GCSE Graphics Pop Up Project

The trickle of enquiries I received from students starting their GCSE Graphics project on pop-ups became a flood of enquiries! I know many of you are just starting on this project and have to find information on how to create pop-ups. You search the web for "pop-up books" or "how to make pop-ups", find my web site and send me an e-mail to ask for information. My own son did his GCSE Graphics pop-ups project in 2001 and so I know you need information. I'm very flattered that you ask me for information, but dealing with all your e-mail enquiries became too time-consuming, so I decided to put the information up here on the web site for you.

Please note: I don't keep a stock of information I can send out to students. All the information I have is listed below. It's based on the most frequently asked questions students send to me.

Recommended books on how to create pop-ups


"Highly recommended."

Duncan Birmingham (author)

John's personal comment:
"Highly recommended. I found this author's first book really helpful. This new edition is even better! The diagrams and photographs of working pop-ups are excellent and I will use this book if I am ever asked to do another pop-up book myself.
This book should show you everything you need for your GCSE - and at a price you can afford!"

"I wish I'd had this book when I was first commissioned to make pop-ups."

David A Carter & James Diaz

This fantastic book includes full explanations, instructions and actual 3-d working examples from the most simple to the most complicated pop-ups.

John's personal comment:
"The definitive book on how to make pop-ups. Couldn't be bettered. If you need to know how to create pop-ups, this book is what you need - though it is rather expensive."


How did I learn to make pop-up books?

Well, the first time I was asked to design a pop-up book, I bought some pop-up books and had a really good look at how they were put together. I took them apart and studied their construction in great detail. I still think that's probably the best way to learn how to make pop-ups, together with a lot of experimentation. There is a great deal to learn about pop-ups. In fact, I have only been commissioned to create fairly simple pop-ups myself and don't yet have the skills to create pop-ups with moving parts.That's the really clever stuff! I have worked on moving-parts pop-ups, but in those cases I worked with a specialist paper engineer who really knows his stuff.

Can I send you some information on how to create pop-up books?

The short answer is: Sorry, but no. I'm just a freelance illustrator; I don't keep a stock of information I can send out. I would strongly recommend that you buy one or both of the books listed above - I have found them absolutely invaluable! I have also found some useful web sites about pop-ups that might help you. Just select the links below to go to the web sites. Each one will open in a new browser window so that this page will stay open and you can return to try the next link.

OK, so what info can I provide?

If you have a look at some simple pop-up books, you will be able to see how they are constructed. It is very important to get the measurements exactly right, otherwise it won't work properly. Look at a pop-up from the side so that you can see it in cross-section and you will notice that the pop-up forms a square or rectangle. The measurement from the fold back to the page *usually* must be the same on either side of the centre of the book (this is for simple pop-ups - for more complicated pop-ups you really should order the book listed first above and you will find it explains everything).

Also, bear in mind that areas which are horizontal when popped up will be subject to foreshortening and you therefore have to elongate them in the drawing stage to get them to look right when popped up (e.g. tops of tables, beds etc.).

A pop-up need not be complicated to create a big impact. Sometimes a very simple, bold design can make a great and impressive pop-up.

I wish you the best of luck with your GCSE project and I hope you enjoy making pop-ups – they're fun!

Websites about how to make pop-ups

(in no particular order)

Note: if you find that any of the links below are dead, or you know of any other useful sites not listed here, please contact us to let us know. Thank you.

Book Production Information

  • Hawcock Books
    A publisher's website that provides some useful info about book production.
  • Mark Hiner - paper engineer
    This very useful site includes a section on how books are produced. Click on the link to Producing a Book to see it. (Many thanks to Susie Arnott for the 3 links above.)

Please note:

... I can't supply any more information about making pop-up books. I repeatall the information I have is on this page.

Other useful Education links