Four great books that will help you learn how to make pop-up cards

Sample pop-up card created from old greeting cards. Image Credit: Lea, via Flickr/CC.
Sample pop-up card created from old greeting cards. Image Credit: Lea, via Flickr/CC.

Creating fun pop-up cards that will delight your family and friends is not as hard as you might expect. Three authors have written books that provide step-by-step instructions for how to plan, cut, and assemble your own pop-up cards. Rather than give a card that is read and set aside or plays silly music, why not wow those you care about with one of the unique cards described in these easy to read books?

The Pocket Paper Engineer by Carol Barton

 In this book you will learn that people who create three-dimensional forms using flat pages are called paper engineers. The author presents easy to understand diagrams that explain how pop-ups work and how to create pop-ups, pull tabs, and rotating wheels using simple materials that you may already have around the house. Using paper, scissors, and glue, the reader will be able to start with simple pop-ups using box and triangle methods and then progress to dynamic pop-up design using combination and layered effects. The appendix of the book also includes quick access to lists of decorative paper and tool supplier websites.

 The Pocket Paper Engineer is available in two volumes for $14 to $25 (U.S.) each and is spiral bound so that it may be laid flat on a table top or workspace for easy reading and reference as you work on your new pop-up card project. The first volume of the Pocket Paper Engineer (67 pages) covers basic forms and Volume 2 (72 pages) covers platforms and props.

The Pop-Up Book: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating Over 100 Original Paper Projects by Paul Jackson

 Combinations of pop-up book creation techniques are presented in this book including straight forward folding techniques and cutting methods using scissors and hobby knifes. The book also includes patterns that can be copied from the text to the paper you are using for your pop-up project and can be easily reduced or increased in size to suit the both large and small formats.

We were most impressed by the creative shapes the author used in the pop-up projects gallery for this book including a dove flying above clouds, a unique Santa Clause face, a silver aikido mask, and a columned Parthenon. It was one of the few books reviewed that went beyond basic shapes and designs for pop-up cards.

The Pop-Up Book is 160 pages in length and may be purchased online for $16 to $25 (U.S.).

Paper Engineering for Pop-Up Books and Cards by Mark Hiner

 The thing we liked most about this book is that how it presented ten basic methods that were easy to understand for creating levers and mechanical movements that are essential for effective pop-up card and pop-up book construction. The illustrations used by the author make it easy for the reader to cut out and create components for both simple and complex cards. What originally drew us to this book were the positive reader reviews, which indicated that the concepts in this book worked well for personal projects, as gift cards that friends loved, in the classroom for K-12 projects, and design courses at the university level.

Paper Engineering for Pop-Up Books (48 pages) is currently out of print but can be readily found through reputable used book sellers for $15 to $30 (U.S.) on,, or Barnes and Noble.

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