Nice Paper Toys

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So I was in an existential quandary about paper toys and things made from paper. Thinking about the reasons we enjoy them, where they have been and where they are going. what opportunities in design we are exploiting and what we are missing.

I thought of some core areas that I could focus on and get better at.

The aesthetic of final form.
This is what everyone is seeking, getting the end result of the kit to look nice. This involves the physical form of the model and the images applied to it's surface.

The aesthetic of the flat form
This is the presentation of the model before completion, the thought put into how the kit looks when it's flat on a page. an example of this are the bugs i made for Big Big Battles. while they are 3D models i had to design them to make since in flat form because they needed to be easily understood for commom players to color them in, i used thick line work found in coloring books to express the forms on the page.

The aesthetic of construction.
This is a far more nebulous subject, but it deals with how enjoyable a kit is to construct. can the actual motions of the paper during construction contribute to the enjoyment of the final piece? should you make a kit require glue? or require a razor to cut out(the usual glue trade off) or do i just need to take a nap?

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The aesthetic of final form. This is what everyone is seeking, getting the end result of the kit to look nice. This involves the physical form of the model and the images applied to it's surface.


When I build kits I generally use cardstock (usually about 110 lb). It's sturdy and holds up nice and if you score it you can get some nice clean folds.

Anyway when I design my stuff I often have to squash some idea's that would work with this heavier card stock because I realize the majority of people only have standard printer paper and I would generally like my stuff to be able to be built by just about anyone with a printer.

The aesthetic of the flat form "This is the presentation of the model before completion, the thought put into how the kit looks when it's flat on a page. "

This doesn't seem that important but can make a good amount of difference. If a model is laid out poorly it could make the kit a lot harder to put together. For instance I recently received a guest artist submission that had all the tabs labeled on the negative space of the model - which means if you cut it out you wouldn't exactly know what goes where.

I bogus layout can also just make a kit seem harder than it is. I have seen some really nice layouts - some so good I didn't even want to cut them up!

Honestly when I designed mine it was just "how can I cram this all on one sheet."

The aesthetic of construction.


can the actual motions of the paper during construction contribute to the enjoyment of the final piece?

I would say "yes".

should you make a kit require glue? or require a razor to cut out

I do not, but this limits me in some ways, so it is really up to the individual designer and what they are trying to achieve.

I cut most of stuff with a razor and metal ruler, glued kit or not.

All in all it's fun to put things together. The feeling you get when you finish a model is pretty awesome. Though I don't think that emotion is exclusive to papercraft. Papercraft is a cheap and relatively easy way to realize a design (vs vinyl toys for instance).

You build a few kits and it's pretty cool - but making your own kit, even from someone else's template, is even better.
well, right now as I'm putting together "the eccessaries kit" I have to tell you that making paper toys may be difficult at beginning stages, and I'm not sayin I'm a pro, but one things for sure....it feels great to know that I still have the focus which also helps me with my other work as an artist.
it makes you acknowledge the creative juices that continue to flow and work at a certain pase.
you have the freedom to do what "you as the artist" wants, but to enjoy your creation.
everyone wants somethng new, and I feel, being a toy creator....everyone gets something new accordingly, and everyone worldwide "internationally" see's the same difference....and loves it....and that's what it is truly all about....LOVE!
For me, the construction of the model has to be enjoyable. I like models that use interesting folds, or with some discovery during the construction process. Putting the model together should be punctuated with little moments of satisfaction.

I think that the flat print of the model presents quite a valuable space between the components. It's an area for presenting something about the model, something more than the final construction. It could just be used for assembly instructions and your website address. Or you can use it to develop a background for your character. It's like the packaging for your model, think of all the stuff that's printed on packaging for toys.

However, I've designed several models, but i'm still yet to publish any online. So perhaps my obsessive nature may run counter to actually producing paper toys!
i like the texture of thick cold pressed cotton paper! mmmm..... in fact i think my obsession with paper is based on the sheer delight of working with such a fibrous giving medium.

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