This is a tutorial for 3 dimensional paper layering art. I’d share some of my tips for how to make layered paper art.
As I’ve probably said a million times on this blog, I really love working with paper. It is by far, my favorite material for crafts. All the scraps are compost friendly, it’s affordable and there are so many different types of crafts you can make with it.
Even within the category of paper art, there are so many different forms it can take. I personally consider all of my handmade card designs art of course 🙂 but more traditional forms are more in the direction of 3D figurines, cutout art, and of course layered cutout art.
One of the areas of paper crafts I’ve really gotten into lately is 3D paper art. I just think it’s so much fun to layer and create different designs based on simple concepts. It’s much easier than making full-on 3D paper crafts in which you really have to think in a three-dimensional space for the design aspect of it. There are all sorts of abstract themes you can play on and even with the same design template, you can make multiple creations just using different layering techniques and different color combinations of paper.
*this article contains affiliate links for your convenience, see full disclosures here
Materials for 3D Layered Paper Art
Cardstock – I like to use medium weight paper with colored cores. The more intricate the design, the more you need to use paper with colored cores. Otherwise, it looks too frayed. Here are some of my favorite brands:
- Assorted Starter Pack – Basic assorted colors, great starter pack, perfect weight for most papercraft projects
- Cricut Joy Insert Card Packs – You don’t have to use these with the Cricut Joy, they are nice material kids for cardmaking.
- Cardstock Warehouse Brand on Amazon – I love the quality of all the matte-colored cardstock with Cardstock Warehouse. It is my go-to brand for individual matte colors that I might need
- Poptone Assorted Variety Pack – This is the perfect peppy assortment of colors of heavy cardstock. It’s a heavy cardstock assortment with colors I actually use frequently for cardmaking.
- Seasonal Assorted Variety Pack – This is a slight variation on the Poptone assortment and has a quite few neutrals that complement almost any accent color.
- Stardream Metallics Line – For paper crafts, the Stardream line is the go-to for a metallic shimmer finish. It is the perfect sheen to make any project pop. The core is also colored is which hard to find for metallic paper.
Glue – If you want to get a more 3-dimensional look, I’d highly recommend using foam tape. I prefer the Scotch brand foam tape. Otherwise, I’d suggest just sticking to adhesives that do not warp the paper. Here are some products I use frequently for paper art:
Template – if you like this ocean scene layered paper art template along with many other paper art project templates, they are all free and available in both SVG and printable PDF formats in my free resource library.
3d Layered Paper Art Tutorial
Working with the 3d layered paper art SVG
I mentioned there are many things you can do with the same template. One of the ways is to play with resizing the original template design.
Now, this doesn’t work with every design, only the ones that take on a more abstract theme like this one here. Because it is circular in designs, I can just enlarge or shrink the different layers and re-sequence them to my liking. I can also mirror a layer to reposition some of the subjects in the design.
If your design is more linear, you can do a similar alteration by resizing smaller to make it more distant and enlarging to make it looks like it is closer. Mirroring also works for linear designs.
Cutting the 3d layered paper art template
I like to use my Cricut cutting machines for these projects. It is so easy especially if you already have the design made. It is possible to make these pieces of art with just a knife but it takes a lot more time and some cutting skills to get the design right.
I like to use a fresh light grip mat for most paper cutting projects. It is much easier to clean the scraps with a light grip mat. It has to be fresh though. Otherwise, the more intricate areas of the template will snag.
I highly recommend getting a lint roller to pick up all the little scraps. In a pinch, I also like scotch tape to pick off the smaller scraps. It makes things go so much fasting!
For the most intricate designs, I like to mirror all the layers and then flip them over when assembling. I find the side of the paper touching the mat has a much cleaner look (less frayed) and creates a better-finished product.
Gluing paper layering art
I have a lot of cards with multiple layers. For those projects, I like to keep the finished product a little flatter so I use just an adhesive roller and glue. The key here is to use a glue that does not warp the paper. While cheaper, most polymer-based glue like Elmers does warp paper so I would stick to my recommendations above.
For 3D paper art, I find most of the designs look better with a little spacing between each layer. You can still glue spacers between the layers but I find it is easier to just use double-sided foam tape.
In this scenario, I like 1/8th inch foam tape.
It is really straight forward to use. You just cut strips of smaller pieces and stick them on. I personally like to put foam tape in roughly the same position between each layer. I find this makes for the most evenly spaced layers.
A few random tips on 3d layered paper art
In this ocean-themed 3D Paper art example, I used a range of blue cardstock and then finished with a printed watercolor design as the final base piece. This is a color scheme I use frequently, a monochromatic range finished with a printed design. You can inverse the direction of the colors by going from darkest to lightest to suit the theme. I’m trying to create an illusion of depth here so I went from lightest to darkest.
Sometimes, I run out of a particular color or just have a scrap piece that isn’t the perfect size. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Under the top layer of this art piece, not all the underlying layers cover all four corners. As long as your paper scrap covers the visible part of the designs, that’s all you need. So if you have a last scrap piece of paper that fits your color scheme perfectly, go ahead and use it as a middle layer. No one will know!