Introduction: DIY Papercraft Tapir

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a Pepakura Tapir model.

Pepakura is an amazing program that unwraps 3D models and turns them into flat 2D nets, with the appropriate fold signs and flaps. These can be printed out with a standard printer and assembled back into a 3D model. The only downside is that it is a lot of work to assemble all parts and glue them together.

You need (if you want to design your own model):

- Meshlab to convert your 3D-model in a obj file for Pepekura

- Pepakura designer (if you are using a Mac, use Wineskin to run Pepakura)

You need (if you only want to create this model):

- Printer (or copyshop)

- Scissors (or cutting knife)

- Paper (any kind you like, it best to use thick paper otherwise model will not be strong enough)

- Glue

- Optional Tools to fold and hold paper parts together

Step 1: Step 1: Making Model

To create a Pepakura model, you first need to create a 3D- model.

Options for 3D-model

- Create your own model in Sketchup, Meshlab, or other 3D- creating programs

- Find a 3D model on the internet (Thingiverse is a good option)

Convert 3D model to polygon.

Polygon Reduction with Meshlab is simple. If your model is loaded in meshlab. Choose from the menu Filters > Remeshing, simplification and construction > Quadratic Edge Collapse Detection. If your model is textured, there is also an option (with texture) that will do a good job at keeping your textures positioned properly. A panel with a few options will show up. You can click on the 'Help' button to get extra information about the available options.

It is important that the Target number of faces is low (depend on your model how many faces you want). You have to play with the model how many faces, if you have more faces this means more glueing and more complex models. Here a tutorial how to simplifying a mesh with meshlab.

If polygon model is satisfactory, then save the model as an obj. file (otherwise file cannot be imported in pepakura).

Import model in Papakura

Open file in pepakura, unfold the model.

When the unfolding is done, you have to adjust it manually to make sure no flaps are overlapping (this is a lot of work).

Make sure the unfolding is done A4, papersize.

Choose paper numbers and fold lines (so you will know how to fold and were to glue).

There are many tutorials how to use pepakura:

Also available on the pepakura site.

Step 2: Step 2 : Print

When model is ready, print all pages.

The model I made is available in pdf.

You will need a heavy, solid paper. Ignore office paper which is soft, too thin, easy to bend = useless. I printed the model in a copyshop where they have good printers to print on thick paper. But it is also possible to print it at home.

Collect all tools.

Step 3: Step 3: Cutting and Glueing


- Use good scissors

- Try which glue to use (I used different kinds depend on which part I glued)

- First make the legs (when finished attached to body)

- The last glueing part should be the lower body part of the Tapir (since gluing gets harder when it is assembled)

The whole process to a long while.