Make a Cardboard Giraffe Bust (or Any Other Animal!)




Introduction: Make a Cardboard Giraffe Bust (or Any Other Animal!)

I had a large cardboard box lying around that I really wanted to make something out of, and I happened across this website:

Inspired by their products, I decided to design and create my own cardboard animal bust.  It was a pretty fun process with a satisfying result, so I thought I'd share my experience.  Here's what you'll need:

*Cardboard - lots of it, preferably the same thickness
*Box cutter or good knife
*Glue (optional - a wire coathanger could work too)

Step 1: Imagine Your Design

I decided to make a giraffe because their horns and head shape are iconic and would hopefully be recognizable even if I messed up a bit.  In order to create the bust, you'll need to have a good concept of the 3-d shape of the animal head.  I just looked at lots of pictures of giraffes from different angles, until I felt that I had a good idea of what they were shaped like.

Step 2: Draw and Cut the Profile Slices

You'll need to decide how many profile slices you want, and whether they will be parallel to each other or not.  My design has three profile slices, so the center one is simply a regular profile, while the other two are slices from a quarter-way through the giraffe's head.  I decided to angle those two slices inwards on the bottom so that they could go through the center of the horns at the top and help shape the giraffe's thin neck at the bottom.  Giraffe's heads are wider at the top than the bottom when viewed from the front.

Once you've decided on your slices, draw them onto the cardboard and cut them out.

Step 3: Plan and Cut the Coronal Slices

You'll need to decide how many slices you want to have perpendicular to your profile slices (the coronal slices).  Once you've decided on their number and spacing, draw vertical lines on the profile slices everywhere they will intersect with the coronal slices.  You can then measure the length of the lines that each coronal piece will intersect, and use those as a guide for designing your slices.

Draw out the intersection lines and the actual shape of each slice, and cut them out.

Step 4: Cut Slots in Every Slice

Measure halfway along every intersection line on all of the slices, and make a mark.  The profile slices will have slots cut from the bottom to that center mark, while the coronal slices will be cut from the top to the center.  Make sure each slot is as wide as the cardboard is thick.

Step 5: Assemble Your Bust!

Simply slide all of the pieces together!  Since my design's profile slices weren't parallel, I had to attach all of the coronal slices to one of the profiles, then slide in the other two profile slices one at a time.  If your slices are all parallel, it shouldn't matter what order you go about assembling them.

You can use some craft glue to secure any loose joints, but if you're lucky and the slots are the right width it should hold together by itself pretty well.

In the next step, I'll describe how to make the mounting board!

Step 6: Mount It!

I made a little mounting board to attach my bust to.  I didn't have any good glue at the time, so I took advantage of the cardboard's corrugation and used a piece of a wire coathanger.  I bent it and stuck one end into the corrugation of a profile piece, and the other into a hole giving access to the corrugation of the mounting board.  I don't really recommend this method, as it wasn't as sturdy as I would have liked.  You're probably better off just using a good craft glue.

Well, that's it!  Pick your favorite animal, or invent one!  You can make whatever shapes you want - this is an all-purpose method for cardboard sculpture creation.



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    29 Discussions

    I recommend using the two photos on the chair for guidance as they are obviously the same chair and then working the rest out based on that.

    hey your article is very helpfull but i would really appreciate it if you give us the templates. Thanks!!!!

    hey! can someone send me the PDF, the page aren't viable to me to download,

    this is just great i want to make one so bad but its to hard. That being said i think you should make templates that we could print out and trace onto cardboard.but still one of my fav. instructables, good job.

    1 reply

    hi i made this for a art project and it worked really well thanks

    A Tip for anyone making this remember that giraffe heads a quite long if its short it will end up looking like a horse

    LOVE! Is there anyway you'd sell me the giraffe you created?

    what can attaching cardboard like this be called in general(Eg pieces of paper attached together is called Modular Origami)
    What will cardboard attached together be called?

    nice post!!! by eany chance do you have a computer template for it?

    I need the planes, who can get to me, thanks

    We did this in my art class as a project. We had a choice of materials to do our project with. There were so many variations on this project. Most of us used wicker as a base, covered it in paper mache, then painted it. I made a panther head out of wicker, spray painted it black, and mounted it on a piece of cardboard I had painted with a jungle scene. It's a really fun project! :D

    This also works well with foam-core and a nice, sharp exacto knife. This template for a cardboard deer head has been floating around for a while, via the Chronicle Books blog: but I'd love to try another animal.

    great idea!! would be nice,, with better finishing,,

    i am currently making one of these for my sister and how do you get the cuts the same width as the cardboard thick?......and i am having troubles on the coronal slices i got one done just the nose one and i am having trouble on the rest

    1 reply

    I actually drew out each slot before cutting it - sorry I didn't mention that. You can use a ruler to measure the thickness of the cardboard, then draw two lines that far apart centered on each intersection line. Just cut on those lines, and you'll end up with a slot that's the right width. The most challenging part of the project is just being able to imagine what kind of shapes you want to make. You've got to have a good picture of the 3-d shape in your head.