Paper City

I was drawing these little people on the train to Seattle last Saturday (to see the Alexander Calder Exhibit), and thought it would be amusing to turn them into little paper dolls. So I sketched some buildings for them and made a happy little paper city. Yes, you can join in on the fun. There is a template you can download and print below. It might also be nice to color them.

Update: To see more Paper City Toys, click here!

Click on the templates below, then print. Fold along the dotted lines first, then cut along the thin solid lines across the top and bottom. In the photos above, I printed out two cityscapes. For the people, I thought it looked best to leave some white around the edges when cutting. I printed on a matte photo paper.


  1. fridica
    April 2, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Heehee, I love your little people! I think I'll just make myself happy making up stories about their lives... Are they French? They do look ever so French! And the city they live in reminds me of the little town my grandparents used to live in: I spent my pre-school years living there with them and they are some of my fondest memories - my grandpa would take me out for walks, to the playground and to art galleries, it was such a charmed existence... : )

  2. BabyT24
    April 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Thats a really great idea. Thanks for the templates.

    Happy Easter

  3. Joel Henriques
    April 2, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Fridica, you really make this little city sound like a wonderful place to spend time in! And yes, the people do look French don't they. I didn't plan it that way. I just drew the kind of clothes that I like.

  4. Boucle D'Or
    April 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Hello Joel !!!

    Sabrina speaking ! from Boucle d'or !!! from Brussels !! completely "MAGNIFIQUE" !!!!

    I hope you enjoy the Calder Exhibition ? I saw it last summer with my daughter hannah in Paris ! We had a very nice moment !! Did you see the film about the circus he created with his wife ?

    Happy easter !

    Sunday I'm leaving Europe to go visitinf friends in San Francisco !!! so happy !

    ciao !!!

  5. Joel Henriques
    April 2, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks! Boucle D'Or, yes I loved the Calder Exhibition. The circus movie is amazing, too. I hope you have a great time in San Francisco! It's a very nice city.

  6. Golubka
    April 3, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Awh thank you so much for the template, so coool!

  7. Kickcan and Conkers
    April 3, 2010 at 3:37 am

    This is great Joel, I'm going to add a link to this project on my blog. It does look very European - c'est super! Love everything you do, as you know.
    Hope you and your family have a fabulous Easter weekend!

  8. Louise @ Illume Design
    April 3, 2010 at 4:33 am

    oohhh .. they are just super cute..

  9. Nathalie
    April 3, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Very cute! Thanks a lot for sharing :o)
    Happy Easter!

  10. Lu
    April 3, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Looks great, if I had children, I would immediately use your cute city for them. :) Wonderful idea that you had!

  11. Jolene
    April 3, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Thank you. I'm going to print this out for my kids to play with later.

  12. Mini-eco
    April 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Joel, brilliant tutorial. I'll be printing them out for my boys to road-test tomorrow. Perfect activity for a rainy day. I've featured you on my blog - wanted to spread the word!

  13. Sarah
    April 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    this makes me wish my little boy was older to play with these! (he is only 3 months) but you better believe I will still print it out and save it....we will see if I can remember in a few years!

  14. nerd1
    April 3, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    thats cool.

    you are an artist!

    yes youm are!


  15. Helmi
    April 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Joel, I like your drawings, you are very creative.

  16. Pascalou
    April 4, 2010 at 9:39 pm


  17. suna
    April 4, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    great rainy day activity. thank you for this wonderful gift.

  18. Catherine
    April 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    These are brilliant. Very creative.

  19. Claire
    April 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Oh it's so beautiful ! I made a little town with my 5 years old pupils... The result is less beautiful than yours but they do loved making up their own town and their own little people ! And it's funny to think that on the other side of the world (I live in Bordeaux, in France) some people have the same idea in the same time !

  20. le banc moussu
    April 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    One more wonderful post. Everyone should have Such a dad. Thank you Joel it's a real easter spirit.

  21. Joel Henriques
    April 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks everybody! Glad you like it.

  22. isabelle
    April 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

    great ... thanks for the gift, kids are going to love it !!

  23. Adela
    April 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    This is fun ........ my little girls are going to love these. Thank you.

  24. Christina
    April 6, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    these are great! thank you so much!

  25. beblune
    April 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I just love your drawings and people and the way you describe them as being French .... that's funny because I am French and I just cannot see what's french in them and what difference there is between those people and others ! Go on entertaining us with all your lovely creations... It's just fantastic ! thanks for enlightening my visits in your website

  26. Mammagiramondo.
    April 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

    This is a perfect idea for today, my little boy has some fever so... thanks a lot!!

  27. K*and*Co
    April 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Vraiment cool. Thank you

  28. Lainey
    April 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    We just printed your templates- My 6 and 4 year olds love it! Thanks so much!

  29. Terri
    April 10, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    These are wonderful! I just sent them to the printer... it will give my almost-3-year-old something new to do this weekend. Thanks!

  30. Punctuation Mark
    April 11, 2010 at 12:20 am

    I love this... so cute!!! will print some for my nephews next time i see them!

  31. thismumsworld
    April 12, 2010 at 3:08 am

    I love your site, u r very talented & have a great imagination!
    I Have linked your blog to my blog:
    hope thats ok
    Thanks, kt

  32. Samantha
    April 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I too am in love with your blog and have linked it to my own ( I hope this is ok with you!

    And I can't wait to buy your book!

  33. Jen
    April 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Joel, I'll be sure to feature this on The Brothers Trimm blog, come check us out! We're all about celebrating boyhood..

  34. Kathy Kavan
    April 17, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Very sweet city, have shared it on Twitter...

  35. Tatiana
    April 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I Loved your work, so much fun for you and your kids. We also live in Portland and I'm starting my blog , you can check it out here ( and I feel that here there are so much creative people. I like to post alway that I found somebody from Portland.

  36. Happiness is Eva
    April 29, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Thanks for the template! I've posted about this on my blog - hope that is ok.

  37. Je SuPoZe
    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    What a great blog and what amazing ideas you have! I used one of your little people for an invitation (
    I'm a (Belgian) fan!

  38. à petit bruit
    May 13, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I love it ! Bravo…

  39. krebscout
    May 22, 2010 at 8:39 am

    We're in Seattle temporarily, and we stumbled into that Calder exhibit by accident. My one-year-old was fascinated.

    Clearly you're not short on fan mail, but I'm just now browsing your blog for the first time and I can't take my eyes off it. I appreciate that everything here is 100% original, practical in the sense that it barely costs a thing, and still so...rad. It shows that you both understand kids and how to make things not ugly. Thank you for posting stuff that's worth blogging about. I hope you're not offended that I'm not going to print and use your city - as a compulsive maker of stuff, I couldn't stand to let someone else do the fun part for me - so I'm just going to steal your idea and expand on it for my own son (when he's a tidge older). I run a small business that involves children's drawings, and I always find a home-brewed copycat or two whenever I Google my company name. I can't blame them - that's what I would do, too.

    Uh. In conclusion: hot dang and thumbs up.

  40. Joel Henriques
    May 23, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Thanks for the very nice comments everybody. Glad you're in enjoying this one!

  41. rocknrolla
    May 31, 2010 at 3:37 am

    oh, i so love this! thanks for your creative outlook on life...

    i've linked to this, and the cars and helicopters on my blog she's crafty-

  42. Leslie
    May 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    What a very cute idea! I don't have any kids, but I would sure want to play anyway! I think I can find some neighbor kids to play with me!!

  43. Erin @ Letter Soup
    June 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    This is perfect for another rainy summer day here in Seattle! Thanks! Great site, by the way!

  44. ViSart-DaLi Happy Mom and Passionate Artisan
    June 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    This is awesome! Definitely in our workshop for summer.
    Thank you!

  45. Anonymous
    July 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Just found your site...what a nice idea and how nice of you to share!!! THANK YOU!! I have some grandchildren who will be happy with what you have shared here.

  46. Berry Patch
    July 13, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    These are so cool! Thank you! My boys are going to have fun with this tomorrow. :-)

  47. Jesse
    July 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    These are great Joel!

  48. millie smith
    July 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    just wanted to say thank you so much!

  49. Lynne
    July 15, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Hey, Thank you so much. These are adorable inspiring and creative. Printing now:). Lynne

  50. Serendipity is Sweet
    July 15, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Love it! Well done. And Thanks for sharing :)

  51. amyadelle
    July 15, 2010 at 7:26 am

    My 3 and 4 1/2 year old sons loved these so much... I think I'm gonna color them, cut them out, and mod podge them to some pieces of scrap wood... then add them to their everyday toys!

    THANKS!! Love your drawing and details!


  52. Stacy
    July 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you so much!

  53. Hairdoo
    July 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    My boys love this! I sent a link to all my siblings for their kids to enjoy too!

  54. Lenetta @ Nettacow
    July 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Oh, super cute! I am so envious of people who can draw. :>) I linked on my weekly roundup - thanks for sharing!

  55. Cecy
    July 21, 2010 at 12:59 am

    OMG...this is too cute! I can't wait to print & play. :)

  56. linda
    July 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    send me a bill i want to buy those
    5 each
    3249 e23rd ave e vancouver bc v5r1b6 canada
    linda, thank you

  57. Sun
    July 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Oh, génial !
    C'est une merveilleuse idée surtout pendant ce temps de vacances d'été (mais sous la pluie, il faut bien occuper les journées !), mes 3 enfants vont adorer, j'en suis certaine !!

    Thanks' !

  58. Cee
    August 2, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Thankyou so much for generously sharing your paper city for us to enjoy. We have spent a fabulous day indoors yesterday out of our blustery, rainy, wintry weather and built one of our own - one still in the making. I hope you enjoy seeing it here:

    You are very talented and we are so fortunate to be a recipient of your generous sharing.

  59. Joel Henriques
    August 2, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Thanks everybody! you are all too kind!

    Cee - Awesome city! You guys are amazing artists! Thanks so much for the link.

  60. katkoe
    August 3, 2010 at 2:25 am

    thank you for sharing!

  61. ABC and 123: A Learning Cooperative
    August 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    This is awesome! We hope you don't mind, we shared this with our readers in an upcoming post on fun things to do with your kids. We used your top photo, gave a short description, credited you, and provided a direct link back to this post. Thank you in advance for sharing but if you'd prefer we remove the reference we will. Just reply to our comment.

  62. Anonymous
    August 19, 2010 at 3:03 am

    hello joel,
    thanks for sharing this beautiful city and people with us! i will surprise my kiddo during the looong flight we are going to take to europe. i also printed the matching game. i can't imagine any better toy for her (and my sanity:)

  63. Merry Jo
    August 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Hello, I just found your blog, and I love it! I'm having lots of trouble printing out the city and helicopter, though (haven't tried the other stuff). I'm not sure if I need to change a setting on my printer or what. The city printed out fine, except the "internet address" line at the bottom of the page cut off part of the last building. Then, I tried the helicopter, and it printed so big, that on a regular piece of paper, it only showed 3/4 of the landing pad! Help please!

  64. Joel Henriques
    August 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks everyone!

    Merry Jo - Sorry you're having trouble printing. Everybody's printing software (on their computer) is different, and there are so many settings that you can make to print things. I suggest clicking on my city image, then instead of printing from your web browser, save the image to you computer (usually right-click, or control click, then choose "save image"). Then open the image in your computers' photo viewing application (doesn't matter which one) and print from there. If that all sounds too crazy and overwhelming, then try doing what you've been doing, but look for a "scale to fit" button in your print dialog window. Good luck! You can do it!

    If you still can't get it to work, then email me and I'll send you a pdf for everything. That might help too.

  65. Merry Jo
    August 24, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Thanks a lot for the ideas! I so appreciate it. I'll try printing again today. :)

  66. Frog, Goose and Bear
    September 3, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I love this city! My kids will be doing it this morning. Just linked to you on my blog. What lucky kids to have such a cool creative Dad!

  67. Cher
    September 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you. Rainy gross day out and we're having fun inside. My little girl loves it! Thanks!

  68. Lessons from the Boys
    September 23, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Fabulous! We just printed and are so excited!

  69. bajo el diente de león
    September 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

    My twins and I did your city paper. Lot of fun!! Thank you very much. You can see here:


    Pilar (from Madrid)

  70. Anonymous
    October 6, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Hi! I'm an Italian teacher and I'm going to use these lovely templates to teach city words to my pupils. Thank you so much for your work!!!!

  71. Time Flies
    October 31, 2010 at 4:23 am

    wow really cool, I want to try this for my kids, my son will prob just eat it

  72. Michelle
    November 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    My daughter will love this! Thanks so much!

  73. Little Green Doll
    November 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    It's great!!! Thank you!

  74. Kimiko
    November 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I'm so excited about this! Just now found out about it. But every time I print it, the image looks "lossy." Any idea why? I've saved it to my computer, scaled to fit, no luck. Please help?

  75. Kimiko
    November 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Whoops, never mind. I figured it out. I was saving the image directly from the blog post, not clicking on the image & then saving it. Thanks again!

  76. Joel Henriques
    November 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Ooh good, glad you figured it out!

    Thanks again for the kind comments everybody!

  77. Kristina
    November 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Wow! What a great project! I printed this out for my boys last night, and they have been playing with it all morning!

  78. Anonymous
    November 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Good to get children playing at make believe rather than on a game console.....
    My 8y/old girl makes all sorts of characters and houses just with boxes and imagination , i put a box down that is to be recycled and she has the tools out before i know it!
    I am amazed and have gladness in my heart that she likes boxes as i did as a child.......

  79. Sue
    November 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I think I'll decorate the city for Xmas and put it on my mantle.

  80. Freya
    November 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Just did this with my kids! I think I had even more fun than they did!

  81. Indelible John
    November 20, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Love it! We'll have to make some of these for our little boy to play with.

    OK I may play with them too...

  82. Sherri-Dawn
    November 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Love, love, love this! Thank you so much for sharing your creativity! I will be sharing your links to my friends :)

  83. echomyst
    November 20, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Just discovered your blog via Inhabitots... love all your creations! :-)

  84. halley
    November 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I have visited your blog before and am always amazed at your creativity. Just found these little beauties and we are going to print them out and use them for a Christmas Advent activity... which brings me to my next idea... these would be great with a little Christmas flair added in. Wish I could do it myself, but an artist I am not. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful ideas. Happy Thanksgiving!

  85. Jill
    December 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    This is just so neat. Thanks!!

  86. Two Thirds Sky
    December 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Bravo Joel! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. The children have left the sewing machine behind and they have now become cardboard connoisseurs!
    We made the animals, and trees etc with the paper clip stands and they worked brilliantly. Some of the sets will now be shipped out to family and friends for Christmas. Please stop by and have a look
    Best wishes and thank you again, Nessa

  87. Anonymous
    December 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I was born in Seattle and am now "stuck" in Germany. If you made a paper city with the Space Needle in it, I'd be soooo happy!

  88. Chris
    December 30, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Nice art idea! I've been assigned to find Christmas activities for children while on a community party. Before the exchanging gift starts, there will be an activity that will enhance the kids' artistic creativity. The paper city is a great inspiration!

    I'm also excited for their exchanging gift activity. My pretty neighbor, Alyssa, wants to have a lovely 18 in doll. Clothes and doll accessories are my niece, Darlene, wishes for Christmas. Daisy wants 18 inch doll clothes. On the other hand, my friend's son, Dave, wishes to receive lots of stuffed toys. Christmas is really for kids!

    Thanks for sharing paper city! You're very talented, Joel!

  89. Heather
    December 31, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I found your blog, through Sew Mama Sew's Handmade Holidays. Love this little city! I host a monthly Kid's Craft Along on my blog and will be featuring this project during the month of January! Links to this post and credit for pictures are included of course! Thank you for sharing this fun idea!

    You can view the post on Jan 1 at

  90. Gail
    January 10, 2011 at 6:49 am

    These are awesome! Thanks so much!

  91. artfortots
    January 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Wonderful! My oldest is learning about rainforests at the moment so going to use your idea but with rainforest trees, plants & animals. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Hi Joel...I have trawled through your blog several times but this past weekend I was properly inspired to get craftier...starting here with your fab paper city was the easiest, but I have been trying out some other ideas since. Thanks SO much for the inspiration...good luck with the book, hope to get a copy when it comes available. I have paid a little tribute to you here:
    Hope it gets you a little traffic and perhaps some future business. Your ideas are simply wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  93. Vic
    January 24, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Hi Joel I just did your city with my 3 and 6 year olds who loved it (me too). My 6yo had a couple of good ideas: he suggested we cut slots in the top of the vehicles so the people could go 'inside' and stick out the top. This worked quite well. Also he suggested we cut out the low window of the house in the city so we could put one of the people looking out! Thanks for sharing the template. Very generous!

  94. Joel Henriques
    January 24, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Thanks so much everybody!

    Vic - I love those ideas your son had! Too cool! I must try them as well. Tell him that I like the way he thinks!!

  95. Krista Pfeiffer
    January 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I've had this beautiful city of yours bookmarked for a long time now. But what I finally managed to throw together with my kids is an insult to your talent. I wrote about my lameness and included a link to this page in my most recent blog post:
    Keep up the good work and inspiration! And I promise, if I use another one of your ideas in the future, I will do it justice!

    January 26, 2011 at 7:36 am

    çok hoş bir fikir .Harika.çocukların hayal gücü sayesinde kişilerin günlük hayatları anlatılabilir

  97. SKY GiedrÄ—
    February 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Super! Absolutely love the idea. Keep exploring ours :)))!!!

  98. bananako
    February 9, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Hi there! It's a wonderful little city. Love it. Best regards from France! bananako

  99. La stanza di Lizzie
    February 11, 2011 at 9:43 am


  100. greendoodle
    February 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you for your paper city! I look forward to coloring this and making us stories. Well done!

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