Obtaining a life-size photo cutout of my sister to pimp out to potential suitors was not as easy as I anticipated. There are plenty of companies advertising such services online, but they charge upwards of $100, and the final product is cardboard and anything but portable. Local printing companies charged even more; one West Palm Beach printing business quoted me $278 for a life-size photo cutout minus the actual cutout.


“Mount Everest?”

I was considering abandoning the project when I solicited the help of two gal pals at work and they suggested printing Sis in 8.5 x 11-inch pieces and then pasting her back together.  So that’s what I did.

To make your own (portable) life-size cutout, follow my 12-step program:

1.    Twiddle your thumbs while your subject is showered, blow-dried, make-upped and dressed in a Vanna White-grade gown.
2.    Wait a bit more until the sun sinks low enough in the sky to fully light up your subject without casting shadows on her face. (We neglected this step and now each half of Paper Sis’ face is a different color – kind of like a bad spray tan.)
3.    If possible, position your subject in front of a plain background (to better extract her later).
4.    Snap a full-body, high resolution photo of your subject.
5.    Tone the photo in PhotoShop (or similar photo editing software) and use the lasso tool to make a loose crop around your subject.
6.    Copy your selection and paste it onto a new, blank document.
7.    Calculate your subject’s height in inches. Sis is 5’6, so I sized the cropped photo of her to 66 inches. It’s not exactly life-size due to the slight buffer of crop cushion above her head and below her feet, but I figured it would be easier to perform the final “cropping” with scissors rather than wrestling with the infuriating lasso tool.
8.    Adjust the resolution of your image. The standard for web-hosted photos is 72 dpi. The print standard is 300 dpi. I adjusted Sis to 90 dpi, and she came out just fine.
9.    Use a program like Poster It! to divide your photo into 8.5 x 11-inch chunks. That particular program allows you to either print the pages right away or save them to a flash drive to print later.
10.     Force your husband to drive to the office supply store and print your subject at 59 cents a colored sheet. (Paper Sis printed in 21 sheets)
11.    Use scissors and a tape runner to (very carefully!) connect the pieces. Demand your husband snap photos of you while doing this so you can text updates to your subject. (Real Sis: “Why are my boobs the size of Mount Everest?!”)
12.    Laminate your paper person. (Office Depot charges $1.99 a square foot. Staples charges $2 a square foot.)


Adam and Paper Sis

Result: Paper Sis rolls up as a perfectly portable plastic poster. I can tuck her into the top of my backpack or secure her to the outside using the sleeping bag loops.

Proud of my handiwork, I brought her to work with me on my second-to-last day. A friend taped her to a column in a high-traffic area, and I added a speech bubble advertising her as “single and ready to mingle.” She came down when I realized some of my more visually challenged co-workers thought the paper gal with the come-hither look was me.