Paper Sculpture Techniques & Inspiration | Video Tutorials for Beginners
An Insight Into The World of Paper Sculpture
The styles of paper sculpture vary widely, from realistic models of building and landmarks, to 3D fantasy landscapes and scenes and abstract art exhibits. Paper (and thin card) are truly versatile materials and you can create your own style and techniques after mastering the basics of cutting.
The tools and materials needed for paper sculpture are things that anyone can get hold of, which means that this craft is open to anyone for a very small investment. I hope this page encourages you to get creative and give this accessible artform a go!
Wire & Paper Sculpture
Introduction To Paper Sculpture
Paper sculpture is the manipulation of paper to form a 3D image or structure. The techniques used are quite basic, with paper cutting, curving/shaping and folding being the main ones in use. You can also incorporate origami skills, embossing and other paper craft methods depending on the project. You will find that most paper sculptures are bold and unfussy in order to make the biggest impact. Clean lines are very important.
For larger projects, techniques like paper mache can be incorporated to add strength, and card is often used to replace paper as the project grows in size. Wire and wood can be used to support paper or card pieces if necessary.
Being precise and exact (and patient!) is vital in paper sculpting. Always work on a clean surface, make sure your hands are always clean and use minimal glue/tape. Click here for information on materials, adhesives and tools you'll need. Tape is very useful for sticking card or paper immediately, and it's not a messy adhesive. Glue however can be messy if you're not careful, but it can be applied much more precisely (with a toothpick) in smaller and more awkward areas.
The folds in your paper shapes must be precise - take care not to add folds or creases where you don't want them because this will result in an untidy looking result. Easier said than done though!
There are all kinds of papers you can use, including book pages. Usually the paper used is plain, acid-free and between 80gsm and 150gsm in weight. Anything heavier will be thin card. Heavier papers will be stiffer and will be able to hold their shape better, whilst lighter weight papers will flow better and can be cut/curled more easily. The weight of paper to use depends on the kind of project you are planning.
Paper sculpture is used in many different ways; advertisements (magazines or animated shorts), art installations and window displays being the main examples. To start with I'd suggest trying to replicate a 2D photo or picture in paper so that you have something to work from.
Top Paper Craft Books
Books are an excellent resource for browsing the best examples of sculpture, as well as getting an insight into the techniques involved from experts in the medium.
A varied and impressive collection of paper crafts and art by top designers and artists in the field. A brilliant book for inspiration.
Ideal for beginners and kids, this book provides how-tos for different techniques and projects, including patterns for a snake, a dinosaur, a whale plus many more animals.
A beautiful book to browse through as an introduction to what can be achieved in paper sculpting, cutting and manipulating. Full of large photographs.
A hardback book displaying the work of the artist Irving Harper, who works with paper, card and wood. 300 inventive examples from a 40 year career are included.
A thorough book for teaching anyone - even paper sculpting beginners - how to create your own origami paper trees. There are plenty of illustrations to help you to follow along with the steps.
Paper Sculptures in Advertisements
How-Tos & Sculpting Advice
- Paper Portraits
Tips on creating paper hair, noses and more.
- Paper Sculpting Tools
The tools you will need if you would like to turn paper sculpture into a hobby.
- How to Cut Paper
How to use a craft knife properly.
- Folding & Scoring Paper
How to get a neat cut or fold in paper.
- Layered Paper Portrait
How to layer papers to form a picture of a girl's face.
- 3D Flowers
Click on the link to view the full tutorial.
- Paper Sculpture Guide
Free file giving you useful info plus a paper flower tutorial.
- Papercutting Guide
Tips on paper cutting plus some 2D projects to try.
Fun Things for you to Make at Home
- Paper Clone
Make a life-size paper model of yourself!
A few how-tos submitted by users.
- Paper Dragon Model
Click on the image to enlarge the how-to, which includes a brilliant guide for shape templates.
- Paper Gems
Awesome faceted decorative gem templates.
- Paper Calla Lilies
Very pretty flowers made using wire, clay and paper.
- Geometric Pyramids
3D sculpture which you make with various template sizes.
- Origami Diamond
Cut and fold paper into a diamond shape - perfect for making a garland!
- DIY Barnacle Wall Art
This is a very impressive piece of homemade wall art.
- Vintage Ice-Cream Van
Adorable model made with foamboard, paper and card.
- Daisy Chain
Learn how to shape your own fresh daisies.
How to Make a Textured Leaf - A Very Easy Paper Shaping Method
This method is a very easy way to make textured paper leaves, which are ideal for attaching to greeting cards and using in other paper crafts.
What You Will Need:
* Tweezers; Pointed and thin craft tweezers
* Green paper
- Cut out a piece of the (green) paper so it is a bit bigger than the leaf you want to make.
- Fold the paper in half and cut out half a leaf shape. You can mark the shape out with a pencil first if you wish.
- You will now have one symmetrical leaf shape, however keep it folded in half for the next part.
- Take your tweezers and position them as shown in the diagram, with the point almost touching the fold in the paper.
- Rotate the tweezers clockwise (or anti-clockwise) to make a 'kink' in the paper. Whilst you are rotating the tweezers, make sure you hold the top and bottom of the leaf straight so that you don't just make one single fold, but more of a triangle shape with a fold on both sides.
- Continue down the leaf shape, evenly spacing out the 'kinks', until you reach the bottom.
- Unfold the paper and you should be left with a textured leaf.
Craft Tweezers on Amazon - Perfect for Crimping Paper & Other Fine Details
Movie-Themed Paper Art
Fun Paper Animations
Free Downloads & Printables
- Freebies from Canon
Lots of paper craft templates to download.
- Paper Kraft Blog
Pages of links to free paper crafts.
- DIY Paper Torso
Magnificent project to challenge yourself with.
- 100 Paper Models
100 of the best free paper models and toys.
- Super Mario Magnet Board
Cut out and arrange these replica Mario blocks and characters.
- Modern Paper Ornament
Easy spiky decoration made by cutting and curling paper.
- 3D Letters Font
Download, print out and build your own alphabet.
- Paper Flower Printables
Huge array of flowers you can make with just paper.
Paper Flower Garden
The Palace of Westminister
Sculpture Inspiration & Photo Galleries
- Jeff Nishinaka
Amazing scenes created with paper.
- 27 Outstanding Sculptures
Beautiful examples showing the different styles of sculpture.
- Structural Paper Art on Pinterest
Pinterest is a fun way to browse galleries of amazing paper sculpture.
- Anna-Wili Highfield
Gorgeous animals made using torn cotton paper pieces.
- Paper Effects
A large range of photos showing you possible shapes and effects.
- Masters of Paper Art
Including Nike show replicas, stadiums and paper cuts.
- Peter Callesen
Amazing art gallery displays on a large scale.
- Megan Brain
Interesting blog showing plenty examples of paper art.
- Helen Musselwhite
Whimsical forest themed scenes.
- Jennifer Collier
Camera, typewriter and more brilliant 3D paper designs.
- Chris Gilmour
Amazing cardboard vehicle sculptures.
- Paper Birds
Fantastic bird made with paper strips - by Diana Beltran Herrera.
- Helen Friel
Amazing scenes - especially the chicken.
- Diana Beltran Herrera
Superb and colourful paper bird sculptures.
Paper Sculpture Window Display
Video Sculpture Galleries
More Of The Best Sculpture Examples
- Matt Shlian
Photos of paper sculpture exhibits.
- Megan Brain Animation
Video of Madagascar title sequence.
- Retro Electronics
Brightly coloured replicas of electronics.
- Carlos Meira
Colourful works of art with fringing and all sorts of techniques showcased.
- P is for Paper
Colorful 'P' made with paper swirls and flowers.
- Beautiful Hair
Amazing and intricate studies of hair in paper.
- Christophe Roberts
Impressive cardboard sculpture installations.
- Literary Paper Sculptures
Plus links to more fantastic examples.
- Cool Origami
Wet folding is used to create curved shapes and lines.
- Noelia Lozano
Paper sculptures are perfect for creating unique 3D cover art.
- Happy Paradise
Adorable cartoon-like paper sculptures.
- Brian Chan
Origami shapes with intricate details.
- Calvin Nicholls
Ridiculously detailed multi-layered paper art.
Inspiring Creations in Paper & Card
- Irving Harper
A brilliant array of paper sculptures and wall art.
- Kirsten Hassenfeld
Wire & vellum diamonds and jewels - with a little tutorial too.
- Paper Cone Cave
An art installation you could easily recreate on a small scale.
- Sculpted Trash
Amazingly detailed paper replicas of trash and packaging.
- Fideli Sundqvist
Including food still life and a suitcase scene.
- Strictly Paper
The home of papercraft - you could spend hours browsing this site!
- Jodi Harvey-Brown
Amazing scenes created from the pages of books.
- Joel Cooper
Amazing masks made from just a single sheet of paper.