Book Art- How to Fold a Book Into a Word.

Introduction: Book Art- How to Fold a Book Into a Word.

I recently saw the following instructable on how to fold book pages into a number and it caught my attention.  Instead of just a number I wanted to do a word or image.  I love reading and thought this would make good gifts for friends.  In particular is a couple with a huge collection of books that hosts monthly game nights.  They make everyone feel welcome and I thought this would be a great gift for them.

The instructable said to draw the image on the book; my problem is a word or image might get complicated and I am horrible at drawing.  Searching the internet  led to several images but no English instructions.  I did find this page in French and used the screenshots to recreate instructions for folding using a graphics program I had available.  It has also been posted as an instructable.

The beauty of this project is its simplicity.  The image is made by simply folding the two corners of each page.  No cutting, gluing, or special equipment needed.

**NOTE**  When trying to find instructions for book folding I found the above referenced page in French, did not see the translation.  I used the screenshots to infer the method but did not originally reference that page.  That was wrong of me and the author has my apologies.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Ruler- I used an engineering scale with 1/10th inch markings for ease of measuring
Pencil or pen
Plastic or stiff paper for folding template
Computer with basic graphics program

Step 2: Select Book

This is an opportunity to recycle a book that may be discarded into a piece of art.  Yellowed pages, gilded or colored edges, and illustrations can all add to the appearance of the final piece.  Just remember that although the book is still intact you do not want to use valuable book.  Garage sales, libraries, or charity stores like Goodwill are good sources for cheap books.

This was a trial run at book folding so I chose an outdated paperback reference book .  For future projects I will use hardback books for added support.

Step 3: Design Basic Image

Decide on the word or image you would like to fold.  Open your graphics program.  I used which is a free graphics program.  Most photo editing software should work, but the specific instructions for scaling the image may be different.

Set canvas height to the height of the book and set the width wide enough to fit the word or image.  Insert the image or select the font you would like.  For this project I used the word Love in Coopers Black font.  This font has thick letters that will show up well.  Type word in a size appropriate to the height and center word or image.  Set the contrast to 100 (under Adjustments tab) to ensure solid color with no gray edges.

Step 4: Prepare the Image

The image will be made by folding individual sheets of paper.  Each sheet is two pages so divide the number of pages by 2 and add any unnumbered sheets to the total.

Select Resize in Image tab.  Do not select Canvas Size, this will cut off the image.  Make sure "Maintain aspect ratio" is NOT checked.  This will allow the width to change without effecting the height.  Set width to the number of sheets (one pixel per sheet), keep height the same, and set resolution to your ruler scale (10 pixels per inch in this case).  The word or image should distort to wider than the original.  Once folded the final image scale can be adjusted based on how compressed the book is.

Select show grid when zoomed and zoom in until grid is visible, only a portion of the image may be visible.  You will see empty (white) squares and filled (black) squares.  Some columns will have one solid line of filled squares, others will have two or more lines.  In columns with multiple sections filled, you will delete sections so that only one remains.  Alternate the deleted sections top, middle, bottom, top, etc.  When complete this will cause each section to be filled in without having to cut the pages.

Step 5: Make Excel File

Create an excel file with columns labeled PAGE NUMBER, START, and LENGTH.  Starting with the first filled column of the image, count spaces down  to first filled (black) space, multiply by pixel size you chose (0.1" for me), and enter result in first START row of the excel table.  Count number of filled spaces, multiply by pixel size you chose, and enter result into first LENGTH row.  Continue column by column across the image grid, skipping empty columns.  This will tell you how far down to make the folds.

When finished the number of filled row should be less than the number of sheets.  Divide the number of extra sheets by two, this will tell you how many pages before and after the image will be left.  These can be folded or not folded depending on what looks best when finished.  Count down the number of blank sheets indicated before the image.  Enter the page number in the first PAGE row.  Add two to the page number in the next row and then fill down the remaining rows.  This will give you a reference so you do not lose your place.

Attached is a file used to make the image I made.  Book must have at least 307 sheets and be 4.5" in height.  Fill in sheets, first folded page and height and it will do the rest.

Step 6: Template

In order to keep the image consistent you will need to fold each page at the same angle using a folding guide or template.  Find the angle made by folding from one outside corner to the opposite corner.  This is the longest fold you could possible have.  I cut an index card to this angle but switched to a stiff piece of thin plastic (expired mirror hanger) because the paper did not keep an edge.

Step 7: Folding

Open the book to the first page to be folded.  Line your ruler up on the edge of the page opposite the spine and make a mark at the START and END points for that page.  Line your template up at the top mark and the edge of the page with the slant going towards the top corner at the spine.  Mark a line along the template.  Flip the template over and repeat for bottom mark.

Fold the corners of the page in along the marks.  First sheet done, only a few hundred more to go.  Repeat for each sheet, if you lose your place simple look at the page number you are on and find it in the excel table.  Continue until all pages are finished.  Adjust looseness of the book until the image looks right.

Step 8: Finished- Enjoy

Once you reach the last page tweak the book any way you want.  My wife suggested adding color to the edge for contrast (I used red chalk), but afterwards liked it better without the color.

Display and enjoy.



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    41 Discussions

    Thank you for this tutorial. Nice folded book!

    Please look on Debbie Moore Designs her Cds have about 10 different designs that can be done in a few days my 1st took 3 days it's so simple you wouldn't believe

    I am looking for the Debbi Moore CD and it is not on her website.

    Hi ive just finished the heart book fold is there anythin i can use to make the heart red?

    1 reply

    Thank you for the instructions I can't wait to start.

    I highly highly highly recommend looking on Debbie Moore Designs website she has devised several computer Cd programmes which have at least ten words on its that simple I done the word love with a heart for the o in 3 days it's that simple to understand honestly it's worth it

    my pattern is going up in twos I.e 9,11,13 do I miss those pages and not fold

    I made this but I am having trouble making a hole in letters like O and A

    Ive never used - would anyone be able to help with the steps regarding the graphical design programme used on here? I have no idea how to use this software so I don't know how to even create the word in there in the first anyone?

    How did you do the O like the hollow part in the middle did you cut it then fold the inside or what please respond.

    i did a heart, very simple, and used a red crayon to color the space left in between the folds, if the book is placed at an angle you see a solid red heart.

    I love people who are passionate about eco friendly paper saving!!!they're great talking points.

    Sorry... Can't help with that since I don't use excel :(

    Anyone have problems with the pixel count plugin for Every time I use it, whether an image or text, about 1/4 way into the pattern it extends my measurements so I manually have to correct the two or three columns.

    You can use any spreadsheet program, or write the list by hand. Just record first page to fold and starting and ending measurements. Spreadsheet makes it easier. You could use graph paper and do everything by hand (Will try that next). The programs make it easier.

    I also found a plugin for that does the counting for you. Have to play with that a little to make sure it works correctly. Will update instructions then.

    3 replies

    The spreadsheet is set up for you to enter the number of pages and height of your book in the B column. Without that the formula assumes it to be 0 and the result is negative. Book must be at least 4.5" for the pattern to work; anything less will yield negative numbers because the folds will be off the page.

    So on the spreadsheet in column B is says -153, I thought that must be how many pages in you start. What does the -153 represent?