Monthly Archives: February 2011

Papercraft toy: A cow

2011-02-27

Ok, this is funy: The post was originally titled ‘A cow named Sue’. I thought I’d give the cow a name, for the sake of reinforcing the anthropomorphization. Fast forward a couple of months later, I look at my web stats and more specifically the referrers. Turns out there were two Google searches for the term ‘a cow named sue’. Hm, strange, I think to myself – rather unlikely that somebody came across the post, vaguely remembers it and looks it up in Google under the exact title.

So I did the Google search myself. Surprise, the first hit is not my post, but rather a childrens’ book. As far as I can tell, I was completely unaware of its existence, let alone its title, but somehow it must have crept into my subconscious. The other explanation, that I randomly chose the same – rather randomly picked – name for my cow as Penny Wolf, the author of ‘A cow named Sue’, seems too improbable. Or maybe, there is an archetype hardwired into the human brain… I am sure if you dig deep enough, some Phoenecian god of fertility with a bovine head had a name phonetically vaguely similar to ‘Sue’. Oh well…

Anyway, the cow formerly known as Sue is a happy cow. She really is. She may look a bit wideeyed and startled, but she is completely happy. Trust me.

Here she is standing on her template sheet:

Turn around:

Good girl!

As you can see, I messed up when I constructed the model – I got some water on her face, blotting the inkjet ink. Feel free to do better…

And here is the template (see also instructions here):

T-shirts for minifigures

2011-02-23

If you haven’t already stumbled upon it, Muji and Lego found a great way of combining paper and Lego® bricks. For any Lego® afficionado, that is exciting news in and of itself. However, I think that this idea can be expanded some more. If we combine Lego®-compatible punches in sheets of paper with a cutting plotter such as the Craft Robo, a whole new world of Lego® paper toy hybrids can be created.

In fact, what Lego® bricks lack – detailed illustration, ornaments and bling – can now be printed on a sheet of paper and added effortlessly. When you look at the Lego® evolution over the past 50 years, it’s clear that there is always a slight friction between the inherent abstraction in a Lego® brick and children’s love for detail. To some extent, paper can bridge that gap if it can be easily applied. All it takes are punches in the shape and size of Lego® stubs.

As a first foray into this area, I present a template for a ‘t-shirt’ for minifigures:

This is how it looks in real life, ready to be applied:

The central hole is for the ‘neck’, the four octagonal holes are for the leg stubs. This fits nicely over the torso of a minifigure, like so:

It’s automatically held in place by the ‘neck’ and the protrusions from the legs. So no adhesives (I hate stickers on Lego). By printing art onto the trapezoid front and back, you can design your own minifigure tees. Just take a look:

Here is the template:

LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site

Lego Group’s fair play

Among other things, this site contains templates that can be used in conjunction with Lego® toys. The Lego Group is rightfully protective of their trademarks, and for anyone providing stuff related to Lego® bricks, it’s a good idea to follow their fair play rules. I usually despise all documents in legalese and am very easily annoyed by overzealous corporations, but in this case I have to say that the Lego Group did a good job in making their point clear, helping fans to play along, and to keep things very reasonable.

Since I require it for all posts related to Lego® bricks, I will here copy their suggested disclaimer:

“LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site”

Paper Panda

2011-02-21

Who wouldn’t agree that pandas are the most adorable of all huge, vicious animals capable of killing man with one stroke of their paw? Well, and exactly for this reason I have created a panda paper model.

This model features a number of rounded shapes, and therefore is actually quite tricky to assemble. It takes some patience to create a clean version, and unfortunately you can tell from the images that I just don’t have that kind of patience.

If you achieve a better quality, I’d be pleased to see photos and put them up here. The model sure has some potential, and I’d love to see it shine.

Here is the PDF template.

Printing and cutting the templates of this site

2011-02-20

This site features several models which can be printed and cut. You have three options:

  1. Print a model, then cut it manually
  2. Print a model, then cut it using Craft Robo
  3. Import the artwork and cutting outline into a software for whatever cutting plotter you use, and proceed as required.

Option 1 is self-explanatory, for option 3 you are on your own, and for option 2 I do have further instructions here:

The templates come in two parts. Download the PDF and the GSD file. The PDF contains the artwork, the GSD contains the cutting instruction for the Craft Robo.

Print out the PDF onto a 190g crafting paper. Load the paper into the Craft Robo, then load the GSD into Robo Master and start cutting.

Using the SVG files

SVG is a universal file format understood by many vector graphics applications. One of the most popular open-source vector editors is Inkscape. In addition to the actual artwork, the SVG file contains green and magenta lines. Green lines are supposed to be cut, magenta lines are folds (which should be cut as a dashed line, preferably using an alternating pattern of 1.2mm cut and 1.2mm non-cut).

Using the Corel Draw files

The Corel Draw files are actually the easiest to use. They contain everything you need in order to print and cut a model. Just print the page after loading a file, then cut it using the Corel Draw macros that came with the Craft Robo software (the menu item “Cut/Plot Craft Robo” under the button “Launch application” in the tool bar (the icon looks like the Corel logo with a dropdown arrow).

The “Cut/Plot” dialog will open. Make sure you check “use registration marks”. Also, select “By layer”, then uncheck the “Art” layer. Check the “Fold” and “Cut” layers. Check “Enable driver options”, uncheck “single setting for all”. Select the appropriate paper for both layers (Index 90lbs works for me, using 190g paper). For the “Fold” layer, select line type “Custom 1″, for the “Cut” layer line type 1.

Edit line type “Custom 1″, and enter “0.120 cm” for ‘a’, “0.120 cm” for ‘b’. This will produce dashed lines for the folds. Depending on your paper type and thickness, you may want to set the “Cut” layer to two or more passes instead of just one.

Converting CorelDraw to GSD files

2011-02-19

Craft Robo’s aptly named control software Robo Master uses a proprietary file format ‘GSD’. I work with CorelDraw, and while CDR is perfect for cutting directly (and in my opinion much better suited for complex Craft Robo projects than Robo Master), there is no way around the GSD format if you want to pass on designs to other people.

The way I do the conversion is as follows:

First, I split the art to be printed and the cutting outlines. The art to be printed goes into a PDF file, and the cutting outlines into a GSD. The reason behind this is that complex artwork does not convert correctly to GSD – only very simple shapes do.

Now, in order for this to work we need to make sure that the registration marks are included in the PDF and that they align with the registration marks used by Robo Master.

I have prepared a Corel Draw file with registration marks at the exact same positions as the default positions in Robo Master.

Using this file, these are the steps I follow:

  1. Position the artwork and cutting outlines inside the registration marks
  2. Move the cutting outlines to an invisible layer or delete them temporarily
  3. Export the document as a PDF
  4. Make the cutting outlines visible again or restore them. Delete everything else (make sure that the cutting outlines are ungrouped and are all in a single layer. This should be the only layer in the document)
  5. Due to a bizarre behaviour of Robo Master, where imported DXF files have their center at the lower left corner of the page, we need to add an offset to the outlines. Go to ‘Arrange-> Transformation -> Position’, and enter 148.5 and 105 mm (half the page size for an A4 page). I have prepared a macro included in the template mentioned above you can use for that: Go to “Tools -> Visual Basic -> Play” and select RecordedMacros.dxfoffset
  6. Now go to “File -> Save as…”, select as file type ‘DXF – AutoCAD’
  7. In the AutoCAD export window, select “AutoCAD R13″ as the export version, and select “Millimeters” as the export unit.
  8. Open Robo Master, go to “File -> Load DXF…”
  9. Save the file as a GSD file.

So I hear you want to make a dog

Well, you’ve sure come to the right place. Here is a dog you can make quickly from a sheet of paper. It’s bipedal. though, so technically it’s more a dog deity than a mere mortal dog. But hey, what’s not to like about man’s best friend taking the next evolutionary step?

Ok, this puppy is easy to assemble. Just download the template, print it out (I recommend sturdy >190g/sqm paper), and cut out the three parts. Preferrably with a sharp knife – think Xacto. Then glue them together, following the letter-code hints on the flaps.

Here is what you will get once you have cut out all three parts. These are already roughly folded into their final shape, and now need to be assembled using some glue.

Since this is made of paper and is hollow, it tends to fall over easily. To fix this, I recommend adding a weight to the base. This can be a small coin, like so:

It’s a good idea to glue the weight to the base and in addition secure it with a piece of tape:

Trust me, experience has shown that the weight gets loose all too easily, and turns your dog into a rattle where the coin bounces around inside the hollow base. Which would not be so bad, but it defeats the purpose of the weight, and a bipedal dog falling flat on its face all the time is, well, a bit sad.

Here is a close-up of our doggy:

And here is the template (see also instructions here):

Paper weight and measurements

2011-02-17

Ok, so this is one more thing where the shadow world government has failed miserably: Paper weight (technically, grammage) and dimension units, or – even worse – paper size standards. There is the big divide between continental Europe and the British empire, including its overseas colonies, but then there is also a whole mess of local customs, regional deviations, and odd preferences.

It seems nobody can agree on what size paper should come in, and how to measure its dimensions. Luckily, here is a convenient table for everything, and here is the Wikipedia article on the same topic.

Most projects described on this website will be based on190g-300g DIN A4 paper, which corresponds to 53 -82 lb bond/ledger and 8.27″ x 11.69″.  Using US letter format should be fine, but you should slightly scale the templates to fit on the page before printing. If you are unsure about the grammage, just use sturdy carton which is still flexible and thin enough to be easily cut and folded.

If you use a Craft Robo, you have probably already found the thickest paper you can still cut through, and that should work fine for the projects on this site. If you are unsure about what the Craft Robo can digest, I suggest that you do some quick experiments. Note that there is a huge difference between a sharp new blade and a blade that has cut through a couple of dozen sheets already, so try to use a fresh blade.