How to Make a Cardboard Cutout?

How to Make a Cardboard Cutout?

Cardboard cutouts can be a fun and creative way to decorate for a party, support your favorite sports team, or even create a life-size replica of yourself. With just some simple supplies and techniques, you can easily make a cardboard cutout that looks professional. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know how to make a cardboard cutout, from choosing your design to cutting and assembling the pieces.

Selecting Your Design

Selecting Your Design

The first step in creating your cardboard cutout is deciding on a design. Here are some popular options to consider:

Life-Size Person Cutout

Turn a photo of yourself or a loved one into a life-size cardboard replica. This works great for parties, photo booths, or just for fun. Print out a high-res image of the person’s face and body to capture their likeness.

Sports Fan Cutout

Cheer on your favorite sports team with a cardboard cutout of a player or mascot. Print out the team logo or an action photo of a star player. These make great decorations for game day watch parties.

Movie or TV Character

Bring your favorite movie or TV personalities to life with custom cardboard cutouts. Find a quality image of the character online and print it out. Fans love cutouts of popular fictional characters.

Decorative Shapes

Get creative by making geometric cutouts of shapes like stars, hearts, circles, triangles, etc. These types of abstract cutouts work well for parties, weddings, birthdays, and other festive occasions.

When selecting your design, choose an image with high resolution for best results. The image quality directly affects the final cutout. Look for images that are at least 300 dpi. You want crisp, clean details that will translate well onto cardboard.

Also consider the size. Measure out the area where you want to place the cutout and scale your image to fit. Standard sizes for person cutouts are around 6 feet tall. But feel free to go bigger or smaller depending on your needs.

Gather Your Materials

Creating cardboard cutouts requires just a few simple craft supplies. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Cardboard – Single or double-ply corrugated cardboard works best. A large appliance box is ideal.
  • Utility knife and ruler – For cleanly cutting out your shapes.
  • Glue stick or spray adhesive – Any strong household glue or adhesive spray to join pieces.
  • Sandpaper (optional) – Helpful for smoothing rough edges.
  • Clear tape and brads – To attach the cutout pieces together.
  • String or wire (optional) – For hanging or suspending cutouts.
  • Marker (optional) – If decorating your cutout with any hand-drawn elements.

For printing your template, you’ll need access to a large format printer. Many copy shops offer this service for reasonable prices if you don’t own your own wide format printer. Provide them with your high quality image file.

Choose a heavyweight matte photo paper or cardstock to print on. Stay away from thin paper that could tear easily. For optimal durability, laminate your printed template before cutting if desired.

Design Your Template

Once you’ve selected your ideal design, it’s time to prep your artwork for printing. Using Photoshop or another graphic design program, size your images to create a template for your cardboard cutout.

Make sure to maximize the space when formatting your template to fully utilize your cardboard. Arrange all elements neatly with some space in between each part.

Keep in mind the joints where you will assemble the pieces later. Avoid having key design parts cross over multiple sections.

For life-size human cutouts, you’ll want to divide the template into 4-6 major parts. Print each part on its own 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. Number the pieces and include reference lines showing how parts connect.

Be sure to include tabs and holes where the joints will come together. Cut tabs into each section and slit holes into the adjoining pieces. This allows the parts to slot together snugly.

Once your template design is complete, export it as a high resolution image file ready for printing. JPEG format works well for photo images. PNG is preferable for graphics with flat colors and shapes. Now send it off to be printed on large format paper.

Cut Out Your Pieces

With your oversized printout ready, it’s time to carefully cut out each section. Start by cutting along the outline of the entire form to free it from the background.

Next, cut out each individual part following your tab and hole guidelines. Work slowly and deliberately for best results. Use a sharp utility knife and metal ruler for straight clean cuts.

Change out the blade frequently to maintain precision. Apply firm, even pressure while cutting to slice all the way through the cardboard.

Cut on a self-healing mat to protect your work surface. If any edges are rough, gently sand them down for a smooth finish.

Pro Tip: For sturdier cutouts, glue two sheets of cardboard together before cutting your template. Just ensure your knife is sharp enough to cut through the extra thickness.

Assemble Your Cutout

Once all your pieces are cut out, it’s time for the fun part – assembling them! Start by applying glue or adhesive to the tabbed edges on each section. Spray adhesive works quickest if you’re in a hurry.

Match up the numbered pieces and carefully slot the tabs into the corresponding slits. The slots will securely hold the tab in place and form an interconnected joint. Make sure to match up any design elements from piece to piece.

If desired, you can reinforce the joints on the back side with clear tape or small brads for durability. This helps prevent sagging over time.

For extra support, glue a piece of cardboard as a backer behind the cutout. Just sandwich it between the layers. Let all glue fully dry before moving the cardboard cutout.

If hanging your cutout, attach loops of string or wire to the backside. Measure and position hangers so the cutout hangs level and upright. Use strong adhesive to attach them.

Now your custom cardboard creation is ready to display! Position it in your desired spot to enjoy and impress.

Get Creative with Custom Touches

Beyond just flat cutouts, you can take your cardboard masterpiece to the next level with custom finishes and embellishments. Here are some fun ideas to try:

  • Paint your cutout with colorful acrylic paints and cool designs. Add patterns, textures, and faux woodgrain effects.
  • Accent with glitter, rhinestones, metallic foils or other eye-catching materials using decoupage or strong adhesives.
  • Attach props like hats, wigs, musical instruments or sports equipment to fit your cutout’s personality.
  • For extra dimension, glue layers of cardboard pieces together with spacers in between to make 3D effects popping off the background.
  • Illuminate your cutout from behind using string lights or LED strips for an exciting glow effect.
  • Affix your cutout to a base for stability. Conceal the bottom edge by covering with decorative mulch, artificial grass or other materials.
  • Add an audio player inside your cutout and embed a speaker to make it talk, sing or play sound effects.

Let your imagination run wild to make your cardboard cutout as outrageously creative as possible! The options are endless for customizing these homemade decorations.

Cardboard Cutout Inspiration

Cardboard Cutout Inspiration

Need a spark of inspiration for your cardboard cutout project? Here are some great examples of innovative and fun cutouts people have created:

  • 34-foot-tall Kobe Bryant towering over a basketball court.
  • Life-size dinosaur cutouts made from refrigerator boxes for a kid’s room.
  • Group of guests posing with a 6-foot Obama cutout at an election party.
  • Bride and groom replacing guests in seats with lookalike cutouts at their wedding.
  • Santa Claus with reindeer cutouts on a front lawn during Christmas.
  • Trendy geometric cutouts as photo booth props at a music festival.
  • Movie theater displaying cutouts of classic film characters in the lobby.
  • Sports bar filled with cutouts of players from the home team.
  • Car fan makes cutout of man changing flat tire next to a real car.
  • Silly family takes amusing photos with cutouts of themselves on vacation.

As you can see, cardboard cutouts are a versatile and customizable decor option limited only by your creativity. Use them for parties, pranks, displays, events, homemade gifts and more.

With a simple template, some printing, and a bit of handiwork, you can easily make remarkable cutouts everyone will enjoy. The process is very approachable even for beginner DIY-ers. Give it a try for your next occasion!

Frequently Asked Questions

How thick should the cardboard be?

For optimal durability, use double-ply corrugated cardboard around 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Single-ply can work for smaller cutouts. Avoid card


What kind of glue works best?

A spray adhesive provides the strongest, most seamless bond when assembling your cutout. Liquid white glue or hot glue also works if applied generously at the joints.

How do I get a life-like cutout of a person?

Take a high resolution photo straight on of the person from head to toe. Have them stand with arms slightly away from body and neutral facial expression. Print out the photo as large as possible on poster paper.

What if my cardboard gets wet?

Cardboard will warp and deform if it gets wet. You’ll need to replace it or thoroughly dry it out. Seal your cutout with an outdoor waterproofing spray if placing it outside. Store indoors when not in use.

How can I make my cutout more sturdy?

Reinforce joints with clear packing tape on the backside. Also consider using wooden dowels and L-brackets on the reverse side to add stability. Placing it in front of a wall helps provide support.

What do I use to hang or pose my cutout?

Fishing line or thin wire work well to suspend cutouts from ceilings or rafters safely. For posing, use thick wire or pipe cleaners bent into shape. Secure firmly into the cardboard.

Can I recycle my cutout after use?

Definitely! Cardboard is highly recyclable material. Just be sure to remove any tape, paper, or other embellishments first before placing it into the recycling bin. Give your cutout a second life.

At Last,

As you can see, crafting a professional-looking cardboard cutout is fairly straightforward with some careful planning and preparation. The process involves:

  • Selecting a fun design that fits your needs
  • Gathering essential supplies like cardboard, utility knife, glue, etc.
  • Preparing a template and getting it printed oversized
  • Carefully cutting out all the pieces
  • Assembling the cutout using adhesive and joints
  • Customizing with paint, props, lights and other embellishments as desired
  • Displaying your homemade cardboard creation proudly!

With a little time and effort, you can enjoy a cardboard cutout that brings personality to any space or occasion. Get the whole family involved in designing, decorating and posing with them.

Exploring the world of packaging materials opens up a realm of possibilities for creating unique and eye-catching designs. From cardboard for personalized cutouts to sustainable options like biodegradable plastics, the choices are vast and varied. Cutouts also make memorable gifts for birthdays, weddings, sports fans, and more – showcasing the limitless potential of materials in both packaging and creative endeavors. With this guide’s step-by-step instructions, you now have all the knowledge needed to not only choose the right packaging material but also to craft your own cardboard cutout masterpiece.