Life-size Cardboard Dinosaur




Introduction: Life-size Cardboard Dinosaur

Pretty much every kid goes through a dinosaur-phase at one point in their childhood and a dinosaur themed birthday party is almost a guarantee for success.

One of the games I created for my son's party was this life-size cardboard dinosaur (or Cardboardosaurus) that would chase the kids around the garden before letting them take a selfie with him (or her).

Let me show you how to make one of these yourself with only a couple of basic supplies. No real dinosaur DNA or fancy lab equipment required ;)


To make this 5 ft (1,5m) tall dinosaur I used the following:

- A lot of cardboard. The bigger and sturdier the pieces the better. Some thicker honeycomb bits (from IKEA for example) could also come in handy.
- A wide-format (B/Tabloid/A3) color printer
- craft knife or box cutter
- cutting mat
- hot glue gun
- double sided tape
- optionally some wooden sticks for extra support

Step 1: Print and Cut the Template

Because I wanted to impress the kids I decided to make this dinosaur significantly taller than the tallest kids at the party. Since I didn't feel like painting the entire dinosaur I used one of my drawings and scaled it up to fit on 11 A3 pages. That resulted in an image over 5 ft (150cm) tall.

I included the template to print on wide format paper as well as a complete image of the dinosaur to scale to whatever size you wish to make yours.

When printing, remember to print using the 'fit to page' option in order to get the entire image on the page and make sure all the pieces fit together perfectly.

Once printed, cut out all of the pieces carefully. Optionally you can leave a small margin around the outsides of the image, but not the insides since those need to attach seamlessly to the other pieces.

When all the pieces are cut you can lay them out on the floor and see how much cardboard you need for one layer. You will need additional cardboard to strengthen the dinosaur so don't throw away any left over pieces just yet!

Step 2: Stick It Together

Once you have layed out all the pieces on the cardboard it's time to stick it all together. I'm a fan of double sided tape for this since it's fast and clean.

I placed strips of tape underneath all the edges making sure the entire contour of the image was covered. Letting it extend beyond the image means the outside edges are firmly fixed in place, but it also means cutting the cardboard in the next step will be harder because the kife will stick to the tape while cutting. This is where a little extra margin around the edges comes in handy.

I started with the top piece and stuck it to the cardboard. For all the pieces after this, I carefully lined them up against the one already in place to make sure there were no gaps in the image. Be careful not to let go of the paper too quickly, because when it touches the tape it's stuck and very difficult to re-align.

Step 3: Cut It Out!

Once all the images are stuck to the cardboard it's time to cut out the entire dinosaur. I didn't leave a margin around the edges so I had to cut through the sticky tape which made it a lot harder. Also I didn't draw this particular image with a a cardboard dinosaur in mind which meant that the tiny hands and feet aren't very cut-friendly when using thick cardboard.

Give it your best shot and try to cut around the outside as neatly as possible. Try not to push too hard to avoid tearing or wrinkling the cardboard by accident.

Step 4: Structural Support

Seeing as this is a pretty large and rather unpractically designed cutout it will need some extra support to keep it in one piece while it's running around the house and trying to eat your children.

I attached a couple of layers of cardboard to the back of the dinosaur to give it some much needed extra strength. Be sure to place the extra layers in 90 degree angles (Cross-Laminated) to each other to get maximum strength.

For the neck I used a longer straight piece and added an extra layer on top of that. I glued all of these layers together with hot glue. Hot glue dries fast and is super strong.

Don't ask me why but the feet are insanely tiny compared to the body it supports (no wonder they went extinct) so I used wooden sticks and some more hot glue to fix this in place and add extra support.

I also added a thicker piece of honeycomb cardboard as a handle so I could move the dinosaur around with one hand.

Just keep adding cardboard layers until the dinosaur feels sturdy enough.

Step 5: Run!

That's all there is to it. Time to chase the kids and take a bunch of crazy pictures.

Enjoy your Jurassic Party!

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    9 months ago

    Nice dinor, would it be posible to do it in black and white ? colored ink gets expensive plus like to do different colours.
    If in B&W one could print on coloured paper and have any colour or make a puzzle .
    eyes and mouth can be glued on after in different colours.
    Thanks anyway,our 3 year old liked the preview. baby ...sauros ,i dont know them all yet !