DIY Paper Dolls Tutorial

DIY paper dolls tutorialAs a kid, I spent a lot of time playing with paper dolls. I know they aren’t as popular now, but making your own can be a lot of fun.

I started out with store-bought paper dolls. As I became older, I decided I wanted to make my own paper dolls. Why? I wanted to have paper dolls that I could not get at a store, and I wanted to make the clothes.

When you choose to make your own DIY paper dolls, you can customize them any way you want, and you can continue to make clothes for them.


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1. Drawn Paper Dolls

This kind of paper doll has a drawn body and drawn clothes. If you have a hard time drawing, you might want to choose a different type of paper doll to make.

While you can certainly draw the faces on these paper dolls, it is a lot easier to cut a head from a magazine or print a head from a computer.

These paper dolls can be celebrities, family members, friends, etc.


How to make these paper dolls

I drew my own bodies for my paper dolls on light weight cardboard. You could also use card stock. I always made my dolls wearing a swimsuit.

Make sure you don’t draw the arms and legs too close together because it makes it difficult to draw the clothes.

When I made my paper dolls as a kid, the internet didn’t exist. The heads I used came from magazines I had.

You should glue the head on to the body that you drew using a glue stick. Then, you can outline the body with a pen or marker if you would like.

Sometimes, I made envelopes out of construction paper so I could use a different color for each person.

After making the dolls, I traced around them with a pencil to create the clothes. I then outlined the clothes with a pen or marker.

It is best to draw clothes lightly with a pencil first, and then you can go over them with colored pencils, crayons, or pens.

I never made tabs on the clothes for my dolls because I just laid them on a flat surface. If you want to add tabs, you will want to do that before you cut out the clothes.


Examples of paper dolls I made

Brady Bunch paper dolls

My favorite paper dolls that I made (and I made a lot!) were the Osmonds and the Brady Bunch. I made these as a kid, but continued to draw clothes for them when I was a little older and no longer played with them.

My paper dolls did a lot. They dressed up for church, went to costume parties, and I even had a carnival where they played games and won prizes.

Your kids can play with them just like they would play with regular dolls.


2. Magnetic Paper Dolls

You can make a paper doll out of magnet sheets that you can buy at craft stores.

If you buy the sheets that have white paper on one side, you can draw on those with permanent markers.

Draw your own doll and face, or draw the body and glue a head on it that is someone’s picture.

You can draw the clothes on the magnet sheet, also.

Another option is to buy adhesive magnets and either draw or print clothes to stick on to the magnets.

These dolls can be played with on your refrigerator or something else magnetic. They would also be easier to take with you in the car.

I don’t have a picture of the ones I made from magnets, but I have an Arthur one I bought a long time ago that you can see what I’m talking about.

Arthur paper dolls


3. Computer Paper Dolls

Shawn Mendes paper dolls

Ed Sheeran paper dolls

If you don’t want to do any drawing, you can design and print paper dolls from your computer.

There are lots of different computer programs you could use to design your dolls. I used Microsoft Publisher because it’s easy to use.


How to design your paper dolls

The first thing you will have to do is find pictures of the person you want to make. The easiest people to make are celebrities that pose on the Red Carpet a lot because you will have lots of clothes to choose from where the person is standing in a similar position.

In the past, I made an Ed Sheeran paper doll for my friend’s birthday. For this example, I will show you how I made a Shawn Mendes paper doll.


Step 1: Find Good Quality Images

You will need to find a good image to use as the doll. When I made the Ed Sheeran doll, I just printed his head and drew the body. For Shawn Mendes, I just printed a picture of him in casual clothes.

You will also have to find good quality images for clothes. The person doesn’t have to be in the exact same pose, but they should be in similar poses in order to fit on your doll.

A good way to find quality images is to search on Google “[insert name] full body”. You can also use the search tools on Google to only show pictures of a certain size. The bigger the image the clearer it will look when you print it.

Save the images you want to use.

Google search screenshot


Step 2: Decide How You Want to Remove Backgrounds from Images

There are two different ways you can go about printing your paper doll and clothes. You could remove the backgrounds from all your images on your computer, or you can print the images with the backgrounds and cut around them. If you choose the second option, you will have to glue the clothes onto another piece of paper or card stock after you cut them out because each outfit will not fit your doll’s body perfectly.

It is up to you how you want to go about it. Depending on the computer software you have, it can be easy to remove backgrounds from images. If you aren’t computer savvy, then I would suggest cutting the backgrounds out by hand.

I removed the background of the body I chose using this website. It was free to use, and I was happy with how easy it was to use.

There are other options for removing backgrounds such as Photoshop. You can also remove backgrounds in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, but it lessens the quality of the image.


Step 3: Insert Images Into Computer Program

I inserted all the images I wanted to use for my paper doll into Microsoft Publisher. This allows me to print more than one outfit on a page.

The amount of outfits you can get on a page depends on how big you want the paper doll to be.

Publisher screenshot


Step 4: Crop & Resize Images

After you decide how big you want the paper doll to be, you should crop and resize the clothing images you’re going to use.

The first thing you can do is to crop the head and parts of the background from your images.

Publisher screenshot

Then, you need to resize the images to make sure they fit the body of the doll.

When resizing these images, I drug them over the body image and made sure the neck size was the same. You can cut part of the neck off after you print it, but the neck on the clothing should somewhat match up with the one of the body.

Create as many outfits as you would like. I found twelve outfits that looked clear and fit my doll, but you could probably find a lot more.


How to put together your paper dolls

After you have printed the body and clothes, you will want to make sure you wait a few minutes for the ink to dry before you start cutting them out.


Step 1: Cut Out Clothing & Body

If you have backgrounds on your clothing images, you will need to cut out the clothes completely. Lay your clothes over the body after you have cut it out to make sure that the neck matches up okay. You may have to trim away parts of the neck on the clothing in order to get it to fit right.

You can leave some white space around the body if you want when you cut it out.


Step 2: Glue Clothing & Body Onto Card Stock & Cut

Glue the body onto a thick piece of card stock or onto a thin piece of cardboard.

Cut out the body a second time. You can leave some space at the bottom if you would like to write the person’s name at the base.

Glue the clothes onto another piece of paper or a piece of card stock.

Since all the clothing will not fit your doll perfectly, you will want to leave some white space around the clothing when you cut it out a second time.

Leave enough white space to cover up the body when you place the clothing on your doll.

You can see in this picture the difference between clothes that I glued onto card stock and those that I haven’t done yet.

Shawn Mendes paper dolls


4. Magazine/Newspaper Paper Dolls

homemade paper dolls

I have helped my kids make paper dolls from magazines.

I helped them draw a body onto light weight cardboard. Then, they would choose a face from a catalog, magazine, or newspaper ad to cut out and glue on their paper doll.

They also colored the bathing suit and shoes on their doll.

Then, they look for clothes from ads, magazines, and catalogs to fit the doll they made.

You can choose to cut out tabs around the clothing to help the clothes stay on your doll, but you don’t have to have tabs if you are just laying the doll on a flat surface.


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Have you ever made paper dolls before?

Comment down below your experiences with paper dolls. You can also tag us in pictures of your creations on social media using @nowthatsthrifty


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