There are many more fun ways to make 2D things into 3D than by putting on a silly pair of glasses and sitting in a darkened room, getting a headache and motion sickness. Foldify is one of them. It’s a new iPad app from a Polish developer called Pixle and it helps you turn a flat piece of paper into a 3D paper toy in a remarkably simple, and beautifully presented, way.
When you first launch the app you’re taken on a step-by-step journey through the various screens and function of the app. It a takes about a minute and by the time you’re done you’ll know everything you need to start making your own models. Once the tutorial is done you’re dropped into the ‘My Foldify’ screen showing an example of each of the ten paper templates it come preloaded with. You can chose to edit one of them directly or get a blank template by tapping the big plus button. Either way, you then jump straight into the fun stuff – creating your toy.
The editing screen is a real joy to use, and very well designed. The left third of the screen shows a 3D render of you model that you can rotate by swiping. The right two-thirds show you the model as it will be printed out, with all of the faces visible, and responds to the the now standard two-finger panning, zooming and rotating gestures. A simple, minimal toolbar sits at the top, with a pencil, paintbrush, eraser, color picker and stamp tools. Here’s the really clever bit – whatever you create on the template is shown in real-time on the 3D rendered model, making it really simple to create a fabulous model and be sure that everything will line up when you print it out (either by AirPrint or emailing a PDF) and assemble it later.
The stamp tool is full of pre-drawn elements such as face and body parts, car and house features, fruits and leaves, as well as regular patterns (including some Minecraft-esque ones). You can scale and rotate them with the same two finger gestures, although I found it much easier to do this with two index fingers rather than the more usual index/thumb or index/middle combo. Additional themes are available for in-app purchase from the ‘Extras’ tab on the main menu, and there’s also a free set of Christmas ones at the moment. The colour wheel is straightforward to use and has 21 easily changeable presets. The pencil, brush and eraser tools take a bit of getting used as they don’t come with variable sizes. To change the thickness of the stroke, you zoom the template in and out, thereby changing the relative size of the stroke. The developer’s thinking behind this is that you’re always drawing with the same sized finger, so trying to use a thin stroke just means that your finger is obscuring what you’re drawing anyway.
These days, an app’s not an app without a community behind it and Foldify is no exception. An ‘Online’ tab on the main menu takes you to a gallery full of other users renditions of Stormtroopers, Homers, Hulks, Vaders and even a Steve Jobs. You can ‘like’ them and print them all out directly, but not add them to you library or edit them at all. If you sign up, either directly or via Twitter or Facebook, you can upload your own creations to the gallery for everyone to enjoy.
Once you’ve printed out your templates, it’s simple to cut, fold and glue them together. The ten included templates – featuring people, boxes, houses, shapes and vehicles – are simple enough for kids to be able to handle. We have the excellent Papertoy Monsters book here, and it’s great fun, but far too complicated for a six year old to do without a lot of help. I’m sure that future updates to Foldify will add more complex models, but for now it’s a great, fun app to enjoy with the offspring and get them started with papercraft.
Foldify is currently available at the special launch price of $1.99 on the App Store