Monday, April 8, 2013

DIY- Superhero Wooden Cutouts!

Way back in September we had a Super Why themed first birthday for the Grayson Boy.  Like, for real, the kid was obsessed with that show so it was the only reasonable option for his big my-parents-kept-me-alive-for-a-whole-year shindig.
I did alot of DIY projects for the party- a birthday banner, a high chair re-do, custom superhero capes, cupcake face toppers, and these wooden cut outs for the kids to pose with and have their picture taken as a Super Reader.  I created tutorials for alot of the projects, but recently Ive been contacted alot about how I made these guys- so I decided to post directions on how I made them.
First, I have to let you in on my dirty little secret. I can NOT draw. Seriously, stick figures are as good as it gets.  When I try to draw diagrams on the board in class my students are often like, please just stop. Its that bad.  So how did I manage to make these guys look so darn good?
With this guy.

Yep, the overhead projector the teacher used in school to put notes up on the board.
I found one at a yard sale for $15 dollars and brought that little guy home, because I knew it would come in handy one day.  It just so happened that I was right.
First I went onto Sprout and printed out some coloring book pages of the characters.  Then I took them to a local copy store and ran them off on transparencies (clear plastic paper).  If you have a laser printer you can probably print right onto the transfer paper, but I have an ink jet so it would just smear like crazy on the transparency.
Then I had to pick up my board.  I used 4 x 4 Luan- which is a is a thin layer of plywood veneer made from tropical wood. Plywood is a wood panel made of thin layers of wood veneer glued together, but Luan typically has a solid core of wood between two layers of veneer, though the solid core may have problems with voids and dry spots in the glue of the veneer. It tends to be softer and lighter than most plywood. It cost me around $6 per sheet and I knew I could get two characters on one board- so roughly $3 per piece.  You can always get thicker plywood, its just up to you. 
I primed the Luan and set up the projector in the front hallway and got to work.  I positioned the first character on the overhead projector and fiddled until it was taking up the left half of the board.  Then I got to work with my Sharpe marker tracing the projected image.  I knew I would go back and paint over the lines with black craft paint, so this was just a quick trace to get the picture transferred.
Once I got one traced, I flipped the second character over and positioned it on the other side and repeated the process. Then I went back with a small paint brush and black craft paint and filled in all of the lines.
Once the black lines were dry it was time to bust out the craft paint.  I actually printed the characters out in color, then took that paper to the paint aisle at JoAnn's to match colors.  It was also really helpful to have them in color while I was painting, so that I didnt make any mistakes like mixing up two colors. Then I started painting.  It took maybe an hour and a half to paint both characters fully, then I let them dry and went back over the black edges again to clean up any painting out of the lines.
I will tell you that when you do this on your own you will look at it and see all of these little imperfections, but when you take a picture of it you will not see them at all- so don't freak out.  Once its all dry you send the husband out to the garage with the jigsaw to cut the characters out and build a small three sided box to affix to the back with some glue.  Then all you have to do is drive a garden stake into the ground and they stand up perfectly!
Then you just stick the birthday boy behind the Super You and take as many pictures as he will let you- which if you have my child, is about two before he runs away.
All total the project took maybe five hours total, from tracing to cut out and the total cost was somewhere around $35.  Not too shabby, but if you didn't already own the transparencies or most of the craft paint it could cost a bit more.  Even still, people on Etsy charge upwards of $50 per character, so it was a smart DIY choice.


  1. Omg, you are amazing! Thank you so much for posting!! (I just posted a request a few days ago requesting instructions, you are the best)

  2. These are adorable. I can't believe you found this overhead projector at a garsge sale. I would have snapped that up in a second!!

  3. Amazing! This is seriously such a good idea!! They turned out great!

  4. Amazing idea! What kind of paint and brushes did you use?

  5. Wao this is great, do you sell them?

  6. OMG! These are amazing I am currently looking for something like this for my sons party this year. Do you still haven them? I would gladly purchase them from you.


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