Introduction: Low Poly Paper Horse Trophy Head
Building this papercraft sculpture is a fun and easy way to create an awesome wall decoration. It is styled like the Trojan Horse from ancient myth.
You build this great sculpture using a PDF-format template (or pattern) which you can purchase and download. You can click on the link to buy this Trojan Horse papercraft trophy head from Etsy.
An illustrated assembly guide PDF download comes with the template but here are some more detailed assembly tips. I hope these will be helpful if you have never made a 3D papercraft project before.
Putting together your Trojan Horse trophy papercraft sculpture is a project which needs you to invest about 8 hours of your time and patience but you’ll be proud of the result when you are finished.
The video shows one of these paper trophy heads being put together as a time-lapse movie.
What you will need
- The construction template
- Cardstock (ideally 210gsm weight, you can try using lighter weight cardstock but from experience building this Trojan Horse I know using 210gsm gives a nice durable result)
- PVA Glue (like Mod Podge or Elmers) or high-tack double sided sticky tape
- Hobby or Exacto knife
- Bone folder
- PDF Viewer software such as Adobe Reader (available from https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/)
You can source most of these materials and tools from stationery and craft shops. If you have never made a papercraft project before there might be some things on this list which are new to you.
Cardstock is paper which is a bit thicker than ordinary writing or copy paper, think postcard weight. It is available in various sizes, colours, textures and finishes. Card stock is often classed by weight in GSM which stands for grammes per square metre.
A Bonefolder is a tool to help crease paper into a sharp edge. To use it you run the bone folder along the folded paper while you press down firmly. If you haven’t got a bone folder try to do this using some other hard but smooth object such as the handle of a pair of metal scissors.
Step 1: Printing the Template
Open the template PDF. You'll need Adobe Reader (or other PDF reader). Adobe Reader can be downloaded for free.
Put some cardstock into your printer to print the template.
The templates are designed to fit US Letter size paper (8.5 x 11 inches) however they can also be printed using A4 (210mm x 297mm) paper size.
You will need to load 21 pages for this template. There are cover sheets at the front and back making 23 pages in total but you do not need to print these. If you don’t have a printer, I recommend you load the template on to a USB memory stick and take it to be printed at your local copy shop.
Before printing the template confirm you have set up your print options correctly. Go to the top menu bar and select File then Print. Depending on your available software options ensure you have selected to print at Actual Size or 100% or scaling set to None in the Print dialogue box. Make sure you do not have print options such as Scale to fit or Print to fit page selected. This is really important as printing with these settings will affect the size and assembly of your sculpture.
You can also save ink by selecting the Print in grayscale and Save ink/toner options if you want.
Check that every page will be printed. When you are happy with your selections, press Print.
Step 2: Cutting
Preparation the parts properly is very important so you might find you spend almost as much time cutting and scoring as you do actually assembling the 3D paper horse trophy head. The next stages are a perfect opportunity to put on a pair of headphones and enjoy your favourite podcast or a good audiobook while you work
Before you start make sure that you have every page printed.
For best results make sure your workspace is clean, tidy and well-lit. If you can, you might want to find a fairly large area to spread out the parts. A kitchen table or desk would be ideal.
Check that your scissors and knife are clean and sharp.
It is usually easiest to cut out roughly around the parts first with scissors then make the detailed cuts on a second pass with your scissors. I sometimes use my knife with a metal ruler to cut out some tabs that are hard to access with scissors but this is not very often.
Cut along only along the solid lines (the other types of lines are for folds – do not cut along them).
Once you have cut out all the parts store them carefully if you aren’t ready to start assembly yet. I keep them in a large ziplock-style bag.
Step 3: Scoring and Folding
Before you start folding you should score along all of the cut lines with the back of a craft knife blade or a pin (don’t lean too hard!) This can take a long time but don't be tempted to skip this stage. Scoring creates a sharper and neater fold, so the assembly process will be easier and give a sharper look to your finished Trojan Horse trophy.
You need to understand how to use two folding techniques to build this trophy head. These are called mountain folds and valley folds and are really simple to get the hang of.
A dashed line means you make a mountain fold along it. You do this by folding the paper down over the fold line. This means the finished crease looks like a mountain ridge.
A dotted and dashed line means you make a valley fold along it. This is opposite of a mountain fold, you make it by folding the paper around the fold line. This means the finished crease looks like a valley.
See the photos for examples of the fold types.
For both types of fold I use the bone folder to flatten each fold into a sharp and neat crease.
Step 4: Sticking
I think this is the really fun part, watching your sculpture come to life as you stick it together!
Use a white glue that turns clear when it has dried. PVA-type glues are ideal. I have tried glue sticks such as Prittstick but they are not strong enough in my opinion.
For best results do not use the glue straight from the container. It is better to dispense a small quantity into a small dish or paint palette. Use a small paint brush to lightly apply the glue to the components.
To stick your trophy together, you look for a numbered tab and the matching numbered edge. Apply glue to the tab and press it firmly to the matching edge. The tab will always go on the inside of your sculpture. Sometimes you might need to hold the parts together for a short time until the glue catches. Find the next numbered tab and the matching numbered mating surface and glue them together. If you cannot find the numbered tab or corresponding edge, use the Find function in your PDF reader software to see where it is on the template.
All printed numbers and lines go on the inside of the sculpture, the outside will just be plain.
To make your sculpture more rigid, you can paint additional glue over the joins on the inside of the sculpture after the glued folds have dried.
If you find you have applied too much glue and the sculpture feels soggy, don’t worry, you can carefully use a hairdryer to fix this.
When you finish or stop for a break don’t forget to clean your glue application brush because if the glue dries that’s the end of your brush.
High tack double-sided adhesive tape can be used instead of glue. Unlike glue, tape bonds instantly so you might find that you can assemble your sculpture faster and more neatly by using tape, but you must stick each tab into exactly the right place first time. Also, this method is more expensive than gluing, so I normally use glue but you can pick the approach that feels best to you.
Step 5: Assembly
For this sculpture I think it is best to start by assembling the ears. The components to make these are on pages 5 and 6 of the template. When both ears are finished, join the ears together with the top of the head, the part to do this is on page 4 of the template.
Next you assemble the mane and back of the neck. The mane is made of several components on pages 1, 2 and 3 of the template. To make the mane of your Trojan Horse trophy head sculpture really stand out you could try printing these pages on a different colour of cardstock. Make the mane sections and join them together along with the back of the neck components.
When you have finished this you should have the ears, most of the mane and back of the neck joined into one piece.
Next attach the forehead and forelock piece to the ears. Add the large piece for the front of the face and attach the cheeks then the muzzle. It should really be starting to look like a horse now.
The rest of the build is easy to follow. Attach the underside of the jaw to the cheeks and muzzle. Assemble the throat and chest piece by piece.
As your sculpture gets more complete it can be more difficult to get access to tabs on the inside to press them together. The blunt end of your glue brush (or a pencil) can be used to reach areas inaccessible to fingers.
The backplate of the sculpture should be the last part you glue. Once it is in position, you can glue cardstock cut to size over the access hole if you prefer the sculpture to be completely sealed.
Making your sculpture should be a fun and relaxing experience. If you make a really bad mistake, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and simply print the parts again, cut them out and try that bit again.
Step 6: Display
Congratulations! You have put together your Trojan Horse papercraft trophy head. High five!
As this trophy head is made of paper it is very light weight, so you can hang it on your wall from even a small nail or with double-sided adhesive pads.
To purchase and download the PDF-format template follow the link to the Trojan Horse papercraft trophy head.
If you have built this sculpture, please post a comment with a picture of it. I’d love to see what you’ve made with this template.
If you are building it and find you need a little need help, you can PM me or leave a comment describing the problem and I’ll try to help.