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Project 2: Technical Skills | 'You as a Paper Toy'

Brief For our second project we were asked to transform ourselves into an inventive 'designer' paper toy. We were required to present the made up 3D model of our character, in addition to the A4 net with associated typography, graphics, instructions and cutting lines. Our toy had to be in some way recognisable as ourselves, reflecting our own culture, background, interests, sense of humour and concerns. It could be rendered digitally or as traditional artwork.

Research Paper toys are constructed by cutting, folding and glueing paper to form desired shapes. They originate from the art of origami (research from here). I began my research by looking at other designs for paper toys online, particularly at different ways to layout the nets to create the shapes/pieces. I wanted to be able to draw out the net myself from scratch rather than just using a template. Here are some of the ones I used for reference (links are in the captions):


I first brainstormed some ideas of how I wanted my paper toy to represent me by doing a quick mind map of some of the things I associate with myself.

​For example, my interests include Harry Potter so one idea was to create myself wearing a Hogwarts robe, holding a wand or spell book. Another idea involved representing me being a vegan; wearing an avocado costume to add some humour, simply a typical outfit with the vegan symbol on the shirt, and extras such as holding vegetables to link to the stereotype of vegans only eating healthy. Here I also thought a little bit about the net itself with the idea of having an interchangeable face to show different emotions.

I then did a few quick sketches of some of the initial ideas. I decided to move away from the avocado costume idea as I wanted my paper toy to still have sharp edges and be cube-like similarity to how they are traditionally. So I focused on drawing visuals of myself wearing a typical outfit I would wear that still showed a part of my lifestyle with the design on the top.

Here are some mock ups/experiments of some of the shapes I wanted to create. Inspired by one of the paper toys I linked above, I tried to make a net for the head and hair separately as I thought it made it look like it had more dimension.

Next I started to draw out rough diagrams of the nets for the shapes that would make up my paper toy. thinking about where the tabs needed to be placed for gluing. I chose to create nets for the top, left arm and right arm, bottoms, head, a hair piece and a base.

I then decided to draw the nets onto graph paper in order to keep them as accurate as possible. Using a light pad, I cut around the nets so that I could arrange them to fit on A4 paper before scanning them and drawing them out digitally on Procreate, making sure the lines were crisp and clean.

After this, I constructed the mock up nets into their 3D models using a craft knife and ruler to cut out the nets, score the fold lines and glue the tabs together.

Final Piece

Once I was happy with the nets, it was time to add colour. Using my preliminary sketches of designs as inspiration, I used Procreate to colour my paper toy. I wanted it to be realistic and true to my likeness, but in a cartoony style. I coloured the tabs black to make it clear they were the parts to add glue to and also made the lines that are scored and folded as dashes. I then designed the page to include instructions for construction as well as labels to each of the pieces to make it look more like a finished product.

Overall, I am happy with my finished paper toy and I feel it fits the brief well as it represents me and my interests. The things I think I could improve on the most is that my research could have been more thorough, in addition to the amount of initial ideas being drawn up as thumbnails so that I had more designs to work from. However, I did experiment with the nets and shapes and how I could draw out the grids before committing to the final piece, showing development from start to finish. Below is the made up 3D model of my paper toy.



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