Despite the fact that vinyl toys have been exceedingly popular for the last five years, they remain an elusive industry for most illustrators and designers to break into. Waiting around for Kidrobot or Toy2R to knock on your door isn't going to remedy the situation, so it's time you took matters into your own hands.
This tutorial demonstrates how you can take a sketched character design and turn it into a toy that can be built and given out for as long as you can afford the paper. All you need is a copy of Adobe Illustrator, some drawings skills, an ink-jet printer, some double-sided tape, and a scalpel.
We start with a basic character design and alter the shape to better suit the needs of the medium. No one likes making a lot of folds, and only die-hards enjoy spending more than ten minutes on arts-and-crafts projects, so keeping your shape as simple as possible is key. You need to decide which features of your character should be accentuated, and base your toy around them.
Next, we show you how to take that basic shape and turn it into a flattened template. You then apply final art to your template and spruce it up with shading and extra bits of character to give it a more three-dimensional feel.
At that point, it's just a matter of making the template dummy-proof by adding dotted lines to the designated folds, tabs to the right areas, and instructions to key areas of the canvas which might otherwise cause confusion. The only thing left is to print it out, put it together, and show it off to all your mates.