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Paper Sculpture Techniques & Inspiration | Video Tutorials for Beginners

Updated on February 26, 2015
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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

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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.

Good Luck!

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.

Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper
Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper

A varied and impressive collection of paper crafts and art by top designers and artists in the field. A brilliant book for inspiration.

 
Paper, Scissors, Sculpt!: Creating Cut-and-Fold Animals
Paper, Scissors, Sculpt!: Creating Cut-and-Fold Animals

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.

 
Paper: Tear, Fold, Rip, Crease, Cut
Paper: Tear, Fold, Rip, Crease, Cut

A beautiful book to browse through as an introduction to what can be achieved in paper sculpting, cutting and manipulating. Full of large photographs.

 
Irving Harper: Works in Paper
Irving Harper: Works in Paper

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.

 
Origami Bonsai: Create Beautiful Botanical Sculptures From Paper
Origami Bonsai: Create Beautiful Botanical Sculptures From Paper

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

I love the colours in this sculpture, which was commissioned in 2010 by The Sydney Opera House for their open day poster.
I love the colours in this sculpture, which was commissioned in 2010 by The Sydney Opera House for their open day poster. | Source

Delicate Hummingbird

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How to Make a Textured Leaf - A Very Easy Paper Shaping Method

paper-sculpture-leaves
paper-sculpture-leaves

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

* Scissors

* Pencil


- 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.

- Finished!

Craft Tweezers on Amazon - Perfect for Crimping Paper & Other Fine Details

Architectural Sculpture

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Movie-Themed Paper Art

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Fun Paper Animations

Paper Flower Garden

Created with handmade ivory paper, scissors, and a scalpel.
Created with handmade ivory paper, scissors, and a scalpel. | Source

The Palace of Westminister

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Kirigami House

Kirigami = origami combined with paper cutting techniques (kiri-e is the Japanese name for paper cutting).
Kirigami = origami combined with paper cutting techniques (kiri-e is the Japanese name for paper cutting). | Source

Paper Sculpture Window Display

Window display at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
Window display at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. | Source

Video Sculpture Galleries

Paper Food

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Mastercard Advert

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Kirigami House-in-a-House

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Techniques & Sculpture Examples

Have you tried any paper craft before?

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    • profile image

      marivi_2 5 years ago

      To see more paper engineer works, please visit my web site.

      http://marivi_10.tripod.com/myhomenew.html

    • profile image

      TheresaBesaw 5 years ago

      Amazing work. I can't pick a favorite there are so many that are astounding

    • profile image

      MagnoliaTree 5 years ago

      Another amazing and fun lens!

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 5 years ago

      Thanks.. I loved looking at these paper sculptures. I'm a big fan of Peter Callesen. Thank you for showing me other artists that work with paper... Makes me wonder if I could sit down with paper and scissors, and actually create something.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 5 years ago from California

      I really liked the paper sculpture video. These are techniques I can use in my work. Thanks!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      great lens, I loved the videos, amazing. THUMBS UP ANGEL BLESSED

    • profile image

      Traceeshobbies 5 years ago

      very informative.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      These crafts, especially the hummingbird look so fragile! I can't even imagine the time and care it took to finish those.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      These crafts, especially the hummingbird look so fragile! I can't even imagine the time and care it took to finish those.

    • profile image

      SimplyTonjia 5 years ago

      What an awesome art. Love the dragon and the window display. Thank you.

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      I love your lens - I've just featured it on mine: http://www.squidoo.com/perfume-and-pen-gift-sets. Thanks for sharing!

    • jim-s lm profile image

      jim-s lm 5 years ago

      I am an avid collector of paper projects related sites, being a paper things maker, I think this is a very helpful and inspirational lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I never thought that PAPER can makes amazing sculptures too! I would love to try them,but I even fail at making simple origami :P Thumbs up for you..

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image

      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      These sculptures are really incredible!

    • TheCandle LM profile image

      TheCandle LM 4 years ago

      WOW!!!! I had no idea that these kind of paper sculptures existed. Truly amazing! Major thumbs up!!!

    • ManfromModesto LM profile image

      ManfromModesto LM 4 years ago

      Kirigami... looks like there might be a lot of trial and error there!

    • profile image

      belinhafernandes 4 years ago

      Congrats on creating such a beautiful lens!

    • peterjg1972 profile image

      peterjg1972 4 years ago

      Great

      i have experience of ceramic sculpture, but this has given me some new ideas

    • Xpeyur profile image

      Xpeyur 3 years ago

      Fantastic lens. Just love it. I'm into 3D graphics, so this is just it. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I was just looking for something interesting on the Internet when I saw all this magnificent and amazing paper creation!!! It is unbelievable how a simple piece of paper can be turn into something so delicate and Mind blowing !!!! To be honest I had never try this type of art but I would really love to, so if someone knows about a website where they give like instructions or the cutouts model to print please let me know or send me a link at eleduar.94@hotmail.com and thank u !!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      What a delight to find you and all the information. I remember when I was younger I didn't give paper much of a thought. But as my miniature knowledge has grown my delight has too. I began doing paper models in 2007 after my husband passed away. I bought my first computer at 50. I had never even turned one on before. So I was scared to death thinking it may blow up or something. But also with my husband gone and living in a small town among other things I was trying to cope with. I sat night after night and day after day. I taught myself how to use my computer. I did pay for a lady to give me a lesson for $80.00. I didn't learn a thing. Except to save my money. I learned a whole other world. I got craft patterns,crochet patterns and ideas. But I didn't feel so alone. I joined miniature groups. Paper modeling sites. Then my mind changed . Over a few years looking at others creations and doing paper models myself I could see it is all in the way we let ourselves think. My trash can doesn't get as much as it did. I just might create something with the beautiful paper. So being here and seeing and reading all you (I can do) can do opened my mind even more. I will be back as often as I can and learn as much as I can. Because Riley is up there rooting for me the way he always has. Thank you for letting me visit. Alisa

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      nice as visit

    • profile image

      SlashedReads 3 years ago

      WOW this is the most comprehensive collection of information and resources on paper sculpture on the entire web. I could spend all day looking at these artists' work. I'm in awe of the people that do it. Thanks for all your research and effort.

    • profile image

      irene-pierpont-1 2 years ago

      I love doing any paper projects from simple origami, kirigami, origami architecture, modular origami , pop-up cards, creating dioramas using paper only and paper modeling. It's so nice to find another source for my hobby

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 2 years ago

      I have not tried this, but I love paper crafts. I have limited my attempts to paper mache.

    • Roy Ringland profile image

      Roy 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      absolutely Fantastic!! I am definitely going to make an attempt at some of these.

    • Rock Artist profile image

      Rock Artist 2 years ago

      awesome!

    • whittwrites profile image

      T.B Whitt 2 years ago from the Philly area

      What a detailed list of ideas to create many different paper crafts. I look forward to trying many of them.

    • profile image

      Mary Rios 18 months ago

      would like to know if you can make me, several poses of ballerinas, for window display

      My email address

      Marylindarios13@yahoo.com

    • giovannirussograf profile image

      GIOVANNIRUSSOGRAFICO 16 months ago from Limena, Padua, Italy

      We are an Italian 3D Popup Kirigami postcards Company since 1993.

      Check our goods:

      https://www.behance.net/giovannirussografico

    • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

      Fiona 8 months ago from South Africa

      I thought the hummingbird was spectacular and the art inside the toilet tube amused me - I would never have thought of that. This was a great hub - thanks :)

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