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/po/ - Papercraft & Origami

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Hello! I make pepakura for money. Models are usually constructed only once. My pieces are not so much like what we can find online; they tend to be VERY large and intricate, akin to a vg model. This is context for what my advice applies to. If you do it as an easy hobby or stick with truly low poly/tiny part models, a lot won't apply. No pic related just inspo, this is advice dump not my art thread. If you have any questions, why X, tell me more about Z, I am happy to oblige. I rarely use 4chan and wrote this on a whim, sorry if no reply. If you are interested in reaching for the stars with pepakura, here are my personal trade secrets.

---Do not score the fold lines by hand. If you have a silhouette cameo, go ahead. To fold by hand purchase a glass scraper. I have two, one with a small 1.5 inch blade and another that is 4 inches. Dull the blade. I align the fold line across my fingers, press down with the blade.
---Stop using an xacto knife. Get a snap blade utility knife. I HIGHLY recommend OLFA, XA-1 design.
---Titebond II Premium wood glue. It doesn't cure instantly but that's good, you don't want that. You want to be able to move the tab around into the perfect position before it starts curing. You have a 10 second window to make sure it's in position before it starts curing, then another 10 seconds till you can let go & any tension in the structure won't pull the tab out of place.
---Tiny squeezable craft bottles for glue. One of the bottles I added thicker medical syringe tube. It is long, which is good for when I have to apply glue to a tab which is difficult to access The other bottle has a 1 inch long coffee straw, I use that for when I need a lot of glue then spread it around. When a tab is huge I just open a jar of glue and use a brush to paint it on.
---Dental tools.
---Little neodymium magnets. I rarely use them, usually to hold a tab in place after the glue has already cured to the point that I can let go. See below
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Gonna freestyle this part. About the magnets; if you make pepakura you know why they're usually not an option. The only time you'd need magnets... is when you need them, and when you need them, both of your hands aren't free. You need two hands to put the magnets in place.
The biggest issue I run into during construction is simply that I need a third arm. There are "third arm tools" but they are to an arm what a stick is to a live snake. I have an industrial third arm tool which is triple jointed +1, bolted to the ceiling, the gripping part has tight ball joint and is shaped like a big C, has 1 inch rubber tips. I can unscrew this 'gripper claw' and replace it with a big J shaped metal rod that I wrapped in a pool noodle, which is sometimes the better solution for giving a structure support. And of course I would want to use this because the 3D model is not affected by gravity but the real piece is, so when you are trying to get a tab in position with its edge, you don't want structural tension trying to contradict the fold angle between them. I only ever use it to relieve tension on a piece's structure, not to serve as a third arm for the direct process of attaching tabs. What I'm getting at is that you want to avoid needing more than two hands, and this can be avoided by viewing your piece like a puzzle.
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Think about where a piece is in relation to other pieces. You wouldn't begin to put together a section which, once constructed, would be a physical barrier stopping you from completing another section. You wouldn't start building a snakes head and tail at once; when both halves are completed you cannot reach inside the two halves to position and hold the tabs down as the glue cures.
Each model is like a puzzle & the snake is easy to solve. Start at the head and end at the tail. You can't reach inside to hold the final tabs, but the paper won't be resisting you with tension at that stage. Even the most complex pieces can be very easy to construct if you properly solve the puzzle of where to start, what pieces come next, and where to end.
In my early days of making other people's models I'd sometimes see difficulty ratings. It seemed like an unnecessary deterrent. I don't want to say every piece is easy to make, but every piece can be made easy and faster. Typical advice, work smart not hard. If I have a giant half completed model on the floor I'm not going to cut, fold, and attach one piece at a time unless that's the best move. That's slower. I'll often glue a few pieces together before attaching them to the model.

!!!What you can and can't do is completely determined by your ability to do the following: Move the tab into position, secure it, shift it into its perfect spot, and use your fingers to press the entire length of the tab to its edge while the glue cures, WITH ONLY TWO HANDS!!!
It's not an issue for most pieces out there, but if you want to get into hardcore models it will be a huge deal. With smaller pieces , maybe something curvy like an ear, you really need to think about its natural tendency. Human skin has a natural flow like a sand dune; surgeons will cut you open along the grain so it's easy to close back up. Work along the grain. I think I've explained the concept, the rest comes thru experience, judgement and foresight.
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I never use colored paper or printed textures. If you want a really nice product, move away from that. Texture has its use in hobby pieces.
The glue can overflow out of the seam and get on the paper. If you want to get rid of it then you'll have to cut that part off the model and start over. Look up fox pepakura. If I were to design a simple cute lil fox, that kind of coloring fits the model, but even so there is really no point in using colored paper. Just use painters tape to mask the area you want to paint, at that point you can now add subtle detail to your unique piece.
Aesthetically, the best part of large, complex pepakura is its geometry. A single light source makes the whole thing pop. Shadow brings it to life, moving the source changes its appearance. When I finish a piece I spray paint it white to remove imperfection. Most of my pieces sell in this state, that is just what most people want when I show them what it looks like with different light sources and light colors cast on it. I inform the buyer that I can paint it a different solid color, or I can give it a more intricate paint job with undershading/zenithal highlight and/or a more realistic design that doesn't take away from the geometry.
For example, a seahorse would do well with a base color, alternate coloring of specific geometry (using painters tape to mark off sections), eyes, and free form spray painting (letting the paint spit out in little drops, spraying highlight on tail tip, undershading), finalize with matte/clear glaze. The geometry is retained and highlighted through this paint job. Don't overdo. My goal is not to make it appear realistic like VGs do to convince you it does't have geometry. I'm not going to print texture on it, not going to use a paintbrush. If I wanted to make a giant realistic seahorse I wouldn't be using paper as a medium. Its form is inherently geometric. Any color design should compliment that.
Working with such large paper models requires support. 3D printing at this scale has so much imperfection, time and risk of failure, it would be very heavy and require a complex web of internal support. As an art form, sculpting/mold pouring also isn't under threat from this tech in my eyes. For my pieces, shoddy woodworking as a skeleton does the job and I pad the areas were wood contacts the paper with pool noodles, pillow filling wrapped in fabric, fire hazard stuff. 120 lb paper is flexible, surprisingly resilient, and the final product is so lightweight it's never going to warp if properly supported. I use wood glue so the paper will rip before the tabs will ever become unsecured.
I've had to finish assembly after transport on site, that's something I avoid, logistic crap. I tend to base the size of my largest pieces around standard dimensions. Standard height of a ceiling, standard width and height of a door and double doors. LxWxH is not a determine factor, you can maneuver a piece diagonally and twist it around to make it fit through a frame.
idk. I have no formal training. I studied art from my favorite games, Bloodborne and Dark Souls, looked at art, texture-less models. At first I only made symmetrical models and added asymmetrical parts afterwards. Just get blender go on youtube and practice. I copied a bunch of low poly tutorials and then my first model was a huge leap into complexity. If you're making a cat and the proportions look weird just look at a reference and keep messing with it till it seems right. Once you have the proportions right you can make the polygons look more geometric-y. I am not a creative person. I do this in reverence of objective beauty and other's art, try to reverently replicate it in this form. Thanks for reading I hope this helped or inspired you
thank you for this excellent thread
Nice thread, cheers for the glass cutting tool tip.

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