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by John Marshall

A cartoon is the completed drawing of a design, ready to be transferred to the stencil paper. If the design is a repeating motif, care must be taken to match the lines precisely, so that the flow of the pattern is not interrupted in the final yardage.

▶︎Begin by roughly sketching the in details of your design, drawing right up to edges of the paper.

▶︎Flip the sheet over (back side up) and fold the top and bottom edges to meet in center, aligning with care.

Ignore the center boundary (edge of paper) as you fill in details of the design.

▶︎Finish by opening your design sheet out flat and filling in any additional design details to the center section.

▶︎Clearly define areas to be cut away (negative space) and areas to be left in tact. Fine details may be adjusted later while actually carving the stencil paper.

▶︎Draw in any necessary  bridges (the pink sections in the example to the right).

▶︎Lay clean sheet of shibugami(stencil paper) smooth side up on tabletop.

▶︎Measure your drawing. Add one to two inches at top and two to three inches to the other three sides as a border.

▶︎Cut shibugami to this adjusted (borders added) size.


Sometimes minor design irregularities can cause larger scale, undesirable under-patterns to appear, even though the design may look well balanced at this stage. If distortions are discovered after you are well underway with the pasting, it is too late to make corrections. So, take a moment to test the effect of the design by making several photocopies and taping them together, or by tiling the image in your graphics program. Stand back and take a look at the overall effect of the repeat. Now is the time to make any necessary adjustments.


When you are satisfied with your design, transfer the image to the stencil paper. There are a number of ways you may do this. If your paper is small enough, you may photocopy your drawing directly onto the shibugami. You may also use carbon paper to transfer the design, or simply tape your cartoon to the stencil paper and carve through both layers.

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