Birthday Gifts, Part 1: Professor Layton and the Curious Papercraft

January 6, 2009

I had a bit of free time on my hands, so I decided to get started on making a birthday gift for someone, which is about a week and a half away ( I think).

I generally try to have atleast one part of a gift hand-made or designed, but I’ve been slacking recently, and feeling sort-of guilty about it, so this time I thought I’d go at it fully prepared, with design documents and prototypes and everything 

It’s sort of ambitious, yes, but also fun – and this is the first time I’m actually documenting the process! 

The idea is usually to pick up stuff from conversations – inside jokes, nicknames for people, places and incidents and sort of combine them into some loose diorama with made-up characters and narratives. It’s silly, almost always involves video games, and is usually fantastical and/or comic. Inevitably, there’s much more material than you can possibly use – and it’s sometimes agonizing to choose which ones to pick, and which to discard…and it’s also a great process of remembering the past year, and everything that happened with it.

I used to go for just two-dimensional things, like pretend maps (there was this HUGE annotated one of Pune made about 3 years back) or comic books (2 years ago – a custom ‘Superhero Handbook’, complete with me as Sottai the Spoon Bearer), but recently, and for this particular gift, I’m going to try some 3d – relying extensively, of course,  on papercraft

I love action figures, but havent owned any since my G.I.Joe collection was pawned off some years back. Making moving figures, though, is really challenging…I thought initially of making marionettes, using pins or paper clips between the joints for mobility, and then tieing them to puppetmaster-like strings,  but those are usually flimsy, especially since I’m using paper, and annoying to store and transport. 

So now I’m making a setpiece – a bunch of papercraft figures arranged in a particular manner (hopefully in a shoebox, but I havent figured that part out yet)) – still figures, but not glued to the spot. But Shh..more details only as the birthday nears, just in case that person is reading this blog (*gulp*)

So there are three parts to this gift, and this, the first of three, maybe four posts, will chart the process of making the first part: A model of Professor Layton!

I couldn’t find a ready paper model of Layton online, so I had to start from scratch – this was actually an advantage, since I could then just worry about the shape, and do all the drawing by hand.

This is the reference picture I used:

Thankfully, Layton’s a bit sparse in terms of details, so my ultra poor drawing skills could still attempt it without embarrassment.

First, I needed to find another papercraft model (preferably with a top hat) to rip off the basic shape, which I could then modify to look like Layton. I chose the Indiana Jones model here, albeit highly modified with a longer top hat, and a broader face. (circular shapes are difficult, and often end in a sloppy mess – the cube shape here works perfect for cartoon characters)

I removed all the details from the figure, and fiddled with the dimensions, printed it out, and fiddled with it some more till I got to this stage, where I pencilled in bits of face and hair :


Then I coloured it in with colour pencils (My colouring skills are laughably bad, more so than my drawing):


(the pattern on the top left becomes the brim of his tophat)

Then you cut along the lines, and glue them together (with little slits along the red part to fit the brim in) to get this:

Side Profile:


…and fancy isometric view:


It’s still a little rough around the edges (and very very basic), but I’ll get back to this once I’m done with the other parts – especially Layton’s body, which is proving to be slightly troublesome. 

Next: The Porsche and the Robot Parade!  (Also the rest of Professor Layton)


5 Responses to “Birthday Gifts, Part 1: Professor Layton and the Curious Papercraft”

  1. Z said

    Oh wow. You seriously have too much time on your hands.

  2. […] finished the rest of Professor Layton, though there was a minor issue of scale between the size of his head (enormous) and the rest of […]

  3. Nintendo Geek said

    Haha! I love this. Good work! My stinky drawing skills should come in handy with a simple project like this. =)

    Me = Major Nintendo and Professor Layton fangirl.

    • sottai said

      Thank you!

      Haha. Me also = Huge Prof Layton fanboy (We could really use that sequel now, Level 5. It’s been, what, two years?)

      The gift was actually made for someone who I introduced Layton to, and she found the combination of charming Nintendo visuals + Geeky math puzzles unresistable. =)

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