Last edited: 2023-11-30    5 minute read

I bought a nice printer recently, and what better way to test it out than to make some papercrafts? I loved papercraft as a kid, and the tools have come a long way since when I was last involved in the hobby. Back in my day, all we had was the free demo of Pepakura, or (Sydney Opera House was my favorite, and Statue of Liberty was my least favorite). But now, there's a Blender add-on! And Fold Up Toys (Which has a much better Statue of Liberty)!

First attempt

The model I chose was "Pixel House", by tacocrepe, licensed under CC-BY 4.0:

It's a really fun design! The stone foundation and white top walls give off a Tudor Revival vibe, but the white windows look a bit like paper, and combined with the wooden posts, I came away with this with an impression of early Japanese architecture. And the kicker for me is that I could probably get away with simplifying the shape to roughly a cube with a triangular prism on top.

I tried to pick a model that would be quick and easy to make, but I ended up wanting to simplify the geometry even more. After learning the shortcut for adding an edge through a face across two of its vertices (J), I was able to make the changes that I wanted to.

photo of a little papercraft house in a sort of Tudor Revival style, with a stone first floor, wooden door, and
	stucco second floor with wooden beams.
	very simple shapes, basically a cube with a triangular prism roof.
	first floor is very slightly inset from the rest of the house.
	It is textured in a pixel-art style
photo of the same house as previous, but from a different angle

First things first, the simplifications were absolutely not a good tradeoff. It didn't make assembly much easier, and in my opinion, it lost a lot of the magic that made the model work in the first place. The colors turned out nice though! The toner rubbed off a bit in some places, but I believe that has to do with the printer settings, and not the actual quality of the printer or toner or paper, so it's probably an easy fix.

Being as creatively insatiable as I am, I naturally started on a second attempt pretty much as soon as I finished it.

Second attempt

The main changes I made were that I omitted the simplifications (the actual shape is practically identical to the original model, just meshed slightly differently for better unfolding), and replacing the windows with sanded clear plastic so that I could put a little light inside and illuminate it. About half of the time and effort spent cutting was probably spent on the windows.

I also totally forgot to take pictures of the process, but it's more or less what you would expect: I cut out all the pieces and glued the tabs in. But I do have the printout if you want to try it out yourself (yay for Creative Commons)!

Things I learned

The measurement marks on the rotary cutter that I have are nice for when you know the measurements for what you are cutting, but I found that they're too difficult to use accurately when cutting along a printed line.

Scoring a fold with the blunt side of a craft knife blade makes for an easier, crisper fold. I had been doing a similar thing with a "bend" wheel for my rotary paper cutter, but not only is using a craft knife more accurate, but it is also more effective in making a sharp bend.

Omitting small tabs can make assembly much easier, without sacrificing too much stability.

Glue sticks are very annoying to use. Use liquid glue instead. I use PVA glue, mostly out of convenience; I had a very old bottle of glue laying around from when I was in like kindergarten.

photo of the same
	papercraft house as above, with another house beside it with the same
	general design as the one above, but with more complex geometry, like
	additional rims and columns. the old house (from above) is to the right
	with the new one to the left
Comparison shot. New house is on the left.

photo of the new house with a light inside it, which makes the windows kinda glow

The colors came out a bit less vibrant, and I'm not sure exactly why, but I would venture a guess that it has to do with the fact that I changed the print preset to one for heavier paper. But the craft itself turned out great, and it was a lot of fun! I'm glad I tried it again with a more faithful geometry.