Tag Archives: papercraft

Work in progress: Paper mechanism


I am currently working on a new project which will be an animated / kinetic model, a bit similar to the multiplication machine. I have to say, a kinetic model with its moving parts is at least an order of magnitude more difficult and time consuming than a static model. Here are pictures of various prototypes and tests:


2015-02-06 16.26.32


2015-05-09 10.13.26 2015-02-14 23.26.50

The templates are cut out using a cutting plotter (a Silhouette Portrait, for that matter):

2015-02-14 23.26.58

Even with the printer, it’s quite a bit of work, as the mechanism is somewhat complicated and needs a lot of iterations to get it quite right.

The problem, with paper-based mechanisms, is not so much to get something that works in general, but to get something that works every time, all the time. Paper tends to get stuck, to bend, to tear, when put under pressure. As such, it’s not the ideal material for mechanical things, but at the same time it’s vastly more accessible and needs much simpler tools than traditional materials such as wood and steel.

As for what this project will look like in the end, it’s still a secret. But if you are really curious, register for my newsletter, and I will tell you as soon as it’s ready to see the light of day.

Alphabeticals: My papercraft alphabet as a book


Great news: My papercraft alphabet is coming out as a book! So for those of you who felt that printing and cutting out the 26 letters was a bit too much of a time investment (which, frankly, I absolutely understand), here is your chance of making the alphabet:




The letters in the book are die cut, ready to be broken out of the page very easily. Here is a look inside:





Here is a little video:

The book will be available in the UK at the beginning of March. Here is the Amazon link, for instance. The book makes a nice gift for preschool and kindergarten kids – anybody learning to read and write. Actually, I have found that older children love it, too, even if they are well beyond first grade.

As for other countries, for the time being you would have to order it from a source in the UK, I’m afraid, but there is a chance that it will eventually be published in the US and/or Germany as well. Let’s see – depends on how well it works out in the UK, I think.

Exhibiting at the Aero Expo, April 15-18, Friedrichshafen

For the aviation fans among you, this might be interesting: I will exhibit paper art at the Aero Expo. The Aero is a global trade show for general aviation, taking place in Friedrichshafen, Germany (near the very beautiful Lake Constance) April 15-18.

I will be part of a very nice art show called ‘AEROkunst’ which happens inside the trade show. If you are interested in aviation and/or are in the region anyway, this would be a nice opportunity to meet up. Feel free to drop me a line via the contact form, if you do.

I will -obviously – exhibit mostly airplane-related things, such as these:




I’m currently preparing a couple of new things for the show – if you are interested, register for the newsletter, and I will send you an update soon.

Planetary Baubles


Prompted by a comment from Marcus (thanks for the great idea!), I have turned the paper planets into Christmas baubles.


They actually turned out very nice, and in mid-air from a tree gives off a much more planetary impression than when they sit on a shelf.




And they are easy to make, too. When assembling the planets, simlpy glue a looped thread to the top (from the inside). I actually had to attach the thread to the already finished planets, which I did like this:

I took thread (a green one, for better camouflage in the tree) and a couple of matches:




Broke off short pieces from the matches, and formed a loop with the thread:




Tied the thread at the non-loop end to the matches:


And finally, poked a hole into the top of the planets and pushed the match through (carefully, so that the thread would not slip off the match).


One note: The planets come in different sizes, to (very roughly) approximate their real sizes. If you want to decorate a tree with these, you may want to scale them so that they have roughly the same size. Below, you will find the planets scaled to the same size. In these templates, I have also left out the data on the bottom of the planets, as the text interferes with their use as baubles.

Speaking paper parrot


Today I wanted to share a little prototype I was working on for a charity event. It’s not yet finished, but well on its way. This is a money collecting box with a parrot sitting on top of it. Whenever someone drops money in the box, the parrot says something.



Here is a video:

How it works: In the box is a regular Android phone, running a custom app I wrote. The app is essentially a motion detector, registering when the camera image changes and playing one of a number of prerecorded sounds.

The parrot is a low polygon (facetted) paper model. I am currently working on coloring it, and it will be released here as soon as it’s done. The parrot works quite nicely as a standalone model, without the box and app, by the way. It’s a bit tricky to build, especially around the beak, where the polygons are a bit crowded, but it came out quite nice at the first build.

P1340228 P1340226


As for the Android app (which also works well independent of the parrot), there is still some way to go before it can be released. At the moment, it’s a very early prototype, which needs quite some more tweaking and testing. If you are interested, I suggest you let me know via the comments or the contact form and/or register for the newsletter.





Tutorial: How to build the stegosaurus calendar

Here is a quick photo tutorial for those of you who want to build the stegosaurus calendar.

Very importantly, make sure that you use thick enough cardboard. Something in the range of 300 g/sqm is fine. If the cardboard / paper is too light, the model will easily warp and the cards may no longer fit.

Start with cutting out all parts: Note that there is one part (for the tail) which is inside the right side part. It’s highly recommended to use an X-acto or similar crafts knife.

Next, fold the long center piece and glue it to the side with the “window”. Make sure that the walls are parallel and leave enough space for the cards.

Attach the other side:

Next, assemble the four feet:

… and glue them to the body:

Then attach the tail:

Now on to the head: This looks more complicated than it is. First, before you start assembling the head, cut a slit where the mouth is.

If you are a perfectionist and have a good knife, you can cut out the year and put it into the dinosaur’s mouth:

… and you’re done:

Here is the link to the original template.


Tutorial on making the alphabet letters


Update: The alphabet is now available as a beautifully printed book. Since it contains the letters already precut, it saves a lot of time.

I noticed that the papercraft alphabet created some interest among people who are not (yet) experienced in papercrafting. Therefore, some letters turned out to be a bit too difficult for some, which prompted me to write this little tutorial. The idea is to give you pointers as to where to start.

Here is a video tutorial on the letter J:

And here is a photo tutorial, I have chosen the ‘R’, as it is one of the more difficult letters due to the curved shape and the inner hole. Print the PDF template onto a sheet of paper or – preferably – cardstock. I use 190g/sqm (about 53 lb) cardstock. Please notice that the strength of the paper should match the size of the model. The letters are about 6cm (2.4 in) high, so 190g / 53 lb is already a bit on the heavy side. For larger models, the paper should be even stronger.

You can print with any printer. Using a laser printer leads to color that is less prone to smearing when getting into contact with glue or water, but inkjet printers usually have nicer colors and gradients.

Originally I said that the first step after printing is to cut out all parts. However, Carol rightfully pointed out in the comments that it might be easier to first score the pieces in the uncut template, and then cut them out. In this way, it is easier to align the scoring tool.

This can be done with a pair of scissors, but for details and holes it is useful to use an Xacto knife or similar sharp, pointed tool. However, please be careful with these: They are much more dangerous than scissors and shouldn’t be given to children.

the next step is to score along the dotted lines, so that the paper doesn’t break when you fold it. This can be done with any object that is pointed but not too sharp. the tip of scissors works reasonably well. In order to score precisely, it’s a good idea to align the tool with a ruler along the straight edges (except for curved parts, of course, where you and your steady hand are on your own):

There is also a dedicated tool for this job, called a bone folder (although these days it’s made from plastics). This is not really required, but if you want to do a lot of papercrafting, it can be a good investment (and it’s really unexpensive). It can be bought in all reasonably well-assorted crafting stores.

Carol suggests to use a knitting needle, which – if you have access to one, which I don’t – might in fact be even better suited – excellent suggestion, Carol!

The next step is to fold everything along the dotted lines. There are mountain folds and valley folds. They are not specifically indicated, but it’s usually easy to determine which is which by looking at how the parts fit together.

With most letters, you have the two faces and a strip that forms the edge. The ‘R’ is no difference – except that it has two strips, one for the hole and one for the outer edge. If you look at how the edge strip aligns with the faces, it is easy to figure out which folds are mountain folds and which are valley folds.

However, even if you make a mistake and fold into the wrong direction, this can be rectified later – once the paper has been folded in one direction, it easily folds back into the other direction as well.

Now it’s time to glue the parts together. For the ‘R’, we start with glueing the inner edge into a circular shape. Make sure that the printed side faces inwards. Then, apply glue to the flaps on one side only:

By the way, speaking of glue: The type of glue doesn’t really matter, you can use any glue suitable for paper. I personally use white ‘crafting’ glue which dries quickly, but not too quickly to realign parts, and is not too runny. It becomes transparent when fully dried, so small smudges aren’t that tragic. However, the paper gets dirty very quickly when covered in glue, and the glue tends to solubilize the printer color (for inkjet dyes at least) – so be carefuly and keep your hands as clean as possible. Perfectionists don’t apply the glue directly out of the dispenser, but with toothpicks.


Glue the part to one of the faces, and make sure that it aligns nicely with the edge of the face:


Now, apply glue to the flaps on one side of the outer strip, and section by section, glue it to the same face. You will end up with this:


You may notice that the whole shape bends slightly, due to the uneven stress on the paper. This will be corrected by the next step: Simply apply glue to all remaining flaps, place the other face onto them and pull and push everything into shape.

That’s it. The whole process is actually not difficult, but takes some time getting used to it. The most important ‘trick’ is to be patient: Apply glue to one section / flap at a time, hold it in place until the glue sticks, then move on to the next piece.

Y is for Yak

This is basically the single one animal starting with the letter ‘Y’ both in English and German. If you have made all 24 letters coming before this one in the alphabet, you will be relieved to fnd that this one is very easy to make.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

V is for Vampire

Vampires seem to be quite en vogue these days. Well, I prefer the old-school ones over their ‘new millenium’ counterparts.

I was slightly tempted to include a bit of blood tripping from one of the canines, but then I didn’t want to have to explain to my five year old daughter about the staple diet of vampires.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

U is for UFO

Turns out there are surprisingly few concrete nouns in English starting with the letter ‘U’. And technically, UFO is not a noun but an acronym. Anyway, I think for the purpose of the papercraft alphabet, this works quite nicely:

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

T is for Tiger

The tiger is again easy to make. I realized soon after having finished the design, that he looks much more clueless and much less fierce than his relative, the lion. Sorry, tiger – you may be in for a redesign in the future.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

S is for Snake

The snake is vaguely modelled after the Garter snake (with different colors, obviously). It is once again somewhat difficult to build, with all the curvatures. Prepare to be patient with this model and glue segment for segment, making sure that each part is solidly sticking before moving on to the next one.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

P is for Parrot

The parrot is once again an easy template, except maybe for the curvature of the beak. Very importantly, don’t forget to glue a small weight into the base – such as a small coin. Otherwise, the parrot will fall over.


Here is how to make the P (the photos are a slightly updated version from the Alphabeticals book): First, glue a small weight (such as a 1 cent coin) to the back of the parrot, from the inside, near the bottom. This will allow the parrot to stand up and not fall over:


Next, glue the edge faces to one of the two P sides, following the outline:


Finally, close the shape by gluing the remaining P face to the edge.


You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

O is for Orange

Making the orange ‘O’ is a bit difficult because of the inner ring. I suggest you start with gluing it to one side, then the outer ring to the same side, then cover everything with the other side.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

N is for Ninja

Congratulation: If you made all other letters in alphabetical order, you are now halfway there – this is the 14th of the 26 letters.

In typical ninja fashion, this guy is quite sneaky: If you approach him from the front, he looks just like a plain and inconspicuous letter N. Only if you look at the side, you will notice that this is a fierce ninja ready to jump at you from out of the shadows.

Having the ninja clad in the black signature clothes is actually historically pretty inaccurate. The black ‘uniform’ originates with the Japanese Kabuki theater. However, nobody would recognize a ninja if it weren’t for the black clothes – ironically, as they were supposed to make the stage hands in the Kabuki theater invisible.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

I got a request for a version without sword, suitable for small children – here it is.

K is for Kangaroo

Technically, this letter is actually two animals – mother kangaroo and her joey in the pouch.

I should warn you that cutting out and assembling this letter is a bit challenging – the parts around the faces are quite small.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

H is for Handshake

Probably the most abstract of the papercraft letters – the handshake:

I only realized after the fact that these guys have but one hand. Well, I think the letter still works as it is, but maybe this is a good candidate for a revised version sometime in the future.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

F is for Fly

Ok, I admit I had struggled a bit with the animal for the letter F. Flies are not exactly my – or, I imagine, most people’s – favourite pet:

No need to even pretend this is cute, but hey – there aren’t too many animal names starting with the letter F both in English and German.

When you build this, it is very important that glue a small weight – such as a cent coin – into the base, otherwise the center of gravity will be too far to the right and will make the fly fall over.

You will find the other 25 letters of the papercraft alphabet here.

Here is the template as a PDF file.

Red lines (unconnected edges) in Pepakura


I work with the combination of Blender and Pepakura for creating paper models. Sometimes it so happens that a seemingly perfect model in Blender has unconnected edges in Pepakura. These show up as red lines and result in a model where two faces are not connected although they should be.

There are several causes. One is that one or more vertices are duplicated, i.e. that two vertices are positioned at the same location. To fix this, go into Edit Mode, then press A to select all vertices, then press W and “Remove doubles”.

If that doesn’t help, in Edit Mode press ctrl+alt+shift+M. This selects non-manifold edges, i.e. edges where the model is open. Then press alt+M in order to merge the affected vertices.

If the problem still persists, you can recalculate the normals. Go into Edit Mode, select everything (press A), then press ctrl+N. The problem in this case is that each face of your model has an orientation. You can think of it as the “front” and “back” of the face. The so-called normal is a vector perpendicular to the plane of the face. Since the face has two sides, the normal can point in either of two directions. If a model consists of a contiguous surface where the normals of some faces are oriented differently than those of the other faces, Pepakura assumes that the surface isn’t actually contiguous (and rightly so).

In most cases, ctrl+N solves this problem automatically. However, there are some models which do not enclose a space completely, but which contain openings. In such a case, Blender may fail to orient all faces properly. You will see the problem in Pepakura by two sets of faces, one showing the texture (or face color) on the “outside”, and one showing it on the “inside” (double quotes, as technically there is no such thing as in and out for a model with openings). You can switch the orientation of the normals manually in Blender – here is a tutorial.

From Blender to Pepakura to Corel Draw to CraftRobo


Blender is an excellent open-source 3D modelling application. Pepakura Designer (short: Pepakura) is a very useful tool for papercrafting, which converts 3D models to 2D templates which can be printed on paper, cut and assembled into the original 3D model.

The two are a great combination for papercrafting. In fact, I found the combination of Blender for 3D modelling, Pepakura for unfolding, Corel Draw for postprocessing, adding artwork and finetuning, and finally CraftRobo for cutting perfect. Here is the complete workflow:

First, you need to export the Blender model to the 3D Studio format understood by Pepakura.

Go to

File > Export > 3D Studio

then save the file. Then, simply open the file in Pepakura. Once you have created a satisfactory 2D pattern, the next step is to get it into Corel Draw. There are several vector export formats available in Pepakura, however all of them have some problems. I found the best one to be DXF (AutoDesk’s ‘Drawing Interchange Format’).

In Corel Draw, click on

File > Import

then select ‘DXF AutoCAD’ as file type and select the file exported from Pepakura. You will then be able to place the file into your existing page, by pressing LMB and dragging the mouse until the shape has the correct size.

Note that the DXF format separates the shapes for folding and cutting into different layers, which are preserved in Corel Draw. This is very convenient when you want to process them differently (such as assigning them to different cutting types for the Craft Robo).

One important drawback of the DXF format is that Pepakura chops up the outline of a shape into individual edges. This can be difficult to work with in postprocessing. Therefore, another option is to use the EPS format. Here, you need to carefully c0lor all cutting edges in the same color in Pepakura. This will create a contiguous outline in the EPS file. Unfortunately, the EPS file does not preserver the color information itself, so all edges – folding and cutting – are black, and you have to separate them manually.

You can now add artwork and edit the shapes, if necessary. Once that is done, you can simply send the file off to the Craft Robo for cutting. I keep the folds and cuts in different layers (see above) and assign the following cutting parameters:

Folds: Index 90lbs paper, 10cm/s, force 30, line type: Custom 1 (0.120 cm a, 0.120 cm b), Passes: 1

Cuts: Index 90lbs paper, 10cm/s, force 30, line type: 1, Passes: 2

Paper model of the Reddit logo


This is my stab at a paper model of the Reddit logo. The rounded shapes of the logo do not lend themselves well to papercrafting, and so a paper model will either be very complicated to assemble or inaccurate. I took the easy road and made a rough approximation, which only looks good from the front. Well, at least it’s relatively easy to assemble.

If you want something more refined, look here.

Here is a glimpse at the not so elegant backbone structure:

And here are the parts:

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

Assembly should be easy: First, glue the large strip into a cylinder – this will be the “body”. The body, head, and feet are connected by sliding them into assembly slots cut into the opposing part. The head has two strips which interconnect via the same slots. They form an ‘X’ which can then be inserted into the slots in the body cylinder.