Creating Book Art

What’s book art?

Bookart example: doctor's bag
In various places, you can see those beautiful folded book art pieces (like in these instructables: Book-Art-How-to-Fold-a-Book-into-a-Word, Folded-Book-Art-Best-most-clear-Tutorial-available ) - and it seems you’d like to make your own one, with your own pattern, now!

This page will guide you how to accomplish this in an easy, step-by-step way.

Preparations

Choose a picture

Best practice: Keep it simple!

The simpler the image, the fewer pages are necessary to make a good picture and the easier it will be to recognize which object you folded into your book pages.

You need a picture which fulfills the following requirements:

Requirements for a good image

Choose a book

Suitable book choices
A suitable book should fulfill the following requirements:

How many pages exactly you will need depends on your picture - a wide picture needs more pages than a thin one and a detailed picture needs more pages than a very simple one. When you think of pages in terms of resolution of the picture, remember that only every second page number of the book is in fact one sheet of paper - and corresponds to one ‘pixel’ (or better: slice) in the width of your art work.

So if you think ‘Wow, this book has more than 200 pages’ - it is really only about 100. And think of pictures which are 100 by 100 pixels - they are SMALL. So take a book with many, many pages.

Hint (optional, but useful):

If you want to know the optimal width to height ratio for your picture, put your book upright and fan out its pages. When they have a ‘good’ distance from each other, so that you can imagine your picture being rendered well, you can measure the width to height ratio of your book. If you adjust the dimensions of your picture to this (by adding and removing empty space, not by distorting the image), you can optimize your result.

Create the pattern and preview

Now that you’ve got everything prepared, head over to the Bookart page and enter the values of your art project into the form. Tooltips will help you to choose the right options for your project.

If something is wrong with the settings you chose or with the image you used, you will get a feedback message telling you what you need to change.

After you clicked on “Create template!”, your pattern preview and pattern text will be available for checking and download.

Note:

When you make a pattern using this web site, your image data or settings will not be transmitted via the internet, as all processing will be done within your web browser. Nobody but you will be able to see what kind of picture you want to put on your book.

Check the preview

Pattern preview example
Take a look at the pattern preview. If you downloaded it, you might have to zoom in to see all vertical lines, else you’ll probably have to scroll to see everything.

Don’t worry about the aspect ratio, only check if the object is there, if the pages alternate well and if the level of detail is what you want.

If something’s wrong, check that your picture fulfills all requirements mentioned above.

If the alternation of the pages looks wrong, try starting at another even page of your book (for example, if the first even page number is 4, try 6 next time). You can also add or remove whitespace around your object to allow it to be better centered.

Tweak the settings and create patterns until you are happy with the preview.

Fold the book

How to read the pattern

Pattern text example

Print the pattern out - or leave the file open to save paper and listen to music from your computer while folding.

Put on some good music, or audio book… and FOLD

Now it’s the time to MARK and FOLD. This may take some time - and it’s a bit meditative. If you don’t like to meditate, put on some good music or an audio book :-)

I found that I preferred marking and folding in one step. You might be more efficient if you mark all pages first and fold in a second step. The marking and folding in one step has the advantage that you notice errors (like jumping a page number or measuring wrongly) right away. Plus you can already see your partial result, which provides some motivation.

Cross off the pages in your pattern text which you have already marked (and folded). It’s easy to forget to check for the correct page number and to mark and fold the same part of the pattern more than once…

Mark with a thin pencil, using a long ruler. Put the marks some 2-3 mm away from the border of the page - this way, your marks cannot be seen in your finished project.

Use a ‘Geodreieck’ or a hard, triangular shape (45°-90°-45°, maybe from cardboard or plastic) to make your folds as precise as possible. Hover over the pictures for more information.

Tools needed
Making marks
Folding - use of triangle
Folding - use of triangle, second photo
Folding - 90° not possible

Admire your result

Bookart result

When you’re all through the pattern, put up your new artwork. Adjust the opening angle of the book to adjust the aspect ratio. Fan the pages out regularly.

Enjoy your very own, easy-made art work with your own, original pattern!
Use it as a gift, as decoration, whatever you like!
If you made a nice piece of art, tell others about it in the comment section! And if you attach a photo to your comment mail (licenced CC-By-SA 4.0 or higher), then I’d be happy to include it into the article’s gallery, as an inspiration for others.

How come this service exists?

Looking into one of the instructables (How-to-Fold-a-Book-into-a-Word-The-original-tuto ), which describes the process of making your own pattern, I saw that the measuring and mapping from picture to page is a really tedious, time-consuming process, which can also go wrong in many places. And I realized that the number of free ready-to-fold patterns is a bit, …. mmmh, limited - you don’t always want hearts…unless it’s Valentine’s day, of course.

As I was also learning how to program, and am a fan of (and humble contributor to) open source software, I thought I could try out my new skills and create something useful at the same time.

So I was learning PHP when I first came across this - and I wrote a program which can turn your picture into a pattern for making book folding art in PHP. Then, some time later, I started learning Python - and rewrote the program in Python, and improved it a little. And then, I thought it could be good to know some JavaScript - and guess what? I rewrote the program in JavaScript and added more functionality ;)

Before the JavaScript version, the program required the installation of some other programs that it depended upon, which many people found difficult to accomplish. It was made available at instructables.com (you can browse the comment section there to see photos of other people’s artworks for inspiration).

Now it’s available as a simple website - you choose your image, enter a few values, click some buttons - and get your pattern. No more Python installation, command-line interface, weird error messages - just a web page.

Happy folding!
(and note the program licence if you decide to make derivative software)

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License.
You may share and adapt the contents, as long as you publish the result under the same license and give appropriate credit.



18 Comments

Rhonda

Thank you for your Bookart Generator. I only had to make a couple of corrections to the folds. Here is the butterfly I did. Thanks again!

Rhonda


Moini

Hi Rhonda,

thank you for the photo! Good work! The book looks like an encyclopedia to me - makes for nice colors :)

As discussed by email, I’ve added your image to this page’s gallery, to inspire others who would like to create book art.

Thanks again for sending me a picture - it’s really cool to see what comes out of my little program!


Kathryn

Hi! I’ve created two patterns and my first two book folds with your service. Thank you! Question. Both patterns have required very small .5 cm folds top and bottom; i.e., the program stretches the image to the very top and very bottom of the book. Is there a way to build in a buffer so that you don’t have to fold less than 1 cm top and/or 1 cm bottom? If not, what’s the best way to make a precise .5 cm fold?! Thank you.


Moini

Hi Kathryn,

to get this effect, you will need to edit the image you want to put on the book, using a bitmap graphics editor. For example, you could use Gimp or Photoshop for this.

Basically, what needs to be done is to resize the image, adding a blank strip at the top and bottom. In Gimp, this can be done by changing the ‘canvas size’.

Hope this helps!


Kathryn

Perfect! Tried it out and I got it to work. Thank you very much.


Yvonne

Thank you very very much for your pattern generator! Love it - I have made two books so far. Both for my grandchilds - Neo is my firs first grandson and Lova is my granddaughter They love them :) Thanks again from Sweden and a lucky family Yvonne Primé

Edit by Moini: Yvonne attached a couple of pictures.


Moini

Hi Yvonne,

tack så mycket’ for your feedback and the gorgeous photos!

Those books you made are truly works of art - I can understand very well that your grandchildren like them!

I would like to also show them to the people visiting my website.

May I add the photos to the gallery here (above the comment section): http://vektorrascheln.de/posts/2015/Dec/creating-bookart.html If so, do you want to use a specific licence? For my own images, I always use this one: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/, but I can also just write ‘all rights reserved’, if you prefer that.

And may I add the text below into the comment section? Which name would you like to see on the page? (Some people do not want to see their full name on a website).

Thank you very, very much, too :-) - and best wishes for you and your family from (Northern) Germany!

Kind Regards, Maren


Yvonne

Hi, of course you may use my photos and my thank to you. Its ok for me to have my own name, and if your wish You could end it with “Yvonne Primé from Stockholm, Sweden” I dont have any licence, so you just write “all rights reserved” Thanks again, for the moment I work with a book for my daughter in law who will be 40 next week :) With help from your program - a two-liner :) I be back with that one when ready. Have a great day and thanks again //Yvonne


lizl_of_oz

Hi, Thank you very much for your software. I created a pattern that looks great. But I have a question. The pattern calls for some pages to be ‘fold back completely’. How do I do that? Thanks again for your great app.


Moini

Hi Elizabeth,

for the pages where it says ‘fold back completely’, you can either:

  • not fold the page at all
  • fold the page along a vertical line that goes down the whole page

To find out how deep you need to fold that line in, so that it still looks nice, take a look at the neighbouring folds, and how deep they go (from the edge of the page that will be the ‘screen’ for the picture.

Kind Regards, Maren


lizl_of_oz

Hi Maren,

Thank you for your reply and a wonderful app.

I ended up folding the page in half. It looks good.

Best,Liz


Julie

Thank you so much for sharing your book art generator! I plan on using it to make the patterns for my family/friends’ Christmas gifts. You aren’t planning on removing this website any time soon, are you? I’ve completed three books using your generator so far, but have many more to do! Thanks again! P.S. I don’t bother to do the ‘measure and mark’ style of folding, I just print out your pattern, stick it in the book, and use it as a template for the folds!


Moini

Hi Julie,

thank you for your nice feedback and the photo.

It’s really cool to see what people do with the little program. That’s already a nice collection you have there, I especially like the crossing spoon and fork.

Would you be fine with your picture being added to the gallery below the article here: http://vektorrascheln.de/posts/2015/Dec/creating-bookart.html#creating-bookart-gallery

For the image license, I’d like to ask you if you could choose CC-By-SA (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/), which is the same license that I use for the blog.

Another user has asked me to put page numbers on the ‘preview picture’. Do you think that would be helpful for the way how you do the folding, too? Or is there something else that would be helpful?

Kind Regards, Maren

Edit: Julie sent another picture and agreed to CC-By-SA licence for the new one, find her image in the gallery! She also said she wouldn’t need any numbering on the preview image.


Robin

Thanks so much for sharing what you do! I had been searching for a good bookfolding app and you did it! I do have a question which I saw you answered earlier but sorry, I didn’t understand the answer - when your instructions say “fold back completely” does that mean I fold the top corner and bottoms corner so they meet in the middle? What do you mean by fold so there is a vertical line???

Thanks


Moini

Hi Robin,

thanks for your kind words :-)

By ‘fold back completely’ I mean folding the page in half vertically, so the outer page border touches the book’s middle fold. That way, the folded page will recede by a very specific, repeatable amount.

Hope that helps, Kind Regards, Maren


Robin

Hi and thanks for responding. Sorry if my questions seem dumb but am new at this and LOVE your program. In the measurements (using centimeters) and it says 7.17 or 8.35 - makes no sense to me. I know where 7.1 cm is but what is 7.17? Thanks


Moini

Hi Robin,

if you don’t like the precision set to two decimals (after the . ), then you can change that in the settings (check the ‘single precision’ checkbox).

The dual precision is mostly useful if you use inches, because there it makes a relevant difference, if you have 0.11 inch or 0.15 inch, for example, as 1 inch is significantly longer than 1 cm.

That said, 7.17 is almost, but not yet, 7.2 ;-)

Kind Regards, Maren


Robin

Thanks!!! You’re the best


Write a Comment:

You can use Markdown syntax to format your comment. If nothing happens when you click the 'Post via email' button, you can also just send your comment in a normal email.