How to Make Pop Up Cards
This post has been revised and updated. Read the new post here.
Pop Up Box Variation
In Lesson 1 we cut rectangular boxes on the card fold. The pop out piece created by this cut has two identical faces. Viewed from the side the pop out piece and the card form a square.
Lesson 2 is a variation in which the pop out piece faces are not identical. Viewed from the side the pop out and the card form a rectangle.
Some basics. Green lines denote mountain folds. (Mountain folds form an upside down V). Red lines are valley folds (Valley folds form a right-side-up V). Green and red lines should be scored, then folded the proper direction. Solid black lines are cut lines.
Time to make a sample! I like to use graph paper for practicing because counting squares is easier than measuring.
Print this picture, or draw your own on graph paper. Cut along the solid black lines. Score the red and green lines. Mountain and valley fold the green and red lines by lightly pinching just at the fold line.
Do not fold the centerline of the card yet.
Okay, here's the thing you have to wrap your brain around. The part of the rectangle cut below the card center fold must be the same height as the piece that will form the top face of the rectangle.
(Colored yellow on the sample.) Watch what happens to the yellow parts when the pop out is folded. You will see that the bottom of the rectangle is actually formed by the void left by the lower yellow piece.
Using your finger, pop the rectangles forward as you did in lesson 1. Lightly pinch the card center fold into place. Be careful not to fold across the front face of the pop out rectangles.
Close the card, coaxing the rectangles to fold on themselves.
Give the center fold of the card a good crease now. OOPS! Do you see the problem with this design? The largest rectangle is too large and sticks out of the card when it is closed!
Here is the completed card. See how different it looks, depending on which way you turn it?
Willem's Origamic Architecture page has a fine selection of designs with .pdf patterns you can download. His designs lovely. You can learn a lot about how this mechanism works by cutting pre-made patterns.
Tracy Chong continues to amaze me with her innovative uses of this pop up mechanism. Note how she changes the orientation of the paper, combines rectangles, and strategically cuts away portions of the design in her creations. Check out her reasonably priced Etsy shop.
Another designer who is generous with her free patterns is Maria Victoria Garrido. Her designs run the gamut from simple to incredibly complex. Take a few minutes and pick out the rectangles in her designs.
This World Cup one was sent to me by a reader, Darryl, who does not have his own site (too bad). Click to enlarge!
and base pattern.
Valentine Pop Up
Christmas Pop Up
I almost forgot this one. One of my first attempts at making a pop up card, and long before I had any idea at all how to make one. I cut endless trial and error samples until the reins worked right.