Paper Roll Figures, Summer Week 5

My paper roll figure samples.

This project I first did over a year ago, but it always gets requests. “When can we do the toilet paper people??” The samples sit in the kid’s studio and they love to play with them, and some tend to get legs and walk away… but I digress.

I have samples on hand to show the kids and I usually also print out some other reference and samples on request. I also have templates of the basic shapes – tails, wings, horns etc. I set out pencils to trace out the details, masking tape to attach, and paper plates to cut out the shapes. [I have tried thicker cardboard before, but the littler kiddos have a hard time cutting through it.] To finish them off I set out yarn for hair, pipe cleaners for tails or horns, feathers, pom-poms, markers for detail work and of course googly eyes!

The materials vary by which character the kids choose. I like to have everyone choose one of the ready made samples to make first, and then move on to personalized characters. Then at the end, if they choose, they can also paint or color a little scene from cardboard for it to live in.

We all start will toilet rolls. I live with 5 other people and toilet, and even paper towel rolls, are very much plentiful. I save a bag to bring up to class. As we get started, I like to remind everyone to pay attention to what side they plan to draw their face or detail on. To make it smooth and easier to draw on; make sure you don’t have the seam side up at the top of your figure.

To make it easier to draw and paint the face area, make sure the top part of the tube does not have the seam going across.

At this time I ask if anyone is choosing to do an animal with ears, like the cat or fox. I show the class how to bend down the top of the tube to make the ears. First bend down one side, then bend the other down on top. Pay attention to the seam, making sure to have the smooth side on top. I end up just folding it for the little ones as well.

To make the ears; first bend down one side, then bend the other side down on top.

I have all the kiddos sketch out their designs (draw light till you get it right!) , cut out any wings or tails needed and attach with masking tape; you simply paint on top of it and I have found it holds much better than glue for this project. Next it’s time to paint.

Most kiddos that paint at our camp are used to being able to wipe up boo boos from a canvas with a baby wipe. I make sure to remind kiddos that cardboard won’t work like that. We will have to wait and paint over, or start over. I make sure to put out only smaller brushes, and also remind them we can have markers at the very end, and try not to put out black paint for detail work. Kids will forget and ask for black paint to just do an eye pupil, and accidentally ruin their pallet with it.

{PRO-TIP} Black paint can ruin a paint pallet very quickly. For little ones, wait to put out black until the end or put just a small amount out when you need it.

Once we paint, then the finishing touches of hair and eyes and pipe cleaner accouterments can be added. After the kiddos make one sample, I let them go wild with whatever they want. I usually have enough tubes for everyone to make at least two, then they can also create a little scene for them to live in if they like.

Some more samples of mine. Any adventure time fans?

Another take I have done is using construction paper instead of/along with the paint. Just remember to keep clean paper and paint separate! The kids really love this one, and I have seen some amazing creative stuff. Animals, flowers, super heroes, cartoons and much more.

Some amazing paper tube figures from the kiddos.
More paper tube figures and their scenes, and a bonus painted rock.

This is a project I revisit a lot. In the next iteration, I’d like to do some lovely little birdhouses. I got to try one the last go around with a little one, but forgot to snap a pic. Oh well. Next up kawaii fruit & veggie paintings!

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