Portraits in paper

Here’s a new one. I created a portrait (recognize her?) from layers of colored paper. The paper was selected to provide a gradation of tonal values. The photograph was processed in Illustrator. I first turned the image to greyscale. Then I made four copies of the image in different layers. Then for each layer I used the “Image Trace” function, setting the threshold differently for each layer to come close to the paper value (mostly guess work on my part) After Image Trace, I “expanded” and then ungrouped the layer. So I ended up with outlined topographical layers of the image.

I tried two methods to cut and place the layers.

Method #1
cut the lightest layer on the vacuum table so bits would not blow away. After cutting, I lefted off the portions of the paper that were not part of the image. Then I put a drop of glue on each remaining piece while still on the running vacuum table. I then placed the full sheet of the next darker paper over that and cut that layer. Repeat two more times. Then glue the final stack onto a piece of black foamcore. It was a difficult method for several reasons. The smaller bits dropped through the screen. It was difficult to put glue down on smaller pieces with out displacing them slightly.

Method #2
I cut the darkest layer first, but I also marked the paper lightly with the laser from the second darkest layer to create a guide for gluing. before removing from the vacuum table I held the pieces together using a few strips of transfer paper. then I removed the paper, flipped it over and applied a few dabs of glue to only the parts to keep. Then flipped and placed it on the black foamcore. I then removed the paper parts that were not part of the image. I repeated the process for the next darkest layer of paper, but this time removed some of the outer areas so I could align it with the lightly marked profiles on the darkest layer. Applied glue as before and placed the layer while aligning it. Repeat two more times and done.

I want to try again using wood veneer stained to various levels of darkness. Might be very cool!



I think it turned out well! Method 2 sounded easier.


Look great! And I recognize her!


that looks great.

i wonder what it would look like if you cut it out of different colors of felt? maybe more of a “soft” feeling, like a velvet elvis.


Yes to felt, not as likely to blow away when placing.

@matt22 That is some fine work!


That turned out amazing…putting it on my to do list!!


You must have a lot of patience! Nice work!

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Nicely done, a fun avenue to explore


Indeed, and the materials cost would make it easy to iterate.
Very nice work Matt! Thanks for that inspiration!

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