Introduction: Curved Paper Folding

Picture of Curved Paper Folding

Hello! In this instructable I will introduce the basics of curved paper folding. You'll need the following to get started:

-medium weight paper such as Canson Mi-Teintes

-implement for scoring paper



-cutting mat

Step 1: Choosing a Scoring Implement

Picture of Choosing a Scoring Implement

Any number of household items can be used for scoring the paper. Nails, exact-o blades, compass points, safety pins, the list goes on... The important thing is that implement chosen does not tear the surface of the paper or cut through it. For this instructable I used the end of a T-pin in combination with the body of a mechanical pencil.

Before starting on the project, I did a few tests to compare the effectiveness of a nail and the T-pin. I found that the T-pin tore the rough side of the paper I was using but worked well on the smooth side of the paper, providing a crisp, sharp edge. The nail worked fine but made a less defined edge.

Step 2: Folding

Picture of Folding

When making curved folds I find its best to use a medium weight paper as the paper tends to stay in its desired shape better. For my piece I used Canson Mi-teintes drawing paper, which is available at most art stores.

Begin by drawing a series of curves on the paper until you are happy with the design. Using a scoring implement, follow the lines to create a guide for the curved folds. The process of folding is quite easy but it may take some time to develop familiarity with it. Start at an end of one of the curves and begin folding little sections of the curve at a time until you have folded along the entire length. I find that things can get difficult once multiple curves have been folded. In these cases it may be best to flatten the whole piece of paper and work on the lines that were troubling. When the piece is complete try placing it in different lighting conditions that highlight the folds.

Step 3: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!


SwansonDesign (author)2017-05-23

You could harden the paper with Smooth-On epoxy, if you wanted to make wall panels or sculpture. Check out these links:

I believe Smooth-On makes a low VOC or low smell product, also. You'll need ventilation for this product:

CreativeTinker (author)2016-07-07

David Huffman was challenged to make a cube protrude from the page. He did this with no cutting, only folds. Try it. It is not so hard! Folded from acitate, it makes a lovely vase.

nick1941 (author)2016-07-07

I saw some interesting folded paper shapes at the Guggenheim not too long ago, and was inspired to try some on my own. I've been doing paper folding since 4th grade (in the 1940's) and have kept it up, but always love new things such as this. I save many travel brochures and other things we get in the mail for their high quality paper. The paper stands up well to folding and makes more sense than recycling at the curb, for me, that is. Thanks 'ooochristopher' for the post. More people need to know about stuff like this. Check out Dutch Paper Girl on YouTube for more ideas.

okimprollydrunk (author)2016-07-07

What is the best way to mount these? I see this as a really cool wall art option, though it seems like it'd be hard to get a good mount. Thumb tacks aren't really in the cards for me. Maybe glue it to a thicker paper board and mount from there?

Ingenerare (author)2015-10-25

check this site for really cool folding curves!

thanks! this lead me to a pdf that is quite helpful for understanding how huffman does some of his curved folding

Frogwhisperer2 (author)2015-09-03

I tried to make this but failed miserably

yosoufe made it! (author)2015-09-03

Hi. It is awesome! I have just made one with a key :D. not that much good of course.

linny (author)2015-09-02

I like your formgiving and imagine it on the fender of a car for ex. Neat.

datajunkie55 (author)2015-08-24

Interesting idea. I do some leather crafting and like making asymmetric items. This looks like a good way to get the leather to fit on some of the curved cuffs, and such. Grooving to fold straight line leather items is common and some around curved corners but I've not seen anything such as this. I'll play with this on some upcoming projects that might have the cuts on either the grain side or the flesh side and either folded towards the cuts or away from it and post pix.

A plastic bone folder might help make paper folding easier. I saw one being used by a book binder making custom journals. Same type I have for leather.

I'm terrible at free hand drawing but have a set of templates and curves for marking and cutting. Folding over the same form I used to mark and cut might make it easier.

Topology is interesting! How 2D materials can be reshaped to 3D is useful as well as intriguing.

Thanks for the post- I'm curious to see this applied to leather crafting! I'm personally interested in applying this to wood veneer and plywood and find that it's a quick way to build an intuition on making curved 3D surfaces from flat sheets.

It does work with leather. I'll try to get some pix later, camera wasn't in reach on the first test piece. I had some fairly firm temper--stiffness in leather jargon, leather scrap I was using as a test cut for a glass 'cozie' I'm making for a friend out of a more expensive leather. As the glass is tapered and there is a spiral of color she wants left shown, I need to have an odd shape.

I took some clear acetate, wrapped around the glass and taped together, drew over the spiral of color to cut for a template. Since the thickness of the leather will shift the pattern a bit, I used this scrap to test it. Using a utility knife with the blade retracted most of the way so I could rest the tip of the handle on the template--makes it easier for me to trace the cut with less blade going around curves, the blade cut the stiffer grain side but didn't go all the way through. Before finishing the cuts, I did flex and fold it much as you did the paper.

Had I cut on the flesh side, leaving the grain side intact--tighter cell structure, it might have been more difficult. But it does work with firm tempered leather and probably with softer but thick leather if a finer fold is needed than the leather would allow without it.

mjp_2003 (author)2015-09-01

This is great! Can't wait to try.

antioch (author)2015-09-01

Wow, just wow!
How did you find out about this method?

kitemancake (author)2015-08-30

Use an old ball pen that has run out of ink for marking lines: a smooth fine tip.This technique used to be called paper sculpture.

Yes! When I was doing the first test folds I used a ball point pen (with ink) and really liked the quality of the fold. I've been using light scoring with an xacto knife recently and find that it produces a very sharp line.

SidA2 (author)000christopher2015-08-31

I used an xacto and the lines are sharp. I mark where I will cut with a pencil first and then score it so it is easier and the line is well defined

DocR (author)kitemancake2015-08-30

Another thing that never rips the paper and is especially good for 40-50 pound card, is a moderatly small size philips screwdriver.

ladybgood (author)kitemancake2015-08-30


CreativeTinker (author)2015-08-30

You might enjoy:


Erebo2005 (author)2015-08-31

Nice work. Interesting.

dollarseed (author)2015-08-31

Cool idea, and great instructions. Not sure of the need to learn this today, but I am sure it may come in handy in the future while working on some of my projects, to show an idea in paper, before committing it to wood. :)

huansan (author)2015-08-31


PeterTheUnGreat (author)2015-08-30

Simple, yet the results look lovely

vincent7520 (author)2015-08-30

seems to me more difficult than it is claimed in this Inst´

Yes a video might help.

Cheers for your ability and thanks for posting anyway.

joe.lyddon.7 (author)2015-08-30

This is very interesting...

It would be nice to see a short video that shows the Scoring process & tools, etc.

Thank you very much.

Jota Ve (author)2015-08-24

Very nice, although I have trouble totally erasing my pencil tracings after I score the paper, and you can still see a bit of them; is there a trick to do that?


000christopher (author)Jota Ve2015-08-24

Hi Jota- thanks for the question. I forgot to mention that in the piece I made I did all the drawing and scoring on one side then flipped the paper over to have the nicer, unmarked side be the presentation side. In regards to removing pencil marks, I find that a white block eraser such as the Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser works better than most of the erasers that come attached to pencils.

Jota Ve (author)000christopher2015-08-25

I see, thanks although I don't understand how you can get the concave folds by scoring on one side only? I do paper models and usually to get a nice crisp concave fold you need to score on the side you'll see. But I'll try it anyway!
Thx again Chris.

DIY-Guy (author)Jota Ve2015-08-30

Great idea using a pencil- perhaps dipping the tip in white glue would be a way to avoid marking the paper? What do you think?

LiveCrafts (author)2015-08-30

This is a great first instructable!! Wonder what would happen if you colored it different colors? This is great modern art!

lunchweek (author)2015-08-30

You can use a fine point embossing tool as well.

SidA2 (author)2015-08-30

woah that's so cool!

Architekt Wnetrz (author)2015-08-30

Very nice.

EdLay (author)2015-08-29

Nice project. The same techniques can also be applied to sheet metal. Here's a pic of silver and gold earrings using curved folds. Before I work in metal, I usually prototype the design using manila folder material, scoring with an awl.

Omnivent (author)2015-08-25

A high quality darning needle that fits your pencil gives a very smooth scoring, or you can make a tip for this in 2mm diameter (to fit a lead holder) stainless, titanium or similar, with the tip at whatever angle and sharpness you like and polish it to a mirror finish, so that it won't scratch the material. I've done numerous tips and even very small knife blades from 2mm stock.

Apart from carton stock, I've used the same technique for metal foil (mostly copper and bronze), where it just take a little more pressure.

For those who haven't got a cutting mat, a mouse mat or even a newspaper can be used.

I just made one in titanium as an example (see attached photos).

Have a nice day :)

LiveCrafts (author)2015-08-24

I'm trying this out!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-08-23

Cool design

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