Making a 3D Coral Seascape Come to Life With Paper

I like creating 3D under-the-sea paper sculptures because I can add a lot of different textures and vibrant colors to the scene, such as my design, “Coral Reef.” I also like making the sand out of paper – keeping the entire paper sculpture authentic –100% made out of paper. 

For this colorful “Coral Reef” paper sculpture, I wanted to highlight the crab and the clown fish. I also wanted to intermix flat papers with three-dimensional pieces. For instance, the magenta and light purple coral on both sides of the illustration are 3D in that they come out of the flat papered background, but, the coral is made with flat paper.

In contrast, if you look closely at the 3D paper seashell (bottom left corner) and the paper crab, they are both a completely three-dimensional object that you can hold in your hand, prior to me attaching it to my “Coral Reef” illustration. Both the crab and the seashell are not a flat piece of paper but life-like mini versions of the real thing.

Another example is the fish. The yellow fish in the middle of the “Coral Reef'“ illustration are three-dimensional — coming out of the paper, not attached to the flat background — but the fish is painted on flat paper.

In contrast to the yellow fish are the completely 3D clown fish. Each one of the orange, black and white clown fish come out of the paper as individual components of the design. Their bodies are about one-quarter of an inch in width.

Can you tell if the blue fish in the background are completely three-dimensional or if they are made using a flat piece of paper? 

Using a combination of flat papers and completely three-dimensional objects creates another element of dimension, texture, variation and interest to this colorful paper-sculpted “Coral Reef.” Plus, it was so much fun to create. I look forward to making another one in the future.

The original “Coral Reef” piece has already sold, but you can purchase a print of this paper sculpture illustration in my shop on my website here.