Introduction: DIY Bookmarks

About: Software developer with hobby for DIY ;)

First of all, sorry for my English, I hope I will be able to expose my instructable the best possible, in case please don’t blame me too much, this is also my first instructable.

Now, even if I’m a software developer and I really love technology, I’m still one of those peoples who prefer a real book in his hands and turn real pages instead of using new technology gadgets like Amazon Kindle or Kobo readers.

As all readers know a bookmark is essential when you are reading a book to keep track where you have leave the reading before resuming it later. Unfortunately, generally a book never came with a proper bookmark and those that a book store generally provides us are just full of commercials and generally bad looking and disconnected from the main topic of the book.

There is obviously the possibility to buy them from the web (like on Amazon) and sometimes you can get very good-looking bookmarks but is still difficult to find sometimes what you might want.

I’ve started then to check how to possibly create good looking ones myself surfing the web to find something cool and this instructable just came out as a sum of all the ideas I’ve found out putted down in a custom solution that I think ends in a very cool result (at least for me).

So, let’s start.

Step 1: Required Materials

  • Photo quality printer paper (this is just for best results but regular paper would work as well)
  • Printer (unless you want to paint it yourself ;) )
  • Guillotine A4 cutter (this will guarantee better cutting precision, but any cutter will do it)
  • Laminator (Optional but recommended)
  • Laminator sleeves (Optional but recommended)
  • Glue

Step 2: Design the Bookmark Layout

The first thing to do is obviously design the bookmark the way we want. To do this I’ve used Adobe Photoshop, but any free alternative (like GIMP or Paint.Net) can be used as well. Attached you will find my PSD base file so if you wish you can skip all this step using directly my layout.

First, I’ve decided the size for my bookmark to be and after some measuring over my books I’ve decided that a 15 x 4.5 cm dimension would have fitted my needs. Now since I’ve decided to make my bookmark being printed on both sides the base image I’ve prepared under Photoshop was 15 x 9 cm. This allowed me later to fold the bookmark making it look like being printed on both sides. Also consider making the image to have at least a 300dpi resolution for a better printed result. This would anyway increase a lot the size PSD of the file.

You can eventually decide to print the two sides detached, then cut them and glue them together but the risk is that you will cut the two pieces slightly differently causing a little mismatch between the two sides. If you are using a regular paper you might also want to try to print directly the two sides on the same paper on both sides but if the printer is not properly aligned you might risk again to have a mismatch and so the result won’t be good.

Another consideration. You might want to have some little exceeded printed area to have the possibility to cut it out during the cutting process removing the risk, in case you don’t have a Guillotine cutter to have some “white” area around the bookmark (you will understand what I mean on cutting step).

Now that I have decided the bookmark dimension, I’ve set a guideline to split the image vertically in two to allow me an easier work on the front and rear side of the bookmark. The guidelines are also useful as Photoshop will snap to them in case you’ll need to select or move something allowing a more precise work. To achieve this with Photoshop you just simply need to toggle the “Move Tool” (keyboard shortcut is V) then move the cursor on top of one of the rule on the left side of the working area, right click on it and keeping the mouse pressed, move the “green” line that will appear in the middle of the image, the line will automatically snap to the proper position when you’ll get near to the middle.

Since on the back side of the bookmark I wanted to add a quote taken from the book I’m making the bookmark for, I’ve decided to add a small opacity layer on top of the image to allow a better readability of the quote. To achieve this, First I’ve created a new layer, then I’ve toggled the “Rectangular Marque Tool” (M keyboard shortcut) and I’ve selected the left half (you can even choose the right one if you prefer), at this point using the “Paint Bucket Tool” (G) I’ve filled the selection with white color and then I’ve changed the opacity of the layer to around 30%.

Now on the left side I’ve prepared a fake citation using the “Horizontal Type Tool” (T) and applied to it an “Outer Glow” effect to make it even more readable. To add the effect simply double click over the type layer automatically generated by Photoshop and apply your preferred values (in the images you can see my settings for it).

I’ve then added the book title on the right side of the bookmark and applied the same “Outer Glow” effect. You can copy it from the other typed layer right clicking over it and selecting “Copy Layer Style” from the context menu then right click on top of the other layer and paste it.

To allow to create multiple bookmarks for different books in the same PSD file I’ve putted all this layers in a group folder inside the layers panel. You can create a folder for each bookmark copying this tree base layers into each folder. To do it select the tree layers (keeping pressed CTRL or SHIFT on the keyboard like when you select multiple files on window), then right click over them, select “Duplicate layers” and once done, move the duplicated layers into the newly created group folder.

Step 3: Unleash Your Creativity

At this point we have the base layout, we just need to add the graphic and the desired quotes.

This is a highly custom step, so I will just say that I’ve searched the web for images that would mean something about the book I’m creating the bookmark for. I’ve obviously tried to get those with the higher resolution for a better final result. In many cases I’ve got to increase or decrease the image dimension inside the layer to make it fit the bookmark size. To do it you will need to import the image as a new layer inside Photoshop (please make sure the image layer is below the quote, title and opacity ones as otherwise it will be hiding them) and using the “Free Transform” (CTRL+T) facility I’ve resized it to my needs. Remember to keep SHIFT pressed while transforming the layer to keep the image proportions. It is also possible to add multiple images for the same book and toggle the image layer visibility (click on the eye sign next to the layer to show/hide it. Same can be done on layers groups to show/hide the bookmark for the book you are about) to see which image fits the best.

I’ve also used, where applicable, the font of the book or film for the book title, while I’ve preferred a hand write one for the quote.

Step 4: Printing

Once you are done with the bookmark you need to print it. Now since I’ve prepared a lot of bookmarks at the same time and I didn’t wanted to waste photo paper that is quite expensive, I’ve decided to print more of them in a single sheet. To achieve this, I’ve created another Photoshop image with A4 size and still 300dpi resolution, then I’ve got back to the bookmark project file, right click on top of the layers group of the bookmark I wanted to print and selected the “Merge Group” option (this is where having created a group for each bookmark helps). This will merge all the layers down into a single layer with the final bookmark image (you can always undo the merge using CTRL+ALT+Z shortcut). Once the layer was ready I’ve copied and pasted it into the newly created A4 project. Using the same technique, I’ve added into the A4 file as many bookmarks as I was able to fit in (you can also put them all in and then toggle layer visibility for those you want to print).

Step 5: Cutting

Now that we have our bookmarks printed, it is time to cut them. I’ve used a guillotine cutter but you can use a simple cutter along with a ruler or scissors but the guillotine one was much more precise for me.

So, take the printed sheet and cut it making sure to be the more precise possible in the cutting to avoid white paper pieces out of the printed part (having extra printed area would solve this issue as you will be discarding part of the printed area, but none the less you need to mark properly where to cut to avoid wrong cutting proportions once you must merge front and back layers.

Step 6: Gluing and Refining

Now that we have our printed and cutted bookmark, we need to glue it up to make it looks like printed on both sides. Helped by the opacity layer on the back side of the bookmark just fold it in half and use some glue (the one that fit you best, for photo paper I suggest a little bit stronger glue like vinyl one as otherwise the paper will tend to open again) to merge the two layers together. Press the folding side trying to avoid rubbing it too much as it might ruin the print. Put some weight over it (like a book or similar) in order to make the two layers to properly merge each other and wait for the glue to make it works.

Once the glue has finally merged the two layers refine the bookmark cutting out eventually exceeding portions of the prints.

Step 7: Lamination (optional But Recommended)

We are getting closer to the conclusion. Now this step is optional but it would guarantee a better durability of the bookmark.

Put the cutted and glued bookmarks inside the laminator sheet, add as many as you wish but try to give some space between them to allow the lamination process to properly enclose the bookmark sides. Once you are good with the setup of the sheet put it into the laminator (help it supporting the side still to be laminated with your hands to avoid the bookmarks to move or fall out). I’ve personally run it twice into the laminator just to make sure it will remove eventual small air drops that would eventually create on the first run. Now let it cold down using again a book or similar to flatten the sheet as with the heat it might have slightly bended.

Step 8: Finish It Up

Now that you have it laminated up use the guillotine cutter or a scissor to cut out the bookmark from the laminator sheet. Please leave the small extra space that the lamination will create around the bookmark as otherwise it might happen that the lamination layer will break open with time.

You are done, now you have your customized and beautiful bookmark to use within your favorite books.

I hope I’ve been able to guide you the best during the process, feel free to criticize me if you think I’ve done something wrong or ask me any extra details I might have forgotten and again sorry if I’ve leave some bad grammar error along the description.

All the best, Matteo

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