Thursday, January 31, 2013

How To: Accordion Photo Book

Project: Valentine's Day Mini Accordion Photo Book (2.5" x 3.5")
Difficulty:  Easy if you are a fellow designer or go the scrap book route.  Slightly more difficult if you are a graphic design novice and/or don't like math.
Time:  We did photos and I designed it, which only took about an hour.  Assembly of 12 books took about 2 hours.
Cost:  $7.50 each  (A savings of $149+)

A few days ago I got an email from Mpix.  They are an excellent online photo lab and I've used them for prints as well as our family Christmas cards in the past.  They do amazing work.  I like getting their emails because they serve as a great inspiration and this one was no different.  

Immediately I liked the accordion photo book and clicked to see what it would take to order a few for Valentine's Day gifts.  Upon seeing they start at 19.99 each, I was a little miffed.  I went through the seven stages of craft irritation:

1.  Intrigue - Hey those look neat.  Let's learn more.
2.  Astonishment - Those are neat!
3.  Disbelief -  Is that the price?!  That can't be the price.  Are they crazy?!  It's a tiny book.
4.  Disappointment - I am disappointed.
5.  Despair - Now I will have to think of something else to send for Valentine's Day!
6.  Acceptance - I will figure something else out......OR
7.  Epiphany Resolution - That's just a little accordion book.  I'm a graphic designer.  I can make one (or three...or a dozen) myself!  You know, because who doesn't want a book full of photos of Mark, Jovie and me?!?  (followed by: I will show my blog readers how to also!) 

So here we go  

Things you will need if you would like to do it exactly like I did:
  • Design Software (I used Adobe Photoshop and InDesign)
  • Professional Printer (This was the ENTIRE cost of these books as I had everything else on hand already).  And while I'm on the subject, professional printers generally do a great job accomodating your printing needs and generally offer great rates.  I'm also all for supporting local businesses so I used a local printer.  If you're in Norman, I highly recommend Action Printing.  If you are not in Norman, you probably have one near you and you can ask for a quote upfront to see if you'd be willing to spend what they can do it for.  In my case, they printed, cut and scored my books, which saved me sooooo much time and headache.
  • Digital Photos 

Things you will need if you go the scrapbook route:
  • Large size heavy cardstock or water color board. You could use regular size if you don't mind seams.
  • Photos of your choice or a color/black and white printer.
  • Paper cutter with both cutting and scoring blades or a hand scoring tool.

Things BOTH versions will need:
  • Colorful scrapbook paper (I had some Valentine theme already)
  • Heavy duty cardboard for the book covers.  I used covers from a water color spiral notebook that I already had.  (I'd disassembled the water color notebook for something else a few weeks ago and kept the covers for something like this.)  Regular cardboard (like from a shipping box) would work also.
  • Xacto Knife
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Hot Glue (low or high temp)
  • Metal Straight Edge Ruler or Wide Quilting Ruler
  • Rubber Cutting Mat
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Envelopes sized to fit if you are mailing them like I did!
  • Fine grit sand paper

Step 1:  Lay it Out

If using Adobe InDesign like I did, here are the presets you will need:
Number of Pages:  2 (front and back)
Uncheck facing pages (unless you like that sort of thing.  I don't.)
Width:  17.75 in (defaults to 106p6 on its own or you can type 106p6)
Height:  3.75 in  (defaults to 22p6 on its own or you can type 22p6)
Bleed:  .125 in (defaults to 0p9)
New Document Set Up for Accordion Book

When you hit "OK" it will give you two pages that look similar to this:

The bold black line shows the bleed.  You will need to mark where your folds will be.  In this case, every 2.75 inches.

Based on where I had these printed, I could only size mine up to 17 inches (but honestly, you really wouldn't want it any longer than that).  Mpix's book measures 2.5 in x 3.5 in. when closed.  Keep in mind it will be two sided and you will lose two panels where you attach the covers.  They will be the panels on each end on the back if you have this many panels.  Different numbers of panels can change which side the cover goes on.

Step 2:  Design

The mister and I had a mini photo shoot in the vanity area of my apartment.  Isn't he a great sport to put up with all my shenanigans?!?  I already had the photos of Jovie by herself.  Remeber the giant portrait of her in my office? (you can see it at the bottom of the post HERE.)  After I pulled the new photos on to my computer I edited them using Photoshop with the Paint the Moon Coffee House "Silver Spoon" Action. (See it HERE)  And now you know one of my great, time-saving secrets....photoshop're welcome.  Also, as far as actions go, Paint the Moon has it going on. 
Accordion Book Front
Accordion Book Back (note: the two blank ends are where the covers attach.)
Save and export to pdf (or prefered file type when finished). Every printer is different. Mine accepts pdfs ("press quality") with bleed and crop marks selected. I also used the "document bleed settings."

Step 3:  Print

Here is the information I gave the printer when I requested a quote:

Trim size:  17 in x 3.5 in (landscape)
Qty: 12
100lb Cover (no laminating, no coating)
Black & White (unless you are doing color and then it will be 4-color)
Scored panels

If you are printing yourself, good luck.  Printing is traditionally my nemesis. :)

Step 4:  Cut

The printer did this part for me. 

If you're doing it yourself, just trim down to the desired size using scissors or a paper cutter.

Step 5:  Score

The printer did this for me too!

My paper cutter has a replacement blade that is actually a score blade so if you're scoring it yourself, just pick up a scoring blade.  Place the paper and score.  There are also tools to do this by hand.  Be sure to flip the card over so it scores the right way.

Step 6:  Cut the Covers

I cut mine to a little larger than the accordion paper was when it was folded.

This was the cover off a watercolor notebook.  I could fit nine covers on one of these.  Remember, you will need two covers for each book! 

After cutting the accordion book covers, lightly sand the edges so remove loose snags and smooth edges.

Step 7:  Cover the Covers.

1.  Lay cover on scrapbook paper and outline.  2.  Cover outline.  3.  Roughly sketch a shape similar to that.  Trust me, it does not have to be perfect.  I've just found that notching out the corners makes folding the sides much easier.  Then cut it out.  4 & 5.  I glued the long sized on first.  Just a light bead of hot glue down the side edge will hold.  6.  All edges glued.  And voila:

Covered cover.

Step 8:  Glue the Covers to the Book

I used hot glue on a high setting (I think...I can't tell which is high and which is low on my glue gun).  Either way, it gave a really nice, sturdy bond.  It helps to fold the book when glueing to the cover so you can see all edges and get it centered.


wOd03t on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

My Valentines!
Finished products!
"Do I click with you?  You're my type!" 

Step 9:  Mail (if needed)

My books were a tight fit in the envelopes I got so I decided to make some paper loops to assist in pulling them out.  I cut brown craft paper to the size I needed (slimmer than the width of the book), fancy stitched the ends together, put around the book and then slipped in the envelope.  It worked beautifully for me....I only hope the people I sent these to had luck as well!

Stitching the loops.  Sewing machines are great for paper projects!
Just sew one and then on to the next.  Clip apart when finished.  
It's easy as 1-2-3!  And in this photo you can see the string I used to secure the book closed.
The end!  I hope you enjoyed! 

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