Introduction: Create Faceted Papercraft-objects

Faceted sculptures and objects are all the rage these days. And they are ideal to make from paper or cardstock.

You don't need fancy 3D-programs or design skills. But it takes time and patience to make them. There's a lot of paper to be printed, cut and glued.

If you want to skip the next steps and just want to build the deer above - Here is the PDF:
It's meant to be printed on A3. You can print it on A4, the deer will then be 75% smaller in the end.

The PDF can be downloaded from my blog:

or Dropbox:
(Please don't share the pdf without the link to where it came from, thank you.)

But you want to make your own, right? So let's get started.

UPDATE: I made a second tutorial for the Moose as some of you have requested.

Step 1: 3D-Model

The web is full of free 3D-models that we can use as a template. I found my deer on

There are plenty of other models on that site. If none fits you try looking for free .obj or .stl on your favourite search engine.

Most of the time these models were made for animation or 3d-printing. If you were to try to make them detailed like this you'd have to cut out tens or hundreds of thousand little paper triangles. Thats why we have to reduce the level of detail drastically. That way we also get that cool faceted look.

The free software Meshlab (for Windows, Mac or Linux) can do that for us. Get it at:

Step 2: Importing the Model

Once you open meshlab and go through the menus you probably want to close it right away. But fear not. We will only use one of all those tools.

So lets get started:

Import your model:
File->Import Mesh

You should see your model on the screen like this. Try to get rotate the model by clicking and dragging you mouse. You can Zoom in and out with your scroll-wheel.

Step 3: Chop Away Most Details

Now it's time to grind away the detail. I usually do it in two steps. Chopping away in the first pass and then going back refining to the point where I'm satisfied.
Filters->Remeshing, Simplification and Reconstruction->Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation

That sounds like rocket science, and under the hood probably is. But we don't have to know how it works, just how to use it.
In the end I want to reach somewhere between 500 and 1000 faces. In the first step I reduce down to 1000. That leaves a lot of detail to work with. I also use Preserve Topology, Optimal Position, Planar Simplification and Post-simplification cleaning.

Your model should start to look faceted now. Time to save this step:
File->Export Mesh as
Doesn't matter what file-type you choose, meshlab can read anything that it can write.

Step 4: Select the Parts That Need More Detail

Meshlab crashes a lot. Especially after reducing tons of points. That's why I advise you to close this model now and reimport it.
File->Close Project
File->New Project
File->Import Mesh

In this model I want to antlers to be more detailed than the head an neck. Most models have parts that need a little more detail.
In the toolbar is the Select Faces in a rectangular region tool (red triangles being selected). Your cursor should have a little box next to it, indicating that you are in selection mode. Anything that you enclose by clicking and dragging your mouse will be selected.
You can't rotate in this mode now. To do so toggle the selection mode on and off by hitting the ESK key.
Adding to your selection can be done by pressing the CMD key while selecting more faces. 
To remove parts from your selection use the SHIFT key.

Step 5: Invert Your Selection

Orbit around your model to see if there are parts selected that shouldn't be or vice versa.

Depending on what you have selected you need to do one more step.
If you have selected the parts that you want to reduce even more that you can skip this step.

if you, like me in this example, have selected the parts that you want to keep detailed, you need to invert your selection:
Filters->Selection->Invert Selection

Step 6: Check Again

It never hurts to check again.

Step 7: Reduce the Coarser Parts

Filters->Remeshing, Simplification and Reconstruction->Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation

By default meshlab will offer to reduce the details by 50%. In this case that's fine with me. Experiment with the numbers. Just make sure that you save your steps, so that you can go back. Meshlab has NO undo!!!

This time make sure that you click on the Simplify only selected faces option.

Step 8: Your Model Is Ready for Unfolding

Save your model:
File->Export Mesh as

This time make sure that you save your file as an .obj . The next program we use to unfold the model needs the file to by an OBJ.

The other program we need is Pepakura Designer. Sadly it's only available for Windows.

There is a trial version that won't allow you to save your work. But you can print it.
If you plan to make more objects like this, the price of $38 is reasonable.

Step 9: Setting Up Pepakura

Before you start it is important to set your printer settings right. Try to print as large as you can. Most of us will only be able to print on A4 or letter size cardstock. If you have access to a printer that can print A3 on coardstock - it's well worth it. It'll save you quite a few glue steps later on.

I personally buy large sheets of paper and cute them into stripes of 210mm width and a length of 400-500mm. My inkjet printer can handle them through the single sheet feeder. looks a little strange but works for me.

Step 10: Importing the Model Into Pepakura

When you import your model into Pepakura you will be asked to re-orient your model. This step is not really necessary but helps you to maintain a sense of what part belongs where.

You will also get a warning that the facecount is (too) high. You can safely ignore that. The number of faces were determined in meshlab in the previous steps.

Your model should be on on the left hand side of the screen now.

Step 11: Unfolding

Pepakura helps you to flatten your model so that you can print it out. I don't want to go into details here. The idea is, that you cut along the side of the faces until you get a piece that can be unfolded until it is totally flat and printable. Pepakura will add tabs where you made the virtual cuts so that you can glue the parts back together.

There is a great instructable that explains this process in great detail:

The cuts I made on my deer are drawn in orange on the screenshot above.

Step 12: Placing Parts on Paper

After you have unfolded your model it's time to optimize the placing of the parts. Try to move and turn them so that you lose as little space on your paper as possible. You might have to make an additional extra cut here and there to fit them onto a single sheet of paper.

If you plan to use different colors make sure you group the parts that have the same color. I grouped all the parts for the antlers on the last four pages.

I also kept the base on a single page.

Step 13: Printing

If you are using the free version of Pepakura you won't be able to save you work with Pepakura. What you can do ist print into a PDF. That way you can print your object on paper whenever you want.

You can also share your work with others easier. Not everyone is willing to download and install the Pepakura-Viewer. And PDFs work on OS X and Linux. 
PDFs make it easier to find the corresponding pieces after you've cut them out. More on that later.

That's why I always write a PDF of my work.

When printing on cardstock make sure you have fairly heavy paper. 200 grams is the minimum Is was able to get a big object out of. Try to get cardstock closer to 300 grams.

Step 14: Cutting

Tools I use. Scissors in different sizes, Paperknives and rulers. I like to switch between all of them. That way it's less boring and your hands don't get tired so quick. But no matter what you use -  it's a lot of work. Take breaks but stay organized. Then You'll get through.

Some peolple like to cut out just the piece they want to glue next. Cut, glue, cut, glue. That works best if you have placed the parts in squential order on paper.
I place them to save space, there is no order. Connected parts can be on totally different pages. That's why I cut them out all at once and place them where they were, keep them grouped by page.

I score the folds with a knife. If you feel comfortable with that, it's the fastest way. You can also use a ball-pen.

Step 15: Glueing

I use basic paper-glue for parts that need to be strong. Where the antlers meet the head for example. On all other sides I use double-sided tape. It's cleaner (no spillage) and faster. 

Start from the outside in. From small to big, from intricate to coarse. In this case with the antlers. Pick one of the spikes and find it's corresponding piece. Glue. see if there are other sides that match on the part you have in your hand. Then pick the next piece. 

This can be like a treasure hunt.  This is where the PDFs come in handy. Pick one of the edge numbers and search for them in the PDF. Your PDF-reader will show you the page and position in no time.

The keep on going. Piece by piece. Don't worry if you lose track of what it is you are currently glueing together. In the end it will magically fit. You'll be so proud when you have the two antlers ready, sticking them to your head in front of a mirror...

Take your time. It took me two weekends. And I've done a few of those before...

Step 16: Done

When all is done, find a nice spot on a wall and hang it.

Congratulations, You've made it.

Step 17: Videos - Instructions and Timelapses

This tutorial has been a great success for me and lots of people have made the deer. Some of them even made videos. If you have made one or know of others, let me know and I'll include them here



Step 18: Bonus: Extra Templates

Martin Liška has made a fox using this tutorial and asked me to share it here with you.

So here it is, the Papercraft Fox.

If you have made a template that you want to share, please let me know and I will put it here.

Papercraft Contest

Second Prize in the
Papercraft Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest