Introduction: DIY Cardboard Pangolin | Sculpt an Armoured Animal With Recycled Card

About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

I have amassed a fair amount of cardboard packaging recently, and I've been pondering what I could do with it that was something different to what I normally would create. I decided an animal sculpture would be fun, and I thought card would lend itself to animals with scales....which led me to Pangolins.

Pangolins are very sweet creatures and unfortunately are the world's most trafficked mammals. I decided to created a metallic-looking armour rather than making it all brown, so my pangolin would look like a knight in shining armour :)

I hope you enjoy this Instructable.


- Cardboard: I used cardboard from boxes, and also thin card from a cereal box.

- 1 Black & 1 white piece of paper

- Scissors

- Pencil

- Pen/marker

- Paint/paint pen

- Gold & silver spray paint; if you would like to make the scales look metallic.

- Strong tape; I used black duct tape

- Strong glue; I used UHU all-purpose adhesive

Step 1: Create the Template

These photos show the paper template I made, and then this design transferred onto a large piece of cardboard.

You will need to do the same, making the template smaller or larger if you like.

The main rectangle shape on my template was approximately 28 cm tall and 24 cm wide. Each leg section within this rectangle measured around 7.5 cm tall and 12 cm wide. The pointed nose section stuck out by 9 cm, and the start of the tail section stuck out by 7 cm.

Cut along all of the black lines.

Step 2: Curl the Cardboard

Flatten and curve the cardboard using your hands. First, each leg section needs to be shaped so that the cardboard edges curve towards the underside of the template. Then curve the body section as shown.

Work from one side to the other of each section, making lots of parallel creases as you go. This allows the cardboard to be curved more smoothly.

Step 3: Glue the Body in Position

The pointed sides of the 'face' section need to be pushed back under the body section slightly so there is some overlap. Then this overlap needs to be glued in place.

This will make the face point downwards a little.

Then cut out a semi-circle shape from cardboard which can fit into the underside of the body section...when the body is curved into position.

Glue this shape along the curved edge and attach somewhere around the centre of the body.

Leave to dry.

Step 4: Tape the Legs

Curve the leg sections into cylinders as smoothly as you can, and tape them in place.

Step 5: Create the Back

Use thin card for this; I used the 2 largest rectangle shapes from a cereal box (i.e. the front and back sections).

Curve the 2 rectangles as shown, then tape them together along the short edges.

This piece must be long enough to create the arched back and the tail of the Pangolin. If not, you'll need to add more card to it now.

Cut slits into both of the long sides, so that they are the same on both sides. I cut about 1/3 of the way across the width.

Step 6: Shape the Back & Tail

Use strong tape to keep this piece of thin card in position as you shape it.

Start by working your way along one side, overlapping the card slightly at each slit. You want to create an arch that will cover the back of the Pangolin, and then the card will go straight and then start to curve in the opposite direction towards the end of the tail. You want a kind of flowing wave shape.

Keep checking how this looks on the body section.

Then do the same thing on the other long edge, to match.

Cut an arch out of the front of this section so that it'll fit better at the neck.

I also trimmed down the cardboard tail both on this thin card, and on the cardboard underneath.

Then attach this thin card shape onto the cardboard body and tape securely in place.

Step 7: Paint the Face

You can now paint any areas that will remain exposed after the scales have been added. In my case, this was only the face area.

I just used a black paint pen to draw out eye shapes and then paint the rest of the area.

Step 8: Create the Scales

If you want metallic scales you will first need to spray paint a couple of large pieces of card; 1 gold and 1 silver in my case.

I used 3 different sizes of scale template:

- I used 6 of the smallest type which was around 1.75 cm wide and 2 cm tall.

- I used 64 of the medium type which was around 4 cm wide and 3.75 cm tall.

- And I used 30 of the largest type which was around 5 cm wide and 5 cm tall.

So all in all, exactly 100 scales were made!

Simply create your templates first and then draw around them onto the painted card before cutting them out.

Note: If you don't want the spray paint to come off on your hands, I would spray a clear sealer onto the card after the paint is dry :)

Step 9: Attach the Scales

Work from the tip of the tail to the head.

I started with the medium size of scale, but you would work from the smallest size first if you wanted.

I went for a fairly random mix of silver and gold on some rows, whilst many rows were just alternating colours. It's up to you how you arrange them.

I change to the largest size to cover the majority of the body, and then back to medium size again before I reached the head. Then I finished with a few of the smallest scales on the head.

Note: Don't start the lines of scales from the same side every time...alternate it at least most of the time to get a balanced look.

Step 10: Wrap the Legs

To get the legs to stay in position, tape the tops of them together as shown. Then you can cut across the bottoms of the legs to make them sit flat on a table. Check to make sure the legs are stable with no wobbles. Adjust if neccessary.

And finally, the legs needs to be covered.

You could of course add small scales to the legs if you wish, but I wanted the focus to be on the scales along the back so I just wrapped the legs in plain black paper.

To do this, just cut out a rectangle of paper the same height as the leg, and make sure the length goes almost all of the way around the leg.Then just wrap the paper around the leg and tape in place on the inside.

Step 11: Finished!

Well done, you have now made your Pangolin!

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