Using an X-acto knife and tweezers, Korean artist Yoo Hyun hand carves intricate cut-paper portraits that feature the likes of movie stars, world leaders, and musicians. Up close, Hyun’s pieces look like abstract designs, but from afar they read as photo-realistic depictions of his subjects. He achieves this by incorporating a zig-zag pattern into his compositions, where each line is specially cut to build a three dimensional-looking form.
Once a portrait is done, its negative space is see-through. That means Hyun can layer his handiwork onto any surface or pattern, making the same piece look radically different, depending on its backdrop. A black ink-splattered background is a popular choice, but sometimes Hyun goes for bold colors and illuminates the portraits in blue and red.
You can find Hyun’s cut outs, works in progress, and inspirations on his Instagram, @yoo.hyun. If you want to see close-up detail shots of his pieces, check out his @yoohyun_artist account. There, his artwork is blown up and tiled, one piece over many photos, allowing you to examine each section of his work.