Paper Miniature – Sand Gecko (Paper Dunebuggy)

This was another project from late last year a paper Dunebuggy. I was working on it while I was sick so the progress was slow but I did get it finished. It was a much tougher project than I initially thought it would be and took a significant amount of time to complete. In the end the Sand Gecko was born, although with much trial and error.

The reason I started this project was that Jim over at One Monk Miniatures put out a very nice card tank. It was simple to construct had some really great texturing and a wide variety of colour schemes. If you need a paper tank for wargamming even as a proxy until your real metal/resin one turns up. I’d recommend heading over and grabbing the Wolverine. I found 95% print out to be a slightly better sizing but thats more my own personal taste.

Under Defiance or pretty much any generic Sci-fi wargamming rules I needed a more diverse range of vechiles than just a tank and troopers. I checked over what Jim had planned for the future of Terra-force and no dunebuggy was listed as a potential build (no point in doubling up). I had also been thinking about designing a paper dunebuggy for a long time but hadn’t been able to come up with any viable way to attach the wheels to an angled chassis.

First up came the design phase in the past I’d always tried to design papercraft items in blender/3d max. Those two programs always seemed to me to be massive overkill in terms of features and functionality for rather simple meshes that are required for paper models. After looking over a few options I decided to simply use sketchup as it was something I had used extensively for another project and I was most familiar with the interface at the time.

I had some problems initially with sketchup locating some of the more advanced options and sometimes the lack of fine increment control can be annoying but overall it turned out to be a great tool to use for designing the model and I’ll probably stick with it for all future models. With the design process I go through the scale of the object in sketchup is unimportant but the size and proportions of the objects on the model had to be correct. Also with grouping you can easily scale things up and down in sketchup if needed and once I was happy with the design I scaled it down to what I thought would be good size. After a few aborted designs I ended up with the below (This is exploded into parts):

I solved the Wheel to body issue by using a full length axle which interlocks with the body the wheels then attach to this. The mesh was exported as a Google earth file and imported to pepakura for unfolding layout and printing. Initially this was done at a 1:1 scale and the below was constructed, version 1:

A few problems became apparent with this model during assembly;

  1. It seemed a little on the big size when compared to the wolverine tank or a marine.
  2. The half round axles were an absolute nightmare to build.
  3. I’d forgotten to build an internal liner for the driver/passenger area.
  4. the single card thickness roll cage was to flimsy.

Most were minor issues and I doubled up the rollcage and eyeballed an internal liner while building version 1. The half round axle really worried me as it was a complete nightmare to build and very fiddly, additionally trying to build the axle at 15mm would have been near impossible.

Back to the drawing board, well sketchup. I thought a hexagon might be a better shape, easier to construct while not losing the perception of a round axle. The entire model was decreased in size to about 85% of the original and I duplicated the rollcage bars and drew in an internal liner. Version2 was born in all it’s glory (V1 Left, V2 Right):

I was much happier with the size but the axle although easier to build was still in the realm of annoyingly fiddly. I decided to try a square axle but mounted as a diamond shape so that a point was pointing upwards and forwards, again to give an illusion of roundness. I was also happy enough with the rest of the design that I decided to add the panel lines and detailing. Version 3 was born

I was very happy with the square axles, easy to assemble and they didn’t detract from the design at all, the panel lines were added in inkscape but this ended up being a partial waste of time as later I had to texture in Gimp and I ended up drawing/painting over all the inkscape work, it did however provide me with a design guide.

At about this point I thought I’m nearly finished just a few textures to slap down and I’m done…Boy was I wrong, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Onemonk I have no idea how he can texture so fast. He had the Wolverine textured in just 3 days, I ended up taking over 2 weeks on the dunebuggy. These were the issues I had to overcome during the process:

  1. Matching the Camo/Colours of the wolverine
  2. Matching the look (wear and tear) of the wolverine
  3. Developing my own texture style for tyres, seats, mud etc
  4. Putting it all together in a layered PDF
  5. Putting together the instructions
  6. Putting together the GSD file for Robocutters
  7. Doing a special 15mm version PDF/GSD

Most of the problems I had seemed to relate to workflow with a lot of double work occurring and finding free software to do what I needed to do. I completely underestimated how much work instructions are. Needless to say I learnt a lot solving the above issues and I was able to apply a lot of what I learnt to the dragonfly. I’m not going to detail all the problems and their solutions as that would make this post to big but some of the key points:

  1. Have good layer management in GIMP
  2. Save double backups while working, I lost a whole days work when GIMP crashed mid save corrupting my main working file.
  3. Don’t finish 1 piece and move to the next do everything on the model at once, ie colour everything, age/wear everything, add detail last
  4. Scribus didn’t generate layered PDF’s correctly, ie it would always print all layers no matter what was visible on the screen in the pdf, another onemonk forum user had the same issue (bug track). Although I don’t think the dev’s understand the problem and as far as I can tell it’s still pending repair.
  5. Instructions + GSD are almost as much work as texturing

Below are some final pictures of the Dunebuggy dubbed the Sand Gecko. For my first from scratch design with textures, I’m very happy with how it turned out. I learnt a lot during it’s development. The people over at one monk’s forum provided heaps of feedback and motivation to keep going. You can thank them all for the alternate rollbars and the racing versions ๐Ÿ™‚ :

Files below as usual rename the odt files to .gsd. The PDF’s are layered so you can turn options on and off. The 15mm version is build-able (see above) but you’ll need tweezers, consider yourself warned :). The PDF’s are very big 20mb’s so best to do a save as rather than try and view in your web browser

Dunebuggy 30mm pdf

Dunebuggy 15mm pdf

Instructions Dunebuggy

DuneCut-page1 GSD

DuneCut-page2 GSD

Dunecut-15mm GSD

You can use the dunebuggy with Jims Terraforce marines or Slicks NCC Troopers. I did a test and a plastic/metal driver will also fit.
Terra Force Marines
NCC Troopers

Have fun….the bears are coming I promise ๐Ÿ™‚

(This model is release under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported)

5 Responses to “Paper Miniature – Sand Gecko (Paper Dunebuggy)”


  1. 1 Axiomatic October 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    What a wonderful model!
    Thanks for all your hard work on this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 2 Sirrob01 October 12, 2010 at 1:38 am

      Thanks for the feedback and hope you have fun with the Dunebuggy :). If you run into any problems during assembly just give me a yell and I’ll try and help out.


  1. 1 [Case Study] Paper Miniature – Sand Gecko (Paper Dunebuggy) With Google SketchUp | The Daily CatchUp Trackback on November 2, 2010 at 10:29 am
  2. 2 Dune Buggy - PaperModelers.com Trackback on December 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm
  3. 3 Sand Gecko Dune Buggy Free Vehicle Paper Model Download | PaperCraftSquare - Free Papercrafts, Paper Models, Paper Toys Download Trackback on August 20, 2012 at 2:18 am

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