Paper Cut Out Effect Procreate Tutorial

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It’s Easy to Create a Paper Cut Out Effect in Procreate!

I’ve always loved how lovely paper cut out art is but it’s time consuming and I have to admit that I already have a full plate so I mainly just admire the craft. If you have a cutting machine like Cricut or Silhouette then you can certainly speed up the process!

While I’m not going to go over how to use a cutting machine, I am going to walk you through an easy procreate tutorial to show you how you can create a paper cut out effect digitally using Procreate on your ipad.

And as an added bonus you’ll also learn how to add a bevel and a watercolor paper texture to make it a bit more realistic.

To make it easy for you to follow along I’ll be drawing hearts which are pretty simple to create.

I’ll also provide a watercolor paper texture for you to download, but feel free to use whatever paper texture you’d like. You can find free open source images of paper textures on sites like Pixabay.

You’ll need a basic understanding of where things are in Procreate for this tutorial, but if you are a total beginner, no worries! You’ll be able to learn all the basics by heading to my Procreate Basics Lessons!

With those few things out of the way, let’s begin our paper cut out effect in Procreate!

Step One: Create Your Canvas

Open Procreate & tap ‘+’ at the top right corner to create a new canvas. I’ve made mine 12×12 inches but if you want to print yours then go with 8.5×11 inches.

arrow pointing to + to create new canvas
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Procreate comes with preset sizes but you can create custom sizes by tapping the icon below the ‘+’.

Step Two: Set Up Drawing Assist

I’ll be using drawing assist to create a symmetrical heart. Tap the little wrench icon at the top left, turn on ‘drawing guide’, then tap ‘edit drawing guide’.

arrows pointing to Drawing Guide and Edit Drawing Guide
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Tap ‘Symmetry’. If you don’t have a vertical guide line. Tap ‘options’ in the bottom right corner and select ‘vertical’, then done.

symmetry guide on canvas
Vertical selection

Your canvas should now have a vertical line and layer 1 will say assisted. Anytime you need to turn Drawing Assist on or off just tap your layer to pull up the hidden options menu to access it.

Step Three: Draw Your First Heart

On layer 1, select your first color such as a deep red, and draw half your heart on one side of your vertical line.

Use a solid brush such as a monoline or a technical brush which comes with Procreate, then fill it with your color by dragging it from the little color circle into your heart. This heart will be your bottom layer.

red selected for active color
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red heart
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Step Four: Create the Top Layer of Your Paper Cut Out

Start by creating the top layer of your paper cut out.

Add a new layer above your heart by tapping the layers icon at the top right, then tapping the ‘+’.

With your new layer selected fill your layer with a light color. Drag and drop your color from the little circle at the top right, or you can also tap your layer and select ‘fill layer’.

layer filled with a light color
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Next, tap your heart layer and in the side menu tap ‘select’. This will select the heart shape.

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You’ll see something like this on your ipad. Your red heart is selected but you won’t see it because it’s the bottom layer.

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You’ll want to be able to see that layer so let’s ‘cut out’ this heart shape from the top layer.

Tap the top layer & tap ‘clear’ to delete the selection.

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You should now be able to see the heart! Yay! Notice that the thumbnail for the top layer shows that the heart has been cut out.

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Step Five: Create 3 More Hearts

To make this paper cut out more interesting let’s add 3 more hearts between the top and bottom layer.

Create a new layer and turn on Drawing Assist (tap layer & select it from the side menu).

Each new layer you create will go directly above the bottom layer where the red heart is.

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Draw a smaller heart then select a dark pink from your color wheel. Drag and drop your color onto the outside of your heart.

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You should end up with something like this:

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Add two more hearts using the same steps with each heart getting smaller. Remember, each time you add a new layer it should be directly above the bottom layer:

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With your new layer selected, draw in another heart with a medium pink and drop the color on the outside of your heart:

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It’s starting to get cute! But I think it needs one more heart so add another layer directly above your bottom layer, turn on drawing assist, & draw a smaller heart in light pink.

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Step Six: Create Shadows to Make Your Paper Cut Out Effect Pop

It’s time to make your hearts 3-dimensional and add a paper cut out effect so let’s add some shadows.

Duplicate each layer except the bottom layer by swiping your layer to the left and selecting ‘duplicate’.

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Change the color of the duplicate layer on the bottom to black. Drop black on the outside of your hearts. You won’t be able to see the change in your illustration since they are hiding below other layers but you can see them in the thumbnail of your layers panel:

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Each of those black layers needs to be moved slightly so we can see them below the colorful layers. Be sure you’re on one of the black layers then tap the transform icon at the top. You’ll see dots around your layer.

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Move your layer around until you see black show through. Do this for each black layer. It should looks something like this when you’re finished:

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At this point, you should be able to see the paper cut out effect starting to come through, but the edge of the shadow are too strong so let’s soften them up.

For each black layer do the following:

Tap the magic wand icon at the top left & tap Gaussian Blur, then layer.

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Adjust the Gaussian blur to around 16% by sliding your Apple pencil across your screen. You’ll see a blue line at the top of your screen with the percentage you’re working with.

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You now have your shadows! Merge all layers except the top layer.

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You can stop here if you want but there are just a couple of more steps that I’d love to share with you to make your digital paper cut out effect appear more realistic.

Step Seven: Create a Bevel to Make Your Paper Cut Out Effect Even More Realistic

Adding a bevel gives your paper the illusion of thickness and I love this little detail!

Just duplicate your top layer. Select the copy on the bottom & drag white onto the canvas (on the outside of your heart). You’ll be able to see the white in the next step.

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Tap your transform icon then move your layer around until you like where the white shows through. If there isn’t enough contrast between your top layer and bevel you can change the color of your top layer now.

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Step Eight: Add a Paper Texture

It’s time to import your watercolor file or add your own paper texture.

To import, tap Gallery and at the top right tap ‘Import’. Locate your file and select to import it to Procreate. Open your file, then swipe down using 3 fingers. It will bring up ‘Copy & Paste’. Tap ‘copy’.

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Return to your Paper Cut Out and swipe down with 3 fingers and paste it above your bottom layer.

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Tap the layer, then tap ‘Clipping Mask’.

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Then tap the ‘N’ in that layer and select ‘Multiply’.

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You should now be able to see some watercolor paper texture showing through in your hearts! You can now merge the hearts & clipping mask layer.

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Now the top layer needs to get the watercolor treatment too and all you have to do is repeat the steps.

Swipe down and paste your watercolor texture above your top layer. Tap that layer, then tap clipping mask.

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Tap ‘N’ on that layer, then tap ‘Multiply’.

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And that’s how you add little details to your paper cut out effect in Procreate 😊.

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I hope this tutorial will inspire you to create unique works of art using this paper cut out effect!

I’ll be adding more Procreate tutorials to my Digital blog in the coming months so stop back soon or sign up for my mailing list to get updates on my blogs.

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Paper Cut Out Effect Procreate Video