How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts

Written by louise harding
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How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts
Recycle cardboard boxes for material to make your cutout. (cardboard box image by MAXFX from

Cardboard cutouts can be simple or elaborate projects. From the traditional paper doll, to objects such as footballs, you can create cardboard cutouts and fashion simple stands to enable the cutout to stand upright on a flat surface. Many online websites offer free templates for paper dolls that can be used as is or modified to fit your particular needs. Use recycled boxes or purchase new cardboard from craft stores.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cardboard
  • Pen
  • Markers or crayons or tempera/acrylic paints
  • Scissors
  • Paper image/photograph
  • School glue
  • Ruler
  • Tape - masking or packing
  • Yardstick or measuring tape (optional)

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Trace around the template/item you wish to make a cutout from. Many paper doll templates are offered online. Make a life-size cutout by tracing a person.

  2. 2

    Colour the traced image with markers, crayons or paint. If painting, allow the cardboard to dry.

    How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts
    Colour the image traced to the cardboard. (markers of various colours image by Tom Oliveira from
  3. 3

    Cut the item from the cardboard. According to Fiskars, scissors with large handles “feature larger finger and thumb loops to fit larger hands.” Scissors should be able to withstand the thickness of cardboard.

  1. 1

    Select the image to attach to your cardboard. Photographs, magazine images and printed images all work well. If you’re making a life-size cutout, enlarge your image according to your photo software instructions or take the image to a printing facility.

  2. 2

    Glue the paper image to cardboard with school glue. Allow glue to dry.

    How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts
    White school glue adheres well to paper and cardboard. (bottle of glue on black marble image by phizics from
  3. 3

    Cut around the image and through the cardboard.

  1. 1

    Measure the length of your cutout with a ruler (for a life-size cut out, use a yardstick or a measuring tape). Divide this measurement by two for the length of the stand needed.

  2. 2

    Measure the width of your cutout at the narrowest point. Divide this measurement by two for the width of the stand needed.

    How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts
    Measure to determine the size of the stand needed to balance the cutout. (the ruler image by timur1970 from
  3. 3

    Measure and cut a rectangle from cardboard according to the measurements in Steps 1 and 2 of Section 3.

  4. 4

    Turn your cardboard cutout over so the wrong side is facing you. Measure down from the top of the cutout according to the measurement from this section. This will be the halfway point on your cutout. Make a mark with a pen.

  5. 5

    Tape the top (one of the shorter ends) of the cardboard rectangle over the mark in the centre of the cutout. Fold the rectangle upward and tape over the crease where the rectangle meets the back of the cutout.

    How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts
    Packing tape adheres well to cardboard. (Roll of parcel tape image by Scott Latham from
  6. 6

    Stand up the cardboard cutout and place on a flat surface. Adjust the width of the stand attached to the cutout until the stand balances the cardboard cutout and it remains standing on its own.

  7. 7

    Measure the distances from the stand to the back of the cardboard cutout. Add two inches to this measurement.

  8. 8

    Cut out a rectangle the width of the measurement from Step 2 and the length from Step 6. This is the stand brace.

    How to Create Your Own Cardboard Cutouts
    Use scissors intended for cutting cardboard. (scissors image by timur1970 from
  9. 9

    Measure and fold one inch from each end of the rectangle from Step 7. Place one folded section of the stand brace against the inside “triangle” of the cutout stand. Tape it in place. Put the other folded section of the stand brace against the back of the cardboard cutout. Tape it in place.

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