How to Make Inexpensive
High Quality Cardboard Cutouts for Your Child's Birthday Party



When it comes to themed birthday party ideas, cardboard cutouts are an amazing addition to any kids party. Just the expression on your child's face the moment they see a life size cutout of their favorite character, animal, or even themselves will be worth the time and effort.

They are truly universal for all birthday party themes, whether you need western cutouts, secret agent cutouts, knight cutouts, or Harry Potter character cardboard cutouts. Before you check out our directions for cardboard character cutouts look at these amazing looking low priced themed cutouts.


Low Cost High Quality Cardboard Cutout Standups



Below you will find instructions for building 3 different types of cardboard character cutouts.

The first set of directions require the use of an overhead projector which can be rented from almost any Audio - Visual Equipment rental store, the rental price is around $20 a day. To skip to these instructions click here: Overhead Projector Instructions

The second set will require going to a printing service, like Kinko's, for the basic sheets for the standup. Although these directions for cardboard cutouts will cost you more than the first set, it will save you time and still cost considerably less than purchasing your cardboard standees from a retailer. To skip to these instructions click here: Printing Service Instructions

The last set requires the use of a computer with an inkjet printer. The better the quality of the computer and printer the better quality lifesize cutouts you will produce. This will be the fastest and most cost efficient way to make your own cardboard cutouts. To skip to these instructions click here: Computer Instructions


Overhead Projector Instructions

Here is the list of materials you will need to make these cardboard cutout standees:

  • Overhead Projector
  • Projector Transparencies
  • Large Cardboard Sheet / Box
  • Tempera Poster Paint
  • Large Poster Stand / Base
  • Butcher Paper
  • Black Marker
  • Glue

First, find various coloring book pictures of what cardboard cutouts you want to make and Xerox them onto clear transparencies. Project the images on the transparencies onto the butcher paper and use the black marker to trace the projected picture onto the paper. Then paint the picture as desired, and cut it out.

You can either use liquid glue that dries clear and apply it with a foam paint roller or use spray adhesive. Now take the glue and apply it to the cardboard, it is best to have two people to do this to ensure that the cutout is laid down evenly with as few bubbles and wrinkles as possible.

You can use a new foam paint roller to follow the portion that you just laid down to further help reduce bubbles and wrinkles in your standees. If liquid glue is used let dry for 1 day. Now attach the cutout to its base or you can make your own base, and enjoy the fact that with a little work you just saved yourself a lot of money and made your child's birthday party even better.


Printing Service Instructions

  • High Quality Picture
  • Large Cardboard Sheet / Box
  • Large Poster Stand / Base
  • Glue

You will need to use a high quality picture, or if it is a digital picture it must be high pixel picture. If you are taking the picture of what you're enlarging into life size standee be sure to use a 7 megapixel camera or higher. Anything smaller and your picture will distort when enlarged.

Now take your picture(s) to a copy shop, like Kinko's, and they will print it to whatever size you want on one large sheet. Keep in mind that they do charge around $5 per square foot, but the quality will be high and it will still cost less than buying a cardboard cutout from a business.

It is best to use spray adhesive, since it dries quickly and won't compromise the quality of the picture. Now take the glue and apply it to the cardboard. It is best to have two people to do this to make sure the cutout is laid down evenly with as little bubbles and wrinkles as possible, as with adhesive you will only get one shot at this. You can use a new foam paint roller to follow the portion that you just laid down to reduce bubbles and wrinkles in your cardboard character cutouts.

Now attach the cutout to its base or you can make your own base, and enjoy the fact that with a little effort you just saved yourself some money and gave your child even better birthday party.


Computer Instructions

  • Computer
  • Inkjet or Laser Printer
  • High Quality Picture
  • Large Cardboard Sheet / Box
  • Large Poster Stand / Base
  • Glue

For these cardboard cutouts you will need a high quality, high pixel picture. If you are taking the picture yourself be sure to use a digital camera that takes pictures that are no less than 7 megapixels. Anything smaller and your picture will distort when you enlarge it. Make sure that the picture has a solid color background.

You will need a computer with a decent graphics program or you can download Poster 7.9 at www.postersw.com. This program is available at no risk and free to try. It will let you make 10 posters then you can choose to purchase the program or just delete it. Make sure you close down all other programs on your computer as rendering a small picture to life size uses a lot of memory.

You want to choose to "resize the image", and then choose to display size in "inch". Choose the height you want your finished cardboard cutouts to be, and then print it in sections. You can use liquid glue and apply it with a foam paint roller or use spray adhesive. Apply the glue to the cardboard. Liquid glue works best, because it allows you to be able to slide the image in place.

Once complete, let the glue set until it has dried then attach it to the base and now your cardboard cutouts are complete. Now you can rejoice it the fact that you have just saved yourself money and made your child's birthday even better.


Instead of cardboard you can use:

Instead of cardboard you can use also corrugated plastic, also known as coroplast, which can be purchased at most sign or arts and crafts stores. Coroplast is great substitute as it is far more durable than cardboard.

You can also use foam core, which is inexpensive, but it is typically sold in 30" by 40" and 3/16 inch thick pieces. Therefore, you will (depending on what your making) need to glue and brace a couple of these together to make your lifesize cutouts.

For longer lasting cardboard cutouts you can use 1/4" tempered hardboard. Both the foam core and the hardboard can be purchased from most home repair stores.


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