I’ve gotten a lot of people asking me about my cut paper technique since I used in in YU+ME, and I’m finally gonna show you how I do it.
First off, I’m using Photoshop CS4 for this. I don’t know what other versions of the program will do, or how to do this in other programs. I also assume a basic level of PS knowledge, though I’ll do my best to explain things.
So, basically, we’re doing digital collage. This means paper, but it also means cutting up photographs and other materials, and layering them. Your digital materials are going to have a big influence on how your project turns out. Where to get these materials? There are lots of completely free stock texture sites out there (cgtextures.com, valleysinthevinyl.com, lostandtaken.com being a few of my favorites). My mom is huge into scrapbooking, and sometimes I will scan the funky paper she buys and save it high res for use later. Sometimes I use my own photos. Sometimes I find things like wine bottle labels and fabric scraps.
Here are some of the textures I’ll be using for the project:
And we open PS and make a quick sketch:
What can I say? I’m on a burlesque kick. Put that baby on the top layer and set it to “multiply” so you can see everything underneath it.
Gonna start with the skin. I took some yellowed paper for the girl on the left, and some cardboard for the girl on the right. I open the paper file, copy the whole thing, and paste it into the project. I outline a section such as the head with the lasso tool set to freehand, and I mask it. The mask button look like this:
and it sits at the bottom of the layers menu next to the fx button. The reason you use this is because you might want to change the shape later on. Technically, this is only something you can do with digital collage, but why not exploit the tools you’ve got?
So, after I mask it, I apply a drop shadow.
Nothing too dark. You can monkey with the settings to get something you like. I usually go between 35% and 55%.
The body is a separate shape from the head. What really gives this a cut paper look is having lots of smaller pieces. I’m not going to do too many for this one, since it’s more of a quick doodle for me, but I’ve had projects that contained several hundred layers and a file size of 2 GB per page. This can get out of control. If you find your file sizes getting unwieldy, abandon the mask thing and just cut it out. You won’t be able to change it later if you need to, and will have to re-cut the piece.
So, I’ve got the skin done.
Now to work on the clothes! You can do all sorts of creating things with this. I’ve got photos of some rusty signage, some rubber tires, hunks of metal, bolts, lace, elevator buttons, and a crab claw. Then it’s a matter of cutting, layering, and applying drop shadows.
I didn’t cut the crab claw out perfectly because I think it makes it look more like it was cut out of a magazine page or something.
Then I use a pen-like brush to add some details. I used the 9th brush in the “dry media” set that comes with PS.
Do it on a layer above it all and set it to multiply.
Then it’s just a matter of repeating all this for the girl on the right. I had the cut her in half because her legs are supposed to be behind the other girl, but her torso is in front.
And here’s my finished project:
It took me longer to write this tutorial than it took to make the drawing. When you figure out how this all works, you can do it lightning fast.
It’s all pretty simple, really.
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