A mindful way to transform your home: discover paper cutting art

Artist and paper crafter Aimee Graham shares her step-by-step guide to making eye catching artwork through paper cutting.
A Canon PIXMA TS8350 Series printer, displayed on a table with framed paper craft artwork.

For papercrafter Aimee Graham, putting scissors to paper is a way to slow down – a mindful method of creating colourful artwork that's both personal and imaginative. From abstract shapes and patterns to animal silhouettes and beach scenes, layering paper cut-outs is fun for all the family and can be used to create unique wall art or even greetings cards.

Aimee first got into crafting after a trip to Japan, where she was captivated by the ancient art of origami. Here she explains how to use a Canon PIXMA TS8350 Series printer and some crafty paper cutting know-how to make inspired artwork that's ideal for brightening up your home.

1. Dream up an original and creative idea

A framed paper cutting woodland scene on an orange background.

Aimee's first step was coming up with an idea. She uses nature as inspiration, and encourages looking online for interesting images and silhouettes that can be traced.

"I love working with paper because it's so versatile," says Aimee. "It's a natural product, can be used for two or three-dimensional art, and you don't need any special skills to start making things."

Aimee began by searching for simple shapes online that would work as silhouettes. "I live by the sea and love being out in nature, so I started by researching images of ocean and woodland scenes," she explains.

"The process always begins with finding inspiration. Your ideas become unique when you lose yourself in the process and your creativity takes over. That's when the magic happens."

2. Choose your templates for printing

A woman using her phone to position two images on a piece of paper to print out

Aimee used the Easy-PhotoPrint Editor app to quickly position her printouts on the paper from her smartphone.

A woman taking a piece of paper with images printed on it out of a printer

"The printer was really easy to use," says Aimee. "I set up the Canon PRINT app on my phone, and connecting it to my Wi-Fi was very straightforward."

Aimee found her own silhouettes of animals, people, trees and sunbeams by searching online, but you could also search for inspiration on Creative Park.

Aimee arranged the images on a page using the Easy-PhotoPrint Editor app and printed them on a Canon PIXMA TS8350 Series. "The printer really helped because as soon as I had silhouettes I liked, I could arrange them in the app and print them straight out. Having tangible printouts in front of you makes it easier to get started. This project was a challenge at first. I usually work with paper in 3D, so it was a little different to be thinking in two dimensions."

3. Pick the right paper for your art

A Canon PIXMA printer on a stone floor with a cutting mat and an assortment of paper and stationary.

Aimee used Matte Photo Paper because she found it was ideal for cutting while maintaining its strength, with no fold or rip marks, but you could use gloss or even combine the two.

To create your papercraft artwork, you will need a cutting mat, a craft knife or scalpel, scissors and a combination of paper or card.

"The paper needs to be thick enough to hold its shape once cut, strong enough to avoid ripping but not too thick or it makes cutting more difficult," explains Aimee. "I used Matte Photo Paper for printing my silhouettes because it's sturdy enough to work with but not too hard to cut."

4. Carefully create your cut-outs

A person assembling a paper cutting piece, layering a cut-out of snow on top of some mountains.

Aimee adjusted to working in two dimensions by layering different cut outs in bold colours to make her pieces have more depth.

A person carefully cutting out the silhouette of a woman.

You can start out with simpler forms before moving on to cutting out those more detailed silhouettes requiring precision.

"I knew I wanted to create a few different scenes that would be displayed in frames," she says. "Using the frames as a size guide, I started layering my cut-outs, playing with composition and picking out colour schemes."

Accurate cutting out takes patience and practice, so Aimee advises starting with easy shapes first, especially if you're new to using a craft knife.

"I make crepe paper flowers, so I have fringing scissors which are tiny and really sharp – perfect for this project. I started by cutting out the simplest shapes first, working with both scissors and a craft knife," she says.

"The benefit of using a craft knife over scissors is that you can keep the outline as well as the actual cut-out shape, provided that your cuts are neat. I did this with the silver birch outlines and it inspired a whole new piece – the family tree," she says.

5. Complete your designs

A white piece of paper on a tabletop with silver birch trees cut out.

After these trees have been cut out, the paper left behind can also be used as an effective background for another piece.

A green and white papercraft forest scene with names written alongside trees.

One of Aimee's ideas was a forest scene decorated with family members' names as a modern take on a 'family tree'.

Incorporating the outlines from her paper cut-outs enabled Aimee to add a new dimension to her family tree design.

"I scraped a thin layer of white and brown paint in the centre of my base paper, placed the tree outline over the top and then added the separate tree cut-out. At this stage, I was imagining it as a kind of family tree, so I made some name cut-outs, drawing the outlines freehand, to complete the piece."

6. Make it a family activity

A row of framed papercraft art pieces of different sizes standing on a desk.

"This project demonstrates how you can make art by cutting basic shapes, keeping it simple and working up to more complicated shapes such as detailed silhouettes," says Aimee.

Aimee used intricate shapes for her designs, cutting them out precisely with her craft knife. However, it's possible to achieve equally impressive results using simpler shapes and an ordinary pair of scissors, which means paper cutting can be a wonderful family activity.

"For children, the act of cutting out shapes actually helps improve hand-eye coordination as well as strengthening motor skills, so as long as it's safe and supervised, it's good for them.

"I've been creative for as long as I can remember. I grew up with an arty mum, and a dad who could build anything," she says. "I feel deeply connected to myself when I'm being creative. It's inner-child work that is grounding as well as fulfilling."

For more papercraft inspiration, follow us on Pinterest. And don't forget to share your creations on social media using the #MadeWithPIXMA hashtag.

Written by Lorna Dockerill

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