Base Materials in Paper Modeling

If you’re not using paper that’s at least 110# or heavier, it’s best to mount the paper on some type of base to give it additional strength and rigidity. Typical bases in paper modeling include foam board, chipboard, wood, matt board and styrofoam.

Foam board is the most accessible, available at most hobby stores and even large discount stores. It typically comes in larger pieces and is rigid but bendable. Chipboard is a cardboard product that’s available at some craft stores and most online craft supply websites. It comes in several different sizes. 

The most common craft woods available are balsa wood and bass wood. Either makes a good base for paper modeling. Balsa wood is available in several thicknesses at most craft and hobby stores, bass wood must generally be ordered online.

Matt board is generally used for mounting photographs but also makes a good base for paper modeling. It’s very stiff and comes in several sizes. Matt board is often sold under the brand name Gatorboard.

Another option is Styrofoam. Styrofoam comes in several different densities. Light densities are useful for adding depth in backgrounds. Heavier densities are useful for three dimensional structures. Solid Styrofoam blocks are one of the easiest and strongest bases to the work with in paper modeling.

Just about any base can work for any application, although each base type has its own advantages and disadvantages. You may also need to vary your construction strategy. For example, if using chipboard with larger structures you’ll most likely need to add inner supports.