How to Make a Paper Cutout Effect in Procreate
  • By Design Bundles
  • 08 Jul 2021
  • 12 Mins
  • Procreate Tutorials

How to Make a Paper Cutout Effect in Procreate

The paper cutout effect is so cool, so today, you will be learning how to make a paper cutout effect in Procreate. We will go over how to create the colored layers, the white paper edge layers, the shadow layers, and the textured layers. 
This effect looks great on posters, cards, and even social media posts. Following this tutorial will save you lots of time and paper with future projects where you need to layer lots of paper.
Zoomed In Paper Cut Effect in Procreate
First, we will add a font to Procreate. We are using the Mighty Mountain font and leaf stamp brushes from the Procreate Stamps Boho Vibes Set for this tutorial.

Step 1 - Create the Base Colored Layer and Text Cutout Layer

The colored layers will go from darkest to lightest, with the darkest layer being at the bottom. You can choose how many layers you want and any color palette you would like. We will be using shades of green along with black and white, as shown below.
Procreate Paper Effect Tutorial Color Palette
Drag and drop the darkest color onto Layer 1.
Next, select the second darkest color. Open the Actions panel. Make sure you are in the Add tab and tap Add text.
Add Text in Procreate Using Second Darkest Color
Type out your word(s). Edit the text to your liking. Center the text on the canvas. Next, open the Layers panel, and tap the text layer’s thumbnail. Choose Select.
Select Text Layer
Tap Invert in the Selection toolbar at the bottom. We want to use the inverted selection to create a new layer with the text cut out. See the following image for a comparison between the actual selection and the inverted selection.
Actual Selection Versus Inverted Selection
Add a new layer above the text layer. Tap the layer’s thumbnail and choose Fill Layer.
Create New Layer With Text Cut Out
Hide the text layer.
Hide Text Layer

Step 2 - Create the Rest of the Colored Layers

Add a new layer at the top. Select the third darkest color. Draw a circle around the text, and center the circle on the canvas.
Draw Circle Around Text
Drag and drop the color outside the circle.
Drag and Drop to Color Fill Outside the Circle
Add another new layer. With the same color, add leaves around the perimeter of the circle. Rotate the canvas as needed. The leaves should be touching the outside of the circle. 
Add Leaves Around Perimeter of Circle on New Layer
Once you are happy with the leaves layer, tap the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers panel. Choose Combine Down.
Combine Leaves Layer with Circle Layer Below
Repeat this step (Step 2) with the rest of the lighter shades of green. Make the circle a little larger for each color. Pick a different leaf stamp brush to add variety. The finished colored layers should look something like the following image.
Completed Colored Layers

Step 3 - Create the White Edge Layers and Shadow Layers

The white layers will make the edges of each layer look like actual paper edges. The shadow layers will help to create the look of layered paper.
Except for the (hidden) text layer and Layer 1 (darkest colored layer), duplicate each layer twice. When completed, there should be three layers of each colored layer. The second layer will be the white edge layer. The third layer will be the shadow layer. See the following image for a better understanding.
We have more information on how to duplicate in Procreate if you would like to check it out.
Duplicate Layers Two Times Each
Select the color white. For the lightest colored layers, tap the thumbnail of the second layer. Enable Alpha Lock. Tap the thumbnail again of the same layer and choose Fill Layer. Repeat this step for each of the other colored layers’ second layer.
Alpha Lock and Fill Layer With White
Select the color black. For the lightest colored layers, tap the thumbnail of the third layer. Enable Alpha Lock. Tap the thumbnail again of the same layer and choose Fill Layer. Turn off Alpha Lock after filling the layer with black. Repeat this step for each of the other colored layers’ third layer. The layer order should look similar to the image below.
Layer Order Color White Black
Apply a Gaussian blur to all shadow layers. Tap the Adjustments icon. Tap Gaussian Blur and choose Layer.
Apply Gaussian Blur to Shadow Layers
Slide your pen across the screen (left to right) until the Gaussian blur is at 4%.
In the Layers panel, swipe right on all the shadow layers to select them.
Swipe Each Shadow Layer Right to Select It
Tap the Transform icon and slightly offset the shadow layers. The direction will depend on where your light source is coming from. We will offset the shadow layers diagonally (down and left) by tapping outside the canvas near the bottom left corner 15 times. You can also drag the selection instead of tapping. 
Offset Shadow Layers Diagonally to the Bottom Left
In the Layers panel, swipe right on all the white layers to select them. Tap the Transform icon and slightly offset the white layers in the opposite direction, of which you offset the shadow layers. Tap outside the canvas near the upper-right corner two times to shift the white layers up and right. Offset the white layers more if you would like the paper to appear thicker.
Offset White Edge Layers a Tiny Bit

Step 4 - Create the Texture Layers

For a more realistic paper effect, we will add a texture layer above each green-colored layer.
In the Brush Library, select the Carbon Stick brush located in the Charcoals category. Enlarge the brush size.
Select Carbon Stick Brush and Enlarge Brush Size
Next, we will be using a clipping mask in Procreate. Add a new layer at the top. Tap the new layer’s thumbnail and choose Clipping Mask.
Enable Clipping Mask for Texture Layers
Tap the Blend Mode button, and change the blend mode to Multiply.
Change Blend Mode to Multiply
Zoom out on the canvas. Using the same shade of green as the green-colored layer directly below, brush over the whole layer. Lower the opacity of the texture layer. We chose 70% opacity for our texture layers, but you can adjust the opacity to your liking.
Lower Opacity of Texture Layer
Repeat this step for each of the other green-colored layers. Remember, the texture layer goes above the green-colored layer.
Take a look at the finished design in the following image.
Completed Paper Cut Effect Design
If you enjoyed this tutorial, check out our tutorial on how to create a neon text effect in Procreate and how to align objects.

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