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

Handmade Flipbook

Making your own Flipbook isn't that difficult if you have the right software tools and some patience. I cannot take credit for this design, however - you can find my inspiration over at and 3 sample flipbooks by the designer.

View my new flipbooks at

Find 5–6 Sec of Video and Grab Frames

You'll need software that has the ability to grab individual frames and save them to your computer. I used Pinnacle 12 (see figure) and grabbed approximately 101 still frames from approx. 4 seconds of video (at 30fps it should have been 120 individual still frames, but I trimmed the video a little).

This took almost 2 hours — it's time consuming and the software doesn't have any macro ability to automate this procedure. Maybe your software will...

Build Up Your Image Collection

You'll end up with a ton of jpeg images. Make sure to number them if your software doesn't do it for you. Pinnacle 12 keeps track of the saved jpgs and appends a number to them which was nice.

Hindsight is 20/20 advice: After finishing my first flipbook, here's a lesson learned: AFTER developing and cutting your images (see later steps) use a Sharpie and label them immediately. I'll show you why in a bit...)

Create an Image Template

For this step I used Flash (an OLD version)... I think any graphics software that has the ability to use layers, import jpegs, and export to jpegs will work.

What I did here was create 2 layers: (1) photo and (2) border. The border layer was on top of the photo layer and would create a frame of the picture. I would also use the border to put the frame # as well as cutting guidelines. Why not just use the entire photo (4x6" is the size of the black border in the image here)? You could but the larger stack of photos doesn't flip very well. Using smaller sized images gives a stiffer stack and is easier to flip — just trust me OR try it with a large 4x6 photo stack.

Another reason not to use just plain photo prints is that the developer sometimes doesn't load the photo paper into the hopper properly and you get the occasional image that is slightly askew — a little white on bottom and the image at a very slight angle — ruins the affect.

My work around is seen here — I import the jpeg but it's very large at first. I then resized it (40% of original) and then I cut the image using Ctrl-V. Ctrl-X pastes the resized image directly in the center of the 4x6 work area and the black frame covers part of the photo (see next step).

Number the Image and Export

Here you can see that the image has been pasted into the work area — the other image shows the picture with the border hidden. I used the Text tool to give it a number (16) and export it to a jpeg using the screen dimensions. This will create a 4x6 jpeg that I can have developed at the camera store and if I'm careful to use the guidelines to cut, all my images should match up and provide a nice smooth animation.

I could have used a different color for the border but black made the white guidelines easier to see — I changed the guidelines to black when they moved off of the black border — not a big deal if you don't do this, but it helps if the developer doesn't line up the image square on the paper; you'll have at least one end of a guideline that touches the edge of the photo, but hopefully two ends of each guideline.

Also, notice that when I shot this video I kept the subject on the right side of the movie. I knew I would be turning this into a flipbook, so I intentionally kept the subject as far to the right as possible. I also shot it in Widescreen. If you don't have the ability to shoot in Widescreen OR if your subject is centered in your clip, just make your border cover less of the right side of the image and you may even have to build in a left side block to leave in.

Cut Out Your Photos

I used a nice cutter to trim each photo to the correct size. Notice here that I left the left black border and number. The number is good in case the photos are printed out of order (they were) or if you drop the stack (I did). The black border will be covered by a leather binding in a later step.

A few thoughts here:

1. I might have been able to fit 2 images to a 4x6" photo — saving money but the images would have been slightly smaller. Also, they would have needed to have been rotated 90 degrees and that wouldn't have left much border which will be needed for drilling later. Keep reading and I think this will begin to make sense...

2. See where I placed the number? Bad idea. Move it down to the middle of the left black border. This way you won't make the mistake I did which is drilling through the numbers. If you wrote the number on the back of each image like I suggested earlier, this will never be a problem.

3. Finally, the more accurate you can be with your trimming — ESPECIALLY on the right edge — the better. You want this stack to not only be as square as possible, but you want that right edge to be cut consistently so the animation is fluid.

Gather Your Final Supplies

Besides the photos, you'll also need some leather for the binding and a set of screw posts (also called Chicago screws). I listened to the advice over at website about avoiding Aluminum screw posts because they might strip when tightened — the local hardware store ONLY had these in stock and the clerk told me the same thing, so....

I found a great supplier for these - - they charge for the all-brass screws but they sure do look good and have a nice weight to them.

I found a 3" wide and 4" long strip of untreated leather from my local Tandy leather store — they also sell it online. I almost got the 2" wide but my photo stack was just a bit wider than 2" so I trimmed down the 3" using a standard box cutter.

Clamp and Drill

Square up your stack and clamp them tight — wrap the photos if you like, but I knew I'd be tossing the first and last one anyway, so I just pushed on.

Now, I don't have a paper drill bit — I wish I did and I'm seriously considering purchasing one. But for this I had to use a standard electric drill and a 1/4" bit. It cut through the paper just fine BUT...

As the bit goes through each piece of photo paper, it messes up the paper just a bit and causes a slight raise in the paper. A 1" thick stack of photos all of sudden becomes a 1.5" stack on the end that's drilled because all those little holes add up quick.

I ended up just sanding them down with some sand paper — not the greatest solution, but until I get a paper drill bit (not sure they even make them in 1/4" or 3/16") this is all I could do. You can see the scratch marks in one of these images. And notice how the numbers were damaged by the drilling — move the number down to where you won't drill and/or write the number on the back of the photo before they get out of order.

When done, my stack was STILL a little too thick for the 1–1/4" screw posts I purchased to connect through the stack and both sides of the leather binding. So I had to thin out the stack. To keep the animation fluid, I avoided pulling out sequential images; I ended up having to pull out about 15 of 101 images to get the thickness right — I just went through my stack and pulled out those images that were very close to the image before or after it.

Closing Comments

Cut the leather binder how you like — I gave it a 1.5" width on top and bottom and used only 2 screw sets... I might try 3 next time for a different look. Try to use a heavy leather, maybe 1/4" or so thickness — thin leather won't provide as rigid a flipbook in my opinion.

The leather will darken into a golden-grown over time and as more hands handle it — it should turn into a nice heirloom.

Overall time estimates (for 101 frames)

Video grab to individual frames: approx 2 hours

Importing frame/resize/border/export to JPEG: approx 2 hours

Cutting 4x6 printed photos: approx 1.5 hours

Drilling/sanding holes/assembly: 1 hour

And once again, I have to point you to for giving me the idea as well as for proving that I could do something like this on my own. Check out the originals at:


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