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How to Create Layered Cut Out Paper in Adobe Illustrator

November 12, 2021
May 1, 2023

How to Create Layered Cut Out Paper in Adobe Illustrator

Red Shark Digital

We’re back with another Adobe Illustrator effect tutorial! This tutorial will show you how to add a paper cutout effect to your shapes or letters in Adobe Illustrator. For this tutorial we’re going to be adding this effect to a shape, but it works just as well with large, display text! If you download the working file for this tutorial, the colors and assets used here will be in there.

Step 1:

Choose the colors for your layers and top layer. This effect relies on shadows, so avoid very dark colors. Leave your darkest color to be the top layer that has your cutout. Use the pen tool to draw your layers. Start with the highest layer and make horizontal curved lines. Repeat with all your layers, making each one shorter than the previous.

Step 2:

Start adding depth to the layers! Select all the layers you just made and add a drop shadow. You can do this by going to the “Effect” drop down menu, selecting the “Stylize” tab, and selecting “Drop Shadow.” In the pop-up menu, change the Y offset value to “0” so the shadows will cast upward onto the previous layer.

Step 3:

Create a new layer that covers your entire artboard and set it to be your darkest color. Place your shape that you want cut out on top of this layer.

Step 4:

Use the pathfinder tool to subtract the shape from the layer. This will reveal the layers below. Our shape split the paper into two different pieces, so we’re going to add two small rectangle shapes to imply paper connecting the two pieces. Use the combine function of the pathfinder tool to join those pieces together.

Step 5:

Select the top layer that you just made and add a drop shadow. This shadow can have y offset value higher than “0.” We’ll make it the same value as the x offset value.

Now you have a paper cutout effect in Adobe Illustrator! Try this effect with different shapes and large sizes of type.

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