My 40th Instructable ever!
This is a project that I've been wanting to do for a long time. Folks, we're at a revolution right now. A revolution of ternary dimensions. I'm of course talking about the wonders of 3D Printing. How completely amazing is it that we can create 3D models on our computer and, with a few clicks of a button you can now have the actual object at your fingertips!
As a fan of the classic art form of colored kirigama, better known as "Papercrafting", printing 3D objects has existed for years. Sure, the construction is completely manual but the 3D process is still the same. And as I keep seeing new 3D design software and new development made for 3D printers, I keep wondering how this technology can be brought to domestic inkjets.
So today, I'm combining my two loves to show how the art of Papercrafting can benefit from 3D printing technology.
Step 1: Papercrafting in the 21st Century
While there are many fantastic papercraft designers on Instructables (notably members like Kamibox.de or Robives), designing simple papercraft models or even converting basic 3D models into paper models is not too difficult.
The purpose of this instructable is to provide a general introduction to Designing, Unfolding and Coloring your own papercraft models. For this project, I will be walking through the process of creating a papercraft from the ground up- using a free online program called Tinkercad, the popular paper design program Pepakura, and free photo editing software Gimp.
Other Available Software
Also, you'll want to download a free PDF converter software, to export from Pepakura into GIMP. I suggest using Cute PDF.
Step 2: Tinkercad Design
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Since we will eventually be exporting our model into the papercrafting program Pepakura, we need to have a 3D design software that will meet its restrictions. Pepakura works by converting the 3D model's geometric faces and vertices into foldable papercraft surfaces, therefore we need to use a program that converts objects using a low surface polygon count.
In comes Tinkercad, a new 3D Design program available online as free-through-trial. The The great advantage programs like Tinkercad has over programs like Blender or Sketchup is that one, in terms of basic design, the program is extremely easy to use and can also export into a variety of different files. Even with it's most complex sphere, Tinkercad can create it using relatively low surfaces count. You can find other additional tutorials on their official YouTube channel here.
Since one of the features of the program is it's ease in Grouping/ Ungrrouping various objects, i decided to create a very geometric 8-Bit model for a demonstration.
(Icons created by Mac Artist Susan Kare)
When you are finished, export your object as either an .obj or an .stl file- Pepakura can read both.
Step 3: Unfolding with Pepakura
Pepakura is one of the most popular papercrafting program, if not the only specific 3D modeling program dedicated to unfolding and converting 3D models into papercrafts. Basically, Pepakura takes your 3D object and by specifying Open Edges and Cut Lines on your object, you convert it into a paper model.
If you haven't already, download the Pepakura Designer program here. Unfortunately with the trial version, you won't be able to save your papercraft executable ,pdo file, but you can work around this by downloading a PDF converter like Cute PDF.
To start, open up your .obj or .stl file in Pepakura Designer and begin editing your model. Using the icon that looks like a yellow box cutter, you want to specify your Open Edges. Open edges are basically where you will want your object to open up at.
Here are some general tips that I use when unfolding:
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Pepakura is a Windows Only program and can not be run on Mac machines. However, if you downloaded Google Sketchup on your computer.
Step 4: Polygon Reduction with Metasequoia
Depending on your model this step may be optional, but is nonetheless one of the most crucial steps in papercraft conversion.
Once you imported your model in Pepakura, you may notice something strange. Before even declaring your Open Edges you will see that your model has some atrocious red lines, which keep your object from being imported nicely into a papercraft form. Remember when I mentioned that Pepakura is very picky and requires objects of a low poly count to be imported? Well, sometimes the conversion process from Tinkercad -> Pepakura is a bit weird.
Not to worry! With a small minor corrections from another program Metasequoia, you can easily correct your model for papercrafting. Download the software here and easily reduce the number of polys in your model.
Step 5: Coloring with Gimp (optional)
While this step isn't necessary, I prefer printing out colored papercrafts rather than having to hand paint them myself.
GIMP is a free photo editing software tool that can read and edit files like PDF documents. Using the Color Selection tool, select the portion of your PDF document you want highlighted.
Step 6: Paper Crafting: Tips and Tricks
Now that you have your completed Paper Craft file, we can begin work on our papercraft! Without any specific order, here are a few general papercraft tips
And that's basically it for basic papercraft design! Go make an awesome 3D game sprite or an more 8 Bit icons.
paper clock 3.pdf205 KB