This week’s assignment is to create a four-level mastercopy value study using cut paper. The goal of the assignment is to learn how to simplify an image and convey three dimensional form with a limited number of values. We use paper cuts instead of paint for two reasons: using paper ensures we don’t cheat by blending some extra shades of gray and the act of cutting discourages elaborate detail.
I chose to do Edward Hopper’s New York Office. The whole project took about nine hours and at one point I felt like I was playing with paper dolls. One big take away is that there are many ways to approach the design and some are better than others for structural and asthetic reasons. After a three hour false start, I realized it is better to layer the paper in the same order as the items in the scene – in other words, the background should be on the paper towards the back and the forground should be on paper towards the front. I also learned that it is often easier to cut holes that reveal the layer underneath than to cut small pieces to glue on top.
It turns out you can still cheat with papercuts by taking advantage of texture and shadows. One can represent subtle tonal changes with compositions of shapes that are all the same color. One can also use shadows between layers with the same color to represent very fine lines.