The Grail Diary From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade




Introduction: The Grail Diary From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

About: Im a model maker who makes film and game props in my spare time. If you like my work please visit my blog it has more work. email me at backwardsprops @ gmail . com (with out the spaces, stops s…

Hello, welcome to my instructable on how to make a replica Grail Diary from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

This instructable is a little wordy and long but feel free to take a look and ask questions if you like, i will try my best to answer questions and explain things.

Ive never done anything like this before so some of the methods I have used could well be wrong but the outcome is to my liking so it all worked out well.

Step 1: Tools and Materials.

Tools and Materials.

  1. Scalpel, or craft knife.
  2. Straight edge or ruler
  3. computer with some editing software, I used Adobe illustrator and indesign.
  4. Glue: PVA, UHU, contact adhesive.
  5. Sewing supplies: thick needles, pins, thick cotton thread, fabric ribbon and Leather or fake leather. (the leather i used was an offcut from a sofa someone was selling on eBay.
  6. Card: different thicknesses and colours (this adds variety to the inserts and pages later on)
  7. Nice textured paper. I used an ivory textured paper, but this is all based on personal preference.
  8. Some lengths of wood battening.
  9. clamps of many different sizes and types
  10. heavy things! I used big thick books.

There are probably some things that i missed out in this list so it would probably be best to give the whole instructable a read to see if there is anything that is needed that I forgot.

Step 2: Research and Weblinks.

Generally the first thing to do in projects like this is to head to your favourite search engine and have some fun time typing things into it.

i did such a thing and found a few websites that have some useful information.

i shall list them here :-


Zenseeker was a great one i got a lot of info from here, the page order i based mine on was from here. and there are some original pages to look at to get an idea of how they should look.

club Obi Wan

is a great forum and people have asked and answered all types of questions on here.

just a great selection of info and ideas here.

With all that out of the way lets get down to it!
I made a hero diary. One that is as close to the one used in the filming, not one that would be a story diary. The story diary has a made up chronology to it and includes pages that are not used or seen in the film. The hero diary has a set of pages that are repeated throughout the diary, some with different inserts to act as markers for the actors etc. Mine is a HERO

Step 3: Page Order and Layout

These pictures are the page lists that i found with the insert positions listed as best i could find.

In the list there are some pages with "set##" these are the official pages that have been released from the hero diary used in the movies. The official pages can be found on the zenseeker pages.

There are four sets of unique Signatures (groups of pages) within the diary that are repeated throughout the whole diary. The signatures contain lots of pages that are unique but do have some repeats from other signatures, and right at the end of the book there are a few signatures that are totally blank, i feel this was to make it look like the diary is unfinished and still in use.

Step 4: Page Artwork.

I did the first four signatures of my diary, certain pages are repeated in the first four then the four signatures are repeated through the book. I used illustrator to create each page/signature. laying out the whole lot in one document was really useful as it allowed me to just grab a repeat and paste it in the correct place.

In the real diary the words would have been written by the prop master by hand but i knew my hand writing wasnt going to be good enough so i found a font on the club obi wan forum that replicated Henry Jones's handwriting. This was then used to fill out the writing on the pages. using reference images and info on the forum i worked out what the writing on each page should be. changing the thickness size and italics etc made each set of writing different.

I went through page by page and looked up what the page listing and if i could find good quality art work i would see if i could use it. If it didn't have a good quality on i would use a low quality one and draw it and scan it myself. a lot of the pages were low quality and i had to redraw or compose them myself.

I drew out the artwork for the pages much larger than they needed to be (i drew them roughly A4) and scanned them into my computer at a high resolution so that when printed out it would be good quality.

The second two pictures in this step are of a couple of artworks that I drew using reference images, which were scanned and resized and edit the colours so that the black is nice and crisp and the white background is no longer visible.

In some of the images i had to remove the background completely as they needed to have items behind that were visible.

Step 5: Laying Out the Signatures.

I used indesign to layout my signatures one by one.

The little diagram at the top of the image was a helpful tool to work out which page goes on the back of the next and which is printed on the same page as which.

page 1 is not next to page 2 1 is next to 16 and page 2 is printed on the back of page 1, page 15 is next to page 2 and on the back of 16.

but you have to know where they will print on your printer as when you turn it over to print the second side the orientation changes. unless you have a fancy printer that can print double sided, mine couldn't, i had to do it manually.

Step 6: Printing Pages.

Printing the pages was an involved process. I created a PDF of each signature in the order they needed to be printed and printed the first page off and then flipped that piece of paper over and fed it back into the printer and printed the back of that page. This mean that there was four pages of the diary on one sheet of A4 paper.

Once all the pages were printed i folded them in half along the centre line, then when they were all folded I grouped all the pages of each signature together and then put the signatures into the correct order.

Step 7: Book Binding.

When the pages are collected into the signatures its time to poke holes in them for the binding stitching.
I made a block for the pages to sit in and all be in the same place.

I used a bit of paper the same length as the pages and marked where I wanted the holes for the stitching to be. laying this inside the pages when they were in the block i pushed a large needle through all the pages from each signature.

All the holes will be threaded together. keeping them in order i clamped the first signature down so the pages wouldn't shift as I stitch them.

I used a section of stitched ribbon type stuff (i forget the name) to use to back the stitching on the outside of the spine of the book, this is so the stitching can be pulled tighter and it wont rip through the pages as easily.

Once I had stitched along the first signature i place the second one on
top and clamped it in place and stitched it in the other direction. as i got to the ribbon i tied it to the signature below to keep them tight together.

The last picture was taken much later but i need it to show that i glued a strip of bandage/fabric along the stitching to act as a flexible spine and to hold the signatures together.

I forgot to take photos during this process. it was clamped with two bits of wood to keep it tight and then i glued the fabric along the spine and let it dry. i used pva glue as it stays flexible when dry.

Step 8: Trimming the Pages

I measured and marked out the page size on the outer pages, using the crop marks.

Using two lengths of wood I clamped the pages of the book as tight as I could, so when trimming them to size they don't move.

This part makes a lot of fun strips of paper :)

Step 9: Making the Inserts.

I forgot to take photos of the inserts on their own so this photo of them under the book will have to suffice.

I printed the inserts on different types and colours of paper and card: thick paper, thin paper, thin card and coloured cards for the tickets.

There is a brown envelope which i printed the details for it onto brown packing paper.

The camel cigarette package was printed double sided onto white card, the front was printed with the cigarette label and the inside was a crumpled brown paper design so it looked like a used packet, i then crumpled the printout to make it look more used.

The different inserts were then folded and unfolded and bent and scuffed to make them look like they had been used for a long time as book marks etc.

Some of the inserts are full pages just placed into the book some are full pages or maps glued or taped into the book. most of the ticket type inserts are just placed into the book to act as book marks for the actors.

They were placed into the book according to the page list.

Step 10: Making the Book Cover

Stupidly i forgot to take any photos of this step. i was too excited about getting it finished i guess.

While i was making the cover i had placed the book pages under lots of heavy books to flatten it out and press some of the folded inserts down so it would look more used.

I used some leather i purchased of Ebay, the seller said it was from an old sofa, so it was worn and scuffed which was perfect for the cover of the Diary.

I used thin plastic for the cover boards instead of cardboard but that doesn't make much difference.

The two front cover boards were cut to just slightly larger than the page size of the diary. the spine board was cut to match the height of the thickness of the book when bound and inserts inserted.

using the diagram and trial and error I worked out the placement of the boards on the leather i glued them in position and weighed them down until they were dry. I then folded the leather in and glued the leather to the inside of the cover boards. The leather i used might have been a little too thick for what i needed and when folded over it was a tad too thick, but its the only leather I had.

Attaching the cover to the bound book was easy. I printed a sheet of marbled paper out to act as "flysheets" these are used to start and finish the book. In the image above i glued the left side of the sheet to the inside of the book cover and the right hand side is glued to the last page of the book. The front is done in the same way, the spine is not glued in and is left floating so it can move when opening the book.

Step 11: Finishing the Pages

Some of the art work on the pages needed a colour accent. So instead of doing it in the computer artwork i decided to add it after it was printed as i felt it would look better than a printed colour.

I used some coloured pencils (others use water colour paints) but i wasn't sure how the water colour paint would react with the printed artwork.

Above is the blue accent around the sword artwork.

Step 12: Finished Book

Once you have done all that make yourself a 10mm wide strap out of elastic and wrap it round your book to hold it closed or to act as a page mark and you are finished.

the more you handle scratch scuff or rough up the book the more authentic it will look. so not much you do to the book will hurt it.

displaying the book is up to you.

Thank you for looking at my instructable i hope you enjoyed it.

if you have any questions please ask and i will try my best to answer them.

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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    just wondering if you could somehow send me the inserts including photographs of Indiana Jones and his father


    2 years ago

    Man, great little Instructable on making a diary/journal, grail or not!


    Question 2 years ago on Introduction

    Is there any way you know what the text actually says in the grail diary where it shows the picture of a knight walking over the chasm? Its the part in the Last Crusade where Indiana Jones says "only by a leap from the Lion's head will he prove his worth." and in the film it shows the diary pic but I can't read the text and writing. My email is

    backwards lamb
    backwards lamb

    Answer 2 years ago

    If you follow the links at the start of the instructable there should be answers to your question.


    2 years ago on Step 12

    i would like the pdf pages of your books please can you send me by email please ???

    backwards lamb
    backwards lamb

    Reply 2 years ago

    I’m not giving my work out. Sorry.


    2 years ago

    Awesome job! This will be very helpful on my build.

    Can you tell me the best way you found to figure out the actual writing? Meaning, what it says? I was thinking of tracing the pages by hand, but can’t read most of it.

    Also, any pointers on the various inserts? Source material?

    Thank you!

    backwards lamb
    backwards lamb

    Reply 2 years ago

    the links in the second stage of the instructable are a great place to start. its where i found all the text i used.

    backwards lamb
    backwards lamb

    Reply 2 years ago

    same with all the inserts. lot of them are in the links or at least the names are and then there is google images!


    2 years ago

    Your work is awesome. I don't even know how to go about printing the images to make my own diary.

    backwards lamb
    backwards lamb

    Reply 2 years ago

    I used a standard home inkjet printer. Just one sheet at a time. :)

    Alex 2Q
    Alex 2Q

    2 years ago

    Awesome project! I loved that movie and seeing this detailed work brings back so many memories!


    2 years ago

    That's an awesome costume prop :)