Name That Christmas Special

Cutouts: The Grinch, Max and Grinchlets

This is a repost from my personal blog, but it fits better here. It’s quite old, but the idea is still a good one: How to make your own Grinch and Max cutouts…

So years ago I made a number of Grinch and Max cutouts, which I gave to people as gifts. They were really easy and people asked me how to make them so I wanted to share some tips and ideas on how you can make your own.

Note: I do not sell these, I do not make them any more. I won’t make any for you, and I won’t do other characters. I’m more than happy to help you with some ideas and tips on how you can make your own, but I have no interest and making some for you and mailing them to you.

First thing you want to do is get a design. You can make your own, or you can download any of these below. Right click to download pdfs of Max and the Grinch, in colour or black and white. Of course you can make whatever you want. I find Colouring books make great, simple drawing for you to use if you want to try other characters.

Black & White Grinch PDF

Once you download these files, we need to get something to transfer them onto…

A Finished Grinch (Looking none-too-impressed!)

In this case, I used 1/8th inch Masonite, but you could use cardboard, or plywood, or whatever you have readily available. I primed a couple of sheets with white primer, making it easier to draw on and paint later on. I always find it useful to do a number at a time, since I know I’ll end up doing a couple…

Priming up Masonite sheets (4’x4′)

Once the primer dries, I transfer the image onto the primer. There are a number of options here. I sometimes use an Artograph Tracer/Projector Enlarger. It’s a handy little workhorse and I don’t think it cost much at the time. I worry more about running out of lightbulbs than I do about it breaking. It’ll be worth buying one if you do a couple of these.

Of course, I also sometimes use a multimedia projector which are getting cheaper and cheaper all the time. Hook a laptop up to a projector and trace away.

Tracing the image onto the sheets, making sure I get as much as I can on each sheet

I try to get as many shapes laid out on the board as I can, making sure to waste as little materials as possible.

One type of cutter I never got good at…

I bought a special tool for cutting one time (The one above). Didn’t love it. Maybe if I practiced more, I’d get better at it. But I don’t do it enough that I get a lot of practice, so I reverted to the handy jig saw (below).

Handy dandy jigsaw for cutting around all kinds of curves

I always leave a white border around my cutouts. Helps a lot if they get dinged up or banged around. Better to take a chunk out of an inch of border than the Grinches head! It also adds more stability since thin pieces aren’t good if you’re using a flexible board…

I’m building an army of Grinches

Okay, now I have a bunch of shapes cut out, time to do some painting!

Oops, semi-opaque. That’s a mistake.

I usually use Ceramcoat, but that’s just what I’m used to. You could use anything. Acrylic is good for easy clean up and easy painting. I’d been painting with it for years before I noticed there were semi-opaque and opaque versions. Semi-opaque is generally not your friend for this sort of thing, it just means a lot more coats. These are roughly the colours I used, but I think I ended up switching out the green and red for different ones. But paints like this are pretty clear what they are. If you like different colours, use different colours!

I love buying way more supplies than I’ll ever use. Many of these brushes have never been used. Most certainly not on Grinches.

I have a big pile of brushes. I have no idea why. I normally use one brush until all the bristles fall out. Mostly I prefer a round brush with some length. People who know what they’re doing will tell you that’s for watercolour, but I like what I like. Try some and see what you like. There’s no wrong answer if it’s what works best for you.

I picked simple images with lots of flat areas of colour because I know it will be faster. If you want complicated characters, go for it. But if you want to bang out a Grinch army, trust me, go with simple colours.

So I paint all the colours before painting the black outline. By the time the colours are on, the outline is either obvious or non-existent. Draw black around the colours and hopefully it will look how you intended. If you stayed between the lines with the colours, the black part should be easy. It won’t feel easy when you’re up close, but when you step back, there’s a good chance it will look a lot better than you thought it would.

When I’m done, I like to give them a nice coat of spray varnish. Make sure it’s non-yellowing. And not just says it’s non-yellowing, because they all say non-yellowing, and most I tried yellowed. I use DecoArt Triple Thick spray varnish. It’s not cheap, but it’s never yellowed on me. I thought they stopped making it once and I bought every can I could find. I’m still drawing from that stockpile. It’s great though, no regrets.

Grinch Cutouts
A bunch of Grinches. It sounds a lot harder than it is.

So that’s it, that’s the basics. Download the files, trace them on something and paint. I can’t really answer about weather or how it holds up in different climates, since I’ve never tested them. All of mine are indoor grinches. The principle’s the same for outdoor ones, but you’d probably want sturdier wood, stronger paints, and better varnish. But give it a try, and missteps will just be ways to learn to do it right!

And feel free to comment below to let us know how you’re coming along, or let us know if you have better ideas. I’m just trying out different things, I’m sure there are lots of ways to get yourself some fine looking Grinches!

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1 Comment

  1. Angela October 20, 2019

    I’ll see if I can get around to starting one of these as project for next year.

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