Intro: Create a 3D Letterform
Personalize your space or event with handmade 3D letterforms - great for home or party decor!
Step 1: What You Need
- Corrugated cardboard, size and amount depends on the desired scale of your letterforms (complete measurements in steps 2 & 5 before purchasing materials)
- Box cutter knife
- Ruler (T Ruler recommended)
- Duct Tape in color preference
- Access to water + paper towel
Step 2: Draw Your Letterform
- Select a desired typeface I recommend a sans serif typeface that has somewhat consistent line weight. (I used Helvetica in this example)
- Print out letterform or project on your computer screen
- Create a scale system for the desired size of you model
- Draw you letterform on cardboard
Step 3: Cut Out Your Letterform
- Use your box cutter to carefully cut out the traced letter
- Use the t-ruler on the straight lines
- For curved lines, start at an edge of the cardboard and carefully cut along your outline. Cut about 5 inches at a time, and slowly cut in towards the center
- TIP: put spare piece of cardboard underneath the sheet you are cutting, this will make it a little easier to cut.
Step 4: Create a Copy of Your Letterform
- Take another sheet of card board
- Use your first cut out letterform as a guide to trace another copy of the letter
- Repeat Step 3 to cut out the copy of the letterform
Step 5: Create the Width Pieces
- Depending on how wide you want your model to be set that dimension as the constant width for all pieces
- For my model, my width was 6 inches
- Use your scale key that you used to create the outline of your letterform and reapply that for each side of your letter
- Remember to also create pieces for any cavities within the letterform
- Calculate your measurements and then draw the pieces on another piece of cardboard & then cut the pieces out
Step 6: Prepare Rounded Pieces
- For pieces that will have a rounded edge (for example, the right side bumps of the "B" letterform), you will need to remove one layer of the cardboard to expose the corrugated middle.
- Doing this will make the cardboard more flexible so it an easily take the shape of the curved letters.
- Identify the width pieces that are curved edges and use water and paper towel to get one side of the cardboard wet. Get it wet enough to soak through the first layer of paper but not wet enough to soak into the corrugate middle.
- TIP: practice getting the cardboard wet on a spare piece, this will help you judge how much water is needed to only get the first layer wet.
- When the top layer is wet it will become soft and will be easy to remove if you pull it up from a corner or the sides.
- If the corrugate also gets wet, leave it out to dry. Make sure it is dry before you proceed to the next step.
Step 7: Begin Constructing Your Letterform
- Start with any cavities.
- Your pieces should match up with the top and bottom flat letters.
- Line everything up and get out your duct tape!
- Cut duct tape into small pieces (2-4 inches).
- Once you completed the inner cavity pieces and connected those to both your front & back flat letters, move on to the outside layer of your letter.
Step 8: Complete!
- Use the duct tape to complete your desired look. You could only do the seams of the 3D structure or you could cover the full model with duct tape.