First steps …

First off we need supplies.

1x Cutting board (Larger then A4 (standard size paper)) – $10 for Fiskars Self healing craft mat.
1x Fine Scissors ($10 purchase)
1x Metal X-acto Knife – You only need ONE of these. $4
1x Box of X-acto Knife Blades – Use #11. 1 box of 5 blades = $3
1x Bottle of Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue – $1.80 for 4 oz.

Your local craft store should have all 5 of these. Micheals, AC Moore.. etc. Ask if you cannot find on your own. I would like to point out two issues, boys, because of larger thumbs, should get the Cutter Bee brand, some of the regular craft scissors are too tight on the thumb and can be painful or difficult to use/take off. Aside from this, everything is easy.

Aleene’s can be purchased in the craft section of Wal-Mart and other big chain stores. Target may also carry this, but the selection is not as good as dedicated craft stores.

Second major thing, we need a project:

Browsing through this site is a good way to get fun models to do. I recommend using the search bar and stick to 1 page and about 5 pieces for beginners. A great site to practice folding and cutting out Cubecraft. All the models are simple and easy to learn how to fold.

When you pick your project, save it to a thumb drive/USB drive. This portable memory will be your back up. I would suggest buying a $14 USB Drive, like a Sandisk, and dedicating it to Papercraft. 2 GB is fine for most people, chances are you will not need any more for a long long time.


Printing your Model

Unless you happen to have 110 lb Cardstock, tons of ink and a HIGH quality laser printer, you are going to have to use professional service to ensure you have clean, wonderful prints every time. Staples is my personal favorite for all projects.

When you enter the store, simply hand them the USB drive, say you have a project to print and make sure to ask for (A4 – regular sized) 110 lb White Cardstock. Your files should be in Jpeg or the preferred .pdf.

They will ask what you want printed and how many copies. Please make time to ensure you can personally watch the print outs, sometimes models have ‘cover’ pages to parts and even instructions within, make sure they only print the pages with actual parts.

Typical price for 110 lb White cardstock is $1.09 + tax from Staples. If you think you will do more papercraft, fill out a membership card to get 10% off on printing. It adds up fast and its free to sign up!

When you have your parts printed out, it is time to double check to make sure it is the right scale and quality. Look for discoloration, lines or other issues with the print out. With a professional service like Staples, they reprint for free if it has errors. Much safer (and cheaper) then printing from home when errors and poor color clarity is abound.


Extra note

Some models have lined and lineless versions, if you are printing at Staples or some other service which costs you, even beginners should go for LINELESS. You can check the lined version at home on your computer.

The best advice I can say for those students with a source of free printing (college campus) is to do a quick black and white print of the lined instructions and practice folding and using them as tests for models you deem difficult or are unsure about building correctly on your first shot. The thin paper will fold cleaner and easier, but the sections will be flimsy and poor quality, but this is the best option for people looking to advance or be perfect from the first go-through.



Most instructions are straight forward, if not you should probably avoid the project on the grounds you have little idea of folding or reference.

For lined instructions, dotted lines means fold down. A period and dotted lines mean fold up. Beware of circular models, they can be difficult and not require pre-folding, yet the lined instructions usually indicate folds that conform to the natural curve on a model.

I use scissors for most of the curves and major work for models, the Xacto knife is really to cut out fine details, make slits in CubeCraft and split up closely placed separate parts.

For those of you with extreme details, tape down your sheet with a piece of scotch tape to the edges of your cutting board, this will prevent paper movement when cutting with the Xacto knife.

Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue is great, and only needs several minutes to dry, but if you are moving your project around, consider waiting 20 minutes between attaching pieces or moving it too much. The original Tacky Glue takes about this long as well, but it is just for ensuring a tight bond before movement or extension onto pieces.


Well that’s about it!

Practice and challenge yourself, but know your limits. Do not try something like Howl’s Moving Castle (Full) (70 pages) on your second or even tenth papercraft. Start easy and move up in pages and pieces. Basic ‘level-up’ is like this:

1-4 is beginner. 5-6 is Advanced, 7-8 is Masters.

1. Simple Origami
2. Complex Origami / Cubecraft
3. Cubecraft (3 stars or higher)
4. Varied Single Page Models (Ninjatoes Advance Wars models are nice)
5. Models (Ingame characters, Ninjatoes FFX ones are nice)
6. Complex Models (Adult Link, Cloud, Samus.. etc)
7. Large Models (Going Merry, Black Pearl, Howl’s Castle 1)
8. Skies the limit Models (Howl’s Castle 2, Bumblebee.. etc)

Most people start at level 2-3 on this. Being able to follow steps and knowing simple folds is actually a challenge for most people, compared to something like a paper plane. The jump from each ‘level’ is about 3-5x harder then the ones before it. Something like Ninjatoes Rikku is nothing compared to the complexity of Adult Link, yet they are both character models.

Anything Gundam probably is 7 on here, these bad boys are usually complex with over 100 pieces and many folds that make them harder then other models of same size. Chances are if you can complete something like the Going Merry, Gundams will be a fun project.

Why did I list Howl’s Moving Castle 2 over the Museum’s highest piece construction of Bumblebee? Simple, instructions are Japanese, the model is insanely detailed and more intricate to boot. Howl’s Moving Castle 2 is perhaps the most insane papercraft project you can do. Just to prove it, I got a video

Enjoy, and get to work!


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