Cláudio Dias is a 42-year-old engineer, born in Rio de Janeiro, married and father of two daughter, whose hobby is pretty interesting: paper models (a.k.a. papercraft). But don't think that, because the models are made out of paper, the result is amateurish. On the contrary, his models are very impressive and, in most cases you even doubt about the material used.
He claims he always liked 'making things ou of paper', but it all started when he first saw a model made by someone who was really talented. It was a work coleague that showed him a Formula 1 car and it was love at first sight! Because of Cláudio's eagerness, the same friend gave him a black Lotus model and he decided to take a chance on his first project. For a rookie, the result was considered excellent and that made him even more earnest. Then came a six-wheel Tyrell from the 70s, then a Williams, both full of amazing details. His curiousity and perenial search for bigger challenges led him to adventure into modelling itself and that meant, at the time, a lot of hard work and dedication. With no supporting software, he measured, calculated, planned and banged his head a lot. After six months, though, his first model was completed: a 1966 Batmobile, a classic vehicle from the famous TV show.
It couldn't have been better! Happy with the results, Cláudio plunged into another famous car, this time, straight out of the movie screen: the Ghostbusters Ecto-1, from the movie Ghostbusters. Only, this time he had the aid of a 3D software. It wasn't as easy as he had imagined, though, because of his lack of technical knowledge, so only part of the car was modeled in the computer. The Ecto-1 took five moths to build and the results were, once again, outstanding. So much so, that Cláudio decided it was time to build a site completely dedicated to his efforts. Thus, the www.paperinside.com was born.
The webpage is completely free and every model created by Cláudio Dias can be downloaded at no cost. The Batmobile, for instance, was so successful that over 100 000 downloads of it have been made, to date. Obviously, this is a hobby where you should start by the basic, to avoid a let-down from the beginning. That's why there are 'simple', basic models for newcomers to download and get the feel of it. In the meanwhile, Cláudio's work isn't for just anyone. Modeling, even using various types of software, demands a lot of knowledge and three-dimensional notions that very little people have.
Nowadays, Paper Inside gets about 500 000 monthly page views, which is excellent for a website solely dedicated to paper models. This is a hobby whose aficionados exchange experiences, work together and interact, without any sort of friction between them. With its audience based mostly on adults (with a tendency towards middle-age), Cláudio's website gets half of its visits from the USA, Japan, Germany, Spain, the UK and, also, Brazil. Also, for curiosity's sake, even though its author is Brazilian, the site is completely written in English.
Dias' latest project was the creation of a Super Tucano. He wished to model a Brazilian airplane, and, because military airplanes are always such great challenges, the choice was fairly easy. However, its execution was hard, because of its small parts and its complex details. So much so, that Dias made 'optional' parts available, for those who are not-yet-experts on the subject. The project was so elaborate that he even required a tutorial from one of his peers, Roberto Falconi, because of a very important part: the transparent canopi, or the pilot's glass cabin. That means the inside of the plane is visible. And detailed. So you newcomers out there, beware, this is a model for the experienced only.
Cláudio has now begun teaching courses on paper model building for children, a dream he had had for some time and that came true last March. His next big challenge is already in motion: until mid-2008 he plans on finishing an ambicious project that has been keenly awaited for by the modeling community: the Transformer Bumblebee, a robot-car.
The coolest thing about this hobby is the love you feel for these works of art you create. In this engineer's case, for example, every model ever built by him decorates the shelves of his house. After all, after such hard work and dedication, nothing is better than being able to contemplate and admire your own work.
*I interviewed Cláudio Dias via e-mail in April. I was introduced to his work last year, without realizing he was Brazilian. We ended up exchanging e-mails and I'm a huge fan of his work..