How to make folded book art easier using your computer

Picture of How to make folded book art easier using your computer
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, 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!
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james.watts.359 made it!29 days ago

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?

Moini (author)  james.watts.35929 days ago
Like :-D

Yes, there are three ways:
- in a pixel graphics program: cut out the letters and move them towards each other
- in a DTP program: reduce the letter distance (kerning...?)
- in a vector graphics program: turn the letters into paths and grab them and move them together.

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..

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?
Moini (author)  james.watts.35929 days ago

I could imagine another 'trick' which would work without modifying the program:

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.

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!! :)

mrsmif made it!2 months ago

These are my two efforts made with your method!

book 19 (6).JPGbook 18 (7).JPG
jonesjdm mrsmif1 month ago

what font is this please? thanks

Moini (author)  mrsmif2 months ago

Thank you for sharing your results! :-D

mrsmif mrsmif2 months ago

'Food' was my first attempt, the text is a little too tall though, I think 'Cook' is a better size!

tivie114 months ago

These are some of the books I've folded using the program. Here are some tips I've found out the hard way:
1) Use a book with thicker paper. It really makes the letters/design stand out better.
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.
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.


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

tivie11 tivie114 months ago

Here's a semi truck and a dachshund (that means badger hound in German in case you didn't know).

ldoan95 tivie114 months ago

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 "Mom". I want to give her a late gift for mother's day since I was studying abroad away from home. Thank you!

tivie11 ldoan954 months ago

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.

Moini (author)  ldoan954 months ago
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.

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.
Moini (author)  tivie114 months ago

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.

tivie11 Moini4 months ago

The Lollie and Smith fonts are both Blenda. The Ivie is JandaManatee. I got them at The names are last names of family names. They make great gifts!

Another pun: my folding table is a folding table. :-)

Moini (author)  Moini4 months ago

Pun intended. Didn't know I could make puns in english....

flogy4031 made it!6 months ago

finally, after one night folding I've done it!

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 :-) )

2014-03-03 22.19.22.jpg2014-03-03 22.20.12.jpg2014-03-03 22.18.45.jpg
tivie11 flogy40316 months ago

How many "sheets" are in the book you used? That looks great!

flogy4031 tivie116 months ago

Thank you !!

319 sheets (638 pages - 2 hours marking, about 3 hours folding)

I used only 297 sheets :-)

Hope to see yours soon ;-)

tivie11 flogy40316 months ago

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.


What caused the discoloration towards the middle of the book? Was it intentional?

Moini (author)  luckyedboy661 month ago

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.

flogy4031 tivie116 months ago

Sweet!! keep up the good work!

Moini (author)  flogy40316 months ago

This looks very, very good! Congrats and thank you for sharing!

Raphango6 months ago


Definetely gotta have one myself! =D

What a beautiful blend of technology and art. Thank you so much for sharing :)

jmc757 months ago

Very nice. Your software eliminates the one part of this process I would dread to do. Next flea market I hit I'm going to try to pick up a couple books to give this a try. Going to try to make my daughter a Hello Kitty book.

Moini (author)  jmc757 months ago

Don't forget to post a picture when you're done :-) - a Hello Kitty silhouette will work fine. Eyes and nose are so small - I don't know if they will come out well.

JasmineP6 days ago

Hi, I wonder if someone can help me and sorry if this should be so simple....!! I want to make some worded folded book art for my wedding but how can I do this, as I can only see options for downloading clip art.....?

Also when I tried to download images keeping in mind Moini's top tips, it still came back with image is too transparent - what am I doing wrong?! Please help!

sjayne119 days ago


Thanks for all your hard work, have installed as instructions, ,but when i get to the press green arrown (start) i keep getting an exception error. Can you help??

Moini (author)  sjayne119 days ago

No. Quoting my own comment from some comments below:

"As has been said here several times:
This is a problem with Oracle's
VirtualBox. Please go to their forum and report the error there (or
better, search it first before you post).

If there is a solution,
you will find it there. Probably you will just need an older version
until they fixed the current version.
A hint for the search: remove
the numbers (the passages consisting only of numbers, dashes and letters
a to f) and the 'BookArtVirtualMachine' from the error message to get
relevant hits, because those are specific to your own computer.

Good luck!"

Flemil23 days ago

Hi Moini, when I run the script the tempfile is great but the preview only has lines for the beginning and end of the image and I get the error PHP Notice: Undefined offset: 0 on line 350 and 351. Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

Moini (author)  Flemil19 days ago

This is solved now ;-)

<doh ..i must be a totaly morron ... where do i find the program ..i so want to learn to make own patterns ..but iam not a pc geek and my age doesnt make it easier :! please ? ;P love annelie from sweden

shoana.dean25 days ago

Hi there, wonder if you can help please? I've tried to start BookArtVM in VirtualBox but keep getting an error message: Error relaunching VirtualBox VM process: 5 Command line: '81954AF5-4D2F-31EB-A142-B7AF187A1C41-suplib-2ndchild--comment BookArtVirtualMachine --startvm ff0a2f6a-17ad-496c-bb28-2369b6801e31 --no--startvm-errormsgbox'' (rc=-104)

I've no clue what to do or how to fix it. I'm on Windows 7 64bit. Any help greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance :)

Moini (author)  shoana.dean25 days ago
Hi Shoana,

as has been said here several times:
This is a problem with Oracle's VirtualBox. Please go to their forum and report the error there (or better, search it first before you post).

If there is a solution, you will find it there. Probably you will just need an older version until they fixed the current version.
A hint for the search: remove the numbers (the passages consisting only of numbers, dashes and letters a to f) and the 'BookArtVirtualMachine' from the error message to get relevant hits, because those are specific to your own computer.

Good luck!

just some of the patterns I've been making with your awesome program :)

Would love a version of this program that would allow for cut pages in order to do more detailed images :)
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