Introduction: Hardcover Portfolio Book

About: Instagram @_colurer_, or on my design-y blog at Freelance designer working on my hobbies-- recording an album, repurposing antiques, lighting design, and some general woodworking pr…

This is a mini-guide on making your own hardcover book. I have never made a book previously, and so I was just documenting the steps I thought were important along the way. I made this book because I wanted a better option to display my portfolio in person, and I was unhappy with all of the options I kept coming across in stores - so it might provide some inspiration for other artists/designers!

Also, this is my first instructable set, so if there are any questions or critiques please let me know. Below are the items I used:

-Metal ruler
-Exacto Knife
-Book Tape (found at most art stores, got mine at DickBlick)
-Superblack illustration board (also from DickBlick)
-Bone Scorer (Martha Stewart sells a kit for about $25 that is surprisingly decent, find a coupon and it could be $12!)
-Cardstock, or standard paper sheets.
-Drill, and drillbit (0.25" = 1/4")
-Screwposts, sold at hardware stores or art stores
-Alphabetical impact stamps (optional)

Step 1:

Loose blank cardstock, roughly 7" x 12". I happened to have a surplus of this hanging around so I sized my book according to the stock, but of course you can use any size/stock that you feel is appropriate and will print well. I personally prefer the thicker sheets as it really adds some sophistication to the finished product, and I think that adds value to the viewer.

Step 2:

Printing on front & back of each page. Layout takes a while, so make a small guide book (which can be seen in the bottom left) of which images should go on the front/back of each page beforehand. I laid mine out in a way that the viewer would see the mockup/design on the left pages, and then photographs of how that was applied on the right pages.

You'll also want to take margins into mind while laying your pages out, as the binding is going to conceal about 1.5" of space.

Step 3:

Cutting the Illustration board, and clamping the book together. I cut my illustration board into two pieces, just slightly larger than the interior pages. The front cover board is cut approximately 1/8" shorter in width than the rear cover.

Add spacers between the clamp and the cover to prevent any pressure points from ruining the look of the cover. This clamping is important for the alignment of the book, once aligned then use a drill to drill out holes on straight through from front to back. I used two holes only because of the short height of the pages, you will likely want 3 holes for a more standard sized book. The front cover of your book should be cut about 1/8" shorter left-to-right, I'll get to why shortly.

Step 4:

After drilling. The black heavy pieces which I am using for the cover are the "superblack illustration board", they come in large sheets and are fairly easy to cut to size with an exacto knife - just take your time and measure twice before you cut. After the holes are drilled you'll need to tidy up the rims a bit with an exacto, just to keep everything neat.

Step 5:

Once you're happy with the cuts, and the cleaning, you're going to need to make one more cut on the front cover. This will be made about 1.5" from the binding side, and allows your book to open. After you've cut the piece off, carefully realign it while adding the 1/8" of open space and begin to attach both pieces together with Book Tape. This tape has that cloth feel to it, and provides a great movable binding that will last for a long time. I added mine at a slight angle, to help break the book in a little quicker.

Step 6:

Next up, scoring the paper. This is annoying, but it's necessary for the pages to lie somewhat flat and evenly. You can get a bone scorer at most art supply shops, or ( and i know this is tacky ) buy the Martha Stewart paper scoring kit - which is what I ended up doing. It works much better than I expected, and if you find a coupon at for the craft store you can likely pick it up for between $10-$15.

Another note about paper scoring: I chose to "graduate" each page score about 1/16" according to how they were laid out in the book. This allows each page to fold open in it's own space so the pages aren't all crammed by the end of your book.

Step 7:

Final scoring of each page., and realignment.

Step 8:

Screwposts being added and sized for the thickness of the book, you can also pick these up at a craft or hardware store. (note: these are also referred to as sex bolts).

Step 9:

Binding finished, first flip-through of the book...

Step 10:

Impact Stamp addition. For an extra touch I wanted a subtle addition to my cover. I had these antique impact stamps lying around but did not have enough letters for my full name, so I went with just my initials. This is a pretty simple transfer process as you really just hit each letter with a hammer a few times, but if you're going with this option TAKE YOUR TIME. You can completely destroy the clean professional look of the cover if you add these crooked, or took close/far apart etc..

If you've never used impact stamps before, they are extremely easy. Simply align them how you need, and hit them with a hammer a few times each... don't be sloppy about it, but don't be scared to really give it some pressure to be sure the entire letter is legible.

Step 11:

Once I was finished I actually was bored by the interior cover being blank, so I added a simple envelope to hold business cards and any other info I would want to bring around with my portfolio. This envelope was just secured with some double-sided mounting tape.

Step 12:

And a final view of the cover, and completed project.