Designing a Star Wars Pop-Up Book!

Designing a Star Wars Pop-Up Book!


the art of paper crafting comes in many
forms from origami sculpture to wearable cosplay and architectural miniatures but
there’s one enduring type of paper craft that sometimes gets overlooked the art
of pop-up book design we visited the studio of Matthew Reinhart award-winning
pop-up book designer and paper engineer to learn how he part types engineers and
illustrates characters and scenes that jump out of the page including the
delightful pop-up scenes in the new book Star Wars the ultimate pop-up galaxy
Matthew thank you so much for walking us here this is this is your workshop yes
this is it this is this is where the magic happens I guess it’s just a you
know messy desk and messy a little office and you know I just cut in fold
paper and turn it into into this I mean really is a magical process pop-up books
or things that we all grew up with and not a lot of us think about the
engineering really that goes into it so I’d love to see if you can walk me
through one of the spreads in this book course its new Star Wars ultimate pop-up
galaxy book there’s so many different pop-up what do you call them are they
dioramas how do you think of that well then this one there’s just a lot of
environments I guess diorama is a really good thing there are these huge pop up
sort of dioramas in this book now this is my third Star Wars book that I’ve
done over the years the first one I did was back in 2007 and we just want to do
something different you know so it’s like we’re taking you to all the
different worlds within the Star Wars within this the Skywalker story you know
in saga and I wanted to make you know these dioramas but then we there had to
be like an added extra thing that was a surprise to this pop-up because this
already is pretty intense you know this is the Battle of Geonosis right and one
of them add like sort of a surprise aspect to it so there’s always within
every pop there’s some movable interactive motion so this one has a
pull tab up here that you can just lift back and it shows off these other you
know characters in the battle on Geonosis fighting the the separatist
forces it’s my job to know this pit stuff people
so you know getting to add in all these little details I mean this was a
nightmare to design I mean it’s it’s cool because I kind of get into this
weird sort of creative space of just kind of cutting and folding and figuring
out how this all works but then there’s many other steps
afterwards where it kind of takes that sort of artist sort of like you know I’m
I’m inspired and I’m going in these weird places and then you have to really
you know sort of square your square everything down and make sure that it
works a thousand times over so you know there’s all these different pops within
it I think this book has it I think it’s about let’s see if there’s five spreads
I think there’s at least 25 different pops in this book and I was left to say
so structurally when we think about pop-up book they’re very big but they’re
not that many quote-unquote pages right because there’s all that paper up needs
to fold together and hide in between the spread so while there are five main
spreads with these five main scenes even within each spread you have four or five
separate little individual pops little vignettes that tell different parts of
the story yeah you know I’m designing something big like this Death Star which
is a really weird design for sphere when you’re making a sphere and a pop-up
usually most of the time it’s like taking a basketball I’m flattening it
you know that but this sphere it instead of it not just only flattens well it
actually flattens like this way and then it folds in on itself so this was like
really this is really really complex but then like some of these other ones on
the sides they’re just as complex like this little transforming Millennium
Falcon here so that’s the million Falcon from solo and then when you pull the
little tab it changes into the regular Millennium Falcon that we all know and
love so even small pops have that sort of moment this is actually one of my
favorite ones for this from this book and it’s it’s it’s still pretty complex
I mean if we blew that out it could be pretty and it’s so amazing because a project
like this takes you know the better half of a year and there is not only
problem-solving and illustration and art designers engineering it’s a whole
creative process let’s start at the very beginning so you know you’re gonna do
about five spreads you know there may be five big scenes lots of small pops you
know you want interactivity you want to have little bit yet how does a scene
like the battle on the moon of Endor how does that formulate and can we walk
through totally okay so it starts off and I work with Lucasfilm we kind of
come up with where we want to go and everything we make up lists and then the
next step which was very odd for this but from my process usually I actually
made sketches of kind of what would happen now I don’t know that the
engineering is gonna work for anything in these sketches but this kind of gave
me an idea of what would happen on each page since things changed I mean we
didn’t end up doing this pop here which was going to be across instead of the
Battle of Geonosis it was gonna actually have the Battle of Geonosis happening
and then on the other side of the main pop there would be the Battle of
Kashyyyk because I wanted to all those wookies
and the trees and everything that didn’t it would have been very confusing about
what was going on so you know this is a way that we’ve sort of come up with what
would happen on the page like if you look at this it’s very very rough I
don’t even know that it’s all gonna work and it’s kind of amazing that it came
out relatively close to what you know what’s happening there you know there’s
the where it was just the placement now so after I kind of came up with what was
happening on each page I kind of took those pages and put them together to
sort of formulate how the map would work and I when I did this I also had to
build something at the same time so that I had a lot of these little small
spreads built out so I could see that it would work and would fold and that all
these pieces would fit together that’s how it all starts so you have the
spreads and you’re making forceps you mentioned tiny versions is just you’re
taking scissors to paper yeah yeah you don’t tape together
like that’s where it all starts really I mean it you have to figure out how all
the paper and all the pieces are gonna work together
take our scissors you take out tape and you just build this thing I mean that’s
you know you could I guess essentially you could you know do some sort of
computer program but I don’t know that program and there’s a lot of other
factors that go into making these books that a computer wouldn’t ever be able to
you know figure out like friction of paper and that the weight of paper you
could figure out some of those things mathematically but sometimes you need
gravity you need all the real factors of usability if someone’s actually going to
open and close it a thousand times and lifespan of the book and yeah be durable
yeah so these are some of the prototypes here yeah so so early on after I’ve
served kind of made this map of things then it’s like right down to the paper
engineering and that’s kind of a cool stage I think my one of my favorite
stages of of the process because it’s just like me in my studio cutting up
paper and folding and figuring out how things work so initially I knew I was
going to make a battle of endor and you know with all the the trees and
everything and the Ewoks and on this top and in particular there is a
there’s there are these Scout walkers that are in the forest area and I had an
idea about making vehicles move that popped up so this is one of the original
ones you can see how it’s just awful looking you know it’s just scrap paper
taped together it’s really junky I don’t know that it it barely worked but we’re
gonna pull it and see this is just that my first exercise I’m sort of making
this mechanism and just to see like how could I make something that goes flat so
it’s gonna it’s supposed to go flat like this and it may not even you can be on
the whole page sometimes I’ll work out some of my engineering issues just like
on its own by itself you know strong piece of paper but I knew that I had to
go flat and I needed to know that it would always be able to stand up this
piece would always you know go flat to be the front of the a TST and you know
this is one of the legs and I knew that it would I wanted to make sure that I
could make something that moved and also still went flat and could be flat both
ways so this is an early version of that mechanism and then you know I have to
rebuild it sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll trace all the pieces in the
computer and make dye lines at an early stage like this or I’ll just sort of
rebuild another one so this is a sketch pop this is using you know some of the
things that I did with this early pull-tab little Scout Walker this this
has it included in the whole space and this is all handmade
I don’t think yeah this is all just made by hand but it’s not the first time that
I’ve done it sometimes what I’ll do with a pop-up like this it will be rebuilt
over and over again to figure out how all these pieces go together you can see
it’s really rough I mean I’m not really trying too hard to sketch on it I just
want to get an idea of what is it you know these things in different places so
this incorporates the pull-tab of this Walker
they’re tying that movement that Mexican to mother movements that’s the cool
engineering part of it well what I want you know with like if you’re using this
if you have something that’s coming under the under the page that’s moving
just this I mean how why not use it a million times over I mean that’s kind of
what my philosophy is with a lot of the engineering that I do for books is you
know we’re working well when you’re making a pop up we’re working off the
energy of this single page and everything is being built off of that
you know with all these different structures and everything and once you
build one structure that there are so many other opportunities just built on
that one from that one structure that you can work off of and so if you’ve got
something that you’re using for one thing why not try to find a way to use
it in another way and I thought that would be really cool because one one
pull tab and a lot of movement is a lot more fun and and you know certain
there’s certain things that you learn as as you work on this longer and longer
but like the further away you get away from the page the less energies that
it’s gonna be with some of the pop but you’re gonna get a lot more strength
coming from the centerfold and as you move further outward you don’t have as
much strength so if I build something big and heavy over here it may not
necessarily open as much as something here but you know I’ve learned a lot of
ways to push it I mean I feel like everything my whole mantra is you got to
learn the rules then you break the rules then you’ve learned new rules and then
you kind of start back over again you kind of you want to keep kind of pushing
it so everything I do won’t necessarily follow the exact paper engineering rule
that might be based on but I’m kind of forming up my new ones new ones based on
those you have to push you know the boundaries to make something different so after I’ve made a pop like this what
I’ll do is I’ll very carefully take it apart with my exacto knife and scan all
the pieces and bring them into the computer and what I’ll do is I’ll
actually make what are called dye lines so these are the individual digital
traces yeah that’s what they exactly so these are dye lines and what you can see
with this these are dye aligns to all the
different pieces now for a book like this or they’re had there been like 300
different pieces so you can see that there are two different types of lines
there are these dotted lines and that’s gonna be where there’s a fold and then
the the solid line is where there’s a cut this is a tough part of the job
because you have to make sure everything works right and you have to work out all
these issues I mean this is a 2d image but the 2d image that needs to fold
together in a 3d form and you add a fourth dimension of the actual fold
itself yeah that’s a lot of layers of thinking and if you saw like sometimes
when I’m building this I’m actually constructing it in the computer laying
these different dye lines on top of each other it’s just it’s it’s a wreck and
once I have the shapes that I sort of know and once I’m sort of mapped out
where everyone’s gonna be whether it’s from my just roughly sketched you know
pops like this I know there’s gonna be a speaker bike here I know there’s gonna
be whatever the next step is actually making art guides for the artists I work
with I worked on this book with Kevin Wilson he’s great and we’re working on
some more books together so it so we have a great sort of rapport so I make
these really rough there you can tell that some of the the stuff is just like
quickly painted and then some of it is actual just you know sort of photos
pulled from online and and movie clip areas and things like that so I make all
these notes for him to make artwork you know the shapes of the trees and where
they should be and I mean just like the notes they’re intense and there’s even
you know there’s tons of characters there’s that you walk by the bag and I
was talking about I didn’t end up using it but you know the side view of the
shuttle tydirium sits just all this stuff okay and then after I would make
these art guides for Kevin he would you know after a few weeks come back
to me with all of this photo montage painted art and sometimes you know
they’re very very small characters so he really got into the weeds with all the
detail and you can see like we could we have this 80s tee from all these
different angles there’s Chewie that’s supposed to be coming out of the top all
these extra biker Scouts and stormtroopers that we can put in the
forest but these are all the shapes that I had asked him to make pretty close to
it so here’s what here’s what here’s my
notes of kind of what I needed just rough and then that’s what he did in the
final so it’s much you know obviously it’s much more beautiful it is the
actual art for the book and but he does he does all the pieces a lot of the
stuff is in in layers so I can pull apart this from the trees in the
background and there were times when and there even characters that didn’t get
used like these Marauders from the Ewok television movies and this blurgh but
you know he just made all the details there were some times when I had to make
a little bit more than what I needed just in case I had some space to put
something in and your work it’s fun for you yeah it’s the fun of the whole thing
you talked about playing as a kid with your action figures like this is like
the pieces so that you then make your play set it it’s it’s a making a lie I
think about a lot where where it’s like ah how did this I’m still doing this you
know like I’m still playing with my toys or playing with you know I’m still
making stuff out of with my cutting your cardboard but this is my job it’s it’s
it’s kind of surreal but is it you know it’s it’s fun it still work you know I
it’s not it’s not easy but I really you know it I enjoy it I get a lot of
satisfaction from from the process of you know creating something and it’s
important for me I guess with the work I do I wanna I hope that I can inspire
other young artists I think art education is extremely important
as I think it’s also like hopefully inspire creativity not necessarily
that’s just what I do but just anything just just get your hands dirty and just
make stuff that’s what it’s about like that’s what this is this is that’s what
this all starts with it’s not super fans here you think you know I’m working with
all these you know I’m working with Disney I’m working all these things you
know you think that it’s this you know I’m this big production and it’s just me
cutting up paper and folding and see how it works and failing a lot but sometimes
getting some good stuff

59 thoughts on “Designing a Star Wars Pop-Up Book!

  1. Nice, this was VERY interesting and fun to watch. Pop-up books are so magical for little kids. Especially their very first time opening one. Speaking of which, I think I am first!

  2. I’m usually the one to shut down these types of comments but i have to say it…..

    he’s hot, And he likes star wars which is a big + lol

  3. Wow, I love learning how pop up books are made. This is definitely an adult pop up book. I just don’t see kids being gentle enough with them.

  4. This is fascinating! The thought process to transform 3D characters and environments into 2D forms and then making them unfold into 3D space and then move is just mind-blowing. Watching the AT-ST walk is so cool!

  5. I would be curious to know the next step of how a thousand of these intricate pop-up books are then cut, glued, printed and made. I never thought of what kind of machining must go into making one too. Very interesting, thank you! 🙂

  6. I used to love pop up books as a child. Especially the ones where they used premium… ultra premium materials like cardboard pages with special plastic images that change position when moved. Like hologram. Jack and the Beanstalk in the 80's (choice publications) was the best book ever with the characters all clay and set, images captured for the pages, and the pages with moving plastic images like hologram and being a pop up. It was the best I've seen yet. I always liked pop up books too with levers and triggers that would add to the pages being interactive.

  7. I whish tyhey would have taken this 1 step further to show how the books are actually mass produced assembled. How do they train the persons that glue all the folded parts together ?

  8. I thought I had particularly good spacial awareness in my artwork, till I saw this video today. Total respect to the man….

  9. So exciting! I am a huge fan of Ib Pennick, who designed the original Random House Star Wars Pop-up book. The first time I saw the X-Wing unfold from the middle of the book and float about the centerfold, I became fixated on paper engineering. Pennick also held several patents related to Pop-Up book contruction.

  10. На 42 секунде можно увидеть книгу с надписью "АКУЛЫ" на русском)

  11. I loved pop-up books so much as a kid…I would have been mind-blown with this book. I also remember desperately trying to create my own pop-up books with VERY limited success lol

  12. What an amazing art form … being preserved!
    When I was a kid I was fascinated by the art. I can remember thinking 'one could make a living from this … oh wait not many books are like this.' So in hind sight I missed an opportunity as a kid/person.

  13. how in earth do you plan such a product for printing/assembly? We have one of the dinosaur examples shown in the intro, its indeed amazing… I might need to take a scissors to the last jedi though 😁

  14. As an origami artist, Kirigami enthusiast, and programmer, I’ve spent a fair amount of time considering how Kirigami-style pop-up structures could be generated using a program. It certainly should be possible, though extremely challenging. The main issue isn’t in working around paper thicknesses and frictions, so much as the actual designing part. Taking a 3d model and turning it into a bunch of moving 2d parts can be fairly simple, but choosing the most effective collection of parts and their associated mechanics, is very challenging. Plus the manner in which the parts converge/diverge often comes down to artistic decisions. Some mechanisms might be more effective, but don’t operate with the same degree of finesse as a more tailored set of mechanisms. Also the difficulty of assembly is crucial if the design is to be duplicated many times over. You don’t want the design to include too many individual components, all requiring tedious gluing/connecting (most of which would need to be done by hand).
    At any rate, really cool book. Extremely impressive.

  15. lol, the computer could never figured out…

    proceeds to list a bunch of mathematics that computer could definitely figure out rather easily

  16. “It will be rebuilt over and over again to see how all these pieces will go together” is very much the mentality I have when it comes to thumbnails/sketch iterations. Each new version is just slightly more refined than the last, but the process of redrawing or rebuilding allows your mind to wrap itself around the subject. Sometimes these iterations are 2D (like pages of sketches), sometimes 3D (like rough wooden prototypes); in this case, they pop between the two.

  17. Theirs a rumor for ghostbuster fans the previous movies for some was a hit n miss. I agree.why go from one and two then three should have in my opinion had slimer he’s iconic even though ray was a cabbie and to honor Harold I think a cgi of a scientist dan should have done a bigger role of teaching the new ghostbusters bill i was glad he was in it. They and their characters made the movie. Least Janine ‘it’s what could remember how to spell her character doing her bit role aggravated. Rick was in two and one the dog bit or the painting of Viggo was left out. Studying the slime they made lady liberty walk theirs lots of things I feel should have made it into the movie and made it better the proton packs yes got revamped because of a new movie but the iconic look 👀 looks and keeps the the nostalgia. Ecto should have been in this last one. Not the original but. Slimer in the dining hall. But bill could play a door man ecto should be covered in dust dirt weaver a librarian with a haunted library 📚 bigger budget better ideas as a next chapter of one and two combined titanic if not the same actors.

  18. Pop-up books take me back to my early years. Such fond memories of the discovery of the device and mechanics used. Now days the mechanics of the reveal fascinate me more than the subject. 😉

  19. How is this mass produced without screwing it all up is what blows my mind. Yeah, Matthew has to do it first, but then it goes into production and I wouldn't even know where to begin in order to copy it for millions.

  20. 09:30
    He has a couple of tabs to pull, they make several things happen.
    Sure, in many ways it would be easier to have more pull tabs, one for each things that moves.
    But i am willing to bet that having 10 pull tabs, each doing one thing is by far not as great as having 3 pull tabs doing just as many things, because you probably saw it would do one thing, but not the other 2-3 things, so you do it again, several times, and then also go look how it works. And the easy way, the mechanics are almost always easier, and do only one thing, so there is less surprise and, well, awe, of what it does. Having more pull tabes also slightly takes away from the look of the whole thing, it starts to look more mechanical, where with less, more is hidden.
    It may seem simple, open pages, pops up, have pull tabs, but, this is so complicated and so much times goes into this.
    You also don;t really come up with a load of mechanics and try to fit something into it, no, you make up what you want to happen or what you want it to look like, and go make it happen, or try to, ad nausium often. But when it works and is done, it is an accomplishment.
    In many ways, adding the right textures and actually making the book is 'ALMOST' just dotting i's and crossing t's.

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