Rather than getting a company to make a photo book for you, why not try making your own? It’s not as hard as you might think. Robert Sibley explains how it’s done
What you will need to make your photo book:
- White pen
- Metal ruler
- Craft knife
- Strong thread
- PVA glue
- Fabric for cover
- 12x double-sided
- A4 printer paper
- Cutting mat
Although there are lots of companies that allow you to upload your images and print your own photo book, it is possible to a make and print a book yourself. You can control the size, the paper you use and how you want the cover to look. A handmade photo book can be a nice memento of an event and make a great personalised gift.
You might think that making a professional-looking book would be impossible without certain tools and skills, but the basic premise is straightforward, although it may take a few attempts to get exactly what you want. With this in mind, it is always best to make a few test books.
Make your photo book – Printing your pages
In this example, I have kept the process as simple as possible to show how easy it is to produce your own photo book. I have chosen A5 as the size. This is a sheet of A4 paper folded in half, so it means that an A4 printer can be used. Of course, if you have access to an A3 printer you could make an A4 book, or even a book that measures 20x20cm square. However, an A5 book is the perfect size for a gift, perhaps full of holiday photos or even a small wedding album.
One thing to remember is that you will need to use double-sided A4 paper, so make sure you put the paper in the correct way round when you are printing on the reverse. It is a good idea to do a dummy test run of the printing process, printing page numbers rather than images, so you can see which way round the paper needs to be loaded and how your book will appear once it is completed. See Page ordering (below) for a guide to how each of the pages and sections work together.
Make your photo book – Page ordering
Ensuring that your pages are in the right order and printed on the correct side of the page is probably the most important part of the book-making process.
Printing a page in the wrong order may not only cause you to reprint that page, but possibly even the entire book, which could prove very costly. The book I am making here will consist of three sections, each with three A4 pages that, when folded, will produce 14 sides.
In publishing software such as Adobe InDesign, there are options that can automatically organise the pages for you. However, if you don’t have this kind of software you will need to do it yourself. For this guide I used Microsoft PowerPoint, as it provides an easy way to drop in images and see the layout of your entire book. Adobe Photoshop works just as well by creating an A4-sized image to act as a two-page spread in the book. Before using Photoshop, or any other image-editing software, make sure that you have a plan of where all your pages will appear. This will help when it comes to printing and binding your book.
To create the layout for an A5 portrait-orientation book, set up each PowerPoint slide or Photoshop image to A4 landscape and create a vertical guideline at 14.85cm. This will define the boundaries of the A5 pages within the book.
Start by ordering the inside pages, as shown in the diagram below. Work from the top to the bottom of section one, then move onto sections two and three. You will see that the sides have been left blank – these will either be stuck to the covers or will form the inside covers. Remember also to leave a 5mm bleed around all your images and text, as the book-block will be cut later. Next, order your outer pages, which will be printed on the reverse of the inner pages.
Making your photo book – Stitching the pages
Although this stitching diagram may seem complicated, the process is relatively straightforward. However, it is worth practising on some inexpensive plain A4 copier paper a few times to make sure you get it right. The basic idea is to stitch one section and then the other sections in turn. Sewing through the loops created in the previous section will stitch them all together.
Start with section three, pushing the needle through the first hole from the outside and then threading it through the holes you have already created (this is covered in the step-by-step guide below). Continue along the spine of the section remembering to pull the entire length of thread through, leaving around 4-5cm at the end. Remember to always pull the thread along the spine to tighten – never do this at an angle otherwise you could rip the book or enlarge the holes.
When you reach the end, pick up section two, making sure it is the correct way up, and guide the needle through the first entry hole and then back out. As you come out of the exit hole after making the first stitch, take the needle and pass it under the thread from the section below, making a loop that, when tightened, will pull the sections together.
When you reach the end of section 2, before passing through the entry hole in section one, tie a knot with the length of thread that remains from the beginning of section three. Continue to thread through the first entry and exit holes of section one, then, as you exit, guide the needle under the threads connecting sections two and three, before continuing to the next entry point. This will secure section one to the other two sections. Continue along the spine until you reach the last exit hole. When you do so, guide the needle under the thread below to create a loop, then tie a knot to secure the thread. Cut off any remaining thread.
Step-by-step guide to assembling your photo book
Once you’ve printed your pictures, it’s time to assemble all the elements of your book. Robert Sibley explains how to fold, trim, stitch and glue the pages of your photo book together