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3 Easy Steps To Building Awesome 3D Paper Models

Updated on March 10, 2012

3D paper models are fantastic!

You can make a ton of really cool things with paper. Did you know that you can build some surprisingly realistic and intricate 3D models that not only are fun to build but great to look at. This lens will introduce you to the amazing world of paper models and how you can get building quickly. Be warned though... It is addictive.

Step 1. Where to get fantasitic paper models to work on.

Firstly you will need your model that you will be assembling.

Here you have a few choices.

You can opt to download patterns online and print them out (just do a search for 3D paper models).

Purchase a pre - printed book.

Both have advantages and disadvantages

There are quite a few designs online for free but you will have to use your own paper and ink.

Books can work out cheaper in the long run and save time as they are already printed out and are ready top go.

Paper Craft Examples.

A few of just the many thousands of models that are out there.


3D paper model books

These books will get you up and running quickly.

Your Paper Craft Shopping List

I have created a simple list of items you will need to get started.

Feel free to omit the printer if you already have one. :)

  • 3D patterns (either book or downloaded online).


    Printer inks

    Paper (thick printable card or photo paper works best).

    Scissors (small)

    Craft knife

    Cutting board

    Hot glue gun (for straight forward joining).

    Glue pen (when you need to move things around before setting).

Step 3 Paper Craft Success tips

Start with a simple project first.

Something you can complete in an hour or so as this will help you get used to putting things together.

You can place your work on a piece of plywood so you can move your project safely and it will protect your table from any drops of glue.

If you need to hold pieces together you can try using wooden clothes pegs (the spring type) or paper clips.

A roll of double sided tape can also be useful.

Great printers

If you plan on downloading and printing out your own patterns then a good quality printer is essential.

Many of the printer manufacturers have websites that allow you to download excellent 3D patterns. The paper frog model featured at the top of this lens was from the Canon website. (I personally use a Canon pixma which works quite quickly and gives a great result).

Cutting and gluing

Here are some essential tools for putting your models together.

Hot Melt Glue Gun with 40 Glue Sticks
Hot Melt Glue Gun with 40 Glue Sticks

A glue gun is the best way to put paper models together. the glue hardens quickly and does not soak into the paper and cause the ink to bleed or smudge.

Martha Stewart Crafts Adhesive / Fine Tip Glue Pen, 0.24 Ounce
Martha Stewart Crafts Adhesive / Fine Tip Glue Pen, 0.24 Ounce

More forgiving than a hot glue gun when you need to move things around to the right spot before setting.

X-ACTO #1 Knife, Z Series With Safety Cap
X-ACTO #1 Knife, Z Series With Safety Cap

For difficult to reach areas, a craft knife will allow you to cut and score (using the back of the blade) so you can get the job done quickly and neatly. Team up with a cutting mat to save the table!


Paper Craft Training and Tips.

A few helpful videos to get you started building your first models.

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