Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched-Out Effect

Cut It Out text example Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect With the surging popularity of die-cutting machines in paper scrapbooking, and of course the huge variety of classic hand-held punches available, I've noticed a punchy trend popping up everywhere on paper pages. How cute are those mustaches?! 17732992253653459 533U7oZS f Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect beach baby1 Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect 5th.grade .lo  Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect But why should paper scrappers have all the fun? A few simple steps and you can punch out anything on your digital page, even text! Keep reading to learn two ways to get this look - it's easier than you might think.

Inner Shadow Style

To begin, I chose my background paper and created a paper block out of a contrasting paper (you can use any papers you want, of course!). In the layers palette, my paper block is directly above the background paper (all papers and elements from The Lilypad's Summer Bucket List collection unless otherwise stated). Now to get punching! Step One: Create your shape on top of the paper block, or a journaling card, or whatever you want to "punch" the shape out of. The custom shape tool includes dozens of fun shapes - I used a solid star for my demo, but you can achieve some interesting effects with an outlined shape, too. The shape will automatically fill with the foreground color. Step Two: Duplicate your background paper without moving it around on the page (this is important), and in the layers palette, drag the copy of the background paper on top of your shape. Now clip the paper to your shape (Ctrl+Alt+G in Photoshop). It should look about like this:

Clip copy of paper to shape Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect

Notice how I already added my regular drop shadow to the paper block (Layer 2)? Now we're ready to make that star look like it's actually punched out of the white paper!

Step Three: Apply an inner shadow style to your shape, carefully matching up with the drop shadow settings on your paper block for best results. Double-click on the shape layer in the layers palette, and you'll find the Inner Shadow style settings right below the Drop Shadow settings. In the photo below you can see the settings I used. Make sure the Angle matches up with the angle of your other drop shadows, and fine-tune the Opacity, Distance and Size as needed.

Inner Shadow settings shape on card 1024x756 Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect

If you're not happy with the placement of your shape, no problem - you can move that shape layer (and the paper block) anywhere. The key thing to remember is to not move the clipped paper! If you do, the patterns won't match up. Trust me, it will look weird.

Another tip - this works great with text, too. Just type out your words with a nice chunky font, clip the paper to the type layer, and add your style (see an example at the beginning of this post).

Eraser Tool

The eraser tool provides another quick and easy, but less flexible, method. Use this technique when you want to layer other elements to peek out from underneath your punched paper. Although my example uses a full 12x12 sheet of paper, this would work equally well on a strip of paper, journaling card, or anything else you want to punch a shape out of. First stack your papers with the paper you want to peek through on the bottom, and the paper you'll be "punching" on the top. Select the Eraser Tool, then choose your brush (I chose to turn the Bold It alpha by Lauren Grier into a brush set, but you can use any .abr brush). "Erase" your letters/shapes from the top paper (ensure your brush opacity and flow settings are at 100%). Apply your favorite regular drop shadow setting to that top paper. And it will turn out something like this:

Eraser tool cutouts Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect

You can now move your cutout paper around, but you won't be able to adjust the letters/shapes at all - you have essentially erased that portion of the top paper, allowing whatever's underneath to peek through. Try slipping some embellishments under there! In the example below, I moved the paper and stuck a few bits underneath it.

Eraser tool cutouts moved Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect

Now it's all ready for me to scrap away on top! I hope you enjoyed learning a new technique. If you've ever created digital cut-outs on a scrapbook page, please link us up in the comments! This technique is so versatile, I would love to see how other scrappers apply it.

If you prefer the ease of clicking a button, a few designers have done the work for you. If you use Photoshop Elements, Anna Forrest made a script so you can join the fun, too!

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mbatton cutitout LRG Cut it Out: How to Create a Punched Out Effect

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Have fun, and tell us, have you ever cut out a shape either in real or digital paper?    Send article as PDF   
  • Lynden Blossom
  • Stacey

    Some designers offer templates now with cut-outs done for you, as well. Here’s one of my favorites:

    Peek-a-Book vol 1 from Trixie Scraps:

    I made this page with them:

  • NathL

    there is allways something to learn about shadows!
    thank you very much, this will be a great help :)
    NathL from France

  • Bulles de bonheur

    Thnak you for this tutorial but I am using The Gimp and though I more or less understand the various steps…I still can’t make it. Could it be possible to have a tutorial for Gimp?
    Thanks a lot

  • NathL

    sorry I have just seen the question :
    yes I did but I used GIMP and I’m not sure I manage it the easier way :)

    I still have a lot to learn about my application :)

  • frutselke

    Great tutorial! I love punching and cutting out, both in paper and digital.

  • Els AW

    Thank you for the tutorial!
    Looks fun to me ;-)

  • Lea

    Thank you for sharing this tutorial. It’s going to be fun to try it.

  • Ana

    I loove this article…. congrats!!!
    Thanks for sharing my shadows… it’s one of my best selled products and I love using shadows for a cut out effect! ;) They really turns a simple page in a gorgeous one… love those image examples you posted here!
    I’ll try to do more cut out elements in my next kit too! ;)

  • Robinsismai

    Thank you for sharing! I love this and I can’t wait to try it!

  • sue neilson

    HOpefully someone can help as I’ve looked up shortcuts on internet and still cant find what Im looking for. Trying to work out what the G is eqivalent to on a MAC. At the beginning of this tutorial (page 3) instructions give Ctrl+Alt+G in a Mac that is Cmmd+Opt+????? I would really love to work on this tutorial as been searching for this for weeks

    Regards – Sue Neilson


    Thank for the tut’s .I think they will be very helpful.

  • Peni Astiti @ My Scrapbook’s Home

    thank you so much for the tutorial. I learn something new. I’ll show you when I made it…