Easy 3D creatures brought to you by MMA instructor Kim Tolleson!
One of my favorite art supplies around the house is cardboard — specifically, the lightweight cardboard you find used for cereal boxes (or crackers, oatmeal, pasta, you name it). It’s sturdy enough to make cool projects, but it’s also thin enough to be flexible and easy to cut with scissors.
When making cardboard sculpture projects with my students, they often think they’ll need materials like tape and hot glue to make the cardboard stay together. But there are cleaner, more elegant techniques out there too! The following project uses a very simple method called Slit and Slot.
And if you’ve got some paint, you can take your cardboard creature to the next level.
Paint + paint brushes (optional! Acrylic paint would likely work best)
Step 1: Find some cardboard you can use! I used a cereal box, but there are lots of foods and household items that come packaged in lightweight cardboard. When you’ve found your cardboard, open it up so it lays out like a flat surface.
Step 2: Before drawing right onto your cardboard, it’s good to practice drawing your four-legged animal on regular paper. This project calls for a profile view of the animal — as if we’re looking at the animal from the side. The one trick? Don’t draw any legs on your creature! The legs will be put on separately, so draw a legless version of your animal’s body. Here is an example of a dinosaur and a unicorn. Once I’ve practiced a bit and I like my sketch, I will re-draw it on my cardboard. No legs, no problem!
(I outlined my drawings in pen so they’d be more visible, but using just a pencil is fine.)
Step 3. Next, you’ll cut out those creatures. As always, ask an adult for help if you’re having trouble!
The creature will be brown cardboard on one side, and colorful on the other side:
Step 4. Now come the legs. The legs look like two thick letter U’s. I recommend cutting one U out, and then tracing it on the cardboard, so your second U comes out even with the first.
Cut out your second U. You should now have all the necessary parts of your sculpture. (You can see I chose to make my dino legs a bit chubbier than my unicorn’s legs!)
Time to cut our slits! Each creature will need 4 small cuts total: one on top of each leg piece, and two on the body, where you’d like to attach the legs. The trick is to not cut too deeply. Draw a little line to help guide yourself. Your slits should only be around a centimeter, more or less (depending on how big your cardboard creature is). See the dino for example:
Step 6. Those slits you cut are now little openings, and you can use them to slot the pieces together.
Turn the legs and gently insert into the body. Repeat with the second leg piece. Once the two leg pieces have been gently and securely attached to the body piece, your creature is ready to stand on their own!
Now, you can choose to stop here! This leaves you with a cool cardboard creature. Depending on which way you view it, you can show off its brown cardboard side or the shiny cereal box side.
IF you want to go the extra mile, you can break out your paints and decorate your brand new sculpture.
For my dachshund pal here, I used two layers of acrylic paint, letting it dry between layers.