Meet the app that lets you make your own toys
Who knew papercraft could go digital? The creators of Paper Critters, a pretty spiffy iPad app, certainly did. How does the app marry the iWorld with the world of paper toys? Hit the jump to see for yourself!
App Name: Paper Critters
When you first load the app, you'll see a pretty minimalist, stylized screen. If you touch the the information icon (that little "i" in the circle), you'll be lead to a screen that gives more facts about the app as well as links to its Facebook and the company's twitter feed. But, enough of that stuff; onto the toys!
You may have noticed the option on the right from first screen that reads, "My Colony." Basically this where all your designs are stored. As a bonus, the app comes pre-loaded with a bunch of really cool designs, perhaps to give you some inspiration. The design on the far left is mine, by the way.
Select the "Toy Creator" option and you'll be lead to this area. The blank toy body is broken down into five pieces: front, back, top of the head, right-side, and left-side. You work on each part seperately. Categories of built-in stencils that can be used on the body are shown on the right-side menu. They range from the graffiti-like "Street Inscriptions" to the Mr. Potato Head-esque "Cuddly Toons."
As you begin to customize your toy, you'll see the changes you make re-enacted on a miniature model in the bottom-right corner of your screen. It updates in real-time, which I found to be quite impressive.
You can even enlarge the model and rotate it any way you want, all with the touch of your finger. I did this several times in during the creation of my first toy. It definitely makes it easier to see if one panels works with the others. Plus, it is pretty fun to twirl the little guy around!
The app also provides you with the ability to toggle on and off a sort of grid-like overlay that makes it easier to line up stencils. You also have a tool that flips stencils to their mirror-image should you feel the need. And those comfortable with Adobe's line of image software will be happy to see that Paper Critters also uses layers for editing your design.
In all honesty, I am not sure how long it took me to finish up designing my first Paper Critter. I spent a good long while looking through all of the available stencils and trying to pick which to use left me with rather an embarrassment of riches. I think I finished my toy, which I named "Candy Jackalope," in around 15 minutes or so.
So, what do you after designing a masterpiece? Print it out and put it together, of course! The instructions are provided right there on the same sheet as your toy. But, I should mention that assembly calls for an X-acto knife (or utility knife) as well double stick tape and a glue stick, among other things. I actually didn't have a glue stick on-hand at my home so I had to make do with extra tape.
All in all, I really liked Paper Critters. The artistically-inclined may get more out of it in the long run, but anyone can enjoy it as a sort of pick-up-and-play game for a short spurt of free time in between their work schedule. I will say, that the actual building of the papercraft was a tad daunting, however, and younger toy enthusiasts might need an elder's hand with it.
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