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How to make a pop-up scene
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Created 21 March 2004
My son and I made this pop-up scene (click it for a larger view):
It was easy and fun, and it really does fold flat then pop up when opened. Here's how to do it.
You will need stiff paper, drawing tools, scissors, and glue. If you want to be really precise, a ruler could help, but I found it wasn't necessary.
How much you plan the scene ahead of time is up to you. This technique doesn't require a lot of planning, so why not just start building, and see how it comes out?
Take one sheet of stiff paper, and fold it in half. This will be the sleeve in which the scene is built. The horizontal part is the base, and the vertical part the backdrop.
The geometry of the pop-up is straightforward: each separate element has a vertical front (the part with the drawing), and a horizontal support (that attaches to the backdrop). There are two measurements to get right: the support should be glued to the backdrop the same height as the front, and the front should be glued to the base the same distance from the backdrop as the length of the support.
If those two gluing distances are right, then when the scene is opened, each element will form a rectangle with the base and the backdrop. When the scene is folded shut, they will lie flat. At any point, the drawn part will be parallel to the backdrop, and the supports will be parallel to the base.
Draw the backdrop and the base on the sleeve. It's easier to draw them before construction begins.
Draw each separate element of the scene on a piece of stiff paper. Be sure to leave room beneath the drawing for the tab that will glue it to the base. If the element is supposed to be raised off the base (like the spaceship in our scene), be sure to leave enough blank paper beneath it for that as well.
Each element also needs enough paper left above it for the support.
Each element will be cut in a long vertical strip, and then folded in three places. This will give you a base tab, the drawing front, the horizontal support, and the backdrop tab.
Repeat for each element, then sit back and enjoy your art!
These are things I figured out as I went along: