8 Papercraft Websites for Geeks and Hobbyists
Making paper planes was not the only paper craft we most of us learned as children. Various craft models were taught to many of us in grade school, but most were quite easy to make. The complicated ones were best left to a few dedicated origami experts or to be painstakingly copied out of books.
Times have changed! We now have websites that teach us the art of paper folding in a unique way. Step-by-step guides and videos are now one of the best ways to learn how to make complex models out of plain paper.
3D paper models are the latest paper project in the world of crafts. They come in a wide range of difficulty levels. Thankfully there are plenty of sites that provide information on how to make them, including for beginners. Many sites even offer free papercraft templates that can be printed and assembled using a pair of scissors and glue. Just print, cut, fold and voila! Your 3D paper toy is ready. Want to know where to get these templates? Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite websites for making free paper toys.
CubeeCraft is a Mecca for all craft enthusiasts and geeks. The website has a simple download, print/cut, and fold rule, which can be easily followed by kids and adults. What sets it apart from other papercraft websites is its no-glue policy. Thanks to its interlocking tabs, all 3D paper models can be assembled without using any adhesive.
CubeeCraft has some of the hottest 3D paper model templates (called “Cubees”) available free for download. From Marvel-inspired cube heroes to special CubeeCraft firefighters, every paper design is unique and colorful, but each retains that cute cube face look. You will also find designer original paper model templates absolutely free to download and print. Before downloading templates, don’t forget to read the FAQ section and printing tutorial.
Many of the 3D paper model templates are divided into different genres, such as pop culture, Star Wars and papercraft models for special occasions. I like the Pop Culture genre, which lets me download my childhood favorite characters like Swat Kats, Krang (TMNT), and Mario. There are plenty more, and each Cubee is just plain adorable.
2. Desktop Gremlins
If you are fond of pop-up craft and paper toys, then Desktop Gremlins is the right place for all your crafting needs. This beautifully designed website features lots of papercraft toys. It also offers the creator’s own unique monster paper toys. All downloadable toy templates are in PDF format, which can be saved to your computer. You will get bonus content if you subscribe to the site’s e-newsletter.
Desktop Gremlins follows the same no tape/no glue policy, but focuses on pop-up models instead of 3D paper models. Most of its “construction sheets” revolve around popular video game and cartoon characters. However, the site also has a special section dedicated to popular websites like YouTube, LockerGnome, and Wired. You will find pop-up versions of these sites.
I absolutely loved building the official YouTube space lab paper toy. Compared to other sites, Gremlins has fewer paper models, but there will be more cool paper toys in future, so check back frequently and, yes, subscribe to its newsletter to get the newest updates.
3. Pixel PaperCraft
Formerly known as “Minecraft Paper Craft,” Pixel Papercraft is your one-stop website to get your daily dose of free 3D cube figures. It was one of the first sites to introduce Minecraft characters to the papercraft world. The revamped website hosts a variety of 3D user-generated pixel cubes. All you need to do is browse a list of templates, click on your chosen template, and hit the browser’s print button to make a printout. There’s no need to sign up, although you can register with the site to get additional benefits if you wish.
The website also has a separate tutorial tab for template designers who want to create their own pixel cube craft templates. It offers a variety of Minecraft characters, some inspired by popular movie stars, sport stars, and video game characters. My favorite paper craft models are “PokeCubes” and Star Wars-inspired Minecraft paper models.
4. Paper Critters
If you love creating and assembling 3D paper models, then Paper Critters is the right place for you. The online application lets users create and share ready-to-download paper toys. Most 3D papercrafts are user-created, and so there is plenty of variety.
A unique aspect of the site is its special “Toy Creator” that offers a simple platform to build your own paper toy templates from scratch. No GIMP or any third-party software is needed. You can add preset eyes and a nose or draw them using a set of drawing tools. The creator offers different views of the 3D paper model, making it easy for users to create a good-looking design from every angle. Once you’ve completed one, just click on preview to get a 3D view of the design. You can then download, share, or make a print-out of the flat template.
If you are bored creating templates and want to download user-created paper models, just hit the “Colony” option. You will find plenty of user-generated paper models, each with a separate 3D preview and template to download. You can browse them by changing filters like “Most Viewed” “Newest” and “Oldest.” Try switching to “Most Viewed” to get a list of popular designs.
The developers behind Paper Critters have introduced a new paid iPad app that offers a unique drag and drop interface for the paper toy creator. The app offers a host of features such as live 3D previews, themed stencil packs and a print option. I would suggest sticking to the online tool if you don’t want to spend a dime. But if you are a frequent iPad user, then you should download the app.
The Ninjatoes weblog offers a variety of papercraft template downloads, ranging from simple cube figures to complex paper models. Most of the models are accompanied with a helpful YouTube video that teaches you how to assemble them after downloading the templates. Assembling may require glue/tape to stick parts together. There are two separate links to download –one PDF file containing parts and another PDF file with instructions on how to assemble.
The blog not only features papercraft models of your favorite anime/video game/movie characters, but also offers user-created templates of everyday objects, such as a 3D toolbox. There’s also a separate WordPress blog that focuses only on geeky stuff. You will be able to download a variety of paper model templates that are divided into categories like Batman, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica. My personal favorites are Final Fantasy and LEGO templates. Do check them out!
Another papercraft website like CubeeCraft, ReadyMech offers paper toy templates for geeks and hobbyists. Here, too, you will find few craft models. Also, you will need tape/glue while assembling them. To download a paper toy template, click on the image and then click to download the PDF file to save the template to your PC.
The toys are designed for papers sized 8.5 inches x 11 inches (a standard sheet of paper), and can be printed using any color printer. The cute monster toys are totally original creations. The site’s main highlight is a set of paper pinhole cameras available for download. To access them, click the Corbis ReadyMech cameras link and download the PDF template from the site. These pinhole cameras aren’t merely toys, but work like those cameras you can build using cardboard. There are only 5 exclusive camera paper toys and each toy is colorful and quite inimitable in design.
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7. Paper Foldables
This website has a nice collection of 3D paper models. You will need tape, glue, and scissors to assemble the downloaded templates.
8. Papercraft Museum
This website is for serious papercraft enthusiasts. It features complex paper model templates ranging from 3D paper models of vehicles to popular creations. Want to download them? Head to the gallery to get a list of amazing papercraft models. Most of these are not as simple as, say, CubeeCraft models, but are fun to make if you have plenty of time. Also check out the tutorial sections to know how to download, cut, and assemble them. You may also need to download Pepakura viewer to save some of the designs in .PDO format.