Map Heart Valentines 3D Picture Frame




About: I studied Maths and Computing, worked in an Operation Research department, retrained as a civil engineer, worked on site for some major projects. I'm learning to be a structural engineer at the moment! I've ...

Bristol is where I met my wife to be, and is where we now have our home. I thought I would make something to record that!

You can make this for yourself or you can make it as a present.

It cost me just over £6 to make.

Dont forget to vote for me in the valentines competition. Thanks. 

Date Made: Feb 2013
Approx Cost: £6
Approx Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy/Medium

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Step 1: Things You Need

1. A deep picture frame - I used an ikea ribba frame. £4.25
2. Double sided sticky foam pads - I used 5mmx5mmx2mm (ebay £1.44 for 400no) 
3. Scissors/Knife
4. A ruler for getting straight cuts (if using a knife)
5. Printer/Computer
6. A piece of cardboard
7. Pritstick or Spray glue

Step 2: Measure Your Frame

If you are using the same ikea frame as me, the dims are
250mm x 250mm = Frame Outside
230mm x 230mm = Background Picture (size of usual picture the frame takes)
215mm x 215mm = Mid Stepped Cut Pictures (to fit inside the void former box)
120mm x 120mm = Mat Board opening (the size of the hole in the frame border)

You need to measure these so that your prints and templates are all the right size.

Step 3: Get a Picure of Your Map

Go to google maps or other website and find the area that you live/met/etc. (I used Google maps, but I think OS maps would look much better. Thats what I will use next time).

Cut and paste this image in to a program that you are familiar with (word, paint, whatever)

In this program, scale the picture to the size of your frame background. (Make sure you keep the correct ascpect ratio).

It doesnt matter if it doesnt fill the whole page as you wont see the outside 50mm of it.

Print out 6 copies, all the same scale/size. (I found it easier to get it in to pdf format first so that I could control the print size easily)

Alternatively you could do this by photocopying a map, but make sure all 6 copies are the same.

Step 4: Create Templates

The hole can be any shape you wish. A star for a christmas present, a heart for valentines day, a cake shape for a birthday!?!

You can do this by hand, or you can get a bit more technical.

I wanted to get it right, so I used autocad to draw a heart and then scaled it down in steps so that they were all even.

You could do this in any program such as paintshop etc, it is just that I am familiar with autocad.

I then printed these 6 times to use as templates.

I have attached pdfs of some of the templates I made; which contains a star, triangle, hearts, square, circle etc... these are set up for the ikea frame size, and should be printed on A3.

Step 5: Create Backing Picture

The background picture needs to be slightly bigger (230 x 230) and mounted on card to give it some structure.

Either stick a complete map to the cardboard and then cut it to size, or vice versa.

Remember that this background picture shouldn't have a hole in it.

Step 6: Cut Hole in Each Picture

The other 5 maps need to be 215 x 215 with a shape cut out the middle of increasing size.

I put the template on to each picture and used a knife to cut through.

Make sure that each template is centered on the same point. You can do this by having a center point to line up, or a border to line up. I printed everything centrally on A3 at the same scale, so I just had to line up the edges of the paper. Once lined up you may want to temporarily fix together so it doesn't move; I selotaped them down.

Step 7: Stick Together

Take the larger background picture, and use each 'cut' picture in turn, to stick together using the double sided sticky foam pads. This will build up the depth to the picture.

Make sure you use the right amount of layers for your frame. My frame is 26mm deep so I have used 1 full background, and then 5 cut sheets with 4mm of sticky foam between each layer. Obviously you can tailor this to your own frame.

If I did this again then I would buy 4mm pads to save doubling up, also I would buy bigger pads. 5mm x 5mm is actually very small.

I would also use more on the back of each picture. the more the better, as long as you cant see them.

Step 8: Take Frame Apart

This comes apart in the order of the photo. I will number these as follows (left to right):
Frame including Glass (1), frame void box (2),  mat board (3), picture (4), backing (5)

Step 9: Put Frame Back Together

The frame needs to go back together in a different order so that the 'void' is mid picture not at the front as the per the original frame.
So they should end up in this order: 1, 3, 2, 4, 5.

Step 10: Offer the Gift of Love!

Once your done, put in the frame and give as a present (or hang on your own wall if you like it too much!).

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14 Discussions


6 years ago on Step 4

I printed off the heart template and it doesnt fit my matte board, I have the same frame as you

6 replies

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

You could print it centrally on A4, (but you still need to print it at 100% original A3 size. Depending on your printer you'll either have to set it to 1:1, or 100% or "original" or take of "fit to paper" or something like that - you might have to play around a bit).

You can check it has printed to the right scale by measuring the print and checking it ties up with numbers printed on the template.

You will lose some of the picture though as A4 is only 210x297 and the frame is bigger than that - smallest cut pictures should be 215x215. I guess you won't see the upside 50mm so it won't matter except that you will somehow have to fix them all in position so that it doesn't move around in the frame.

Or you could use 2 pieces of A4?


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

That should say "outside" 50mm. Because you can't see that outside 50mm, you won't see that the paper is slightly smaller. If you cut your cardboard to size by hand and stick everything (centrally) to that still, it should work exactly the same.

If you are struggling to get it to print on A4, let me know and I will do an A4 PDF for you.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Well i think i got it but others may have the same issue so if its not much work maybe making one for A4 would be a good idea


6 years ago on Introduction

I guess this doesn't have to be a map. It could be a photo, or a drawing or something.

If anyone uses something other than a map, I'd like to see it.


6 years ago on Introduction

YEAH! Something I can actually do for my Valentine! Great description and idea, thanks!

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Let me know how it goes!

Remember to get hold of bigger sticky pads if you can.

Another couple of tips I forgot to mention are:

1. Cut the smaller hearts first. That way, if you mess it up, then you can cut a bigger one out of the same 'set up' instead of wasting a template and map.

2. I used the 'void former' box from the frame as a guide when stacking the cut maps together. If they are the same size you can drop them on top of each other inside of the box.


6 years ago on Introduction

I like this - no matter who does it, it will always be personal.