How to Make Papercraft Typography

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  • Uploaded 4 years ago in the category Papercrafts

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    PDF of the Helvetica Bold lowercase a pattern:

    Approximate time commitment: 2 hours

    Materials list:
    Pattern printed out
    Cardstock (plain or colored)
    Graphite stick or a pencil
    Ballpoint pen or a sharpened pencil
    X-acto knife
    Cutting mat and scrap paper
    Hair dryer
    Paint/glaze (optional)


    We're going to start by transferring the pattern to the cardstock.

    Color over the back of the pattern with graphite or a pencil, and then tape this on top of the cardstock.

    Carefully trace along the lines with a ballpoint pen or sharp pencil, using a ruler for the straight lines.

    When you take the pattern off of the cardstock, you should have the pattern transferred over in pencil.


    If you're planning to paint your letter at the end, or if you don't care about having pattern lines on your final piece, you can just print the patterns directly onto cardstock and start from this step.

    Carefully use your x-acto knife to score along the inner shape.

    Be careful not to go too deep into the paper or the tabs will break off - you're just doing this so you'll have clean folds.


    Cut out the letters along the outer outline.


    Cut out tabs from the border around the letters.

    The more curved a line is, the smaller your tabs should be.

    Keep in mind that you will have to cut out triangles from the convex curves so that the tabs don't overlap.


    Carefully erase all of the pencil lines from your shapes, being careful not to tear off any of the tabs.

    Then fold the tabs back, cutting them down if they start to overlap each other, and cutting off the tips of the triangles.


    Cut several strips of cardstock that are all exactly the same width.

    For this example, I made mine ¾" wide and cut three 11" strips.

    You can use the edges of the paper you cut the letters from in order to waste as little paper as possible.


    Now it's time to start gluing.

    Starting with the internal shape, apply a light layer of glue to the tabs with the paintbrush and attach the first strip of paper (you might want to cut down the strip of paper first so it's not too long and unmanageable).

    Make sure all the tabs are on the inside of the paper so they're not visible from the outside.

    Every few tabs, use the hairdryer to dry the glue once you get the paper in place so that it stays put as you keep working.


    Once you have the internal strip attached to both sides of the letter and thoroughly dried, start applying the external strips.

    Use new pieces of the paper strips whenever there is a corner, to make sure you get a nice sharp edge.

    To cut them to the correct size, lay them in place and use your nail to score where you need to cut, leaving room for a tab at the end of the strip of paper.

    There will be a lot of wiggling the paper around and frustration trying to get it perfect, so just take your time and dry the glue with the hair dryer every inch or so so that it stays put as you move along the rest of the letter.


    When all the pieces are glued together, dry the whole thing thoroughly with the hairdryer.

    Then you can paint it or apply glaze, or just leave it as it.

    This is where you can get really get creative.

    I'd love to see what you make with this method! Feel free to send me photos on Twitter or Tumblr:

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