There are a number of ways to transfer your pattern for cutting. One common way of doing a cut out is to print your image on a piece of paper and tape/staple it to the piece of paper that you want to cut. You then cut out your image until you are finished. The problem with this is that you are cutting two layers of product (the top layer with the image and the second layer of paper/card stock. This can become quite tedious and the finger strength that you need to cut is pretty severe. Also, it is difficult to retrace a cut line on the second layer when it has already been cut on the first layer.
A second way, and the one that I prefer, is to print your image on the piece of paper that you want to cut. I usually use black/white silhouette paper for my smaller paper cuts and this is a perfect medium for doing this type of transfer. Simply print the image on the back of the paper (the white side) and start cutting from the back. The only problem with this is you must reverse your image--especially if you are cutting out text.
A third way to transfer your image is to use carbon paper, pattern tracing paper, etc to transfer your image onto the paper that you want to cut. Print out the image on a plain piece of paper. Staple/tape this sheet onto carbon paper and then place these pieces on the paper that you want to cut. With a stylus or ball point pen, trace around the image that you want to cut. Once completed, you simply cut the image on the front side of the paper. Depending on how intricate your pattern is, this could be a long and laborious process.
For the owl project, I used silhouette paper and printed the image on the white side of the paper. When you start cutting, you should cut in an orderly fashion--either left to right, top to bottom, etc. I will provide you with some exceptions to this rule later which will refer to weak points when cutting that you have to consider.
For this cutting, I started inside--out and smallest to largest. I started in the middle of the figure and started cutting out the feathers. I figured that this would be the most time consuming aspect of the process. Considering that I am in a time crunch, I am having to cut this image after I get home from work at the theater. Keeping in mind that I am tired, I need to concentrate on those aspects of the cutting that I can do while tired. Long and complicated cuts should only really be done when fresh and awake. Normally, I would work for a longer period of time on each step of the project but I don't have that luxury at the moment.
So here is stopping point #1, belly feathers done. Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
Disclaimer: Please don't use my timings as a gauge on your own work. Because I have been doing this for a little while--I am probably a faster cutter than many of my readers.