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.

178 Responses
  1. fridica

    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. Joel Henriques

    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.

  3. Boucle D'Or

    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 !!!

  4. Joel Henriques

    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.

  5. Kickcan and Conkers

    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!

  6. Mini-eco

    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!

  7. Sarah

    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!

  8. Claire

    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 !

  9. beblune

    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

  10. Terri

    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!

  11. Samantha

    I too am in love with your blog and have linked it to my own (weeklyolive.blogspot.com)… I hope this is ok with you!

    And I can't wait to buy your book!

  12. Tatiana

    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 (http://momsaregirls.tumblr.com/) and I feel that here there are so much creative people. I like to post alway that I found somebody from Portland.
    Congrats

  13. krebscout

    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.

  14. Leslie

    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!!

  15. Anonymous

    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.
    Elizabeth

  16. amyadelle

    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!

    :)

  17. Sun

    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' !

  18. Joel Henriques

    Thanks everybody! you are all too kind!

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

  19. ABC and 123: A Learning Cooperative

    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.

  20. Anonymous

    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:)
    ltege

  21. Merry Jo

    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!

  22. Joel Henriques

    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.

  23. Anonymous

    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!!!!
    Giusy

  24. Kimiko

    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?

  25. Kimiko

    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!

  26. Anonymous

    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…….

  27. halley

    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!

  28. Two Thirds Sky

    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 http://twothirdssky.blogspot.com
    Best wishes and thank you again, Nessa

  29. Chris

    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!

  30. artfortots

    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.

  31. fionaeason.com

    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:
    http://fionaeason.com/2011/01/11/made-by-joel-the-paper-city-et-al/
    Hope it gets you a little traffic and perhaps some future business. Your ideas are simply wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  32. Vic

    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!

  33. Joel Henriques

    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!!

  34. Krista Pfeiffer

    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: http://doasisayandasido.blogspot.com/.
    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!

  35. KARA KUZUCUÄžUN ANNESÄ°

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

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