cutout by robynneblume

Can You Make Your Own Cardboard Cutout?

When we saw Dancing with the Stars the other night, we got an idea for a fun kid project.  Wouldn't it be neat for them to have their own cardboard cutouts to play with?  And how much more fun would it be if they were life size! 

So I started researching how to do it on the Internet, and it turns out there are three options:

  • You can pay a company to make it for you.  This seems to be about $99.
  • You can take the picture and take it to a copy shop to have it printed out.  This is probably less than having a company make it, but still a little pricey.
  • You can print it out yourself.  The cheapest option but you run the risk of having lines where the pages join together.

So do you want to learn how to do it too?  Keep reading to find out!

Scrubs Episode: Janitor's Cardboard Cut Out

First Step: Decent Camera

To make a cardboard cutout, you first need a picture.  You can either obtain one online if you're making a cutout of a celebrity, use an existing picture, or take a new one.  Since you'll be blowing this picture up a lot, make sure to use the highest mega pixel setting you can find.

Taking your own picture with a good camera works best, as you don't know how clear the pictures off the web will be.  You don't want a picture that's all grainy when it's blown up.

To take the picture, have your subject stand against a plain background, such as a white wall.  This will make editing the picture a lot easier.

Next Step: Editing and Printing Your Image

After you get a good picture, import it into photoshop or another editing program. Delete the background to make things easier on yourself. It's less expensive if you get it printed at a copy shop without the background. Or you can leave it and just cut around the person.

Next, blow it up to life size using your editing software. This is the part that can take awhile.

After that, you have two choices: print it out at home, or take it to the copy shop. The copy shop will be more expensive, but you will avoid the joint lines that come from printing it out at home.

Video on Making a Cardboard Cutout

Attaching your picture to the background

Finally, it's time to take that giant picture and glue it to your cardboard.  For this, you can either use a big piece of sturdy cardboard, or foam board.  Most people will fit on two foam core boards. You also need to build supports to help your image stand up.

Take your image with the background intact.  Apply a spray adhesive, and press it onto the backing.  It can help to use a ruler edge to make sure you get all the bubbles out.

Let the glue dry completely.  When it is done, take an exacto knife and cut out around your person.  Attach the support to allow the image to stand. 

Then take it and have fun!  Make sure to report back how you used your cardboard cutout!

Quick Question

What's the Best Way to Use a Life Size Cutout?

See results

Who Can You Make Into a Cardboard Cutout?

So who can you make into a cardboard cutout?  And what can you use them for

Here are some ideas:

  • Family Members
  • Celebrities
  • Friends
  • Practical Jokes
  • Funny videos
  • Graduation Parties
  • Sport events
  • Decoration

What else can you think of?

Where would you use a lifesize cardboard cutout?

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    • profile image

      Scott Gardner 6 years ago

      Circusmama -

      This is a GREAT step-by-step instruction!

      I own a company that makes cardboard cutouts and just wanted to put my two cents in for anyone who doesn't have time or expertise to put together their own cutout by following your (excellent) directions.

      You mentioned in your "option 1" that custom cardboard cutouts are available online but not where to get them. We sell them for $99.95 at 6' tall, with other sizes available and can deliver as quickly as next-day...

      Thanks again for the great post!


    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      circusmama, You have found a very cool and fun activity. My eleven and thirteen year old girls are gonna flip for this. We are very much into Drama, Acting and Plays this will come in very handy. Love the Hub! Thanks and Peace :)