Let’s just get to it, because I am way too excited about this design! I have another intricate project that I really hope you’ll love as much as I do. So crack out the cardstock and hot glue—it’s time to make this 3D riverboat!
Like this design? Consider leaving a tip.
My own experience with riverboats is limited to the vessels at the Disney parks, and a beautiful steamboat I saw in Portland. But they obviously leave quite the impression! There is just a nostalgic feel about them, and the overall design is incredibly charming. So, when I had the idea to create my own, it just stuck.
This is another one of those projects that takes some time to complete, but I promise that it’s totally worth the effort!
Follow along using the instructions below, or check out this tutorial video.
- Hot Glue
- A Lollipop Stick
- Bone Folder (optional)
- A Cutting Machine or X-ACTO knife
- My Free Template
How to Make It
1. Use your cutting machine or X-ACTO knife, along with my template, to cut out all of the 3D riverboat pieces.
Note: If you are using the SVG files that includes the score lines, don’t forget to set them as such in Cricut Design Space and attach them to their shapes before sending through your cutting machine. I used a lime green color to mark the score lines, so hopefully that helps! If you’re having trouble with the score lines, check out this video.
Assembling the Different Levels
2. Contrary to intuition, it’s actually best to start this project from the top and work your way down.
So, first assemble the top deck and crowning, rectangular structure.
Note: Two of the white deck pieces are nearly identical. Make sure that you use the one with the correct slits that correspond with the rectangular structure for this portion.
Once the top two pieces are connected, use the slits provided to adhere the top railing.
3. Next, assemble the two interior level structures: layering the white arching pieces on top of the grey form.
4. Start putting them all together, working your way down the boat levels. Attach the interior (grey and white) structure to the top of the next deck before attaching the exterior arch tabs.
Assembling the Base
5. To assemble the base, start by folding/attaching the side pieces to one of the bottom pieces.
Before attaching the top section, add the little tail fin pieces to both the top/inside edges at the back of the boat and inside the slits in the back piece. (This is where the water wheel is going to attach.) Complete the bottom section by gluing on the other grey, bottom piece to the top of the frame.
Attach the rest of your railings and main structure pieces to the bottom, white deck piece. Then, glue it to the base.
Assembling the Paddlewheel
6. This is probably the most time-consuming portion of this project, but it’s really fun to see it come together.
Simply fold the ends of each paddle, and attach them to the cross beams: going in the same direction each time. Repeat over and over again, all the way around. Then, do the same thing to attach each wheel section together in a row.
Once your wheel is complete, push the lollipop stick through the tail flaps and the center of the paddlewheel.
7. To make the smokestacks, just roll up the small grey pieces, and glue the gold “crown” embellishments to the top. Flare the gold pieces out a bit for effect. Then, attach the banner piece between the two smokestacks.
Fold in all the bottom tabs, and glue the smokestacks to the front of the top deck.
8. Make the little buntings by folding the long red strips accordion style, pulling the fan out, and then attaching the small red strip to the top with a couple dabs of hot glue.
Attach the buntings at intervals around the railings of the ship, and add any other details you’d like to complete your 3D steamboat!
I mean, it just doesn’t get more charming that this, does it?
And I am particularly proud of how the wheel turned out. While I was doing the design, I wasn’t exactly sure if it would look legit or not. But it turned out even better than I hoped!
I use Adobe Illustrator for all of my designs, and a Cricut Maker to bring my creations to life. For tips on creating fun paper cuts like this one, see the FAQ section on my website. Also, be sure to check out the other 3D freebies available on my blog!
Enjoy making your very own, 3D riverboat! I hope you have as much fun putting it together as I did. Be sure to share your stunning results with me on Instagram!
*This post contains affiliate links. By clicking through my links to make a purchase, you are supporting this blog and the hard work that goes into providing free, quality designs.