Papertoy design – The basics

One of my most popular post is about how to create papertoys (How to create your own papercraft).
It seems that a lot of people are interested in papertoys and how to make themselves.
But there is not a lot of information about it, so I started this series.
Do you want to know more about my reasons read this.

Because I have not a plan about writing about this, I will call this Lesson 1 – The Cube

The basics…

The first shape you will run into when you start with papertoys is the cube. It’s easy to recognize: all sides (width, height, depth) are the same.

cube 3d
When you build one, it will look something like the one you see above. Not really impressive, yet.

Flat version of a cube

Okay, you probably know how a cube looks, but how does it look flat on a piece of paper:
cube flat

How do I make it into a Urban Papertoy?

For the cube I see 2 methods:
1. Design a pattern/print for it.
2. Add stuff to the cube.

Method 1: Find a cube-pattern

The thing that I do first is, print it out and build the model. It’s strange but when you can hold it, flip it, etc, you will get more ideas then when you just look for it in your head. It will get your creative juices going. Look for clues in the real world…

What is a cube in the real world? A dice
Tutorial-cube image-dice
Tutorial-cube image-alarm
Tutorial-cube image-table
Tutorial-cube image-tv
Tutorial-cube image-box
, …. hmmmm not a lot a stuff is really a cube….
Perhaps a little car or bus when you square them out…
Tutorial-cube image-car
A couple of rectangle shaped object can make a cube: stack of books, cds, video, …. you get the idea.
Tutorial-cube image-books
Tutorial-cube image-cds

But that would only create “dead” object (there are not a lot of living objects that are square), so we need to expend our horizon to other objects.

Method 2: Adding stuff to the cube

Now we start adding stuff. This method gives you more room to create cool stuff.
Lets try a couple:
Add a beak, make the cube yellow and you have a little bird.
Tutorial-cube image-littlebird
Add a back fin, make the cube green and you have a prehistoric beast.
Tutorial-cube image-monster
Add two wings and you have a plane…. or another bird.
Tutorial-cube image-plane
Tutorial-cube image-bird
Add an periscope, some water and you have a submarine.
Tutorial-cube image-sub
Add ears and get a head.
Tutorial-cube image-head
Sometimes it helps to rotate the object a little bit. In this case with our cube it will not help you a lot but lets try that.
Add an tail and get a whale.
Tutorial-cube image-whale
Add four feet and get a turtle.
Tutorial-cube image-turtle
You can even add an extra cube, and make a totem pole.

Method 1: How to create/draw a cube-pattern

cube sketch
You can sketch everything with a cube 3d print out like I did. Then you have a global idea how you pattern should look. Then you’ll take your favorite design program (in my case Illustrator) and open the flat template and start designing.
The only problem that you will need to know which part goes where AND and how the pattern connects to the other parts of the template.
You can also build the cube, get your drawing tools out (markers, paint, pen, pencils, whatever) and color/draw the pattern that you want. When you are finished, get a scissor and cut the cube open. Scan it and redraw it, or just draw some glue tabs on it and you are done.

How to create/draw the additional stuff

The same as above: you can sketch everything. Or you start with building a cube and adding stuff as you go. This is a method I use a lot: it’s faster then thinking every thing out on a computer and you see at once if the measurements are correct. If you are satisfied with would you just added to the cube you can measure it with a ruler and rebuild it in your favorite design program. Or cut it of, scan it and then redraw it.

Download links

To get you started I have template with a blank cube for you to download. So you can try some of the technique described here in this tutorial. The zip also contains some of the stuff you can add to a cube to make it more fun.

Happy cut’n & fold’n

[download of a cube/with extra’s like hands]

Your input is needed

I’m trying to write a book about papertoys and how you can design it. It’s not for me, I already know what I’m doing, it’s for you.
So if you have some questions, use the comments to say it to me.

No questions for me? Just let me know what you think a cube also can be?
Or perhaps examples that you have seen based on a cube.

Use the comments!

WIP working title flowboy

I’ve been working/experimenting with a curvy papermodel

Because I thought it could be curvier I made an evolution version:

I’m not totally happy with the second model, but I’ve been working to long on it to just throw it away.
So I’m letting you guys/girls decide:

Which one is better?

Model #1

Model #2

and why is that model better?

URBAN PAPER book launch paper toy art show

URBAN PAPER book launch & paper toy art show

Flyer for URBAN PAPER book launch & paper toy art show at Subwalk

This is probably something for the dutchies reading my blog, but everybody is invited!

Urban Paper
Book launch & Paper Toy Art Show

Expo: 01.08.09 – 30.08.09
Opening: Saturday 01.08.09
Lecture: Friday 21.08.09

Hommelstraat 65
6828 AJ Arnhem
The Netherlands

Meet the dutch artists (Sjors Trimbach, 3EyedBear, E440, Marshall Alexander, LouLou, Illectronics and me) and …. perhaps an visitor from the USA?

The lecture will be given by Sjors Trimbach.

There are more shows coming up:
1-30 August – Subwalk, Arnhem, The Netherlands.
September – Pause, Tokyo, Japan.
No date known – Rivet, Ohio, USA.
October – Scion Lab, Kansas City, USA

And perhaps: Italy – Rome/Milan/Bergamo/Lucca???

My papertoy got featured in Luna

The latest issue of the German family magazine Luna features some great shots of papertoys by some great papertoy designers and me 🙂

I need to make a photo/scan of the pages I’m in, but for now a image made by Marshall Alexander

There are models and customs by Sal Azad, 3EyedBear, SaltnPaper, JustUs, Nick Knite, Matt Hawkins, Marshall Alexander and me 😀

Impressive Grumm evolution

Scott Schaller blew me away with a custom for Grumm

Grumm Dragon

Do you see the Grumm in there?
Lets try again:

No? nothing. Nether did I:
But it’s true, it started as a Grumm

What can I say, Scott is amazing
He should stop calling it a Grumm custom and give it his own name.
Perhaps this started as a Grumm, but this is completely different DNA.

Grumm evolution

Another post about Nice Paper Toys

I’m a member of Nice Paper Toys, well I’m also one of the four Featured Members of NPT.

Update #1: it seems that Nicebunny has a identity crisis (read more about this) and wants to be called by his normal name: Castelforte…… no problem…

Brian Castelforte aka “NiceBunny” (Brian) Castleforte (aka “no longer NiceBunny”) started this social network for papertoy designers and it’s still growing. We now close to a 1000 members. Time to celebrate? Yes, I personally didn’t think we would get this much members, but I’m glad that I was wrong. But Nicebunny Castleforte want more, more people should know about papertoys, and I agree.

And as a good “featured member”, I will use my blog to spread the word once again.

Visit Nice Paper Toys

But what is it? What is NPT (Nice Paper Toys)?
NPT is the only papertoy network. You can show your papertoy creations. Collaborate with other artist, share you thoughts and ideas. It’s all nice, warm, fuzzy feelings, but I like it.

It a place that keeps you wanna make better stuff, become a better artist.

So if you have any questions about papertoys or NPT just leave a comment here. Or become a member and place a comment on my NPT page

Viva la paper!

header of NPT

Update #2: it seems that Castleforte is taking controle of NPT and laying down some rules:

Nice Paper Toy rules

Pre-post about Urban Paper Toy tutorials

One of my most popular post is about how to create papertoys (How to create your own papercraft).
It seems that a lot of people are interested in papertoys and how to make themselves.
On Nice paper toys (NPT) this question pops up now and again on the forum.
You can buy a book about it, if you want to know more about it: Urban paper toys (well you should buy this book anyhow because I’m in it 🙂 ).

But besides my post about this subject you’re on your own…..
Well perhaps not for long! I’ve been playing with this idea for a while now of making a tutorial series about papertoy and how you can make one yourself. That got me thinking….
It seems that people really enjoy making/creating papertoys, so why not make a book about it?

…… hmmm a book, I have never thought about writing a book (grammar is not really my thing, not in English and not in my native tongue), I never wrote a book or designed one (well… not recently).
So I have no idea where this series is taking me, but here it is:

I want to make a “book” about creating/designing Urban Paper toys. But I’m a internet designer/developer, I have no experience with book design, no experience with writing a book and no idea how to do it.
It doesn’t matter, I have my blog. I can write and rewrite as much as I want.
And I have something that a conventional writer doesn’t have: User generated feedback….. (no idea what that means? It’s you giving me comments/advice/whatever and helping me write this “book” by giving comments).

I say “book” because you don’t really need the book, because you can read it on my blog. But for the less internet savy peeps I can create a download link for a e-book or a you can buy a book.
I have searched for options to Self Publish and I found a couple, but these two sites seem to popup the most: and
But before I can think about that, I need to write about papertoys and how they are made.

So this week I’m focusing on how I will do this on my blog.
But in the mean time, use the comments to show me what you want to know

And perhaps we will write a book 🙂