Introduction: 3D Cardboard Dragon Head

Today I will be taking you through how to make a 3D cardboard dragon head. This is 100% DIY and can be made easily at home.

The same general idea can be used for a number of other designs.


Cutting surface (preferably self-healing cutting mat)


Pencil (with eraser)

Utility knife

Step 1: Sketching

The first step of every project of this type is to sketch what you are going to make. Make sketches of the top, sides, and bottom view. Make rough sketches first and then refine them to one or two good sketches of each side. Make sure to draw the details such as the horns and eyes. Also decide the shape that you want the head to be.

Step 2: Making the Patterns

Make sketches of many of the layers that will be part of your project. This will help you visualize how much work and cardboard the project will take. The important ones are the spine (the long part that holds it all together), the face section with the horns, and the nose section on the front.

Step 3: Making a Maquette (small Scale Model)

The next step is to make a version of the project at about ½ size of your final idea. The lines can be rough and you don’t have to make the whole project. This step is for you to figure out how the final project will fit together. Cut all of the pieces with the utility knife. The pieces will be help together without glue, using a process of cutting slots into the pieces and holding them together that way. Make the slots smaller than you think that they should be, you can always make them bigger later. Also they will need to be tight to hold the project together.

Step 4: Revise Your Idea

After making the maquette, go back and revise your idea as you see fit. Maybe make the horns smaller, or the nose bigger. Sketch these new ideas as well.

Step 5: Make the “spine”

Make the part that will be a single piece throughout your entire project. This will help keep the project strong and durable. This time make clean, careful cuts. Try to make sure that the cardboard does not get bent (unless you want it to). Check back to the maquette section for more tips on cutting.

Step 6: Finish the Project

Make the rest of the pieces. Make sure that the pieces are close enough together to give the illusion of a solid form. For my project, the pieces are perpendicular to the spine, and layered so that they look like the shape of a dragon’s snout. Make these cuts clean as well. For my project there are 2 perspectives that it can be looked at: the side and the front. Because of this, the horns and eyes have to be visible from both directions. Add details as you wish and have fun. :)

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