In various places, I saw 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 as I am an avid reader and love books, paper and art, this was a wonderfully alluring combination!

So, I absolutely wanted to make my own! And of course I also wanted to use my own pattern, not just anything!

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'm also learning how to program, and am a fan of open source software, I thought I could combine this with the books to create something useful.

So I wrote a program which can turn your picture into a pattern for making book folding art.

This instructable is not about how to write that program, nor will I explain in detail how it works.

This instructable shows you how to use the program to make your own book art with your own pattern.

WARNING: The program was only tested on Linux. I do not know, nor can I test, if it also runs on a Windows or Mac OS operating system. If you find out if / how it works on those other, non-open source operating systems, please provide a hint in the comments for other users!

Update: Instructables user flogy4031 and I got it to work on Windows 7. flogy installed WAMP (from WAMP.org), a server environment for Windows, which did some of the configuration of php for him, and imagemagick. Then flogy still had to do some configuration to make the command line work (see linked videos in the comment section). I have now added a Windows version of the script to the github repository, which eliminates a problem caused by different behaviour of the Windows command line.
Thank you very much, flogy4031!

Update 2: As the configuration of php and imagemagick seems quite difficult on Windows for the non-geeks, I added the option to use a virtual machine (which is a little computer inside you computer, if you will). I think this is much easier for the Windows users, and it will also work on Mac OS/X. However, the download size is bigger. Go straight to option 2, if you prefer this!

Update 3: As still many people had problems with understanding how to setup and use a virtual machine, and how to access their picture files on their real computer from there, and how to edit pictures to not contain transparencies, I decided to make a new version of the script, which should be a lot easier to use. This new version is now a python script, it requires installation of Python 2.7 and it also requires the installation of PILLOW. Install instructions for Python for Windows can be found here (also install pip!), then install PILLOW, as described here.

You can get the Python version of BookArtGenerator here. For usage, follow the instructions in the readme file. For understanding how to select a good image and book, what to do with the files the program creates and how to fold, jump to steps 3, 4 and 6 to 9, and for the rest, follow the instructions on your monitor.

Enjoy! (and note the program licence if you decide to make derivative software).

Step 1: Preparations - Get the software

OPTION 1: Install php, imagemagick and the script (suggested for Linux users and experienced Windows users)


My script is written in PHP. This is because I am learning PHP - which is usually more widely used for programming web sites.

So you will need to install PHP in order to run it on your computer - not just any PHP, but the Command Line Interface version for your operating system, because my script runs in the terminal (this way, it can interactively ask questions).

For my system (Linux Mint), the package I had to install is called "php5-cli". The name of the package will be similar for all Linux distributions. For Windows systems, the program is available from here , but you will have to find out on your own how to install and use it, because I cannot try this out. I guess you might also need a terminal, also called shell or console, for your Windows installation to be able to call the script. For Mac OS/X look for help on http://www.php.net/ .

A decent file manager (for example Krusader) and some picture editing software (like Gimp and/or Inkscape) will also be useful - not only for this project ;-).


As the script also uses image manipulating software to resize a picture, you will also need that image manipulating software, which is called "imagemagick". That's also the name of the package you will need to install on Linux distributions. On imagemagick.org the software installation files for Windows and Mac OS/X are also available.

My script

After all, you will also need the script. I don't claim that it is a masterpiece of software, but it works as intended.
You can find it on github in my repository.
You can either download and unpack the whole repository, or only copy and paste this php script (Linux version) or this php script (Windows version) into a text file on your computer (I mean a real textfile generated with any editor, not with your OfficeSuite). If you copy-paste, you need to name the file. Call it 'BookArtGenerator.php'.

You can now look into the script to see what it does if you like. It's well commented. You can also change and improve things if you like. You can make your own versions of the script - it's free and open source software! You may even sell it - or products made with it, as long as you publish the source code for your modified script.

OPTION 2: Install virtualbox and 7zip, import Virtual Machine (suggested for the less experienced Windows users)

Above, you can see a screenshot of the Virtual Machine I prepared for you.


Download the software VirtualBox from VirtualBox.org . This software will allow you to simulate another computer with another operating system on your computer. It's easy to use, ready for even professional use and a very, very useful thing. It is also cost-free and open source.


7zip is a software which is used to compress / uncompress files. You can download it from 7-zip.org. It is also cost-free and open source and works very well. I used it to pack my Virtual Machine, so the download is only one file, which is a bit smaller than the original files.

The BookArtVM

I prepared a special treat for you: A virtual machine (which is some kind of 'simulated computer'), which contains everything necessary to use the BookArtGenerator script and to make book art. You can download it from here .

The Virtual Machine contains the Linux operating system Debian 7 with the basic desktop environment Xfce. It is preconfigured to make making book folding art easy. It has only the really necessary software in it: A web browser, a text editor, a simple graphics program and the script, which can be started directly from the desktop. You will have to login as the user 'bookartist' with the password 'test'. If you ever need to install further software or want to create shared folders with your own operating system, you need the root password, which is also 'test'.

How to proceed

When you have downloaded and installed VirtualBox and 7zip and downloaded the BookArtVM (about 550Mb - it's a whole little computer inside!), you can use 7zip to extract the BookArtVM file into a new folder.

Then, open VirtualBox and click on File → Import appliance. Choose the OVF file you have just extracted with "Choose". It will then be imported, this can take a while.

If you have to, adjust the settings vor the VirtualMachine. Especially, if your computer has less RAM than 3 GB, you should reduce the RAM you want to give to the VirtualMachine to less than a third of your actual RAM.

Start the BookArtVM by selecting it and pressing on the green dart labelled start.

Log in as 'bookartist', the password is 'test'.

The current BookArtVM version released on 16 March 2014 contains some bug corrections. Be sure to use the most current version!

Download pictures, prepare them with the graphics program and put them into the script folder. You can run the script by double-clicking on the heart icon on your virtual machine's desktop. Continue at STEP 3, where you will learn how to choose a good picture.

OPTIONAL: Update and install additional software

It is also a good idea to update the Virtual Machine. You can do so
by opening the terminal (click on the little black box in the bottom bar), and then login as administrator:

su [Enter]

test [Enter]

Then update the package index and install all available updates:

apt-get update [Enter]

apt-get upgrade [Enter]

Y [Enter]

and if it tells you about some changed behaviour, just hit q to proceed, answer questions about whether to keep a locally installed version of a file with that you want to keep the current version.

You can now also install additional (free!) software, for example, The Gimp, an advanced graphics editing software, by just typing:

apt-get install gimp [Enter]

or install Inkscape, a great vector graphics editor by typing:

apt-get install inkscape [Enter]

or install any other available software by first searching for a keyword with

apt-cache search [Enter]

and then selecting a program from the list this shows to use with

apt-get install [Enter]

Just finished my project..thanks for the write up.
Now this looks like you had a relaxing time doing this ;) OMMMHHH...<br>Congrats!
Can you help me please? Can you teach me how i can do it. Which programs do i have to use. Please help me. Pilotfourever@gmail.com
<p>I followed moini's tutorial on how to use the computer program to generate the page numbers. Have you tried download and installing them as mentioned in the tutorial?</p>
I can't catch. How do i have to do? Do you have whatsapp? Or how we can connect please help me. It will be 5-10minutes
Can you teach me how i can do it. Which programs do i have to use. Please help me. I can learn quickly.<br>Pilotfourever@gmail.com<br>
Made this for a friend's wedding. Thanks for the program!
<p>This turned out very nice - I bet the guests and the couple loved it!</p>
They did! Lots of oohs and ahhs. It was a showstopper. It was displayed by the wedding cake. I'm now working on some for the mother and sister of the groom.
the scissor was for washi tape on the spine, to cover the title.
<p>just some of the patterns I've been making with your awesome program :)</p>
<p>hi heathersharmony, i really love your books that you did with the paw prints. i am not that good with a computer and i don't understand how to make my own patterns. i really love the one with the work love and a dog paw in it. i was wondering if i could get that patteren. thanks</p>
<p>Hi Moini, Been using your programme to make a few designs which have come out really well. I just wanted to know if theres a better way to do words i.e. a way to cheat the system. There are some fonts I want to use and can't as it says there are white gaps between the letters? Is there a way around this?</p>
James, I would looove if you could share the instructions for the Superman-logo! Want to surprise my boyfriend with it but I'm having a problem finding instructions. Mail me! nielsenlina@gmail.com <br><br>Take care!
Like :-D<br><br>Yes, there are three ways:<br>- in a pixel graphics program: cut out the letters and move them towards each other<br>- in a DTP program: reduce the letter distance (kerning...?)<br>- in a vector graphics program: turn the letters into paths and grab them and move them together.<br><br>You shouldn't modify the script for this, because this will leave you with ugly 'dark' (protruding) bars between the letters.
I've done all three of those and still can get the results i want, as i actually want the gaps between the letters.. <br> <br>Im now trying doing each individual letter through the programme.. but theres a lot more working out and im not 100% sure how to get them all excatly the same so they're lined up and still form a word ... Any further suggestions?
<p>I could imagine another 'trick' which would work without modifying the program:</p><p>You could lay a thin, horizontal black line across your pattern. In the folding instructions, you can distinguish that line from the other 'real' parts because it will always have the same folding measurements which are very close to each other. You could just do a 'search and substitute' on those lines in the instruction sheet, too, to mark them.</p>
<p>Eureka!! Your a genius, it works.. well in theory..!! I've ran my word through the program and I can clearly see the folds that relate to the line! Thank you so much this has just opened up a whole new way of folding for me.. The sky is the limit!! I'll be sure to post a pic up once its folded!! :) </p>
<p>I just finished folding my first book (which surely won't be my last). Thank you for this fantastic piece of software (:</p>
<p>These are my two efforts made with your method! </p>
<p>what font is this please? thanks</p>
<p>Thank you for sharing your results! :-D</p>
<p>'Food' was my first attempt, the text is a little too tall though, I think 'Cook' is a better size!</p>
<p>These are some of the books I've folded using the program. Here are some tips I've found out the hard way:<br>1) Use a book with thicker paper. It really makes the letters/design stand out better.<br>2) When I make the books with words or letters, I have find that having at least 100 pages/50 sheets per letter is a minimum. The more the better.<br>3) When making your design in your graphics program (I use GIMP), be sure to leave space at the top and bottom of the design. Too little space makes for difficult folds close to the top and bottom of the pages. You can take the blank space from the left and right of the design. That will use more of your pages effectively.</p>
<p>Hi, how do you ensure the image is central? I have just created my first pattern and it is half way up the book! Any help would be appreciated </p>
<p>Here's a semi truck and a dachshund (that means badger hound in German in case you didn't know). </p>
<p>That's amazing. Love them! I'm trying to install the program to my laptop but it is not compatible... If it's not much to ask, I wonder if you can help me create a pattern for the word &quot;Mom&quot;. I want to give her a late gift for mother's day since I was studying abroad away from home. Thank you!</p>
<p>I agree with Moini. The purpose of the Instructable is to get the program successfully installed on your computer. I was one of the early Windows 7 guinea pigs and got it installed and working. I've got it on two Win7 systems using the first method. I found that looks easier than the virtual machine on Windows. Trust in Moini. </p>
What do you mean by 'not compatible'? The program should run on Windows, Mac OS and Linux in a virtual machine. Please describe your problem in more detail.<br><br>I'm sorry I can only give you help installing and running the software. I won't create the pattern for you - if I do, I would cause the 'dam' to breach - and I would have no excuses not to make patterns for everyone who asks. I just can't do that. I think you will understand.
<p>Wow - those turned out great! Which font did you use? (and who's Lollie... ? ;-) - no, don't answer that) Thanks for adding those tips! I think they will be very valuable to other folders.</p>
<p>The Lollie and Smith fonts are both Blenda. The Ivie is JandaManatee. I got them at www.dafont.com. The names are last names of family names. They make great gifts! <br><br>Another pun: my folding table is a folding table. :-)</p>
<p>Pun intended. Didn't know I could make puns in english....</p>
<p>finally, after one night folding I've done it!</p><p>Overall, it has been a great and fun learning experience, and as a bonus the outcome is outstandingly beautiful (.. is my second ever book folding, so my technique still has to be improved therefor the folds are not quite exact :-) )</p>
<p>How many &quot;sheets&quot; are in the book you used? That looks great!</p>
<p>Thank you !! </p><p>319 sheets (638 pages - 2 hours marking, about 3 hours folding)</p><p>I used only 297 sheets :-)</p><p>Hope to see yours soon ;-)</p>
<p>This is my second one using the script. This turned out much better because it was a book with more pages. I made this to remember our puppy who just passed away. </p>
<p>What caused the discoloration towards the middle of the book? Was it intentional?</p>
<p>It's only the shadow between the pages you look right on. If you look from another angle the location of the dark line will change.</p>
<p>Sweet!! keep up the good work!</p>
<p>This looks very, very good! Congrats and thank you for sharing!</p>
1940 Ford
<p>It even has a steering wheel ;-) </p>
Your program is awesome!! It makes pattern creating so much faster. My eyes thank you since I no longer have to erase lines of pixels :)
<p>These are footprints *happily recognizing things*... ;-)</p><p>If you have, and if you want to invest the time, they might even look better with more pages - and they might be bigger and with a higher resolution, if you remove the whitespace at the sides of the picture.</p>
<p>i was only able to do one word. after that, the program continuously tells me that my image is either all white or i have transparencies somewhere. i check, double check and recheck and the image is neither of those two...it also complies with all of the checks for what the image should include or not include...very frustrated...the first is the image i made and the second is the image i am trying to make and it wont let me...ive tried the same font i used for the first one and it still wouldnt work...maybe someone here can see something im not seeing?</p>
<p>Could you list all the things the image complies with, with their actual values? (instructables converts all uploaded pictures, so I cannot test with this pic. Here I can only see that there are a) not too many holes and b) no vertical gaps, which is good.</p><p>or else:</p><p>could you upload the pic you are trying to turn into bookpages art somewhere, where the file will not be changed? Then I could take a look myself.</p><p>And would you please supply me with the info which version of the script you use on which platform and how you installed it?</p><p>And, btw., are the fonts you used in the public domain? I saw your uploads on inkscape and was just about to write something about it being questionable if you may publish those words into the public domain. The law in the US is clear about this, there is no copyright for fonts, but in most other countries of the world, there is.</p><p>I always think &quot;better safe than sorry&quot; and wouldn't upload anything containing written text to openclipart anymore, unless the font is also public domain or at least a free font.</p>
<p>Thank you for your help on this. the image can be seen at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202141250873032&set=a.1120830261227.2018583.1241188673&type=1&theater" rel="nofollow">https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1020214125...</a></p><p>hopefully that link will work for you. as for the fonts...yes, its public domain. i keep thinking that there is something im not seeing in the pic. i even went as far as bringing the dot in the i down to touch the rest of the letter for fear there would error out due to the space between the dot and the i. i hope you can help. oh...i just installed this a couple of days ago. its the newest version with the extension pack and im running windows 8. not sure if that answers all of your questions or not. just let me know. thanks much!</p>
<p>Sorry, I cannot access the image at facebook, would need an account for that - plus I'm not sure if they transform images for faster download for users viewing the site.... I guess they do, just like google+ and the likes.</p><p>Couldn't you use a filehoster? The image isn't too private for this, I think ;-) It only needs to be online for a week or so, then I'll certainly have taken a look at it.</p><p>The question was more about how you installed the script, not so much about Win 8 (that's useful, too, of course) and its extension packs (or maybe you mean the virtualbox extension?...) - do you use the virtual machine or do you execute the script directly on your computer? And which version of the script / VM do you use?</p>
<p>Beautiful!</p><p>Definetely gotta have one myself! =D</p>
<p>What a beautiful blend of technology and art. Thank you so much for sharing :) </p>

About This Instructable


303 favorites


More by Moini: Spring-in-a-Box How to make folded book art easier using your computer
Add instructable to: