10 Practical Tips to Improve Your Papercut Art Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Choose the right paper
  2. Select the correct cutting tools
  3. Practice basic cutting techniques
  4. Learn to cut complex designs
  5. Adopt a steady hand
  6. Develop patience
  7. Create your own designs
  8. Experiment with colors
  9. Try 3D papercutting
  10. Showcase your work

If you're here, you've probably caught the papercut art bug, and now you're hungry to level up your skills. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned papercut artist looking to add more flair to your creations, these ten practical tips are just what you need to take your papercut art to the next level. Let's dive right into the first tip on our journey to getting better at papercut art.

1. Choose the Right Paper

When it comes to papercut art, the type of paper you use can make a world of difference. Just like a painter wouldn't use a flimsy canvas, you don't want to start your masterpiece on a paper that's too thin or too thick. Here's what you need to know:

Thickness: The thickness of the paper, measured in grams per square meter (gsm), can affect how easy it is to cut and how the final piece looks. A thicker paper (130-150 gsm) can be great for beginners, as it's more forgiving and less likely to tear. As you start getting better at papercut art, you might want to experiment with thinner paper (80-120 gsm) for more delicate and intricate designs.

Texture: Smooth paper is typically easier to cut than textured paper. However, textured paper can give your artwork a unique look and feel. It's all about what you prefer and what fits the design you're going for.

Color: While white paper is a common choice for papercut art, don't be afraid to mix it up! Colored paper can add an extra layer of depth and interest to your designs. Plus, it can save you the time and effort of painting or coloring in your cuts later.

It's always a good idea to experiment with different types of paper to find out what works best for you. Remember, the journey to getting better at papercut art is all about exploration and trying new things. So, grab your scissors, pick your paper, and let's keep cutting!

2. Select the Correct Cutting Tools

Just as a chef depends on a sharp knife to make precise cuts, a papercut artist needs the right tools to create intricate designs. You might have started with a pair of scissors, but to get better at papercut art, you'll need to gear up with a few more items:

Precision Knife: This is the meat-and-potatoes of a papercut artist's tool kit. A precision knife allows for sharp, accurate cuts, helping you turn simple sheets of paper into complex works of art. X-Acto is a popular brand among artists, but any precision knife with a comfortable grip and replaceable blades will do the trick.

Cutting Mat: Protect your work surface (and your tools) with a self-healing cutting mat. These mats absorb the cuts from your knife, preventing damage to your table and ensuring your blade lasts longer. Tip: Choose a mat that's larger than your paper size, so you have plenty of space to work.

Extra Blades: A dull blade can lead to imprecise cuts and a lot of frustration. Keep a stash of extra blades handy, so you can switch out as soon as you notice your knife losing its sharpness. Remember, in the world of papercut art, sharp means safe.

Choosing the right tools is just as important as mastering the cutting techniques. With the correct tools in your hands, you're one step closer to becoming a papercut virtuoso. So, ready to make the cut?

3. Practice Basic Cutting Techniques

Remember when you first learned to write? You started with simple shapes, like circles and lines, before moving on to letters and words. Getting better at papercut art is a similar process: you start with the basics and gradually work your way up. Here are some fundamental cutting techniques to practice:

Straight Cut: This is the simplest type of cut, but it's also the foundation of many designs. Practice cutting straight lines of different lengths and angles. Try to make your cuts as smooth and even as possible. This will help you when you're creating geometric designs or cutting out letters.

Curved Cut: Curved cuts are a bit trickier than straight cuts, but they open up a world of design possibilities. Start by cutting simple shapes like circles and ovals. As you get comfortable, move on to more complex curves and spirals. These skills will come in handy when you're crafting detailed floral designs or whimsical characters.

Pointed Cut: This technique involves making a sharp turn with your knife. It's crucial for cutting out intricate details or creating designs with lots of angles. Practice this cut by creating star shapes or zigzag patterns. It may challenge your patience at first, but the end results will be worth it.

Practicing these basic techniques is key to getting better at papercut art. The more you practice, the more control you'll gain over your knife and the more precise your cuts will be. So why not grab your cutting mat and start practicing right now?

4. Learn to Cut Complex Designs

Once you've mastered the basic cuts, it's time to step up your game. Don't worry, you're ready for this. Learning to cut complex designs is the next milestone in your journey toward getting better at papercut art.

Start with Patterns: Patterns can be your best friends when you're learning to cut complex designs. They provide a roadmap that you can follow, making the task less daunting. Try out patterns with different levels of complexity — from geometric shapes to intricate mandalas.

Break It Down: Complex designs can be intimidating at first glance. But remember, every design, no matter how complex, is just a collection of simple cuts. Break the design down into smaller parts and tackle them one at a time. Before you know it, you will have created something truly amazing.

Embrace Mistakes: Remember, mistakes are part of the learning process. Don't be discouraged if your designs don't come out perfect the first time. Each mistake is a chance to learn and improve. In fact, some of your "mistakes" might even lead to unique and beautiful designs!

By learning to cut complex designs, you're not only developing your art skills but also nurturing your problem-solving abilities. And who knows? You might discover a new passion for papercut art along the way!

5. Adopt a Steady Hand

Alright, let's continue our journey to getting better at papercut art. Our next station is all about control and stability: adopting a steady hand.

Relax Your Grip: It may sound counterintuitive, but the trick to a steady hand is to relax. Gripping your tool too tightly can result in shaky cuts. So take a deep breath, loosen your grip, and let the tool do the work.

Support Your Hand: Resting your hand or forearm on the table can provide extra stability. It's like having a built-in stabilizer for your hand. Remember, the goal is smooth, controlled movements, not speed.

Practice Makes Perfect: Just like any other skill, developing a steady hand takes practice. Dedicate some time each day to practice your cutting. Start with simple lines and shapes, then gradually move on to more complex designs as your control improves.

Adopting a steady hand is not just beneficial for your papercut art. It will also serve you well in your day-to-day activities, from writing to cooking. So, keep practicing and soon enough, you'll be slicing through paper like a hot knife through butter!

6. Develop Patience

As we move along in our quest of getting better at papercut art, it's time we talk about a virtue that's often overlooked, yet incredibly vital in this craft — patience.

Take Your Time: Papercut art isn't a race. Rushing through a project often leads to mistakes and can even result in injuries. Remember, it's okay to take your time. In fact, part of the beauty of papercut art lies in the process itself, not just the end product.

Expect Mistakes: In the journey of getting better at papercut art, you will make mistakes. And that's okay! Every mistake is an opportunity for learning. Instead of beating yourself up over a wrong cut, see it as a stepping stone to improving your skills.

Break it Down: Large and complex projects can feel overwhelming. Instead of tackling the entire thing at once, break it down into smaller, manageable parts. This way, you can focus on one piece at a time without getting frustrated.

Patience, as they say, is a virtue. It's an important part of papercut art and, indeed, of life. So take a deep breath, slow down, and enjoy the process. Because the journey is just as beautiful as the destination.

7. Create Your Own Designs

On your path to getting better at papercut art, a thrilling milestone is creating your own designs. It's where your imagination gets to play, and your unique style shines through.

Start Small: Developing your own design doesn't mean you have to craft an elaborate masterpiece straight away. Begin with simple shapes and patterns. As your confidence grows, you can start adding more detail and complexity.

Seek Inspiration: Inspiration is all around you. From the geometric patterns in nature to the intricate designs in architecture, there's no shortage of ideas. Keep an open eye and an open mind, and you'll never run out of designs to create.

Use Sketches: Before you start cutting, sketch your design on a piece of paper. This not only gives you a clear roadmap to follow but also allows you to tweak and adjust the design until it's just right.

Remember, the goal of creating your own designs isn't to achieve perfection. It's about expressing yourself and having fun in the process. So let your imagination run wild, embrace your style, and enjoy the journey of getting better at papercut art.

8. Experiment with Colors

Color can turn a beautiful papercut design into a breathtaking piece of art. It can create depth, highlight details, and evoke emotions. So don't shy away from using colors in your papercut art.

Use Colored Paper: Instead of always relying on white paper, try using colored paper for a change. You'll be surprised how different colors can change the mood and appeal of your design.

Stack Layers: Another technique for getting better at papercut art is to stack layers of different colored papers. This can create a lovely depth effect and make your design stand out.

Light and Shadow: Pay attention to how light interacts with your colored paper. Depending on the color and thickness of the paper, the shadows and light effects can create fascinating visuals.

Remember, there's no right or wrong when it comes to color. It's all about what you like and what you feel expresses your design the best. So go ahead, experiment with colors, and bring your papercut art to life!

9. Try 3D Papercutting

While 2D papercut art is gorgeous, why not take it a step further and venture into the world of 3D papercut art? This could be your next big step in getting better at papercut art.

Start Simple: Begin with straightforward 3D shapes. A cube or a pyramid can be a good starting point. Once you've mastered these, you can move on to more complex structures.

Use the Right Tools: For 3D papercutting, you might need a few more tools than 2D papercutting. For example, a bone folder can help you create crisp folds, and a scoring tool can make it easier to fold the paper in the right places.

Be Patient: 3D papercutting is slightly more challenging than 2D papercutting. It requires more precision and patience. But don't let that discourage you. Remember, every piece of art you create brings you one step closer to getting better at papercut art.

Who knows, you might discover a new passion in 3D papercut art. So give it a try, and let your creativity soar to new dimensions!

10. Showcase Your Work

Now that you've spent many hours cutting, folding, and creating, it's time to let the world admire your hard work. Showcasing your work is an excellent way of getting better at papercut art.

Share with Friends and Family: Start by sharing your papercut art pieces with your loved ones. They can provide you with valuable feedback and encouragement, both of which are essential for improvement.

Join a Local Art Community: Local art communities are a wonderful platform for sharing your work. You can learn from other artists and get constructive criticism. Plus, it's a great way to meet like-minded people who share your passion for papercut art.

Display Your Work at Home: Don't hesitate to use your home as a gallery. Display your papercut art pieces on your walls, shelves, or tables. This not only decorates your space but also serves as a constant reminder of your artistic journey.

So, go ahead, take out your best pieces, and let them shine. Each piece you share is a testament to your dedication and a step towards getting better at papercut art. Remember, art is meant to be seen, enjoyed, and shared. Enjoy your journey in the world of papercut art!

If you enjoyed these practical tips and want to further develop your papercut art skills, we highly recommend the workshop 'The Art of Paper Cut' by Mar Delmar. In this workshop, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the techniques and intricacies of papercut art, helping you elevate your craft to new heights.