Sunday, December 05, 2010

Papercraft - Beginnings

Making a come back after more than a year, this time I bring you the new hobbie I am on this days: Papercraft !

Just a fast summary, Papercraft is about making paper models of almost anything. It can be machines, anime girls, weapons, almost anything you can imagine. It must not be confused with Origami, since origami makes figures by folding paper in many different ways, but Papercraft makes figures by having a template of the "unfolded" figure, which you need to actually cut and paste.

Here some of the most basic requirements to work on Papercrafts:

  • Cutter or sharp knife - Used to cut the parts off the templates. Believe me, the cutter is WAY BETTER than scissors !

  • Cutting mat - You definitely need one of this. If not available, you can use a big piece of thick paper. You do not want to leave marks on your desktop or your mama's favorite table cloth.

  • White glue - Used to paste the parts together. It can be done with any kind of glue, but the classic scholar white glue works like a charm.

  • Invisible scotch tape - This is just for emergencies. Sometimes, when pasting, fixing or cutting the parts you might cut the wrong line. The scotch tape can save you from printing the whole sheet again.

  • Slim wooden sticks - This ones are very handy when assembling long / slim parts, as you can stick them inside to ensure a proper fix.

  • PATIENCE, LOADS and LOADS of PATIENCE. This might be the major requirement to do Papercraft. Cutting the small parts, folding the flips and pasting all together can drive someone crazy !!

Basically, all Papercraft models consist of this three parts:

  1. Template - This is where you have all the individual parts that you need to cut out. You might see as well, depending on who made the model, folding lines (dotted lines).

  2. Assembly instructions - Now this part should be a MUST on all models, but there are some around the internet that do no have them. As you get more practice, it gets easier to identify the parts, so from time to time the instructions are not required. Some models that do not have instructions bundled are presented with a 3D model instead, which can help when assemblying the model (.pdo files, we'll get to that later).

  3. Finished model photos - Again, this should be a MUST for all models, since this shall be your guide to get the model finished as it should.

File formats

The papercraft models come in their majority in 2 formats:

  • PDF - Extraordinarily handy when working across Operating System platforms. I work with a Mac and PDF works like a charm !

  • PDO - This is a file that needs to be open with the Pepakura Viewer from Tamasoft. This is a japanese software (don't worry, there is an English version ^_^) that allows you to get the printing templates along with a fully movable/viewable 3D model of the papercraft. You can click on each piece of the template and it shall be highlighted on the 3D model. This is one of the papercraft formats that do not need an assembly manual, as the 3D model has all the information needed to know exactly what part are you working on and where it should be assembled.

  • JPEG - This might be the worst of the formats. It is just an image containing the template and, if lucky, the assembly instructions. If the file was saved with good quality, it shall worth printing it.

What can I assemble?

Well, that depends completely on your taste. As mentioned before, you can find models like fish tanks, anime gals (or guys), ships, boats, mobiles, computers, video games and so forth. Check out my links on the right column to view some of the sites with lots of models. There are some difficult ones and some easy ones. Or, just google for "Papercraft models" and you shall find lots of options to start with.

Ok, I got hands on a Papercraft model, now what?

You will need to print out the Template. Here some printing tips:

  • IF available, print the template on a COLOR LASER printer. The printing quality is AWESOME. Since most of the models have the folding lines printed, this should be as clearer as possible. If no laser printer is available, a good quality inkjet printer should do it.

  • Use BOND or a bit Thicker paper to print on. I have made almost all my papercraft models on regular BOND paper and have no troubles. This gets handy when working with very detailed and small parts models. There are some models that might require some support parts assembled, this can be printed on thicker paper to ensure good support to the whole structure.

I've printed the model, but how do I assemble it?

Now here comes the tricky part. Depending on the model you chose to assemble, it might have very simple foldings and few parts, so the assembly is relatively easy. Also, be sure to download a model that has instructions. This is handy if it is your first assembly. The assembly difficulty rises with the model complexity; I recommend to start with some basic forms and models to get used to the cutting, folding and pasting techniques. As you get practice, you can get into more complex models. Your first stop when assembling models should be the Cannon Creative Park. This is a site that has lots of models with awesome instructions on the assembly. Check out the links on the right column !

So that is it for today. I shall start posting some of the models I have assembled so far, with lots of pics for each one to serve as a great guide for the papercrafts !

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