I love papercrafting. That is making 3D figures out of paper. As I keep making more and more objects, the more I’m learning about the process. I wanted to share with beginners to papercrafting the things I’ve found. Here are my tips and tricks to making awesome papercrafting figures with less hassle.
1) The Paper
Paper comes in lbs. Regular printer paper is 20lbs. Cardstock is 65 pounds. Many papercrafters like to use 32 pound paper as sits somewhere in the middle. That paper isn’t so easy to find if you don’t live next to a Staples. Where do I find it? Look in the art section of your store. You can find it in artist sketchpads. I have to cut down the paper to printer size, but that’s what paper cutters are for.
My favorite paper and the type of paper that works best for papercrafting, in my opinion, is vellum. You can find this fancy paper in the business aisles for use with brochures and the like. It is expensive. You’ll pay nearly $10 for only 15 sheets. It’s worth it if you want to make a huge 3D figure and you have the money to spare. Even a two foot tall figure will stand on its own with vellum. It folds beautifully, and glues easy.
3) Color the Tabs
Unless you are really meticulous, you’ll end up with small bits of the white tabs showing on your finished project. I know many papercrafters will color the white spots after the figure is complete. I do the opposite. Use markers, I love Sharpies, to color the tabs the same color as the piece it’s attached to. It doesn’t have to be an exact match, but as close as possible.
4) Bone Folder
A bone folder is a your best friend. Bone folders are made of bone and used to make creases in the paper so you can fold it easy. I use a ruler and line it up along the line I need to score. Then I run the bone folder down the line. You’ll end up with perfect folds and it makes folding tiny tabs easy. Trust me. You want one of these tools.
5) Label the Pieces
Every piece is numbered, but once you cut it out you lose the number. Before you cut out the pieces, write the number on the back with a pencil so it doesn’t show through. This way, you can cut them all out at once.
6) Categorize the Pieces
Keep the pieces separated in categories. I tend to put them in piles based on size with the back side up so I can see the numbers. Toss the pieces into boxes. I like to cut the back out of a cereal box and use that. This makes it easier to find the pieces when you need them. The piece you need next is a small one? Look in the small pieces box and find the number quickly.
7) Precision Tip Glue
Find a good craft glue that has a precision tip. Avoid glues that you need to use a brush because it’s messy and too easy to use too much glue. Glue bottles with a large tip also have that problem. A precision tip is tiny and you can run a thin strip of glue down a tab without worrying about using too much. If you can’t find a good precision tip glue or if you have tons of Mod Podge on hand, then use a toothpick and not a brush to apply the glue.
8) Do Not Use Super Glue
Never use super glue. When making papercraft models you need to be able to manipulate the paper before the glue dries. You can’t do that with super glue. It dries too quick. Gluing is one part of papercrafting that you can’t speed up. Be patient.
9) Don’t Always Follow the Steps
I’ve learned that it isn’t always beneficial to follow the steps on the papercraft model. That is, you don’t have to go in order with the pieces. This is something you’ll learn on your own as you go along. Always think a few steps ahead toward the end of the project. If it would be easy to attach a piece early then do it. The whole point is to get to the end of the project without tossing it out the window when you’re on the last few pieces.
10) Use Tweezers
When you work with small pieces and small tabs, use tweezers to help manipulate the pieces in place. You can also use the tweezers to hold the glued pieces together until they dry. This is very useful when you are gluing tubes that you close in on the ends and for the last few pieces.
The last few pieces are the worst. Work slowly and let everything dry before you move on to the final parts. The last few sections will take you longest because you must let each bit dry completely and you must manipulate them carefully.