I've no idea how to use a 3D paper craft programme. Are they really useful?
I've only made four paper toys up to press and I've used the same process every time. I'm a magazine designer by day, so I'm most comfortable working with Quark. That's what I used to create my toys – using an increasingly complex range of custom-made picture boxes. I started out with an idea of what I wanted to create, figured out what shapes would create the finished 3-dimensional effect and went ahead and made it. I draft my toys a lot, though; the first draft of a toy is invariably terrible!! The head will be too big, the ears might be sitting at the wrong angle, it won't balance and so on. Then I just keep tweaking the template until the finished toy looks like the idea I had in my head.
Meanwhile, I definitely think starting simple is the best idea. I've forged ahead trying to make all these complex shapes that I had in my head and then I can't figure out how the hell I would fit all these bits and pieces together. Then I'll realise that I need to vastly simplify what I'm doing – only to find that the simplified toy is about a million times more successful! I suppose the magic trick is to produce a toy that looks really intricate – when in truth, its relatively simple to construct.
Start with one of your sketches, if you have one. Recognize and evaluate your skill level right now (building/construction/computer skills). This way you won't become discouraged, and give up if your idea is too complex. Pick up some of the recommended paper toy construction books. This will give you a better understanding of 2D mapping to 3D construction. It caused a "lightbulb" to turn on for me, and made me realize I was thinking too hard with many of my ideas. This will also help you to know where to place your tabs and orientation of designs so seams and such won't be where they will be seen first.
Hope this is helpful. Message me if you have questions, and I will do my best to assist. GOOD LUCK!
The only 2 bits of advice I can give is don't go 2 complex to quick, Im in the process of making my second, and have picked a tricky shape for me!
Which leads me to my 2nd...
If you don't know how to use 3d render programs, put some time in to learn them, or avoid them!
I took about 2 weeks in blender to finally get the shape looking as I wanted only to unfold it in pepakura to find out that the shape I created in 2 weeks would be far to complex to put on paper =(
So I went back to the roots and started rolling and folding, got the shape down to 3 parts now which is a lot easier!
Good Luck =)