May 14, 2010

How To Make A Drawing Template From A Cereal Box

Some people can draw crisp, clean shapes freehand.
Not I.

If I want a reliable, nicely drawn shape or line, I use a drawing template or ruler.
These are normally made from stiff plastic and are very durable.
At the moment, I have ones for circles, ovals and curvy lines.
I have been wanting ones for stars but am on a budget and felt like I couldn't justify the cost.
Instead, I decided to try making one from an old cereal box!
It won't be quite as durable as a plastic one but when it becomes unusable, I can simply recycle it and make another.

I used a cereal box but you could use any thick, firm 'boxboard' such as a facial tissue box, cookie box etc.  It needs to be thicker than cardstock paper.  I don't think this would work well with corrugated cardboard - it may be too flexible.

If you can draw well, you can draw shapes directly on the cereal box.
Or you can do as I did and print out shapes to use (many free templates can be found by searching Google with words like "free printable templates").
If printing, cut loosely around the shapes, leaving some of the printer paper around the shape - this will help you know where you have cut because the printer paper will be cut away.
In the picture below, the star on the right has already been cut out though I haven't popped out the piece yet.

Attach the shapes to the cereal box with a dab of gluestick.  This makes sure the paper doesn't slip while you are cutting.  You don't need to glue every bit of it though you can if you want.
Make sure you leave space between the shape and the edge of the cereal box - this will help the template be stronger.

Using a sharp exacto or utility knife, carefully cut along the outline of the shape.
I know you know this but I have to say, "Please be careful not to cut yourself!  Keep fingers, thumbs and other body parts out of the path of the knife" ;-)
I use a metal ruler as a guide - the cork that is normally on the back of these rulers has been removed so that it lies perfectly flat to the paper.
Cut from the outside edges of the shape towards the centre - that way you don't have to worry if you cut a bit too far - the extra cut will be into the centre piece that will be discarded at the end.
When you are done cutting around the shape, gently press from the bottom up to loosen the centre piece.
*If there are bits of the corner still attached, carefully cut them with an exacto knife.  Pop out the shape, trim any rough bits, trim the edges off the cereal box, recycle the scraps (or use them for one of the ideas mentioned below) and you're done!

In this second picture you can see the utility knife I switched to when I realised my exacto wasn't sharp enough to cut easily.  You can also see a 15-point star I drew using the small star template.
I still have room on this template to ad a few small stars.

*This template could be made stronger by gluing 2 layers of cereal box together.*

If you didn't cut too far into the centre of the shapes, you can use them for other crafts!

Here's one fun way I've used them so far:
Grunge Star Rubbed Impression Page

Other Possibilities: 
  • collage on one side of the shapes and glue into an art journal page
  • collage both sides and hang from a string somewhere just for fun
  • cover both sides in some kind of pretty handmade or cardstock paper, decorate with sequins, beads, jewels etc... hang on a string
  • glue onto canvas before painting to add depth/dimension
Do you have any other ideas for using the cut-out shape?
Tips to make this template process better/different?
Did you try this and post on your blog?
Please share in the comments area :-)


  1. First, I wanted to thank you so much for your precious, sweet words on the loss of my furbaby, Tyson. You have no idea how much your kindness means to me. Thank you.

    Also, I love using cereal boxes for my artsy stuff. I use them as chipboard all the time so your idea here is awesome! Love it!

    Peace & Love,

  2. you're welcome Barb.
    I know how hard that path is and that kind words can mean so much even if they don't ease the pain.

    peace and love back!

  3. What a clever and inexpensive way to make your own stencil! I would never have thought to cut thru the paper! Great tip! Thanks :D

  4. You're welcome Eden!
    I'm thinking it could be fun to do some freehand abstract shapes too - things one couldn't buy a stencil of.
    Another reader emailed me with an AWEsome variation of this template/stencil.
    She said she has, in the past, made them out of the lids from margarine tubs! Such a great idea and a lot more durable than a cereal box.

  5. thanks Wendy!
    p.s. I love your sense of humour on your blog!
    p.p.s. you have CHICKENS (this makes you really cool in my books :)

  6. Dear Liberty,
    That is an excellent idea!
    You have just given me inspiration on what to do with most of the empty packages I keep, and I like the fact that I can use them now to create hanging stars with my personal quotes in them.
    Thank you so much!

  7. I'd love to see photos of those hanging stars with quotes inside! Great idea!

  8. Dear Liberty,
    Just so you know I have started on one of those stars today, inspired by your idea and the one of the flowers I have got to creating with my own materials and my own photographs, and now I am including one of my insights on the back. I have decided that one of these stars will be given away on my 200th(10 posts to go) Post giveaway amongst other things, to inspire and encourage others to be who they are. You are more than welcome to enter, when it comes around. :) Thank you so much for your warm comment on my about page. It is an absolute pleasure to be connecting with you. Have a blessed day.

  9. Wonderful idea! I have been storing cereal boxes and this is a great use for them!!! Thanks for sharing.

  10. @Kristin
    you're welcome! :-) :-)

    I so look forward to seeing those stars of inspiration/insight! I think that's a great idea for a giveaway.

  11. and making your own stuff is another chance to be creative! turned out great. i made letter templates a while back, loved them.

  12. Hi Monica,
    may I ask what you made them out of?
    Have you used them in any of your art journal pages (I love that you share those on your blog - they are so rich and have so much depth!)

  13. WOW - is about all I have to say! ! !

    Oh - and that I love the slide show at the top. What a brilliant idea to easily see your creations.

    Thanks for this wonderful blog.



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