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Synonyms: Paper models, Card models, Paper toys
See also: Fancraft, Model Building, Fanart
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Papercraft refers to the art of printing a design upon paper and then cutting and gluing it into a 3D fanwork model. Papercraft can be differentiated from origami, which is strictly folding, by allowing for other manipulations of paper such as allowing the use of cutting and gluing as appropriate. Often the use of a program such as Pepakura is used to help place the design into a 2D template that can be build upon.

It is very popular in a number of anime fandoms such as Pokemon and Gundam, as well as a number of science fiction fandoms such as Star Wars.

Papercraft is often used as an umbrella term for many crafts involving paper, such as scherenschnitte and paper dolls, and thus "paper models", "card models" and "paper toys" are used interchangeably with "papercraft". It can be used more broadly to refer to any form of art created with paper, such as collage, quilling, and paper cutting. Papercraft as a term is used more often in anime and video game fandoms, while paper model/card model sees more use for creations that aren't predominantly based on a media franchise, such as architecture, weapons, vehicles and animals.

History of Papercraft

The first papercraft models are believed to have appeared in Europe during the 17th Century with the earliest commercial models appearing in French toy catalogs in 1800. These early papercrafts often depicted famous landmarks, vehicles and medieval buildings. Besides specific toy catalogs they were also distributed via magazines, postcards and newspapers.[1][2][3] There is a section of the current papercraft community that works to restore and upload these older models online so they can be accessed and enjoyed long after having fallen out of print.

As inkjet printers and internet connections became more affordable during the 90s the papercraft community moved to sharing their work online. Most of this was done on small personal sites, hosted on the likes of geocities. While papercraft had never been considered an expensive hobby the availability of templates online did mean those interested were less dependant on commercial releases than they would have been previously. Home printing also allowed the size of models to increase as they could be printed over several sheets of paper.

Not all papercrafts released by cooperations had a commercial purpose, for instance Yamaha launched an official papercraft section of its website in 1997 which primarily featured free designs of Yamaha bikes, thought it went to include a small section of "Rare Animals of the World". They later introduced the Ultra-Realistic line of Yamaha bikes, which were much more complex papercraft models. The site was very well regarded within the community for the quality of its models, all of which were designed by Nobutaka Mukouyama, however on June 22, 2018 Yamaha announced that the papercraft section of their site would be closing on the 30th of September that year. This lead to fans quickly attempting to archive the designs.[4] In 2020 Yamaha brought back the Rare Animals of the World papercrafts as well as adding new Seasons and Events designs as part of their #stayhome campaign brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Their bike models did not make a return during this time.

A life-sized papercraft of Link from The Legend of Zelda built by Haywan Chiu. 2009.

In 2002 Pepakura was released in Japan, followed by an English release in 2003. Pepakura allows users to import 3D models that are then converted into a 2D printable format, a process that is referred to as unfolding. The introduction of Pepakura lead to a huge renewed interest in the craft, in part due to the influx of papercrafts created based on video game characters, vehicles and weapons. This was thanks to the efficiency in which game models could be ripped from their games, imported into Pepakura and made into templates. It remains as one of the most popular pieces of software for creating papercraft templates with.

By 2006 many had began using Blogspot to host papercraft blogs that shared their own work and the work of others. Often these blogs featured papercrafts that had only been hosted on personal websites years earlier, including work from japanese artists that did not have as large a presence in English based communities. Papercraft Paradise, Paperkraft and Free Papercraft and Paper Model all began at this time. Similarly, poplaur sites such as Paper Modelers and Papercraft Museum lunched around this time,[5] each having their forums that became central points of discussions and places to share builds with.

Deviantart soon became a popular platform for sharing and discussing papercraft, with Cubeecraft and the Niseke Base, two different styles of character templates, both rising to prominence there during 2008-2009. Many of the most populated papercraft groups, paperpokes, papercraft-corner, paper-arts, were created around 2010 when the groups feature was first made widely available across the site. Deviantart tended towards papercraft relating to anime and video games as such subjects were already popular on the platform overall.

Popular Character Templates

There are several popular papercraft templates used to create characters with. Some are created by individuals who release them as fanworks while others work with brands to create officially licensed products. Character Templates are typically boxie in design and can be printed on a single sheet of paper. In Japanese papercraft communities this style is referred to as "hako" (箱), literally meaning box, and was picked up by English communities in the early 2000s before falling out of use.

Templates are popular for many reasons, the simplest being that they feature well known characters and are designed for easy construction. They also have aesthetic appeal with the possibility of having characters from different fandoms constructed in the same style and scale as each other. Fandoms that have a large cast of characters are often drawn to papercraft templates as a means of creating figures for less popular characters who have little to no official merchandise. Lack of official merchandise can also be a draw for smaller fandoms or fandoms that do not typically have access to figures, such as live action television or books. The most popular templates tend to have large custom communities creating new works and are often encourage by the original creator via them providing blank templates to be designed upon.

Hako Clone

The Hako Clone was created by Masamune Washington and first released to their personal website in 2002. There were two main types of Hako Clones, those based on mechas, typically Transformers, and those based on humans, typically anime and manga characters. It is one of the earliest examples of a template growing in popularity thanks to popular custom creating community that formed around the Transformers Hako Clones. This community became most active on Deviantart and remained there for years, even after Washington moved onto other papercraft projects.


Cubeecraft was created by Chris Beaumont and lunched sometime between 2007 and 2008 with a Stormtrooper from Star Wars as its first release. The style quickly rose to prominence after a number of officially licensed pieces were commissioned and featured in bumpers airing on Adult Swim[6] and 4Kids.[7] By 2009 it had been added as subcategories to the Folding & Papercaft section of Deviantart. While Beaumont creates most of the Cubee's featured on his site he welcomes guest artists to submit their designs.[8] Outside of the official site Cubee's have a vast amount of custom designs, many of which are shared on Deviantart and Twitter.


The Niseke Base is credited to Niseke after the release of a Hatsune Miku model on May 22, 2008.[9] The name comes from the website the papercraft was released to,, which was ran by Nisetane. The Niseke Base became a huge influence within anime papercraft fandoms on Deviantart starting around 2009 when artists began using the template, as well as when instructions on how to build the Niseke style of papercraft were posted by desubunny. The template is sometimes misattributed to desubunny or simply referred to as "Chibi Papercrafts." The original Niseke website has since went offline but the template remains, with Verloria's 2015 Niseke Base Papercraft Template iteration being the most accessible.


Graphig (グラフィグ) is a style of papercraft created by Cospa, a Japanese clothing company specializing in cosplay and other anime related products. The first official Graphig released was Hatsune Miku on‎ May 21, 2011.[10] While Cospa works with brands to create official Graphig products, often as promotional items as well as being sold in retailers and online, they also allow anyone to use their template to create their own Graphig so long as it is released under creative commons.[11] They provide a blank template for artists to use that has been refined over the years, with version 6.1 being the current iteration. This style of papercraft is more well known within Japanese anime and video game fandoms and its custom making scene is more active on pixiv and twitter.

Paperized Crafts

Paperized Crafts first began as a multi-fandom site showcasing different creator's papercrafts before creating their own line of character based papercrafts in 2015. They went on to create characters from popular animes, videos games and Marvel movies. Paperized Crafts has no blank version of its template publicly available, though fan-made templates have be created, however the lack of an offical blank template has made the custom scene small in comparison to other character templates. Regardless, Paperized Crafts is still very popular thanks to the large catalogue of official releases and Youtube videos showcasing how newly designed characters are built.

Example Gallery

3D Paper Models

Collage, Quilling, Etc.

Connected Crafts

Papercraft has many other crafts it overlaps with, most obviously origami and model building, however it is also used within other crafts and fandoms such as tabletop gaming and cosplay. Tabletop games notably benefits from papercraft scenery that can be used within campaigns, often being seen as a cheaper alternate for those with the time available to build it.

While cosplay tends favour cardboard, foam and plastic when creating outfits and props there are some creators who build sections of their outfits, such as helmets, in papercraft form first to test sizing and mark an adjustments needed before moving onto a different material. Additionally there is the technique of pouring liquid resin onto papercraft props to harden them and make them suitable for cosplay use.

Links and Resources