Introduction: Cardboard Chameleon

This chameleon is a terrific decoration and a fun conversation piece! It is a three dimensional animal made out of two dimensional pieces of cardboard. While it is structurally sound, it does not require any glue or tape to hold it together.



-knife/scissors (to cut cardboard)


Step 1: Verticals

Cut out your spines. The spines are the horizontal pieces of cardboard that are shaped like the chameleon's body and run its entire length. You will have three of these spines. Each spine has a different horn, the middle spine having a horn that's slightly raised above the other two. The middle spine will also have a tail. These two aspects will make the chameleon more recognizable.

Measurements: (these are to help you in sketching/cutting the shape)

length of horns: 2 inches

width of horns: 1/4 inch

length of middle spine (excluding horns and tail): 19 and 1/2 inches

length of tail (right to left): 2 inches

width of tail (up and down): 3 inches

length of side spines (excluding horns): 18 and 3/4 inches

width of spines: 1 and 3/4 inches

length of mouth slit: 1 and 1/2 inches

Notes: Be very careful with the horns. They are delicate and can easily break/bend/tear.


After you cut the spines, poke eye holes in them, either with a knife or a sharp pencil or the blade of scissors. Then, depending on how many vertical body pieces you plan to use, cut small, evenly spaced slits in the belly. DO NOT make them bigger than 1/8 inch. Remember, you can always cut them bigger, but you can't make them smaller.

Step 2: Horizontals

Here, I have four different sizes of circles.

The circles on the very end are the smallest, the next two circles in are a bit bigger, the next two circles in are bigger than that, and all the other circles are slightly larger than those.


Smallest circles: 1 and 3/4 inch diameter

Size two circles: 2 inch diameter

Size three circles: 2 and 1/4 inch diameter

Rest of the circles: 2 and 1/2 inch diameter


a) cut circles

b) cut the tops of the circles to make them flat on one side

~~~this is to create the shape of the chameleon with a flat back and rounded belly

c) cut three slits out of the flat sides (remember, air towards smaller slits and cut bigger if needed)

~~~cut one slit in the very center of the circle and the other two slits 1/2 inch away from the middle

d) on two of the bigger circles (see above for sizes of circles) cut out two more slits on either side of the three already cut slits

~~~these slits will be where you eventually stick the legs of the chameleon

~~~this instruction is shown in image 2 of this page

Step 3: Limbs

The chameleon has four limbs. The upper limbs are identical to each other and have approximately an 90 degree bend at the elbow. The lower limbs are identical to each other and have a 45 degree bend.


upper part of upper limb length: 2 and 1/2 inches

lower part of upper limb length: 4 inches

upper part of lower limb length: 2 and 1/4 inches

lower part of lower limb length: 4 and 1/2 inches

width of limbs: 1/2 inch

cut slits at the top of the limbs as shown

image 1: upper limbs

image 2: lower limbs

Step 4: Eyes

The eyes are made out of two larger circles, two smaller circles and one long skinny pieces.


diameter of larger circles: 11/16 inch

diameter of smaller circles: 1/2 inch

length of long skinny piece: 2 and 1/4 inches

width of long skinny piece: 1/8 inch

Step 5: Assemble

a) First, assemble the eyes. Thread the long skinny piece through the holes in the spines and bookend them with first larger circles on each side and then the smaller circles. Carefully split the cardboard down the middle of the long skinny piece (as shown in image 1) and fold it around the smaller circle (as shown in image 2).


Note: Try folding the eye in half and gradually widening the hole by sticking a pencil through. Do this until you can fit the long skinny piece through the hole. , and sticking the skinny piece through. Then unfold the eyes. That should make it easier to get the skinny piece through.


b) Next, assemble the body. Put the smallest pieces on the ends and all of the larger pieces in the middle. Put the pieces with legs slits at appropriate points so the chameleon's legs are appropriately spaced.

c) Lastly, connect the legs to their appropriate slits.

Step 6: Tongue/Bug (optional)

The tongue will be a long piece of cardboard with a slit at the top. The slit will slide into the mouth slit in the middle spine.


length of tongue: 10 inches

width of tongue: 3/16 inch

The bug is a very basic design. I have three pieces: one horizontal piece with two slits, one vertical piece with antenna, and one vertical piece with wings.


length of horizontal (back to front): 1 and 1/8 inch

width of horizontal (top to bottom): 7/8 inch

length of vertical with antenna (antenna to bottom): 13/16 inch

width of vertical with antenna (side to side): 5/8 inch

length of vertical with wings (wing to wing): 2 and 1/2 inches

width of vertical with wings (top to bottom): 3/4 inch

image 1: pieces

image 2: constructed bug

Cardboard Speed Challenge

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Cardboard Speed Challenge