3D Portraits with Paper Layers

A course by Ale Rambar
Visual artist. San José, Costa Rica.
Joined September 2016
, Visual artist

Learn to use paper to create three-dimensional compositions with topographical techniques

  • Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 99% positive reviews (164)
  • 2983 students

Learn to use paper to create three-dimensional compositions with topographical techniques

Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 99% positive reviews (164)
  • 2983 students
  • 14 lessons (2h 15m)
  • 9 additional resources (4 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: Spanish
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

What would human bodies be like if we gave them the same treatment as a topographic map? Costa Rican architect and visual artist Ale Rambar discovered in the topographic technique his source of inspiration, creating sculptures with layers of paper such as portraits and human bodies to talk about gender equality, tolerance and respect for the environment. His work accompanied the Costa Rican Olympic team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, designed the European Union's Gender Equality Award in Costa Rica and was also selected to represent Costa Rica at the International Art Biennale of Beijing

In this course you will learn to create a portrait with volume from layers of paper. You will see how to calculate each layer, cut it, assemble it and paint it to result in a work with relief. Through this technique you can create models, lettering , illustrations and works of art in the third dimension using paper as the main material.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Materials and tools
  • U3
    U3. Creation of the work
  • U4
    U4. Conservation of the work
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

You will know the artistic concept of Ale Rambar and how he found inspiration to develop his work from topographic maps (mainly used in architecture), transferring the technical treatment that is given to a terrain to the human body. You will see his most representative works and their referents, among designers, architects and artists.

Before you begin, Ale will explain the materials and tools you will need to create your three-dimensional work on paper. First, the ideal types of paper to perform the works and all about the grammages and the most desired characteristics of each. Then you will be presented with cutting and pasting tools, in addition to the paintings, which in this case will be watercolor.

Then you will start creating your piece. From a photograph, you will draw on it the curves on transparent paper, which you will then transfer to the final paper of your three-dimensional portrait.

Next, you will cut the curves one by one with a cutter, and assemble them using double-contact tape. As a last step, but not least, you will add watercolor details to give more personality and life to your paper sculpture.

Once you have finished the production stage you will start to frame your work. You will see what is the ideal type of framing and how to transform a normal frame into one with depth, using pen cardboard and other basic elements.

To finish the course, Rambar will show you tips to preserve your work, which apply both to paper works and watercolors, and some conservation techniques that will be very useful.

What is this course's project?

You will plan, design and make, step by step, a three-dimensional composition of 45 x 45 cm of 10 layers of paper cut and painted by hand.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

To artists, designers, illustrators, architects and anyone interested in creating works from paper layers

Requirements and materials

It is not necessary to have previous knowledge, only patience and desire to learn. If you have knowledge of serial drawings or Adobe Illustrator, it will be easier for you to complete the course, however it is not essential to learn the technique.

On the materials, you will need as a base watercolor paper, parchment paper and cardboard, graphite pencils, colored pencils, colored pens, markers, brushes, watercolor, scalpels, scissors and a cutter, and double-sided adhesive tape of foam or glues of different types.


2983 Students
164 Reviews
99% Positive ratings

Ale Rambar

A course by Ale Rambar

Teacher Plus
Visual artist

Native artist of Costa Rica, his work is based on the topographic analysis of the human form through three-dimensional compositions made with layers of paper.

Just as a surveyor would analyze mountains, valleys or rivers, his pieces are created by analyzing human bodies topographically. Each piece is cut separately, layer by layer, and then assembled by hand to discuss issues of tolerance and respect.


  • U1


    • Hello, my name is Ale!
    • My artistic work
    • What will we do during the course?
  • U2

    Materials and tools

    • All on paper
    • Tools: cutting and pasting
    • Materials: watercolor
  • U3

    Creation of the work

    • Drawing of the work (part 1)
    • Drawing of the work (part 2)
    • Traced on paper
    • Paper cut
    • Bonding the layers
  • U4

    Conservation of the work

    • Painting your work (part 1)
    • Painting your work (part 2)
    • Bonus track: Framed
  • FP

    Final project

    • 3D portraits with paper layers

What to expect from a Domestika course

  • Learn at your own pace

    Enjoy learning from home without a set schedule and with an easy-to-follow method. You set your own pace.

  • Learn from the best professionals

    Learn valuable methods and techniques explained by top experts in the creative sector.

  • Meet expert teachers

    Each expert teaches what they do best, with clear guidelines, true passion, and professional insight in every lesson.

  • Certificates

    If you're a Plus or PRO member, get a custom certificate signed by your teacher for every course. Share it on your portfolio, social media, or wherever you like.

  • Get front-row seats

    Videos of the highest quality, so you don't miss a single detail. With unlimited access, you can watch them as many times as you need to perfect your technique.

  • Share knowledge and ideas

    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

  • Connect with a global creative community

    The community is home to millions of people from around the world who are curious and passionate about exploring and expressing their creativity.

  • Watch professionally produced courses

    Domestika curates its teacher roster and produces every course in-house to ensure a high-quality online learning experience.


Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

If you're a Plus or PRO member, when you complete a course you'll instantly get your personalized certificate. You can see all your certificates in the Certificates section of your profile. You can download your certificates as PDFs and share the link online. Learn more about certificates
3D Portraits with Paper Layers. Craft course by Ale Rambar

3D Portraits with Paper Layers

A course by Ale Rambar
Visual artist. San José, Costa Rica.
Joined September 2016
  • 99% positive reviews (164)
  • 2983 students