Workshop Models: Paper Dragon - a simple paper models for beginnersUmpteen apologies. This link should have been put up ages ago, but I kept putting it off. This is the posting for the dragon paper model I created for a Fast Track workshop at Arisia 2014. The original purpose was for a fast paper model that kids could build. It needed to be easy to put together, require minimal instruction, and at the same time would look somewhat interesting. I had a chance to do this again for 2016, so here's the update. Since then, I did another workshop and another model which I will be adding soon (a familiar telephone box).
The initial section is some ideas and experiences of doing card modeling workshops. If you just want that dragon, then skip down a bit.
A word about Workshops - Read if planning for oneThe thing about workshop models is that typically you have very little time to work on them, generally not much more than an hour. Age is also an issue when designing or picking out a kit for it. You should consider the subject matter. While some of the simpler things to do are basically boxes or cones, it pays to make it somewhat interesting to your intended audience. Young children don't always sit still for long periods of direction and instruction, particularly if the rest of the room is running around doing something else. Even when working with adults, consider that the time for direction and instruction will take away from the actual build time. As a result use a kit with few parts that glue together easily. You can take advantage of subjects where the location of parts are more self explanatory, such as cars for example - where the wheels go is fairly obvious (see discussion about Knowledge in the World and Knowledge in the Head from Don Norman's Design of Everyday Things).
While there are many things that are just a box, even a box can be made a little more interesting with a little detail skinning, like a Borg cube.It is possible to do interesting things with cubes as well. if you stretch a cube out into a rhomboid and it can be a racer or a rocket, and still be not much harder to build. Some Minecraft and Hako subjects can fit that bill nicely.
One thing to also consider are the costs of running it. While it is nice when the people running the workshop can print the kits for you, ideally on a color laser printer, the cost of color print outs can add up. Picking a kit that uses only a few pages, say just 1 or 2, can make that more manageable (truth be told, I can barely manage a dozen builds at a time, so 16-20 kits is pretty much my max for print outs). Another strategy is picking out kits that are basically monochromatic. Here you can take advantage of using a standard black and white laser printer or even a photocopier to create the kits and simple use colored card stock instead of that valuable ink. Sci-fi subjects might have an edge here given the number of subjects that are mostly white with just a dash of color here and there.
The dragon is a design idea that allows participants to color in and finish it in whatever fashion they saw fit. Given that the original workshop was for Arisia's Fast Track, which is for ages 6-12, I also wanted to keep it fun and light, but more intricate than a Borg cube. The model has very few parts, goes together easily, and be very forgiving of poor folds and missed attachment points. There are also certain obvious locations for the parts, i.e. head goes in front, tail in back, feet over the leg stumps. The only drawback is the zig-zag of the tab/scales can take a while to cut, but it doesn't have to be perfectly cut either.. It's also cheap, being just a black line drawing; ready made for photocopiers or black and white laser printers.
The design doesn't use internal tabs, but instead uses the outward spines as external tabs to attach several parts. These are matched up and glued together. You shouldn't need an X-acto or any such implement to cut this up - safety scissors should do just fine. Tabs are fairly broad and cut at obvious angles so while scoring folds would help, it isn't necessary. The parts should naturally fold along crease lines.
I encourage builders to color it in any color you want and it will be easier to color in before assembly. Felt tip pens are better as you are less likely to accidentally draw over glue points, but the way the glue points are designed (external tabs), you should be ok even with crayons (the wax in crayons would normally make gluing pieces together difficult). Another design idea is gluing things onto the finished version, such as from colored paper scraps or construction paper. The wings themselves are only printed on one side, so you will definitely have to finish them off on the reverse side. While ideally you do want to use card stock, which is available in various colors from office supply stores or craft shops. I have printed this model on construction paper (you will probably need to cut it down to 8.5"x11" to fit into your printer) and it does work, but construction paper is flimsier though and dragons made of this are more likely to suffer from wobbly legs and flimsy wings. In this case, some strategic reinforcement from scraps might solve that problem.
|The model(pdf)||the model (png)||the instructions|
Basic Dragon Instructions (text)You will need some scissors and glue. The parts represent 2 mirrored halves of the dragon, the left half and right half. Let's start with the head+body first:.
- The body consists of 5 parts: The left, the right, the head spacer, the stomach spacer, and the tail spacer. Instead of tabs that glue on the inside, the "spines" are the glue tabs. After cutting those parts out, fold the spines out slightly
- Glue the two halves together. Bend the spines back a tad, and put a drop of glue on each of the top spines. Then match the spines from each half and press them together to glue. Allow it to dry. Suggestion, don't do all at once, start at middle, then do the ends.
- Open up the body in the middle and glue the stomach spacer by gluing the spines together like you did before. You will need to fold those spines outward a bit to make that easier. I have found it works easier if you only do one side at a time, put glue on the dragons spines on one side, attach the spacer, allow to dry a bit and then do the other side. Once dry (2b), pinch the nose and open it up a bit by squaring off the "upper lip" (unless you like it pointy).
- Get the smaller head spacer, and glue these spines to matching spines under the head much like you did for the stomach (one side first, then the other). The head spacer also includes the lower jaw, so just glue the spines.
- The tail spacer and fins attach like the head spacer. Simply match the tail fins to the underside fins on the tail of the body
- The front legs carry the wings. Glue the center of the roundish shoulder of the front leg, and on the leg stump on the body, but not the base of the wing. You might want to fold the wings outward slightly at this point to glue the wings pinned back.
- Attach the back legs by gluing the hip area of the leg over rear stump on the body. Once dry you can spread the feet and legs as necessary to get a proper stance for it
Gallery of Dragons - Papercraft workshop Arisia 2016:
Arisia Fast Track 2016 BonusI had a spare set of kits for an experimental one I was ironing out at the time. This character, a certain Encoded Bill is a fairly simple build, and still kind of beta, but if you are willing to try it out, the kit and instructions are here. I'll go into more detail for the next workshop blog entry. The only thing to say here is that I did make it with a "following eye" feature which you can try out. It involves cutting out the drawn eye, and placing the pupil piece provided against the inside back wall behind the hole. It's otherwise a fairly straightforward triangular box, arms and legs fold over for strength and to create feet arms. A simple forehand and flame part allows you to finish off the hands nicely. Good luck trying it out.
In Black and White (color it in) or in Color and the instructions (Links included as soon as I perfect the "following eye feature).