Paper Art With Google Sketchup




About: I'm an engineer, hobbyist, and practical dreamer. You could say I have an endless amount of interests. It seems everyday I find something new and interesting that captures my mind. I have an "Open Head." Woo...

Have you ever wanted to make your own paper art and didn't know how? Or just found the process too difficult from the get go. Well with the Sketchup Unfold Plugin developed by Jim Foltz the process of designing your own paper art is easier then ever.

Why spend all that time and effort manufacturing your model with a 3D printer knowing that it might printout with errors when you can do it cheaply and easily with paper. With a paper design in hand for visualization, moving onto more advanced manufacturing methods would be cost- effective.

So lets get started developing paper art with Google Sketchup.

Visit my blog for other creative ideas!!! OpenHead

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Step 1: Materials

Here is what you will need to successfully complete this project.


Download and install a copy of Google Sketchup

Download a copy of the Unfold Plugin

Download a copy of the Buckyball from the 3D Warehouse that we will be unfolding for this project.

Other Materials

Scissors - Something to cut paper with.

Paper - Better to use stiff paper.

Tape - I found that using Scotch tape is easier.

Step 2: Installing the Unfold Plugin and Unfolding the Buckyball

Once you have downloaded and installed a copy of Google Sketchup you are ready to install the plugin. If you haven't already done so go ahead and download the plugin. If you have downloaded a copy of the plugin on your desktop drag and drop it into the plugin folder of Google Sketchup.

C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 7\Plugins

That's it the plugin has been installed. You are ready to start the unfolding process.

Download a copy of the Buckyball.skp file. Open it up in Google Sketchup.

To start the unfolding process select the Unfold Tool from the Plugins menu. Then start selecting faces to unfold. Make sure to select surfaces right next to each other. Or else the model will unfolded in pieces. Since this model isn't too big we want to keep it in one whole piece.

Step 3: Printing the Model

Once the model is unfolded you are ready to print the model. There are couple of things to check before printing.

1. Make sure the model your unfolding is laying on a plane.

2. If you wish to print on the entire surface of the paper remember to change the Printer Setup to Landscape or Potrait.

3. Adjust the camera angle so that you capture the entire model when printing.

4. Remember to Print Preview to double check.

After all these steps you are ready to print.

Step 4: Cutting and Taping Your Model

Using a pair of scissors cutout the printout then start folding. Using scotch tape start connecting the edges together. You can use other types of adhesives, I just like scotch tape since its easy to work with.

And that's it you are done. Go ahead and try it with other models and let me know how things turn out.

Visit my blog for other creative ideas!!!!!!!! OpenHead

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    11 Discussions

    the gizmoman

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Darn My computer (mac mini) doesn't have all the hardware require for google sketchup 8


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Some already mentioned pepakura for glue tabs, but there is also another sketchup plugin for adding gluetabs (called gluetab.rb BION)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Openhead:  The link to your blog is busted.  I would like more info on unfolding drawings/making 3-D paper models.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Another way to make sure you have tabs is to import the sketchup file into pepakura designer and unfold there. You can also separate the model out into parts so you can make a model larger than a4....
    also google nicepapertoys for a good community of toy builders

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, but first you need to save your SketchUp file, then export to KMZ extention which is for Google Earth because Pepakura cannot read SketchUp files.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    you can use the invisible( frosted) tape


    10 years ago on Introduction

    if you leave make tabs when cutting it out on the sides you want to join, you can use glue to attach the tab under the adjoining surface for a more polished look

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah using scotch tape is probably not a good idea. Using some kind of adhesive will make things look much better.