Picture of 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.  
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Step 1: Papercrafting in the 21st Century

Picture of 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.

SOURAVD3 months ago

it's awesome

mahmad168 months ago

We recently reviewed whether PYTHA was still the best choice of CAD software for our business. After considering the options, and spending time with the new Pytha Partners support team, it was clear that there was no need to switch. The support team are clearly committed to developing the skills of our production department and they obviously have a solid, practical knowledge of manufacturing and expert technical knowledge of the software.

JoeStrout1 year ago
So is there really nothing like Pepakura for Mac?
JoeStrout1 year ago
"However, if you downloaded Google Sketchup on your computer." ...what?!? I'd love to hear the rest of this sentence!
steinie441 year ago
Nice, but I can do it all in SketchUp.
SHIFT! (author)  steinie441 year 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.
ynze1 year 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 Bulnick1 year ago
Yes! Making papercrafts has never been easier :)
bill81881 year ago
Congrats on the 40th ever
SHIFT! (author)  bill81881 year ago
Thanks bill! Here's to forty more!
Good job, Shift!!!!
SHIFT! (author)  M.C. Langer1 year ago
Glad you like it MC! I really want to try making your transformer toy out of paper sometime.