How to create your own Papercraft

A tutorial to make a papercraft initial(s). Of course you can spell whole names with it, but I suggest (strongly) to start with one letter en work you’re way up to you initials.

In this tutorial you don’t have to spend any money except for the paper you print it on.
It’s written for windows (sorry Apple users)

Update #1: Another post about Pepakura and Google Sketchup: Pepakura: Make Anything in Papercraft

Shortcut to:
Programs | What are we going to build? | Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4

Programs

For this tutorial you need a couple of programs, which are for free to get from the internet:
Pepakura designer v2 .1.2 – program that creates flat versions of a 3d model

Google SketchUp 6 – very simple 3d modeler

Optional (I will explane this later): PDFCreator – creates PDFs from any Windows program

Update #3: There are a lot of very good/ free 3D programs out there.
To name a view: Blender, Wings 3D, Metasequoia and there are probably a lot more.
The only reason I choose for Google SketchUp because I got it to work in a couple of minutes…

Google SketchUp is freeware, PDFCreator is open source (free) and Pepakura designer is shareware.
So the only limitation you have is Pepakura designer: in the version you can download and try out, it’s not possible to “Save” and “Export”. But I found that it’s possible to print, so a legal way to export what you have build in Pepakura is PDF.
This has of course some limitations, and the biggest one is you are not able to save you changes (which you can unlock for a lousy US$38).

What are we going to build?

Google Sketchup - MCK 3D logo
Lets make a text logo and I really want to use the logo I made a while back, but I realize that’s not for everybody….So lets make a logo out of freeware fonts, and find a font suitable for what I want.
I want to make a 3d version of mck and because I know how difficult it is to create round corners (“c”) I am looking for a bold/stong blocky font .

We could make a complete text logo, but when I started writing this tutorial I found out that with more then one letter, it started to be quite complex. Which is not bad, but quite difficult to point out how things work. So for this tutorial I will explain just one letter and we will make it 3d.

Step1: download and install

Except the programs discussed above (Pepakura designer v2.1.2, Google SketchUp 6 and PDFCreator) you also have to choose a nice font to create your initial/character in.

So lets search a nice letter with a nice “M” or “m” (or whatever letter you want).

For example a couple of font of dafont.com/:
Cowboys – big/strong and very little curves
Kroftsmann – big / strong and no curves
Aerojones nf – big / strong and round courners

But make this tutorial even easier I have chosen for a pixel-font from 04.jp.org named 04b-19.

MCK pixel font

Download the font(s) you want to use, and copy it in:
C:\WINDOWS\Fonts

Remember: a curly/round/thin font will look very pretty, but will be hell to build in a papermodel. So choose a continuous, bold, square font!

Step 2: Modeling in 3d

This is easier then it sounds so lets do it in little steps:

1. Google Sketchup - start Google Sketchup Start Google Sketchup
You will see a little dude just standing there, forget him. He is there just for the scale purposes and will not be seen in your end result.
2. Google Sketchup - Tools > 3d Text’ /></td>
<td>Goto: <a href="http://www.matthijskamstra.nl/blog/wp-content/uploads/googlesketchup_02.png" rel="flashbox[papercraftcharacter]" title="Google Sketchup - goto Tools - 3d Text">Tools – 3d Text</a></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>3.</td>
<td><img src= Find your font and change the Height and Extruded (when I doubt: try to follow the picture)
4. Google Sketchup - place the character and Export Press on place and place the character.
5. Google Sketchup - place the character and Export That’s all to it. Now save your file: for example “character.skp” and export to character.kmz (google earth 4)
Pepakura Designer can open .KMZ files but they have to be google earth 4!

Step 3: create papercraft

It’s too easy will the get difficult? No!

Update #2: when I tried to import the PDF into illustrator, I noticed that the PDF wasn’t a vector file. Luckily there is a solution: change the default print mode to Vector Print (see point 3a.)
1. Pepakura - Open Pepakura If you’ve done what I asked, you have Pepakura installed (and if not, now is the time).
Open Pepakura
2. Pepakura - open the file Open the character.kmz file you just saved on you’re hard drive
3. Pepakura - Unfold Oke lets see what Pepakura does with this simple example: press “unfold’
Yep, it’s that easy!
3a. Papakura - Print and Paperconfiguration Make sure that you change the default print setting, this will improve the quality of your print and makes it possible to import in Illustrator.
Papakura – Print and Paperconfiguration
4. Pepakura - Print Start you’re printer….. jadajada, you know what to do: Press file – print
(prepare to export to PDF read this)



Step 4: start building

Grab you’re glue and scissors and start building.


Export

This is for people who want to “export” the papermodel/papercraft to a file and modify it in a vector program like Illustrator. (Perhaps Inkscape will work too, but I don’t have that installed)
Instead of printing the model to paper, you can print it to .PDF. And this file is easy to import in Illustrator.

The only thing that you have to do is install: PDFCreator.
This program is opensource (doesn’t cost anything) and works the same as your printer.
Instead of printing to a printer, which is connected to you computer or network, you print to PDFCreator. And this will create a PDF for you on you’re computer.

    42 thoughts on “How to create your own Papercraft

    1. Here’s another great one-app cross-platform and FREE option… Blender!

      You can create, unwrap your model right in blender. You can even do some basic graphic work right on your model surface inside Blender. The result can be imported into any image editor for further editing of your graphics. Glue tabs are not added automatically, but you can manually add them either as part of your 3D model or free-handed via pen or pencil after you print your model.

    2. Blender is a very good option. It’s free and cross-platform.
      And I didn’t know about a function which would ‘unfold’ your 3d-design.

      But the only thing that I dislike about Blender is the
      complex and quite intimidating, interface.

      Which makes it quite difficult for beginners (which I am) to start with Blender. Perhaps after I done some work with a less intimidating program like Google Sketchup or Wings 3D.

    3. This is absolutly great!!! I can’t wait to try it and build my own toys/models. Your my hero!

    4. I’m sorry, can’t help you with this question.
      Although I created this tutorial, I’m not a 3D specialist or very good with Pepakura.

      :(

      To be honest, I’ve only created this tutorial to see if it’s possible to make papercraft with free available software.
      You could try your question at the forum of http://www.nicepapertoys.com/, I know Jerom is very handy with Pepakura.

    5. I have a problem !!! when i go to seve my proyect in pepakura i can t becouse the program need a password ??? can you help me ???

    6. I can be short about that: no!
      Pepakura is currently the only program that you can use to create papertoys/papercraft for 3d models. Pepakura is shareware what means that you can try the program with all its features, but some key elements of the program are disabled. In this case saving.

      My tutorial doesn’t hack Pepakura, but uses the fact that you can print the Pepakura files and that you can export it that way to pdf.

      If you want to save your files, you should buy the program (US $38).
      (or spend some time finding a serial, or crack ;) )

      But just you know, I don’t have a password either, I use the export as described in the tutorial.

    7. I can’t save the 3d model I made in google earth 4. Can you please help me. I have google sketchup 7

    8. Yes that is correct.
      Recently I tried to make a papertoy using Sketchup and Pepakura. Because Sketchup asked to be updated I did that (upgraded to SketchUp 7) and the files generated by that version can’t be imported in Pepakura.

      Because I was working on Windows I could easily find an old Sketchup version, I can’t remember if I started to build from scratch again or imported the file made by Sketchup 7 (but if I had to guess I think it’s not possible to import Sketchup 7 files in Sketchup 6)
      For some strange reason it’s not that simple to find a old Sketchup for Mac

    9. thnx for the info but i have one question
      when i open my “crestion” in pepakura
      all the faces are doublesided
      in other words when i unvold it there are 2 faces for one side inside and outside.
      what do i need to do to fix it?
      ps: i used sketchup

    10. when i want to open an kmz. file it says “cannot read this file format please save in google earth 4 format”
      what do i need to do?

    11. OK.. soo… Is there any option out there for someone working on a mac? I’ve been seeing all these amazing creations and want to get into it . Any Help?

    12. No there is no option to do this on a Mac.
      You could try to install Windows on your mac (BootCamp / Parallels) but that’s probably not the answer you are looking for.

      :(

    13. Hi, i tried your tutorial and did what you said, but when i try to open my KMZ file, pepakura said “can’t read this file format. Please save in Google Earth 4 format”. Exactly how do i do that???

    14. I recognize this problem.
      It has to do with the version of Sketchup.
      You are using the newest version (Sketchup 7) and for some reason Pepakura can’t read those files.
      Try to download an older version (Sketchup 6)

    15. i have a better idea,make anithing model and export his UV map of all the textures as a picture and make it as the uv map =P

    16. Hey! Google sketchup 8 has an option to export as .dae! It is a common 3d file type so blender and pepakura can open it!

    17. k so. i’m having a bit of difficulty, im typed a name as the 3d graphic saved it as a KMC file. but in pepakura it says it has to cut off verticies and stuff and it shows all weird and when unfolded its like, very messed up. please help, thank you.

    18. Hi.
      How can I made a big model,for example a house, and divide the whole into smaller parts.
      This
      ______________
      | |
      | |
      | |
      —————
      in this
      ______ ______
      | |\ /| |
      | || || |
      | || || |
      ——-/ \——

      yes, this is strange :D

    19. si van hacer un tutorial, muestren elementos mas complejos, siempre muestran los modelos mas faciles y los dificiles nadie muestra como se hace y dicen k es la misma wea. esto es una porqueria.

    20. I very happy with any comment on my blog, good or bad.
      But I have to stress that this is a english blog.

      And I don’t understand Spanish so I have to translate it:

      if they do a tutorial, show more complex elements, always show the easiest models and nobody shows how difficult it is and say wea k is the same. This is bullshit.

      And if that is the correct translation: correct it is a simple tutorial.
      When I wrote it, it was just a test to see if it was possible.
      I create my papertoys with Illustrator so I don’t use a 3D program to make paper-models.

      But if I remember correctly: you can always make something complex and let pepakura flatten that for you.
      As I mentioned before in the comments, I can’t advice you on that because I really don’t know.

    21. This is strange, I don’t have either one of the downloading thingies download. How do you make a papercraft without the downloading thingies?

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