Make It in a Minute: Paper Cutout Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to add a hand-crafted, layered look to your designs, using Adobe Photoshop CC. Start from scratch, or download practice files for a head start.

Click on the image below to watch the one-minute video.


Step 1. Prep Your Project

• If you’re using the practice files, open paper-cut_start.psb.

• Open the Layers panel (Window -> Layers) and expand the fish layer group.

Step 2. Add Depth with Drop Shadows

• Add a drop shadow: Click on the front fin layer, and then click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Choose Drop Shadow and set the shadow properties. Click on OK.

Tip: We set Angle to 133, enabled Use Global Light, and set Distance to 35. 

• Copy the drop shadow: Option- or alt-drag to copy the drop shadow properties to the body and wave 1 layers.

• Double-click on the drop shadow on the wave 1 layer and modify the properties. Click on OK. 

Tip: We set Opacity to 60, Distance to 40, Spread to 15, and Size to 90.

Option- or alt-drag to copy the drop shadow from wave 1 to wave 2 and wave 3.

Step 3. Add a Paper Texture

• Select the fish layer group. Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Choose Solid Color, and then choose a medium gray from the Color Picker. Click on OK.

• Choose Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. Click on Convert To Smart Object. Set Amount to 20 and select Monochromatic. Click on OK.

• Choose Soft Light from the Blend Modes dropdown menu at the top of the Layer panel.

That’s it! To learn more Photoshop technique, visit our Photoshop Tutorials page.