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How to Make a Paper Cut Effect in Affinity Designer
  • By Design Bundles
  • 02 Aug 2021
  • 6 Mins
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Make a Paper Cut Effect in Affinity Designer

In this tutorial, we will learn how to make a Paper Cut Effect in Affinity Designer. We are using a Forest Layered Paper Cut.

Step 1: Set Up Your Contour Shape Layers

Create a New Document or Open the one/s you plan to use.
Open files in Affinity Designer
Copy (command/control + C) and Paste (command/control + V) the paths you want to use.
Copy in Affinity Designer
Paste in Affinity Designer
And place each one in a different Layer.
Layers in Affinity Designer
If your images are a Positive (a positive image is a normal image, and a negative image is a total inversion, in which light areas appear dark and vice versa), you can create a rectangular shape, place it under and use the Subtract feature from the Boolean Operations in the Geometry Studio Panel.

Step 2: Add Color to the Layers

Select each layer and add the color you want to use. We are using a bright yellow for the background.
Add fill color in Affinity Designer
A progression of blue shades for the middle layers, and white for the one on top. Remember that normally the colors should go darker the further you get to the back of the image.
Add colors in Affinity Designer

Step 3: Add a Layered Paper 3D Look with Layer Effects

Select one of the layers and open the studio Effects Panel.
Open studio effects panel in Affinity Designer
Apply an outer shadow with the values that work better for your artwork. We used #000000 (black) as Color, 65% Opacity, 5 px Radius, and a 315° Angle.
Outer shadow in Affinity Designer
Repeat with the rest of the layers you want to apply the effect to. 
Add effects in Affinity Designer
To adjust the effects settings, double-click the fx symbol in the layer thumbnail. Play with the angle, distance, and intensity settings to get the look you want. You can make the shadows stronger on the top right side by changing the angle closer to 225°.
Change effects settings in Affinity Designer

Step 4: Add Extra Shadows

To add more shadows to particular portions of the image, make sure you are working on the layer you want and that the path will be placed under the image you want to add the shadow to. Then, use the Pen Tool (P) with black as fill color and add the shadow.
Use pen tool in Affinity Designer
Go to the Effects Panel and add a Gaussian Blur. We used a 10 px Radius.
Gaussian blur in Affinity Designer
Lower the Opacity to about 75% (in the Layers Panel).
Reduce opacity in Affinity Designer
You can adjust your shape with the Node Tool (A).
Node tool in Affinity Designer
Repeat this with the other portions of the image you want to enhance.
Add shadows to artwork in Affinity Designer
Add shadows to artwork in Affinity Designer

Step 5: Add a Paper-Like Texture to your Artwork

To further create the idea of layered paper, let’s add a texture to the artwork. Enter Pixel Persona by clicking on the icon on the top left side of the top menu.
Enter pixel persona in Affinity Designer
Create a new Pixel Layer on top of everything.
Create pixel layer in Affinity Designer
In the Brushes Panel, select Textures from the drop-down menu.
Select brush type in Affinity Designer
Pick a brush (we used grunge pattern 07) with black as the fill color and use the Brush Tool to paint some texture on the pixel layer.
Select brush in Affinity Designer
Change the pixel layer Blending Mode to Average and reduce the Opacity to 45%.
Paint in Affinity Designer
This is how our paper cut artwork looks like.
Paper cut out effect in Affinity Designer
If you want, you can easily replicate this effect with other programs, check out similar tutorials like how to make a paper cut effect in Illustrator, paper cut out effect in photoshop, and paper cut out text effect in photoshop.

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