Learn how to build this awesome papercraft Blast Off Rocket model.
It is a fun project which builds from sheets of card into a stunning 3D model of an old-time pulp science fiction rocketship to liven up a dull dorm room, mancave or office. Displayed on your desk, I think this Blast Off Rocket will look amazing and will be a talking point. It’s perfect for fans of sci-fi, retro-futurism or even steam punk.
All the components for this papercraft rocket are made from a printable papercraft template available as an instant download from Etsy. You print out the template, cut out the parts and start building!
It takes around 8 hours to make this great project, so set aside a couple of evenings or afternoons of "me time" for some rocket engineering.
You need a few simple tools and materials. All are very easy to find from craft stores. Here is a list of the stuff you will need for your Blast Off Rocket:
- Computer with PDF reader software
- Standard home printer (or use your local copy shop)
- Sharp scissors
- Craft knife
- Metal ruler
- Bone folder or hard object to crease card
- Small paintbrush
- Glue or double-sided adhesive tape
- Cardstock (thin card or thick paper). This can be either US Letter size paper (8.5 x 11 inches) or A4 (210mm x 297mm) size paper, either will do.
- Papercraft rocket template
Step 1: Choose a Colour Scheme (optional Step)
While this model looks great made from plain cardstock, building it in multiple colours really makes it pop! You can watch the video for some ideas.
Open the PDF and review the template. If you look at the little diagrams showing where each piece goes, you can plan what colour of cardstock you need for each page of the template.
Making the rocket in one colour and the vapour trail in another is a good choice and you can let your imagination run riot. Pearlescent finish cardstock with a metallic look for the hull of the rocket and fiery orange for the vapour trail or red card for the hull and bright yellow for the trail would be good choices.I've used both in my models.
If you decide to make your rocket with plain cardstock but if you decide to decorate it when you are finished it is possible to carefully spray paint the rocket with acrylic paint from a can or airbrush.
Step 2: Print the Template
Once you have decided what cardstock you are using, load it into your printer and get ready to print out your template. Select the Print function on your PDF reader software, then carefully check the options. You need to make sure that you are printing the template at its actual size, depending on your software you may need to set Scaling to None or Print Size to 100% or something like this.
Before pressing Print, make sure you have enough cardstock loaded in the printer and that every page of the template is going be printed.
Step 3: Cut Out the Components
This is a simple process but might take a little while. Use your scissors to closely cut around the solid lines only on the template. The different types of dotted and dashed lines are for folding and I'll explain them in the next step.
If you accidentally cut in the wrong place, don’t despair, just print this part of the template and cut out the part again.
Keep cutting until every single part has been cut out.
Step 4: Scoring and Folding the Components
Scoring is a technique to make a depression in the cardstock to make it easier to fold. This is a time-consuming but very important phase of assembling the Blast Off Rocket. Doing this ensures your folds come out crisp and sharp, so it is really worth the time to do this. If you do not score before folding, the surface around the fold can wrinkle or even crack, giving you a less well-defined fold. Your model rocketship will still fit together but it will have a softer look when it's finished.
Start scoring by laying the parts out on a table top. You might want to protect the table surface with a cutting mat. Place your ruler along any fold line and run the back of your knife (not the sharp side) along the fold line like I'm doing in the picture. Don’t lean too hard; you don’t want to cut right through the card, you’re aiming to just break the surface of the card.
Before folding the components look at the two types of fold lines printed on them. These are mountain folds and valley folds. It is important to understand the difference between them or your rocket could come out a bit weird! The two fold types are easy to understand.
You make a valley fold by folding the card upward along the fold line, forming a valley shape. In this template valley folds are denoted by a dotted and dashed line.
You make a mountain fold by folding the card downward along the fold line, forming a shape like a tent. In this template mountain folds are denoted by a dashed line.
Folding is simple; carefully fold the part over along each fold line. Press your creasing tool (a bone folder or other smooth implement) firmly along the fold to flatten it.You can see this being done in the picture.
Watch the video to see these techniques being demonstrated.
Step 5: Assembling Your Rocket
To build the model, match up each tab number and stick the tab to the underside of the edge with the matching number. Work around the tabs on each part and watch the model grow!
You can stick your model together with either PVA glue (sometimes called wood glue or white glue) or double-sided adhesive tape.
If you use glue, pour a little glue into a small dish or bowl then use the small paint brush to thinly apply glue to a tab. Using too much glue risks getting unsightly globs and smears of glue on the outside of the model. Press the tab and part lightly together until the glue catches and the parts stay together.
Adhesive tape gives neat results but sticks on contact so you have to position the tab and part exactly right the first time. In contrast glued parts can be adjusted a little before the glue sets.
When you have assembled a small portion of your model check that all the tabs and printed numbers and lines are going to be on the inside of the finished model. If any are visible on the outside, something is wrong!
This rocketship needs to be built in a specific sequence. Start with the nose cone then add parts to assemble down the rocket’s hull towards the fins. The fins are the most complex component of this model. If you glue the model together you may need to use the blunt end of your paintbrush to press down on tabs inside the fins.
It might seem an obvious approach to build the rocket and the trail as two sub-assemblies then join them together, but do not do this! It didn’t seem to work for me! Instead once the rocket is complete, add the first ring-shaped section of the trail, then build the trail adding another section at a time all the way down to the base.
The flat base plate should be added last. The only other thing you may need to do is to tape some coins around the inside of the base plate if you need to. These coins act as weights and make the model more stable.
Step 6: Displaying Your Rocket Model
Well done! You now have a fun papercraft model rocketship to show off! Your next step is to find somewhere to display it but that one is up to you!
Remember, the Blast Off papercraft template is available as an instant download from Etsy.
If you have built this model, I hope you enjoyed the experience and are pleased with how it turned out. Please post a comment with a picture of it. I’m very interested in how you found making this model from the template.
If you are building it and have a "Houston, we have a problem" moment , you can PM me or describe the issue in a comment and I’ll respond to try to help.