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How to Make Pop Ups: The Basic Mechanisms

How to Make Pop Up Cards and 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. Tutorial 1: How to make Simple Box pop ups
  Tutorial 2: How to make Box Variation pop ups
    Tutorial 3: How to make V-Fold pop ups
    Tutorial 4: How to make pop up cards with Boxes Cut Separately
Tutorial 5:  How to make pop up Boxes with Tabs and Slots
    Tutorial 6: V-Fold Tabs and Slots for pop up cards and books
Tutorial 7:  How to make Pop Up Words Part 1
    Tutorial 8: How to make Pop Up Words Part 2
    Tutorial 9: How to make Pop Up Words Part 3
Tutorial 10: How to make Pop Up Words Part 4
    Tutorial 11: How to make X Style (Slotted Shapes) pop ups
    Tutorial 12: How to make Slotted X with Strap pop ups
  Tutorial 13: How to make Slotted X with Tabs pop ups
  Tutorial 14: How to make Asymmetrical Slotted X pop ups
    Tutorial 15: How to make X Form pop up cards
  Tutorial 16: How to make V-Fold Pivots for pop ups
Tutorial 17: How to make Asymmetrical V-Fold Pivots for pop ups
Tutorial 18: How to make 180° Open Top Box pop ups
    Tutorial 19: How to make 180° Box with Closed Top pop ups
    Tutorial 20: How to make 180° Open Top Boat pop ups
    Tutorial 21: How to make 45° Open Box pop ups
Tutorial 22: How to make Tabletop Floating on Boxes pop ups
Tutorial 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
Pop-Up Design and Paper Mechanics: How to Make Folding Paper Sculpture, from Amazon, or from Book Depository (free shipping worldwide). 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.
cover photo: elements of pop up
Elements Of Pop Up: A Pop Up Book For Aspiring Paper Engineers, from Amazon, or from Book Depository.  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
Making Mechanical Cards: 25 Paper-Engineered Designs, from Amazon, or Book Depository.  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
Surfaces: Explorations with Sliceforms, from Amazon, or  Book Depository.  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
Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Designs, from Amazon or Book Depository.  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: 04/12/2018 by Carol F