Paper cutting has a long and colourful history, it originated in China where the very first paper cutting art discovered was dated from around the 6th century! Things have come a long way since then but the principles still remain the same. It has been described as a very mindful process, and once you find your rhythm will be very therapeutic. In saying that, it might take a bit of practice and probably a lot of torn paper before you can get into the really detailed paper cutting, but the outcomes are very worth the practice and time.
If you are a beginner to this craft it can be very helpful to start with a paper cutting template, rather than trying to go freehand, it gives you some guidance and there are some very creative templates available. We have chosen our favourite paper cutting templates for you to browse right here, some are free and others can be purchased from designers, we have included a mixture of difficulty levels – so whether you are new to paper cutting or a dab hand already, we’re sure you’ll find something you love.
What is paper cutting?
Paper cutting is a traditional method of cutting a design by hand into a single sheet of paper, originating from China. Since its beginnings, it has moved across the world adapting to a huge variety of cultural styles. The design possibilities are endless for paper cutting, from simple designs to huge intricate pieces.
Tools for paper cutting
- You’ll need a sharp blade – we’d recommend this Soft Grip Blade (just remember to store them safely because they are very sharp)
- A cutting mat to protect surfaces (A3 is a good size) – try this ANSIO cutting mat
- Cutting card – anything between 120gms-160gms is usually fine, but just find what works for you and your blades, bear in mind thinner card is more prone to tearing
- The last thing you’ll need is a template – and that’s where we come in, keep reading for paper cutting template inspiration!
If you want to purchase everything at once check out this paper cutting beginners kit on Etsy, it contains everything you need to get started, plus some amazing templates.
How to do paper cutting
As mentioned for beginners it’s helpful to use a template when you are getting started. When you begin cutting it’s always best to start from the middle of a design and work your way outwards, avoid jumping around the design as the paper can weaken this way. Slowly begin to cut away your design, and ensure the pieces you cut away are moved to one side – cutting through them below the design can damage your blade. There are two main types of paper cutting:
Positive cuts vs negative cuts for paper cutting
Positive cuts – meaning cutting away space around the design (the outside cuts). Check out design number 1 on the list as an example.
Negative cuts – which means cutting away the design itself from the paper (the inside lines) – check out design number 3 on the list as an example.
Finishing your paper cutting design
There are many things you can do with your designs once completed, they often look lovely simply mounted on some contrasting card and framed. You can also create greetings cards from them, in particular, they are well suited to wedding invitations or congratulations cards thanks to their often floral and delicate designs.
If you’re really keen on cardmaking take a look at our best printers for card making, and if you’re in need of a glue gun find the best glue gun for cardmaking and crafting. Alternatively, you could also mount your finished cuttings on a lightbox frame, which can look really effective.
31 paper cutting templates
Meadow paper cutting template
This romantic meadow design would make an amazing boho-style gift, it’s entwining leaves create a magical scene that we could just look at all day. If you do in fact want to look at it all day, it would be lovely mounted on some contrasting card and framed. Find this meadow paper cutting template on Etsy.
Beach-themed wreath free paper cutting template
Celebrate the beauty of the ocean with this intricate wreath paper cut design, it would make a lovely gift for any beach bums you know or if you’re looking to bring a little bit of the fresh ocean breeze into your home. It would look great mounted in a frame against some blue card. You can download this ocean paper cutting template totally free, and what’s more, the designer – Sea Salt and Samphire offers a huge range of other designs for free too!
Appletree paper cutting template
The apple of my eye! This pretty design is created by Paper Panda Papercuts, and is available as a digital download, ready to be printed as many times are you wish (yes we might still need some practice)! It would look amazing framed onto a colourful backdrop to really show off the design. Get the appletree paper cutting template for £12.00 on Etsy.
Hanging leaves paper cutting template
This a slightly less traditional way of displaying your paper cutting but we absolutely love it! This paper cutting template kit from Fairy Made Paper Art containing an instruction manual, printed templates, a dowel rod, string, and ribbon. It’s a great beginner project as you can follow the simple instructions and it creates a really effective piece – ready to hang!
Nautical anchor free paper cutting template
This one almost looks like a tattoo, but it’s you’re not ready for that just yet, give this nautical design a go with paper. You can download this free paper cutting template over at All Things Paper, plus you can find some great resources if you need help getting started with this design.
Mushroom paper cutting template
There’s so mush-room in our lives for this amazing paper cutting template from
Heart free paper cutting template
Love is in the air! Give the gift of love with this cute heart paper cutting template. This design is perfect for those loving occasions and would make a thoughtful wedding or Valentine’s card. If you can’t bear to part with it though, why not mount it on some colourful paper and frame it? This free template is available from Sea Salt and Samphire, download the PDF of the heart free paper cutting template.
Paper cutting templates for card making
These greetings card paper cutting templates are printed on 100gms paper and ready for you to cut available from Meet the Moon Designs on Etsy. They are specifically designed for greetings cards of all types, from birthdays to graduations or simply just to let someone know you’re thinking of them. In the pack, you will receive a good variety of designs to test your paper cutting skills.
Paper cutting template map
Creativsm UK on Etsy will create a paper cutting template with a road or place of significance – where you met your partner, where you got married, or a place you’ve visited – all you need to do is send in the postcode you want to be featured. You will then receive a digital download ready to be printed and cut at home!
Paper cutting template cat
This floral cat is a medium difficulty, so good for once you’ve had a few practice tries and are ready for the next challenge. It’s a beautiful design and would appeal to any cat lovers out there, it would make a wonderful gift as a framed picture. Find the cat paper cutting template on Etsy.
Owl paper cutting template
What a hoot! Create a paisley owl with this lovely template from Katie Packer Artist available on Etsy. This piece perfectly depicts a majestic owl on a moon, capturing the essence of its nocturnal life. It would look magical backed with black paper for a striking finished artwork. Find the owl paper cutting template on Etsy.
‘Water the plants’ paper cutting template
This simple, yet fun design is suitable for beginners, it has slightly fewer intricacies than other templates on this list making a great starter piece. It would look great backed on dark green paper for contrast, ready to display next to your plants (as a handy reminder). Find the plants paper cutting template on Etsy.
Adventures in paper cutting book by Emma Boyes
This glorious paper cutting book by Emma Boyes is full to the brim with creative paper cutting templates, this edition contains advanced designs with lots of details, great for anyone who is ready to master this incredible skill. The book contains 12 ready-to-cut templates with designs including a llama, a hummingbird, a Highland cow, a flamingo, and many more (plus each design is supplied 3 times for any errors)! Emma also has other editions with different and easier levels of paper cutting too.
Welsh village paper cutting template
Get a little more abstract with your design with this amazing Welsh village paper cutting template. This digital download is available from Caroline Rees Papercut on Etsy and comes in a size perfect for printing onto A4 size paper. Caroline Rees also has lots of other uniquely beautiful designs available in her shop which are worth checking out!
Family tree paper cutting template
With this custom template, you can create your bespoke family tree containing up to 5 names, all you need to do is send in your chosen names and you will receive a digital download of the design, ready for you to print at home. This beautiful design would be lovely for your own home, but would also make a special gift for new families. Find the custom family tree paper cutting template on Etsy.
Bumper pack of paper cutting templates
This bumper pack of paper cutting templates contains 20 fun templates printed on 120gsm smooth white acid-free paper. All templates are suitable for beginners and can be framed or mounted after completion so that they can be displayed around the home or given as gifts. The templates are designed to fit 8×8″ frames.
Custom letter paper cutting template
Choose your letter or an ampersand and you will be sent a digital download ready to be printed and cut at home. As shown, the letters really pop when mounted onto brightly coloured paper – they make a funky framed picture, perfect to brighten up your own walls or give to a friend as a unique gift. Find the custom letter paper cutting template on Etsy.
House paper cutting template
Now, if you’re looking for a real challenge try your hand at this detailed house paper cutting template digital download from Paper Panda. Its tiny details will surely pose a challenge for even the most skilled paper cutters, but the outcome will be totally worth it. When finished, it would look amazing mounted on several different coloured pieces of card behind each level of the house creating a truly magical scene. We’re not even going to say it would make a beautiful gift (it would) but we just know it would be too hard to part with!
Alice in Wonderland paper cutting template
Immerse yourself in the magic of wonderland with this amazing paper cutting template from Pretty Paper Petal on Etsy for only £3.48 for a digital download that can be printed at home. The beauty of buying a digital download is that you can print it as many times as you need to (for any potential mistakes), so even if you think it might be a bit tricky, you can take a chance on it!
Wall-e paper cutting template
Capture the magic of the big screen with this captivating paper cutting template of Wall-E. As you can see from the picture, this paper cutting has been mounted on a lightbox, which can be another really effective way to display your artwork. Of course, you are able to display it in an ordinary frame too if you prefer that. This paper cutting template is available as a digital download for only £3.60 on Etsy.
Cut It Out! Paper cutting templates book
If you can’t decide on a design, give this book a try, it features 30 highly original and stylish designs by cutting-edge illustrator and renowned paper cut artist Poppy Chancellor. We can’t see what designs are inside so it is a bit of a gamble, but the mystery of it is fun and you might find something you love. Find the paper cutting template book on Amazon for £11.99.
Horses paper cutting template
These horse paper cut templates are stunning and they can be used in so many different ways, from greetings cards to collages. They can be bought as a digital download for you to print at home, so what you do with them is totally up to you – let your creativity shine! Plus you can print and cut them as many times as you like, you’ll have a whole herd in no time.
Wedding gift paper cutting template
Weddings and paper cutting are almost synonymous; paper cutting resembles the essence of a wedding due to its often floral and delicate designs. So what better gift to celebrate the newlyweds than this beautiful wedding paper cutting template, the template is provided as a digital download for you to print at home. Once you’ve completed the design on your chosen paper you could back it on a paper of your choice and frame it for the lucky couple.
Family tree paper cutting template
This is the second family tree we’ve had on the list, but we couldn’t resist its charm! Plus it’s a wonderful way to celebrate your family. This family tree paper cutting template can be personalised with up to 18 names, and amazingly it is only £8.00 for the digital download, ready to be printed and cut at home.
Baby name paper cutting template
Whilst we’re talking family, if you know someone with a baby on the way or if they’ve recently had a baby, this baby name paper cutting template would be the perfect project to complete and give as a unique gift to the new parents. This digital download can be found on Etsy and personalised with the baby name, weight, birthday, and time of birth – what a wonderful keepsake.
Christmas paper cutting templates
Paper cutting is the perfect winter pastime, it’s a lovely craft to do when it’s rainy and cold outside and you can get cosy inside. These festive paper cutting designs would make wonderful Christmas cards for friends and family, and they are just that little bit extra special. You can find these Christmas paper cutting templates on Etsy – all printed on 100gms paper and ready to cut.
Paper lantern paper cutting template
Do something a little different with your paper cutting skills with these wonderful lantern paper cutting templates designed by Lucy Dorothy. They feature simple house and tree designs that are suitable for beginners. In the kit, you’ll receive everything you need to make these laterns; 4 x A5 designs printed on 120gsm paper and translucent parchment to finish. They create a really magical glow, perfect for relaxing on a Winter’s evening.
Sunshine paper cutting template
Bring a little bit of sunshine into someone’s life with this lovely sunny paper cutting template. This artwork would look wonderful framed and hanging in a child’s bedroom or given as a gift to your favourite person. The template is available to buy as a printed copy on Etsy, you might want to buy a backup copy too if you are worried about making a mistake!
London paper cutting template
If you’re a fan of the big smoke, or you know someone who is, this London paper cutting art would make a lovely framed picture to hang on the wall. This is the physical item and you can purchase the pre-printed design ready to be cut. Find the London paper cutting template on Etsy.
Quote paper cutting template
This pretty tattoo-style bird paper cutting template would make a lovely birthday present to someone special. You can find this on Etsy as a digital download, ready to print yourself at home. You can download the print as many times as you like, if you have multiple recipients in mind, or want one for yourself.
Elephant lightbox paper cutting template
This magical scene is a layered paper cutting template from Bich Paper Art. The cutting is mounted in a shadow box frame with a strip LED to create the light effect. You can purchase the template as a digital download, but you will need to purchase the frame separately. Find the layered paper cutting template on Etsy.
Now it’s time to choose your favourite designs and get cutting! If you’re feeling inspired and fancy trying out more amazing paper crafts, check out our origami for beginners, the traditional art of paper folding. If you love paper cutting you might want to try your hand at die cutting (which is paper cutting but with a machine and metal templates) check out our guide to the best die cutting machine.