How to Design a Paper Cut-Out Effect in Procreate

NOV 13, 2019
Featured Design

Kristina Hunter, aka arthousewife on Spoonflower, is back on the blog to share her go-to tips for creating designs that look like you’ve spent hours meticulously cutting out paper shapes. Did we mention you can do it all from the comfort of your couch and you don’t have to bust out the scissors and craft paper? Win-win! Using a community-favorite combo — an iPad and Procreate — Kristina will show you just how easy it is to create this growing design trend.

Kristina: Have you noticed the cut-paper style popping up in art and illustrations these days? Perhaps it’s a rebellion against perfectly smooth vector-based art that has been popular for awhile? Regardless of the reason, I love it for its raw, choppy and organic feel, and it blends well with mid-century modern design (my personal fave!)

I like to create cut paper designs digitally. Obviously it’s possible to create a pattern from actual paper or other design programs, but I prefer the iPad and app Procreate. They are portable and easy to use, and I love the endless effects I can add to my digital art, like multiple textures, colors, and pops of white. 

Pretty in Purple Ditsy and Dino I Scream Party are two cut-paper design examples you can find in Kristina’s Spoonflower shop.

To me, what distinguishes a cut-paper look is hard, imperfect edges. When I first tried to recreate the look in Procreate, I used brushes, but none of them ever seemed to have the crisp edges that I was looking for. Eventually, though, I discovered the selection tool. 

Need a little inspiration before we get started? Check out this collection featuring my favorite cut-paper patterns on Spoonflower.

How to Create Paper-Cut Illustrations in Procreate

1. Start by creating a new artboard in Procreate. Be sure that it is big enough that you won’t need to enlarge your design, because that can distort the edges of your objects. I like to create a 10×10 inch or larger artboard set to at least 150 dpi.

2. Choose the Selection Tool from your top toolbar and start drawing your shape. 

Designer’s TipThe Selection Tool works differently than brushes. A shape starts from the first mark on the artboard, and ends at that first mark. Play around with the feature to get the hang of it. 

3. When your shape is complete, the outline will disappear and light grey diagonal lines will appear around the area you outlined. Choose a color from the Color Picker, and drag it into area without the lines. There you go, a cut paper shape! Click on the Selection tool again to exit out of selection mode.

Designer’s Tip: Cut-paper motifs can be crisp and clean or super bumpy. If you like super straight lines, while using the Selection tool, pick up your pencil and drop it down in the direction you want your line to follow. No bumps at all!

4. Select the Eraser Tool to fix any wobbly bits that you don’t like.

Designer’s Tip: My favorite pen to use for erasing is the technical pen, at a fairly small size.  

5. Add additional objects, textures, and colors. 

6. Yay, you’ve done it!

If you’d like, you can now turn your cut-paper elements into a repeating pattern for your Spoonflower shop with this helpful tutorial.

Trying out this tutorial? Be sure to tag @arthousewife and @spoonflower on Instagram so we can see your cut-paper designs!



About the Guest Author

Kristina Hunter is an artistic housewife living outside of New York City with her husband, two young boys, two cats, and one dog. When she’s not house-wifing, you will find her in her studio, designing patterns for her Spoonflower shop, painting, and sewing. You can find her on Instagram at @arthousewife or at her website, Arthousewife.


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