Three-dimensional Paper Picture




Introduction: Three-dimensional Paper Picture

About: Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX. Buy my projects at

This is the project I made for the first Instructables Gift Exchange.

You can follow this project, or you can use it as inspiration for your own designs.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

You need:
  • Light-weight card, either white or coloured as required.
  • Glue.  Glue-stick or white PVA are best.
  • Coloured pencils, felts or markers.
  • Scissors.
  • Craft knife.
  • Ball-point pen (a dead one is fine)
  • Metal ruler.
  • Cutting surface.
Most of these will be lying around any Maker's house, or will be readily available from stationary stores.

Step 2: Basic Technique.

This project uses a simple creasing technique to make flat card resemble more organic, natural shapes:

Cut out a curved piece of card.
Lay it face-down on a slightly flexible surface (either your cutting mat, or a piece of scrap card from a cereal packet)
Pressing firmly, draw a line down the centre of the card.
Using a pinching motion, slightly bend the card along the scored line.

Done.  Easy, wasn't it?

This technique can be used to make shapes like grass-stems, leaves, scales, claws... only your own imagination properly limits the possibilities.

The actual gift

I got hold of lightweight (120gsm) card in a variety of colours, and thunk a bit.

I need a frame, and a picture to go in the frame.

Step 3: The Frame.

The frame is made of four parts, in pairs of equal length (two at 210mm long and 2 at 297mm long to match the A4 card I had.

Note that one end of each section is right-angled, the other has a 45° slope.  Each square end slots into the next 45° end (to give the appearance of a mitre joint), and is glued in place.

When tracing and cutting out the piece with the template, draw firmly over the fold-lines with the ball-point pen to score the bends.

The frame is glued together in the corners, and then glued to the back layer of the actual picture, giving quite a rigid structure.

(You may find it easier to have help at this stage, or at least a couple of clothes pegs to hold the ends together.)

Step 4: Grass.

I made stands of grass from long, thin strips of card, with only a slight curve.  The score-and-fold method emphasises the curvature of long pieces, so don't get carried away.

Step 5: Dragonfly

I scored the body sections of the dragonfly twice, in an oval pattern, to emphasise the the plate-like nature of the animal.

I decided to leave the wings plain, since the true vein-pattern does not lend itself to scoring.

Step 6: Assembly

"Assembly" seems an odd word to use for a work of art, but...

Note that, because I was using liquid PVA glue ("white" glue), I had to leave it to dry for a few minutes between each step.  If I had used a glue stick, assembling the picture would have been much quicker.

1) Layers of card made the background.

2) I glued the frame together, and set it aside to dry.

3) I glued the reeds in place (the reeds needed a little trimming to stand flush to the frame).

4) I glued the dragonfly's body to the background and the reeds (remember - small drops of glue!)

5) I glued the wings in place.

6) Finally, I glued the frame to the picture.

Step 7: Delivery

I didn't really trust the picture to a normal envelope in the mail, so I packed it in polystyrene chips in a cereal packet.

Wrapped, labelled and stamped, off it went...

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    5 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I did this the other day and my image has to do with frogs. I'll post a picture up soon!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nicely done, and about the packing material...

    Did it actually arrive at its destination? I'm not sure what all the ins/outs are in Britain, but I don't think our mail carriers (Here in USA) would appreciate the cereal box...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know yet. It should be OK, though.

    If parcels are not acceptable, they tell you as you post them.