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Paper-Cutting Tutorials for Beginners

Updated on November 6, 2015
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Creative Paper Cutting and Kirigami Projects

Hi and welcome to my page about paper cutting!

Paper cutting involves using scissors or a craft knife to cut shapes in paper and turn it into art. There are a few different techniques of paper cutting, including Chinese, Kirigami and origamic architecture, which all sound scary, but they all vary from very basic designs for beginners to amazing sculptures and ornate artwork.

This page contains links to paper cutting tutorials, projects to practice your skills, free patterns and templates, and plenty of inspirational examples of what can be achieved.

This craft certainly needs patience, but the end results can look absolutely phenomenal.

I hope you find the following information useful and inspiring :-)

Paper Crown Profile

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Top Paper-Cutting Books

For the ultimate collection of expert advice, inspirational project examples, templates and instructions, then books like these are the best source:

Paper Cutting Book: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft
Paper Cutting Book: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft

A beautiful 5-star-rated book full of paper artwork photographs to inspire you— created by 26 talented artists.

 
Papercutting: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft
Papercutting: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft

This book provides a wealth of information and patterns for beginners to the world of paper cutting.

 
The Art of Paper Cutting
The Art of Paper Cutting

Teach yourself this amazing craft by working your way through the 20 step-by-step projects included in this book.

 

Create

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Different Paper-Cutting Techniques

Paper cutting is done with either a craft knife or scissors. Where an intricate pattern is cut out of a flat piece of paper, a craft knife is usually used; but where the paper is folded, small sharp scissors are used instead.

Paper cutting most likely originated in China, and Chinese paper cuts are flat (that is, there is no folding) and are often done in red paper.

Japanese paper cutting is called kiri-e, and kirigami is the application of kiri-e to origami; it combines folding with the paper cutting. In Kirigami, cuts are made on a folded base, and this often produces a symmetrical pattern as a result. This is much the same technique that kids use to make paper snowflakes at school. Kirigami can also create more complicated results, including the creation of a 3D scene or sculpture from a single sheet of paper.

In Germany, paper cutting is referred to as Scherenschnitte, so it's worth Googling that term too :-)

Safety: I know it's obvious, but please be careful when using sharp knives, and remember to only pull the knife, rather than pushing it across the paper.

Amazing Paper Sculpture Video

A Whole Lot of Patience...

Unbelievably intricate work.
Unbelievably intricate work. | Source

Learning to Paper Cut

The following lessons will help you to get started in the world of paper cutting, although to be honest the best thing to do is just get started. Technique is limited with this craft (i.e. it's cutting and that's it), so the best thing to do is practice, practice, practice :)

Make sure you change your knife blades quite frequently to keep them sharp, otherwise you will be pulling on the paper rather than cutting straight through, and this could lead to tears (in more ways than one!)

Tiered Papercut Sculpture

Absolutely amazing!
Absolutely amazing! | Source

Book Page Art

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Simple Cutting For Greetings Cards

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Valentine's Day Template

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Here is a free template for the Valentine design above.

Beginner Practice Sheet 1

This is a simple exercise sheet you can print out if you are a complete beginner to paper cutting. It will get you used to cutting lines and curves, and you can print off more sheets if you want another go. Just follow the lines as accurately as you can with a craft blade whilst your paper is on top of a cutting mat.

The "splat" shape and circles are more difficult. Remember to turn the paper rather than the blade in order to follow the lines. Your blade should be pulling towards you at all times, so to create a circular cut you will need to rotate the paper smoothly whilst you pull the blade to get a neat curved cut. You'll get the hang of it!

Kirigami Flowers

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Paper Silhouettes

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See more paper cut art and sculptures from Elsa Mora.

Spooky Paper Art

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Kirigami Templates and Cutting Mats

Kirigami templates provide instructions and cutting guides for creating impressive symmetrical patterns in folded paper (like paper snowflakes but more detailed).

Cutting mats are essential for providing a work surface for paper cutting whilst protecting the table/ or desk underneath.

Painted Paper Cuts

Gouache-painted paper bugs.
Gouache-painted paper bugs. | Source

Laminate It!

Laminating is a good idea to preserve your delicate artwork.
Laminating is a good idea to preserve your delicate artwork. | Source

Sweet Stop-Motion Animation Using 12,000 Pieces of Construction Paper

Free Paper-Cutting Patterns and Templates

There are many patterns available which you can find in books, or for sale on the Internet. You could also search for silhouette clip-art on the web, or make your own designs by drawing them or using shapes or profiles in photos or magazines.

The following patterns, though, are free, and are specifically for paper-cutting use.

Soaring Love

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Beginner Practice Sheet 2

Papercutting exercise sheet
Papercutting exercise sheet

Here is a further exercise sheet for you to print out and practice on. Simply use a craft knife (and cutting board) to follow the lines as smoothly and as accurately as you can. See above for tips.

Chinese Paper Cuts

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Skyline Shadow Box

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Peter Callesen Art

Photo taken at the Manchester Museum of Art.
Photo taken at the Manchester Museum of Art. | Source

Paper Cutting Demos and Examples

Hand-Cut Mountain Scene

A striking and colorful scene
A striking and colorful scene | Source

Do you do paper cutting art already?

See results

Please Leave a Comment!

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    • profile image

      Jenny Stephen 6 months ago

      I currently am a cardmaker/scrapper for family and friends but am trying to get and practice designs in paper cutting. I also do a little quilling. Love learning new crafts :)

    • profile image

      sadie e murdoch 13 months ago

      love love your cut outs found out it is so relaxing and just cant wait to get started again to see finished

      cut out

    • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

      Fiona 13 months ago from South Africa

      Thanks for all the links - I have been wanting to try paper cutting for a while now. I found the one that led to origami-type architecture and I am quite keen to give that a try. Great hub.

    • Susan L Nelson profile image

      Susan L Nelson 2 years ago

      Wonderful article tho too much to read in one sitting. I'm not sure how to sign up to follow, so I'm gad I saved the name! Can't wait to read again, more!

    • firstday profile image

      R Beggs 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I shared this timeless article on TSU just now...there is so much in here. Gave you thumbs up and other pluses...thanks for writing this. I think I will try to do it. If you would like to see my profile in TSU go to tsu.co/Rebeccabe

    • wellingtonboot profile image
      Author

      wellingtonboot 2 years ago from U.K.

      All you need is regular paper sheets, a craft knife (X-acto knife) and a cutting mat to start :)

    • profile image

      Heankhoo 2 years ago

      I want to take up the hobby but do not know how to equip myself and make a start.Please advise

    • profile image

      nathl 3 years ago

      amazing lens! thank you for taking the time to detail so much about this!

    • profile image

      playulheart 3 years ago

      These are really beautiful. I want to try the book pages one.

    • profile image

      GEMNITYA5 3 years ago

      Terrific paper-cutting-art-techniques

      Also shared on Facebook :)

      Blessings

      GEM

    • profile image

      tif2pdf 3 years ago

      Very,very nice

    • nelchee profile image

      nelchee 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these tutorials!

      I tried paper-cutting but only once so far. I even bought a special scalpel and a plastic sheet to cut on. I'll probably never do as crazy detailed stuff as the examples you picked, but I think I can combine it with my drawing skills to make original kind of art.

    • profile image

      glowchick 3 years ago

      I'll admit I probably don't have the patience to do this, but i really enjoyed reading about it and looking at all the cool sculptures :)

    • AnonymousC831 profile image

      AnonymousC831 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Very cool lens.

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 3 years ago

      Great lens and selection of resources!

    • MissLivvy profile image

      MissLivvy 3 years ago

      So beautiful! I wish I had the patience.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      I have been looking at some of the easier templates to try out this art.

      I have in the past traded ATC's which have featured this art and would love to be able to reproduce something like it

    • nicenet profile image

      nicey 3 years ago

      This is very very very good. I like it!

    • profile image

      harrybigg 3 years ago

      Beautiful work, very intricate!

    • PDX tours profile image

      PDX tours 3 years ago

      inspiring!

    • Hexadecimal LM profile image

      Hexadecimal LM 3 years ago

      these are awesome! I am doing some Victorian style silhouettes for my bedroom, now I have a whole bunch more ideas =]

    • profile image

      Pippin19 3 years ago

      Some of these are truly breathtaking. I must have a go myself! Now where exactly did I leave my patience....?

    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 3 years ago

      Fascinating, not sure I have the patience to do this myself but I really love how beautiful these photos are.

    • profile image

      KidsAdvantage 3 years ago

      WOW! I have never really seen anything like this before....my stuff is all for Kids & stumbled across this Lens looking for creative stuff for my websites etc,,,,but I am so impressed! I am so tempted to give it a try but dread to think what a disappointment the beginner stuff will be compared to what is above!!

    • profile image

      swirlingjenny 3 years ago

      I like this lens sooo much. You brought paper-cutting into a different artsy level. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I love it.It is some amazing, really want to try it.Hope it works.

    • profile image

      jiancara 3 years ago

      ..really amazing. I want to try it too!

    • profile image

      Im2keys 3 years ago

      this has some very beautiful works of art! thanks for sharing- makes me want to try paper cutting :)

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Love this lens. Really like the shadow boxes

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wonderful artwork - I must give it a try.

    • josietook profile image

      josietook 4 years ago

      Beautiful artwork, I will have to give paper cutting a go.

    • oddobjective profile image

      oddobjective 4 years ago

      Wow, who knew papercutting was so beautiful and artistic? Great lens and lots of cool photos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What an awesome lens. I love all the art and I may need to look into trying the shilouettes. I truly love those. Thank you for the wealth of info.

    • mcstacy profile image

      mcstacy 4 years ago

      Beautiful art and sure it requires a lot of patience. Great lens.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Lovely things here but I think I will just admire!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nice

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Really nice showcase of paper cutting.

    • marktplaatsshop profile image

      marktplaatsshop 4 years ago

      There are quit a lot of impressive art works, in this lens. I like the spooky one and the Tiered Papercut Sculpture the most.

    • allaneaglesham lm profile image

      allaneaglesham lm 4 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens! I have only seen this used for silhouettes at Disney. I will definitely try this myself!

    • profile image

      Margot_C 4 years ago

      Wow, some of these are fantastic. Really liked the spooky blue one. I can't imagine how much time and patience is needed for these. Great article.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      Wonderful

    • karMALZEKE profile image

      karMALZEKE 4 years ago

      I love the intricacy of this art form. Nice presentation!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have gone through all he demonstrations and spent about two hours. real thrill ,very interesting hobby. i am an artist and want to change to this form. enjoyed.Thanks. anil, india

    • profile image

      funkyn 4 years ago

      The hand cut mountain scene is amazing. Great video too! Thank you!

    • JanaLee LM profile image

      JanaLee LM 4 years ago

      Wow! So cool and inspiring! Love the designs.

    • Ibexing profile image

      Ibexing 4 years ago

      I've really enjoyed looking at all the pictures of the finished pieces. What an amazing craft, I didn't know about it until I read this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I hadn't really seen much on paper cutting before this Lens. Thanks, and I will be watching for more.

    • Sky Breeze profile image

      May Matthew 4 years ago

      Your collection is great! I particularly like the paper silhouettes, book decorations and the paper insects. Lovely! Thank you for sharing.

    • ArtzeeChris LM profile image

      ArtzeeChris LM 4 years ago

      It must take incredible patience to do some of these designs. I am amazed that the detail of some of these examples here. They are just beautiful. Thanks for sharing such a great medium and the potential that is within a piece of paper!

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      I had no idea that paper cutting had evolved this much. The most I knew was about origami. Thanks so much for this lens, it's so educational, and inspirational too. One definitely wants to take up paper cutting and see what one can come up with... :)

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      NIce read and informative

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Ya, she's right. I love everything that we're posted on this page, but still, I also need more. I love drawing and designing. It's my hobby.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I like it! But still, I need more.

    • profile image

      MuffinPuffART 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I've just gotten into paper cutting myself.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Fantastic lens.

    • profile image

      margarida-lp-7 4 years ago

      Loved your lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Can't wait to try it!

    • profile image

      HopeLabel 4 years ago

      So intricate! Just wow!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Amazing that people have the patience to make this beautiful paper cutting art!

    • profile image

      SomethingInteresting 4 years ago

      Thanks for the information. I can't wait to try it

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      love paper cutting!, always looking for new exciting challeging templates/patterns

      love your site.

      Eve

    • ikrave profile image

      ikrave 5 years ago

      Great work!! Thank you!!

    • Annbulance2000 profile image

      Annbulance2000 5 years ago

      Super lense. I will be back to see some more.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Really great lens!

    • profile image

      supersiva 5 years ago

      Really innovative

    • profile image

      DMVAgent 5 years ago

      This techniques gives me an idea for making my work wonderful.

    • profile image

      purpleslug 5 years ago

      Some amazing pieces of art!

    • profile image

      Craftymoose 5 years ago

      Wow those intricate ones are amazing!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      I can see that this would take a lot of patience. Blessed~

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      This is wonderful! I am inspired to try something.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      all the artists are awesome. keep up the wonderful work.

    • profile image

      enjoyecigs 5 years ago

      great lens! wow, these are amazing!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      love this site it has been inspiring

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      The "Tiered Papercut Sculpture" and "Chinese Paper Cuts lady" are absolutely exquisite. I guess one can dream of mastering that level of difficulty. Thanks for compiling all these resources and presenting them so nicely. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a fantastic little page, extremely informative. Thanks.

    • justin42 profile image

      justin42 5 years ago

      Great lens. It is inspiring me to try something new. Maybe someday I am going to have to come back and vote for "Yes, Sometimes".

    • profile image

      SimplyTonjia 5 years ago

      Nice lens. Thank you.

    • profile image

      btoteva 5 years ago

      This is amazing

    • SmBizGuru LM profile image

      SmBizGuru LM 5 years ago

      Oh wow! Now I know what I want to try my hand at next :)

    • sweetstickyrainbo profile image

      sweetstickyrainbo 5 years ago

      some very creative work!

    • profile image

      ArtofRIO 5 years ago

      I would love to leave an extensive comment, but all that comes to mind is AWESOME!!! I love this. Thanks!

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      What an amazing lens! I would love to try some paper cutting, but have always thought it looked too complex, so I'm so happy to have come across your lens. I'll definitely be giving it a go soon! Thank you.

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Kim 5 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I can't draw well enough to make a design to cut out but I love that 'goth' type one! AWESOME & yes I would NOT have the patience for that other one!

      adding to my Favorite Lenses Lens

    • profile image

      selink 5 years ago

      Paper cutting is an awesome skill that everyone can learn. Having a great passion for crafts can make people become more resourceful. Many ideas can be put into play by the public, and this encourages people to think of more ways to lessen the amount of trash we produce. There are companies like shredding San Antonio that are there to collect paper that is no longer in use and shred it to make it useful again.

    • PBJasen profile image

      PBJasen 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, and unusual topis. Thumbs up!

    • PBJasen profile image

      PBJasen 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, and unusual topis. Thumbs up!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is amazing, thanks for all those blogs. I just want to start cutting :) ... can you tell me which kind of paper is used for basic stuff? I looked through the blogs but they mostly handle the topic of techniques or tools ^^.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Wow! These are so beautiful! Paper cutting can be very calming and therapeutic.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      That tiered papercut sculpture looks awesome, I want to think that most of these were done with stencils and just pushing the paper out, because to have to cut all that out must've taken a long long time.

    • profile image

      littletree1524 5 years ago

      This is amazing, it's beautiful, I love it. I always thought you folded the paper I am smarter than I was before. Thanks for shareing.

    • Kheng LM profile image

      Kheng LM 5 years ago

      Wow this is amazing. Great research and lots of resources. Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Paper cutting is fun, my grandma taught me how to cut paper animals free hand when I was little. I learned how and love doing for someone who is watching. This is a lovely lens! Blessed

    • prosepine lm profile image

      prosepine lm 5 years ago

      What a brilliant obsession!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      WOW!

    • davies86 profile image

      davies86 5 years ago

      really good lens.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Those are some incredibly intricate design. These large hands of mine probably won't be good for maneuvering scissors through all those cuts. Very interesting lens!

    • papermotor profile image

      papermotor 5 years ago

      Simply just WONDERFUL! I used to cut paper for paper models. That is a different art but requires manual skill and patience as this. I'll try it surely in the near future... Thanks for this lens!

    • jvermilion profile image

      jvermilion 5 years ago

      Great art this is. Thank you for sharing these ideas. I'm glad to see people are still on it :)

    • Rantsand profile image

      Rantsand 5 years ago

      Wow, it is really amazing and awe inspiring how some people are able to do this. I can barely cut out a paper heart let alone shape an entire building. Thanks for the great lens.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Pretty amazing and painstaking craft. The examples you show are inspiring. My writing group might try that book & butterfly paper cutting for our table at the annual coffeehouse.