How to make complex pop up books

Written by sarah haynes
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How to make complex pop up books
Colourful markers can add flair to your pop-up book. (colourful markers #3 image by Adam Borkowski from

Making pop-up books is a fun and creative activity, and kids love them. They can be time-consuming, but in the end, the result will make you proud, and you'll want to make them over and over for your children or friends. They make perfect gifts that showcase your own special touch and ingenuity.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper
  • Cardstock
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • X-ACTO knife
  • Cardboard
  • Colouring materials (crayons, pencil, markers, paint)

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  1. 1

    Write down ideas for the way you want your story to be told. Imagine looking through windows on some pages, multiple sets of pages within each section, pull-outs and opening containers. Determine the best way for these ideas to be used to correlate with your story, and determine the order in which you want them presented.

  2. 2

    Make rough sketches of the designs you want on each page and the text that will be used. Lay out the design of all the elements of pictures and text; you may want to cut out the text into small pieces to play around with placement.

  3. 3

    Cut out practice pieces for the pop-ups.

  4. 4

    Create the V-fold by folding a piece of paper in half. Cut the edge of the bottom about ¼ inch up, then fold the pieces created by the cut upward. These new slats or tabs will be the area that is glued to the main page at a slight angle, while the remaining part is the image that will pop up.

  5. 5

    Cut out practice pieces for the book pages to the size of your choice. Each piece of the pop-ups will need to fit onto the designated size of the pages, also fitting in place when the book is closed.

  6. 6

    Print or write the layout for the pictures and text on each page.

  7. 7

    Print out or draw the objects that will be used for the pop-out pieces, then cut out all the pieces.

  8. 8

    Colour the pieces.

  9. 9

    Fold each page for the book in half vertically. Glue in the tabs for the pop-out pieces.

  10. 10

    Test the book to make sure it opens and closes properly.

  11. 11

    Connect the pages back to back, gluing them in place and allowing them to dry fully.

  12. 12

    Create the cover board from cardboard or several pieces of cardstock glued together to make a sturdy cover. Make sure it is larger than the pages of the book and allows an extra inch or so for the middle spine.

  13. 13

    Score the inside of the cover for the middle spine with an X-ACTO knife and metal ruler to make it fold nicely. Make the score light so you don't cut it all the way through.

  14. 14

    Insert the pages by gluing them in or sewing them in. Make sure all edges of the pages are connected to the middle spine. If it is loose, it will be more likely to fall apart during use.

  15. 15

    Use a sheet of nice paper or fabric to go around the entire outer cover and wrap around the edges to the inside. Make cuts at the corners so they fold into place. Glue everything to hold and let dry.

  16. 16

    Use a sheet of paper on each inner cover side to hide the folded edges of the decorative cover sheet for the front of the cover piece. Glue them into place and let dry.

  17. 17

    Add decorations or scripting to the front cover.

Tips and warnings

  • Play around with all types of shapes before making the final book. Use add-on pieces to make bigger shapes.
  • Consider looking through windows with clear plastic, moving tabs or spinning wheels for extra play.

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