From DIY home decor to handmade gifts, here are the best arts and crafts to spark your creativity

3D Comic Book Cover

This 3D comic book cover is easy to make and looks super cool either sitting on a bookshelf or hanging on the wall. It takes very little money or time to make, and will add some geeky but classy panache to your house!

Gathering Your Tools

For this project, you're going to need...

  • Four picture frames of the same style
    • A simple frame with flat edges is going to work best for this, avoid anything big and fancy or curvy.
  • X-Acto knife
  • Ruler
  • E-6000 or some other durable adhesive
  • Clear double-sided tape
  • Windex
  • Paper towels
  • Four copies of the same comic book cover
    • When choosing the cover image you want to use for this project, keep a couple things in mind.
      • You want to find something high-quality. You can probably find some good ones on a Google Image search, just make sure you use the Large Size filter so you'll get a big image. You could also scan your own comic book cover, or if you have four or five extra copies of the same comic, you can skip the printing step and use the original cover.
      • When printing your cover, keep in mind the size of your picture frames. I got my cover printed at 11x17", but ended up only finding good picture frames at 11x14", so I had to trim a little from the top and bottom of my prints to make it fit.
      • When choosing the cover you want to use, pick something that has a lot of dimension to it. You want a distinctive foreground, middle ground, and background, so you have clear separations for your layers. Also remember that you're going to be cutting these all out with an X-acto knife, so a cover with lots of tiny details or speed lines might be pretty complicated. Old school classic covers, with their thick outlines and bold covers, are the best option for this.

Attached is the comic cover I chose for this project, ready to print at 11x17" if you want to use the same one I did and follow along.

Preparing for Action

Before you can even start cutting, you need to plan what your layers are going to be. I brought my cover into Photoshop to block out what I wanted. You want the things in the foreground to be on the top layers, and the background elements to be on the bottom layers.

The key thing to keep in mind is each layer must include its own elements AND the elements of the layer above it. So the top layer is only the top layer, then the second layer is everything you want on the second layer AND everything you had in the top layer.

I threw together a couple visuals to illustrate the concept, so hopefully that helps give you an idea of what needs to go on there.

If you end up with more or less layers for your particular cover, adjust your supplies and prints accordingly. You need prints and picture frames equal to the number of layers you have.

Cutting It Up

Bust out your X-acto knife and start cutting out your layers according to the plans you made before. You can use a light hand with the X-acto knife, it'll cut through standard paper easily without pressing down too hard. If you break the tip, go ahead and replace it with a new one — you want to make sure you always have a good point on your knife to keep your edges smooth and clean.

For cutting long straight edges, line up a metal ruler and cut along the edge.

As you can see, there's a giant hole in my bottom layer. Why? Well, I royally messed up cutting the "MAN" from my top layer (oops), so I stole the "MAN" from the bottom layer. I knew the way it would be stacked, you wouldn't be able to see the hole, and it was super important to have a good-looking "MAN" on the top layer.

Picture Frames — Disassemble!

Open up your picture frames and take out the cardboard backing. Using a pair of pliers, rip out the little metal tabby things that hold the glass in place. Then carefully remove the glass and set it aside.

Preview Layers — Assemble!

This step is just to figure out what bits are going where, and what the whole thing is going to look like once it's completely done.

For every layer except the top layer, you're going to flip the picture frame. The "front" of the frame is going to be face-down, and you're going to be stacking things from the "back" of the frame.

On the bottom layer, use the cardboard backing from one of the picture frames as the base, and place it into the frame. Then put your bottom layer picture on top of the cardboard frame.

For the middle layers, place the glass into the frame, then put that layer's cutouts right on top of the glass. To line the pieces up right, just stack the frames on top of the frame below it.

For the top layer, the frame is going to be face-up so the finished edge is on the front. You're going to sandwich the picture between your remaining two panes of glass, both of which will be in the top layer frame.

P.S. I am apparently incapable of taking a decent picture of anything reflective!

Glue It and Clean It

Using your E-6000 or similar heavy-duty adhesive, you're going to attach panes of glass to three of the frames, and the cardboard backing to the last one.

Apply a thin line of your adhesive around the inside edge of each picture frame, and place the glass pane right in there. If you get any glue seeping out, quickly wipe it up with a paper towel before it has a chance to dry and leave a mess.

The glue said that it needed six hours to dry, but I let mine sit for about two hours and they were fine to work with. Once it's dry enough to handle, clean your glass thoroughly and make sure you don't leave any smudges or fingerprints. Once you start assembling the frames, you won't be able to get inside to clean it, so you want to make sure these babies are pristine.

Taping and More Gluing

Okay, now we're going to finish up each individual layer.

Use your clear double-sided tape to adhere each layer of the cover to the top of the glass or cardboard backing on its layer. Make sure you get plenty of tape around the edges of the cutout. Before sticking it down, make sure everything is lined up right with the layer below it by stacking the frames on top of each other.

For the top layer, tape your cover art to the loose pane of glass, then glue that pane of glass to the other pane of glass inside the top layer frame, sandwiching the cover art between the two panes.

This is your very last chance to make sure there aren't any finger prints or smudges on your glass, so make sure it's clean!

And Yet More Gluing!

Now it's time to actually assemble the frames together. Apply a layer of adhesive between the top and second frames, line them up, and smoosh them together. Then do the same for the third layer and the bottom layer frames. If any glue seeps out between the frames, just wipe it up with a paper towel while it's still wet.

Right about now, you need to make a decision. These mass-market frames ended up not being 100% flush on all sides, so you need to pick which end you want to be flush, and which sides you don't mind being a little off. If you're going to be standing it upright, then you're going to want the bottom edge to be flush. So when you smoosh the frames together, before the glue has a chance to dry, stand them upright and move them around until the bottoms line up and the frame stands up on its own.

If you're going to be hanging it on the wall, you might want the top to be flush instead of the bottom. Just stand the frames on whichever end you want to be flush to align everything properly.

Once the glue dries on each section, attach the two parts together with more E-6000, and let that dry.

If you're planning on hanging this on the wall, you can also glue or nail a picture frame hangar to the back.

Display and Done!

Once your glue is all dry, you're done! Display and enjoy your fancy new 3D comic book cover art.


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