How to: Typography for Templates Part Two

Last time we wrote a beautiful word just by transforming our own handwriting but it needed a little more work to make it into a cut-able piece of typography.

I’ve redrawn the text to make it slightly larger than how I was working last time but kept the same style so we can start to make a few adaptations to bring it all together.

wpid-wp-1427123034293.jpegJoin up the writing by simply extending the ends of the letters to meet up with the one after. The e and the two l’s all have easy lines to extend on them and they are the only ones needed to be adapted for the moment.

Next because the H is floating on it’s own we need a way to join it to the rest of the word, a decorative swirl is simple and effective. Using the same techniques as we used to create the letters (thicker on the down strokes) the swirl is created by drawing an expanded figure of 8 type of line.

wpid-wp-1427123350970.jpegWhen creating the swirl make sure it connects the H and e, I have also made the first loop bridge between the second l and the o to add more stability. A teardrop is added to terminate the bottom of the line.

Next, in the name of stability I have extended the flicks on the top of the l’s this provides another bridge so the H isn’t just held on by the swirl at the bottom. Since we can’t do that to just one the second l is joined to the first. (There is no photo of this stage, it was an after thought.)

What we had was perfectly workable for a paper cut, but to even out the designwpid-wp-1427123450494.jpeg there needed to be something around the top of the o, I have drawn in a simple flower, though you could use a star, a heart or any other basic shape.

Next all that is left is to ink the design so you have a final you can use to create a template. I always keep my original drawing as is once it is finished.

We will look at different ways of turning an original drawings into templates another time as this one was fairly quick I used tracing paper to transfer the design “flipped” onto the cutting paper.wpid-wp-1427123861612.jpeg

Since this is the end of the section on how to make your own typography for papercutting templates, here is the final cut, remember we only started with our normal handwriting and transformed it into beautiful typography.

These methods can be applied to everything, next time you are writing a birthday card why not try using these techniques there, or even in your art journal.

It would be great to see what your typography ends up looking like, if you want a different base why not ask your partner/parent/sibling/child/fourth cousin, twice removed to write the starting word and build up from there.

Have fun creating.

How to: Typography for Templates

If it’s just a sentence or a single word then the typography in my paper cuts is usually done by hand.  I’m not the most artistic person ever when it comes to using a pencil but I have learnt a few tricks along the way that help me achieve what I want.


Typography can be pretty daunting when you don’t feel your normal handwriting is up to the task.

One quick way to get around the typography issue, if you want to hand draw the rest of the template, is to type out the words you want and print them so you can draw around them. Make sure you select fonts with the correct licence if you plan to sell your cuts or templates.

With people out there selecting the same fonts hand lettering will help you create unique templates, every design is then personal to you.

Transform Your Handwriting

So let’s look at how you can transform your own handwriting to make some great typography without having to buy anything special or spend a long time learning about the specific rules of typography. After all we are creating individual works of art, not perfect graphics.

Let’s start by writing out a word with a pencil. I have added guide lines to my paper as I’m very guilty of writing on a slant without them. You can use pre lined paper for this or you can draw guide lines on plain paper if you want larger line spacing.

Pretty boring normal writing but now we can start to build it up to look more interesting. Lets go back and add some more detail to the letters.

To be honest I picked a pretty boring word to start with but you can add little flicks to the tops of the L’s, extend the crossbar of the H , add a few swirls and bend a few of those straight lines. Already our boring word and shapeless handwriting is looking a little more decorative.

Now we can start to build up the letters by thickening some lines to make a faux calligraphy style.

Use your pencil to make the vertical strokes of the letters thicker and keep the horizontal lines thin, or vice versa. You can taper the thickness so it blends in easily. You may also decide to make all the lines thicker, so long as one set of lines is thicker than the other. Maybe have a play with making the horizontal lines thickest?

Once you are happy with the lines you can go around the outer edges of the letters with a fine liner pen and erase all the pencil marks. It does look pretty nifty like that or you can fill all the gaps in with pen after you have erased the pencil marks.

There are many other options to explore using this method, try making the lines vary in thickness through one stroke, extend lines more or even less. Add serifs or other shapes to terminate the letters. If you normally write with a round hand put some angles in and vice versa.
Once you have the typography for the template you want to create, scan the text (always save the original) and print a copy to start drawing the other details on.
If you want to feel particularly organised rather than doing single words and short sentences create a whole alphabet in upper and lower case. Then you can trace the letters as you need them.

Obviously none of this is joined for cutting so we can’t cut it yet (unless we added some anchors to cut in negative) but next time we will look at ways to decorate your typography to turn it into a cut-able template.

Papercut Template Designers

When I started papercutting I found a lot of the lists didn’t differentiate between personal and commercial use and I often saw people asking specifically for commercial use or just personal use. I found that a lot of shops did order their store categories by personal and commercial use when the sold separate licences, a few had them mixed in, some only dealt with one licence type.
So I started clicking links and compiling a list, it is by no means definitive but it should serve as a good guide.

If you are a designer and want to be added or you notice a broken link/closed shop then feel free to contact me to help keep this list updated.