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Paper Sculpture Techniques & Inspiration | Video Tutorials for Beginners

An Insight Into The World of Paper Sculpture

The styles of paper sculpture vary widely, from realistic models of building and landmarks, to 3D fantasy landscapes and scenes and abstract art exhibits. Paper (and thin card) are truly versatile materials and you can create your own style and techniques after mastering the basics of cutting.

The tools and materials needed for paper sculpture are things that anyone can get hold of, which means that this craft is open to anyone for a very small investment. I hope this page encourages you to get creative and give this accessible artform a go!

Wire & Paper Sculpture

Introduction To Paper Sculpture

Paper sculpture is the manipulation of paper to form a 3D image or structure. The techniques used are quite basic, with paper cutting, curving/shaping and folding being the main ones in use. You can also incorporate origami skills, embossing and other paper craft methods depending on the project. You will find that most paper sculptures are bold and unfussy in order to make the biggest impact. Clean lines are very important.

For larger projects, techniques like paper mache can be incorporated to add strength, and card is often used to replace paper as the project grows in size. Wire and wood can be used to support paper or card pieces if necessary.

Being precise and exact (and patient!) is vital in paper sculpting. Always work on a clean surface, make sure your hands are always clean and use minimal glue/tape. Click here for information on materials, adhesives and tools you'll need. Tape is very useful for sticking card or paper immediately, and it's not a messy adhesive. Glue however can be messy if you're not careful, but it can be applied much more precisely (with a toothpick) in smaller and more awkward areas.

The folds in your paper shapes must be precise - take care not to add folds or creases where you don't want them because this will result in an untidy looking result. Easier said than done though!

There are all kinds of papers you can use, including book pages. Usually the paper used is plain, acid-free and between 80gsm and 150gsm in weight. Anything heavier will be thin card. Heavier papers will be stiffer and will be able to hold their shape better, whilst lighter weight papers will flow better and can be cut/curled more easily. The weight of paper to use depends on the kind of project you are planning.

Paper sculpture is used in many different ways; advertisements (magazines or animated shorts), art installations and window displays being the main examples. To start with I'd suggest trying to replicate a 2D photo or picture in paper so that you have something to work from.

Good Luck!

Top Paper Craft Books

Books are an excellent resource for browsing the best examples of sculpture, as well as getting an insight into the techniques involved from experts in the medium.

Paper Sculptures in Advertisements

I love the colours in this sculpture, which was commissioned in 2010 by The Sydney Opera House for their open day poster.

I love the colours in this sculpture, which was commissioned in 2010 by The Sydney Opera House for their open day poster.

How-Tos & Sculpting Advice

Delicate Hummingbird

Fun Things for you to Make at Home

How to Make a Textured Leaf - A Very Easy Paper Shaping Method

paper-sculpture-leaves

paper-sculpture-leaves

This method is a very easy way to make textured paper leaves, which are ideal for attaching to greeting cards and using in other paper crafts.

What You Will Need:

* Tweezers; Pointed and thin craft tweezers

* Green paper

* Scissors

* Pencil


- Cut out a piece of the (green) paper so it is a bit bigger than the leaf you want to make.

- Fold the paper in half and cut out half a leaf shape. You can mark the shape out with a pencil first if you wish.

- You will now have one symmetrical leaf shape, however keep it folded in half for the next part.

- Take your tweezers and position them as shown in the diagram, with the point almost touching the fold in the paper.

- Rotate the tweezers clockwise (or anti-clockwise) to make a 'kink' in the paper. Whilst you are rotating the tweezers, make sure you hold the top and bottom of the leaf straight so that you don't just make one single fold, but more of a triangle shape with a fold on both sides.

- Continue down the leaf shape, evenly spacing out the 'kinks', until you reach the bottom.

- Unfold the paper and you should be left with a textured leaf.

- Finished!

Craft Tweezers on Amazon - Perfect for Crimping Paper & Other Fine Details

Architectural Sculpture

Movie-Themed Paper Art

Fun Paper Animations

Free Downloads & Printables

Paper Flower Garden

Created with handmade ivory paper, scissors, and a scalpel.

Created with handmade ivory paper, scissors, and a scalpel.

The Palace of Westminister

Sculpture Inspiration & Photo Galleries

Kirigami House

Kirigami = origami combined with paper cutting techniques (kiri-e is the Japanese name for paper cutting).

Kirigami = origami combined with paper cutting techniques (kiri-e is the Japanese name for paper cutting).

Paper Sculpture Window Display

Window display at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Window display at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Video Sculpture Galleries

More Of The Best Sculpture Examples

Paper Food

Mastercard Advert

Inspiring Creations in Paper & Card

Kirigami House-in-a-House

Techniques & Sculpture Examples

Please Leave a Comment!

Fiona from South Africa on August 07, 2016:

I thought the hummingbird was spectacular and the art inside the toilet tube amused me - I would never have thought of that. This was a great hub - thanks :)

GIOVANNIRUSSOGRAFICO from Limena, Padua, Italy on December 23, 2015:

We are an Italian 3D Popup Kirigami postcards Company since 1993.

Check our goods:

https://www.behance.net/giovannirussografico

Timothy Whitt from New Jersey on January 08, 2015:

What a detailed list of ideas to create many different paper crafts. I look forward to trying many of them.

Rock Artist on August 10, 2014:

awesome!

Roy from Northern Ireland on August 08, 2014:

absolutely Fantastic!! I am definitely going to make an attempt at some of these.

Rose Jones on June 09, 2014:

I have not tried this, but I love paper crafts. I have limited my attempts to paper mache.

irene-pierpont-1 on May 25, 2014:

I love doing any paper projects from simple origami, kirigami, origami architecture, modular origami , pop-up cards, creating dioramas using paper only and paper modeling. It's so nice to find another source for my hobby

SlashedReads on December 23, 2013:

WOW this is the most comprehensive collection of information and resources on paper sculpture on the entire web. I could spend all day looking at these artists' work. I'm in awe of the people that do it. Thanks for all your research and effort.

anonymous on September 17, 2013:

nice as visit

anonymous on August 16, 2013:

What a delight to find you and all the information. I remember when I was younger I didn't give paper much of a thought. But as my miniature knowledge has grown my delight has too. I began doing paper models in 2007 after my husband passed away. I bought my first computer at 50. I had never even turned one on before. So I was scared to death thinking it may blow up or something. But also with my husband gone and living in a small town among other things I was trying to cope with. I sat night after night and day after day. I taught myself how to use my computer. I did pay for a lady to give me a lesson for $80.00. I didn't learn a thing. Except to save my money. I learned a whole other world. I got craft patterns,crochet patterns and ideas. But I didn't feel so alone. I joined miniature groups. Paper modeling sites. Then my mind changed . Over a few years looking at others creations and doing paper models myself I could see it is all in the way we let ourselves think. My trash can doesn't get as much as it did. I just might create something with the beautiful paper. So being here and seeing and reading all you (I can do) can do opened my mind even more. I will be back as often as I can and learn as much as I can. Because Riley is up there rooting for me the way he always has. Thank you for letting me visit. Alisa

anonymous on August 01, 2013:

I was just looking for something interesting on the Internet when I saw all this magnificent and amazing paper creation!!! It is unbelievable how a simple piece of paper can be turn into something so delicate and Mind blowing !!!! To be honest I had never try this type of art but I would really love to, so if someone knows about a website where they give like instructions or the cutouts model to print please let me know or send me a link at eleduar.94@hotmail.com and thank u !!!

Xpeyur on June 03, 2013:

Fantastic lens. Just love it. I'm into 3D graphics, so this is just it. Thank you.

peterjg1972 on April 15, 2013:

Great

i have experience of ceramic sculpture, but this has given me some new ideas

belinhafernandes on April 11, 2013:

Congrats on creating such a beautiful lens!

ManfromModesto LM on February 15, 2013:

Kirigami... looks like there might be a lot of trial and error there!

TheCandle LM on February 14, 2013:

WOW!!!! I had no idea that these kind of paper sculptures existed. Truly amazing! Major thumbs up!!!

Judith Nazarewicz from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on November 04, 2012:

These sculptures are really incredible!

AngelDey on July 14, 2012:

Very inspirational artwork on this lens. I'm not sure I'm up to this kind of challenge but I'd like to try a little bit of paper sculpting.

anonymous on May 03, 2012:

I never thought that PAPER can makes amazing sculptures too! I would love to try them,but I even fail at making simple origami :P Thumbs up for you..

jim-s lm on April 16, 2012:

I am an avid collector of paper projects related sites, being a paper things maker, I think this is a very helpful and inspirational lens.

Sher Ritchie on April 15, 2012:

I love your lens - I've just featured it on mine: http://www.squidoo.com/perfume-and-pen-gift-sets. Thanks for sharing!

SimplyTonjia on March 15, 2012:

What an awesome art. Love the dragon and the window display. Thank you.

jimmyworldstar on February 02, 2012:

These crafts, especially the hummingbird look so fragile! I can't even imagine the time and care it took to finish those.

jimmyworldstar on February 02, 2012:

These crafts, especially the hummingbird look so fragile! I can't even imagine the time and care it took to finish those.

Traceeshobbies on January 11, 2012:

very informative.

eddgeorge lm on January 04, 2012:

I love the collection of paper sculptures here.

kathysart on December 25, 2011:

great lens, I loved the videos, amazing. THUMBS UP ANGEL BLESSED

Lynda Makara from California on December 25, 2011:

I really liked the paper sculpture video. These are techniques I can use in my work. Thanks!

AngryBaker on December 23, 2011:

Thanks.. I loved looking at these paper sculptures. I'm a big fan of Peter Callesen. Thank you for showing me other artists that work with paper... Makes me wonder if I could sit down with paper and scissors, and actually create something.

MagnoliaTree on October 15, 2011:

Another amazing and fun lens!

TheresaBesaw on September 29, 2011:

Amazing work. I can't pick a favorite there are so many that are astounding

marivi_2 on September 15, 2011:

To see more paper engineer works, please visit my web site.

http://marivi_10.tripod.com/myhomenew.html