Paul Stickland Big Bug Little Bug - The making of a Pop Up Book

Big Bug Little Bug!

These are some of the stages that went into the production of the final pop up spread for the children's pop up book, Big Bug Little Bug by children's author, illustrator and pop up book designer, Paul Stickland.

I knew I wanted to create a splash for the final pop up spread in this children's book about bugs.
A flower seemed like a great solution, so I set about creating a pop up mechanism that would be both dramatic and allow me a lot of space to place all the pop up bugs in the book.
I had a lot of pop up bugs to place too!
Oh and some text!
It took a lot of attempts to get them all to play nicely!
This is the finished result. Created after many, many different design versions.

I first had to design the central flower structure.
It took a fair bit of experimenting to make this as large as possible and still have it fold away properly! Two of the petals are drawn on the page itself and the rest are concertina folded into each other. There are supports to the rear which support and evenly space the petal folds. They also make the structure fold away predictably, which was necessary for the later addition of all the bugs.
All the time you have to be  aware of the best way to attach the structure to the page.
This also affects how easy it becomes to assemble.
If the glue tabs on the individual pieces are fitted through slots cut out of the page, the margin for error during assembly is minimised. The joint also has an added laminate strength where the tab is glued.
There is always a risk that the complex structure and its glue tabs, when folded, will get rather thick. So every effort is made to avoid overlap of parts and tabs when folded flat.
There are six thicknesses of card at the centre of this structure, which is pushing it! However the effect is worth it.
I usually make rough models to discover what I can and can't get away with. The one below will be several down the line.
Once I have discovered a geometry which will work, I disassemble and scan in my rough models into photoshop files. Here I create a series of accurate paths which will define the folds and dielines of all the parts. I then print these out and assemble them, noting and marking any problems on the resulting model.
I scan the parts back into the photoshop and make any necessary adjustments, print it out and try it again!
After I had created the symmetrical pop up flower shape, radiating form the centre, with the supports incorporated behind to give stability, I could start on populating the shape with Pop Up Bugs!
Each bug has it's own pop up mechanism, which had to be designed and then incorporated into the pop up flower.
This process took a very long time, with 12 separate pop up elements to be incorporated into the whole.
Patience is needed and in this case, several flower 'base spreads' to experiment on.

This is an early rough and has only a very few bugs on the pop up mechanism, I had a lot more to add.
Then I had to make sure that the book will open and close without the butterfly's wings getting entangled with a bug's antennae! It took ages and a lot of experimenting and careful placing.
Move one element of this pop up and you have to shift most of the others.
I then had to give the pop up mechanism a really rigorous testing to make sure that it was strong enough for little hands and repeated opening and closing.
Once I had mastered the technical aspects of the design, I then had to draw up a set of die lines which indicate where the pop up parts are cut out of the card and similarly where and how they are attached to each other.
Only then could I get started with actually painting the bugs to fit into these die-lines. There are often very funny shapes, that need to be coloured in so that they look ok, when the pop becomes 3D.
Photoshop is an incredibly useful tool for fitting my painting to the needs of the pop up mechanism.
Once the parts were all painted, they were scanned in and fitted into the photoshop die line files.
All the parts are then printed out and tested again, to make sure that the bug illustrations worked together.
Once everything is checked the files are tidied up and sent to China to be proofed up, sent back here, checked for both printing quality and colour and then cut out by hand, assembled and checked again.
So if you ever wonder why pop up books are expensive, then there is a very good reason!!

More Big Bug Little Bug illustrations on my website.

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