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Pop Ups: Tutorials for Basic Forms

--How to Make Pop Ups for Cards or Books--

A series of tutorials with free templates to help you learn the techniques of pop up card and pop up book construction. Whether simple or complex, pop ups are built from a few basic mechanisms.  Scroll down to see suggested books on how to make pop up cards, mechanical cards, sliceforms, and origamic architecture.

Sometimes the links to older tutorials time out from this page.  As a workaround, go back to the main page and use the search box.  For example, enter the words: "lesson 6".

  Lesson 1: How to make Simple Box pop ups
   Lesson 2: How to make Box Variation pop ups
      Lesson 3: How to make V-Fold pop ups
    Lesson 4: How to make pop up cards with Boxes Cut Separately
Lesson 5:  How to make pop up Boxes with Tabs and Slots
    Lesson 6: V-Fold Tabs and Slots for pop up cards and books
Lesson 7:  How to make Pop Up Words Part 1
  Lesson 8: How to make Pop Up Words Part 2
  Lesson 9: How to make Pop Up Words Part 3 

  Lesson 10: How to make Pop Up Words Part 4
    Lesson 11: How to make X Style (Slotted Shapes) pop ups
  Lesson12: How to make Slotted X with Strap pop ups
  Lesson 13: How to make Slotted X with Tabs pop ups
  Lesson 14: How to make Asymmetrical Slotted X pop ups
  Lesson 15: How to make X-Form pop up cards
  Lesson 16: How to make V-Fold Pivots for pop ups
Lesson 17: How to make Asymmetrical V-Fold Pivots for pop ups
Lesson 18: How to make 180° Open Top Box pop ups
  Lesson 19: How to make 180° Box with Closed Top pop ups
  Lesson 20: How to make 180° Open Top Boat pop ups
    Lesson 21: How to make 45° Open Box pop ups
Lesson 22: How to make Tabletop Floating on Boxes pop ups
Lesson  23: How to make Tabletop Floating on I-Beams pop ups

The Best Instruction Books for Pop Ups

My TOP 5 BOOKS about making all kinds of pop up cards and pop up books, sliceforms, mechanical cards, and origamic architecture pop ups. 

 1. If you're only going to buy ONE book about how to make pop ups, I suggest Duncan Birmingham's Pop-Up Design and Paper Mechanics. I waited for years for this revised edition to be published. I loved the first version, but it had been so long out-of-print that I whenever I wanted to read it I had to interlibrary loan the last remaining copy in the state--which is in a prison library. (Just wondering: are prisoners allowed to have craft knives??) 

cover photo:  pop up design and paper mechanics
2. Next on my list, especially helpful for those of us who like to see and touch something to see how it works: The Elements of Pop Up by David Carter and James Diaz. This book has working models of the most common pop up mechanisms. I use this as a reference when I want to refresh my memory on the best way to make a specific 3d shape. 

  Elements Of Pop Up: A Pop Up Book For Aspiring Paper Engineers from Amazon, or from Book Depository.
cover photo: elements of pop up
 3. My third go-to book, Making Mechanical Cards by Sheila Sturrock, is not technically all about pop ups, but I believe most people do not really care about the distinction between "pop up cards" and "mechanical cards." Sturrock's book includes designs I have not seen elsewhere, mostly mechanisms from the great card makers of the past. I am grateful to her for digging up these cards in museums and working out how they were made. She includes full size templates for each mechanism. 

cover photo: making mechanical cards
 4. My top choice for a book about designing sliceforms is John Sharp's Surfaces: Explorations with Sliceforms.  I bought this book recently after years of using a mostly trial and error method, with a little help from Sketchup.  I learned a lot! 

cover photo of surfaces: explorations with sliceforms
 5. My favorite book about the theory of origamic architeture-- focusing on the design of pop up structures from a single piece of paper--is Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Designs by Paul Jackson.  I use this book for reference and original design work: it's not a source for ready-made templates or finished cards. 

cover: cut and fold techniques for pop up designs
If you already have those five, my next purchases would come from this list (some are out-of-print). 
  The Pop Up Book by Paul Jackson: from Amazon  or Book Depository
  Origamic Architecture books by Masahiro Chatani and Keiko Nakazawa
  Paper Engineering & Pop Ups for Dummies by Rob Ives: from Amazon or Book Depository
  The Pocket Paper Engineer (series) by Carol Barton: from Amazon or Book Depository
  How to Make Super Pop-Ups (or any of her pop up instruction books) by Joan Irvine: from Amazon  or Book Depository
  Kirigami: The Art of 3 Dimensional Paper Cutting by Laura Badalucco: from Amazon
  The Art of Paper Folding for Pop Up by Miyuki Yoshida: from Amazon
  Paper Engineering for Pop Up Books and Cards or Up Pops by Mark Hiner: from Amazon.  Full 

Disclosure: I received no compensation from any of these authors or publishers, nor any complementary review titles.    Last updated: 07/12/2018 by Carol P