Papercut is something many creatives would like to become skilled in, but spend five minutes with a scalpel and some paper and it becomes clear that this isn't just like picking up a pencil -- you need to learn new skills to produce even passable work. Papercuts aren't so complex that they're beyond the skills of most creative people -- and they don't require years of practice to produce something you can be proud of -- but there are techniques that you need to understand and work on before you'll make something you'd be happy to show to another human being.
Learning these papercut techniques requires a good teacher, and this is why papercut artist Mr Yen has published his first book, Teach Yourself To Papercut. Mr Yen -- aka Jonathan Chapman -- has produced papercuts for brands such as Lynx (below), though he has recently decided to specialise in wedding stationary (an unsurprisingly lucrative market). He's also written for Digital Arts on how unexpected redundancy led to him becoming a full-time papercut artist, a story of adversity becoming opportunity.
Teach Yourself To Papercut is a self-published ebook packed with practical advice on how to take your first steps into creating papercuts. It starts very simple indeed, kicking off with a list of what you'll need -- but even this includes a wealth of detail and advice such as exactly what scalpel to buy (a Swann Morton Surgical Scalpel) and why it's important to avoid certain types of paper as they can snag the blade.
There's also some very important safety advice, illustrated by Jonathan's own story of how he managed to stab himself by accident (though thankfully this isn't illustrated with photos).
The core of the book are papercut tips and tutorials. You start out on simple shapes -- squares and circles -- before moving onto more intricate shapes such as typography. By the time you've worked through these a couple of times, you should be able to create more complex papercuts such as butterflies and flowers. You can use your own drawings for these, but Jonathan has helpfully included sheets that you can print out and work from to get you started.
The Deluxe version of the book -- which is £10 rather than £8, so the version you should buy -- offers tips and tutorials about more than pure papercutting. There's advice on framing and presenting your cut that reveals some easily achievable ways to turn your papercut into a saleable piece (or gift).
£10 might sound like a lot for a 29-page self-published ebook, but if you want to take your first steps into creating beautiful papercuts, this is an ideal buy. Just remember to be careful with your scalpel.