Ancient Chinese Paper Cutting Meets Cutting Edge Technology

Chinese paper cutting is one of the earliest forms of arts and crafts.  Paper was invented in China and paper cuttings were traditionally used for entertainment and decorating and have since become a symbol of good luck.  The methodology has been the same for centuries – sketch out a design on paper and cut it with scissors or a knife.  This is by far one of the most detail oriented and time consuming crafts ever, check out the detail in the photo below and click on it to learn more about Chinese paper cutting.

Of course there are now machines that produce bulk paper cutouts to sell cheaply to tourists, but your average crafter like myself does not have access to such fancy equipment so I thought I’d try my hand at digital immortalization.

First, I sketched out a design for my paper cut (not the ouchie kind!):

Then I outlined my drawing with a sharpie and erased the pencil lines to make it nice and crisp:

Then, I scanned this image into Adobe Illustrator and used the live trace function to make a nice, clean line drawing:

I printed out this image on red paper and got to cutting!  I used an exacto knife and went through about 50 blades in order to keep the tip nice and sharp the whole time.  Here is the finished paper cut out!

So far I used a healthy combination of ancient handicraft practice and computer enhancement, and now for the digital immortalization!  I took a picture after cutting out each piece and edited it together to make it look like the cutout is cutting itself out.  The effect was pretty cool: