Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Create Paper Cut Out Look in Photoshop

Paper Cut Out Look using Photoshop
This post is to help explain how to create a digital piece of artwork using Photoshop that imitates the look of a real paper cut out piece of art.

As with any artwork there are many ways to accomplish the same look and feel.

I suggest creating each element on separate layers, that way you can come back latter and move the individual pieces around to improve the composition and placement of items as you work. So for example, each rock and plant that you see are on different layers. The dark panel behind the mermaid has its own layer and all of the details of the mermaid have their own layers. So keep that in mind as you go, don't create everything on the same layer, it will cause problems for you in the future.

Once you decide what your paper cut out artwork will be, you start creating each element. Remember the goal is to create pieces of "paper" with thin crisp lines. Using the brush tool in Photoshop will not work unless you can draw a perfectly straight line by hand.  There are two different ways that are far superior than using the brush tool: 1) You can use the pen tool in Photoshop to create paths. 2) You can also use other programs such as Flash CC to create lines. I chose to use Flash because I find that creating and editing lines in Flash is much easier than in Photoshop or Illustrator. Once again if you choose to use a different program to create your line work you should keep all of your elements on separate layers.

After you've created your line work, each on their separate layer, its time to use the bucket tool to fill each shape with whatever color your heart desires.

At this point you will start to see your design coming to fruition. However you will notice that the pieces of "paper" look too digital, it basically looks like you used the bucket tool to fill in shapes, which is exactly what you did.

To fix this problem you can go to various sites that provide free texture photographs, or you can take your own photographs. We want to fill each piece with a different texture, so make sure to find enough variety. Import the photo directly above the layer you want to apply the texture to Ctrl+Paste move the photo and use the transform tool (Ctrl+T) to make the photo fit entirely over the color panel that you are trying to apply the texture to, press Enter to exit transform mode. Use the magic wand tool (W) to select the panel of color within in its respective layer, you can make this easier by pushing on the little eyeball icon next to the photograph to make it turn invisible as you are using the wand tool to select the color panel. Once the color is selected, push the eyeball icon next to photo layer again to make the photo visible again. For this next part make sure that the photograph layer is selected. You will notice that whatever shape you have selected with the wand tool remains selected even though you have switched to the photograph layer. This is good. Staying on the photograph layer Select the Inverse, by pressing (Shift+Ctrl+I) you will see now that the dotted line has inverses now, to select every thing outside of the shape you selected. Next press delete, and suddenly you will see that the photograph will be perfectly trimmed to fit the selection. Still on the photograph layer, reduce the opacity of the layer to about 30%-40% and you will see the color of the color panel showing through the photograph. If you want you can merge the photograph layer with the color panel layer.

In my piece I've played around with the effects of the layers as well to give each piece a uniform cast shadow. I've also applied a barely perceptible bevel on each piece of paper so that it looks like paper.

Congratulations you are finished!

I hope you enjoy making your own!!!