handmade crafts

How to make your own paper pattern

Heya! I’ve had a request to make a tutorial on making a paper pattern. So here it is ^^ First I’d like to talk about which programs I use and this is just the programs I have access to so you might have other tools/programs at your disposal.

3D Program/Modeling
– Sketchup Free version – https://www.sketchup.com/
I primarily use this because its free and pretty easy to use, especially if you are working with blocky or low poly model. The free version used to be a free desktop program but now its only in-browser app, which is a bit of downside for me. Also the free version has a limited save option and you can only download the STL, PNG and SKP. But I only ever use the .stl file so it is good enough for me.

Other program options: Blender (free and open source)

– Pepakura Free version – https://tamasoft.co.jp/pepakura-en/
This is a bit of an essential program as it will unfold and flatten the 3d model. The program costs around 40$ but you can use the program without buying, it will just prevent you from saving and exporting. But there is a work around if you have the free version, which I will explain later on.

Other program options: Don’t think there is any

Paint program
– Clip Studio Paint – https://www.clipstudio.net/en/
You will need a program to paint your pattern. Altho if you use Blender I think that allows you to paint the actual model already inside the program.

Other program options: Krita, Photoshop, Paint,…


Depending on which program you are using you will find a lot of tutorials on youtube to help you out. But I find that sketchup is really easy to pick up as its not that complex.

When I make my model I group parts into sub groups and at the end I space all the parts out. I find that this way its much easier to work with it in Pepakura. I hope the picture kinda makes that clear. After I’m happy with the model I download the .stl file. (in reality I will load it into pepakura and realize there are problems and go back into sketchup and fix issue…multiple times lol) It really is a lot of trial and error.


Once you have your file ready, open Pepakura and load up your .stl file. In the program you will see the 3d model on the left and on the right side will be your unfolded pattern once you click the “unfold” button on the bar.

After you unfold you can start with the editing, where you want your cuts and folds. Also if you go to 2D Layout you can disable flaps or edit the size of them. To edit the folds just use the join/disjoin Faces. You can use the tool in either the 3d model side or the 2d side.

Below is what the finished edit looks like and it all fits on one A4 page. Now if you only have the “free” version of the program you can’t actually save your project, the only thing you can do is “print to PDF” and it will save it to pdf format. But before I save to pdf, I make sure to click on Settings -> Print and I make sure I have ticked Print lines clearly (vector print). This will save your pdf in vector rather then bitmap format. (vector format is lossless format so you will be able to scale to any size without loosing quality)

Paint the model

You might be using a 3d program that allows you to pain the model inside it so you can disregard this part.
Since I only have the pdf file I will drag the pdf in to either Photoshop or illustrator and just save it into a psd, png, jpeg,… But if you don’t have either programs there is a bunch of online pdf to psd converters free to use.
After that you are free to paint your model in your preferred paint program =)

I’m sure I forgot to mention things but just in general this is my workflow, but if you have any other questions just write down below and I will try to answer =)


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