Introduction: Corrugated Cardboard Duck


Recently, my art class was given the challenge of constructing and completing a corrugated cardboard model of any animal of our choosing. Of the wide varieties of animals, I chose the duck for my project. One of the more alluring aspects of constructing the duck was the simple complexity of the design of a duck. A duck's profile is very curvy and cartoony, as ducks aren't usually very muscular, but when you look closer at a duck, you notice the intricacy of the wings, the bill, the webbed feet, or even the colors of the feathers. I wanted to see if I could highlight at least a couple aspects of the duck in my project. Enjoy!


To start, I was assigned which materials I could and could not use. The materials I could work with consisted of:

- a utility knife for cutting the cardboard

- cardboard

- a cutting mat

- a sketching pencil

Everything else was prohibited, as per the rules of MY class project. Please note that you are not confined to these restrictions, as my teacher wanted to test our ingenuity and see what we could come up with to keep our models together. If you're up for a challenge, feel free to use only these materials as well.

Step 1: Sketching and Building a Maquette Rough Draft

I first sketched a couple of diagrams of what my model could look like. As we can all see, I was a little ambitious, as I did not fully understand quite how much cardboard would go into this model. In my maquette, as well as in my model, there are far fewer layers. I'm fairly happy I kept my duck simple and clean, but if you have a large amount of cardboard at your disposal and a good picture in your mind of what you want to build, then I encourage you to build a model with as many layers as my sketch.

When I built my maquette rough draft, I experimented a little with the design of my duck. I tried having the two "spines" of my maquette intersect each other, rather than run parallel.* It was a good attempt, but in the end, I decided not to keep that feature, because, personally, I didn't love the aesthetic of it too much. You may notice that my maquette may look a little, well, barren. Keep in mind this maquette is very small and could easily fit in the palm of my hand. Feel free to keep your maquette small, as you will be expanding on it later when you are building your final model.

*(Spines, by the way, are the term my class has coined for the two, or more, pieces of cardboard that convey the profile of the animal. These pieces run perpendicular to the smaller pieces which straddle the spines to give off the effect of the volume of your animal.)

Step 2: Learning From the Maquette

As I said in the past step, in between the completion of your maquette and the construction of the model is when you have a chance to step back, reflect, and decide what does and does not work in your current design. For me, it was the awkward angle at which my two "spines" intersected. In my model, my "spines" are parallel, as I decided it would be more aesthetically pleasing if the duck was more symmetrical, rather than v-shaped. After the construction of my maquette, I also learned some valuable techniques on how to make my model, not only structurally sound but also cleaner and more refined. I would strongly advise that at this point in the process, you take some time to decide what you would like to change in your final model so that you will be happier with the final product.

Step 3: Constructing the Final Model

Now we've reached the biggest and final step, constructing your final model. First, I would recommend sketching out the design of one of your "spines". Make it exactly how you want it to look. Not until you're content with the sketch should you begin to cut it out. Once you've carefully cut out one of the "spines", trace that piece back onto the cardboard to make sure that both "spines" are completely the same. Be sure to include little notches on the top halves of the "spines" so your volume pieces can securely fit into your "spines". After that, you can cut out a couple more, tinier "spines" to give off even more of an effect of three-dimensionality. Once you have all of the "spines", begin sketching and cutting out the volume pieces. Add as many as you see fit. Put notches in the bottom halves of the volume pieces so that when the "spines" and the volume pieces meet. It's almost like puzzle pieces sliding together. Once all of your pieces are together, you will have your finished maquette! Thanks for reading!

Step 4:

Cardboard Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Cardboard Speed Challenge