Design Papercrafts with CAD software

My 40th Instructable ever!

Greetings Instructabrarians,

This is a project that I've been wanting to do for a long time.  Folks, we're at a revolution right now.  A revolution of ternary dimensionsI'm of course talking about the wonders of 3D Printing.  How completely amazing is it that we can create 3D models on our computer and, with a few clicks of a button you can now have the actual object at your fingertips!  


As a fan of the classic art form of colored kirigama, better known as "Papercrafting", printing 3D objects has existed for years.  Sure, the construction is completely manual but the 3D process is still the same.  And as I keep seeing new 3D design software and new development made for 3D printers, I keep wondering how this technology can be brought to domestic inkjets.  

So today, I'm combining my two loves to show how the art of Papercrafting can benefit from 3D printing technology.  
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Papercrafting in the 21st Century

While there are many fantastic papercraft designers on Instructables (notably members like or Robives), designing simple papercraft models or even converting basic 3D models into paper models is not too difficult. 

The purpose of this instructable is to provide a general introduction to Designing, Unfolding and Coloring your own papercraft models.  For this project, I will be walking through the process of creating a papercraft from the ground up- using a free online program called Tinkercad, the popular paper design program Pepakura, and free photo editing software Gimp.  

Other Available Software
  • Google Sketchup- A free-trial software application that can export to Pepakura.  The software is relatively simple to use and is popular with designers such as Ninjatoes
  • Metasequoia- A fantastic model editing software for correcting 3D models.  More on this later, but a good companion piece to Pepakura.
  • Blender: A really powerful free 3D design modeling program with a variety of different options.  It's learning curve is a bit steep, however.  
  • Autodesk 123D: Autodesk's new 123D Make program is a new software program for creating and 3D printing objects.  They have a "paper cut out" option which is decent for the most part, but their "Slice" option is most impressive.  For more on paper 3D printing I suggest this instructable

Also, you'll want to download a free PDF converter software, to export from Pepakura into GIMP.  I suggest using Cute PDF.

JoeStrout5 months ago
So is there really nothing like Pepakura for Mac?
JoeStrout5 months ago
"However, if you downloaded Google Sketchup on your computer." ...what?!? I'd love to hear the rest of this sentence!
steinie448 months ago
Nice, but I can do it all in SketchUp.
SHIFT! (author)  steinie448 months ago
True, and I would suggest using SketchUp for those who can't access Pepakura.

However, I like Tinkercad because unlike SketchUp, it only uses the lowest polygonal shapes for their objects- less troublesome than correcting those horrendous redlines.
ynze8 months ago
Extremely useful, esp. because to no-go with Pepakura and a Mac. Thanks for sharing!
Sweet! I'm going to have to see if I can do this!
SHIFT! (author)  Penolopy Bulnick8 months ago
Yes! Making papercrafts has never been easier :)
bill81888 months ago
Congrats on the 40th ever
SHIFT! (author)  bill81888 months ago
Thanks bill! Here's to forty more!
M.C. Langer8 months ago
Good job, Shift!!!!
SHIFT! (author)  M.C. Langer8 months ago
Glad you like it MC! I really want to try making your transformer toy out of paper sometime.

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!