Student View

STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: ETS1.B

CCSS: Writing: 4

TEKS: Science: 3.2D, 4.2D, 5.2D, 6.2E; ELA: 3.20, 4.18, 5.18, 6.17

Making Pictures Pop

Matthew Reinhart creates art that leaps off the page

Courtesy of Vivian Moy

Matthew Reinhart opens one of his most elaborate pop-up creations, a giant paper tower.

Artist Matthew Reinhart works at a table covered with paper scraps in his studio in New York City. He cuts, folds, glues, and tapes pieces together. At first, his creation looks like a flat shape. Then Reinhart pulls a paper tab. Suddenly, the flat shape seemingly springs to life. It unfolds into a 3-D sculpture of a monster that waves its claws and gnashes its teeth.

Reinhart designs pop-up books. He brings stories to life with dinosaurs that bite and fairy-tale princesses that spin. Reinhart combines science, engineering, and art to make his amazing paper creations.

Artist Matthew Reinhart works at a table. It’s covered with paper scraps. He’s in his studio in New York City. He cuts, folds, glues, and tapes pieces together. His artwork looks like a flat shape at first. Then Reinhart pulls a paper tab. The flat shape suddenly seems to spring to life. It unfolds into a 3-D sculpture. It’s a monster. It waves its claws and snaps its teeth.

Reinhart designs pop-up books. He brings stories to life. Some of his books have dinosaurs that bite. Other books have fairy-tale princesses that spin. Reinhart mixes science, engineering, and art. That’s how he makes his amazing paper creations.

Building Books

Making a new pop-up book takes a lot of planning. Reinhart first writes an outline showing what will be on each page. For example, a dinosaur book might include a pop-up T. rex. “I think: What’s the coolest way for readers to encounter a T. rex?” says Reinhart. “Maybe it tries to bite them!”

Next is the engineering stage. “That’s when I cut and fold paper to figure out how to make a T. rex that bites,” says Reinhart. Different folding techniques help him create different effects.

Making a new pop-up book takes a lot of planning. Reinhart first writes an outline. It shows what will be on each page. For example, a dinosaur book might include a pop-up T. rex. “I think: What’s the coolest way for readers to encounter a T. rex?” says Reinhart. “Maybe it tries to bite them!”

Next is the engineering stage. “That’s when I cut and fold paper to figure out how to make a T. rex that bites,” says Reinhart. He uses different folding methods. It helps him create different effects.

Courtesy of Matthew Reinhart

A v-fold mechanism is the basis of many of Reinhart’s designs. It folds flat when the book is closed, then pops up when the book opens.

One trick Reinhart often uses is called a “v-fold.” He folds a triangular piece of paper in half and places it in the center of a book. He attaches a pop-up part, such as a T. rex head, on top. When the book is closed, the v-fold stays flat (see photos). When a reader turns to that page, the v-fold opens, pushing a pop-up part across the page. Changing the angle of the v-fold changes how far and fast the part moves.

One trick Reinhart often uses is called a “v-fold.” He folds a triangle-shaped piece of paper in half. He places it in the center of a book. He attaches a pop-up part on top. It could be a shape like a T. rex head. The v-fold stays flat when the book is closed (see photos). The v-fold opens when a reader turns to that page. It pushes a pop-up part across the page. Reinhart can change the angle of the v-fold. That changes how far and fast the part moves.

The Perfect Pop

Every pop-up Reinhart creates is unique. Making one takes a lot of trial and error. He builds each pop-up as many as 20 times until it works exactly how he wants. “I go through a lot of paper!” he says. “But failing is OK. That’s how I discover ways to make a piece move in a really new and cool way.”

Every pop-up Reinhart creates is special. Making one takes a lot of trial and error. He builds each pop-up as many as 20 times. He keeps working until it looks exactly right. “I go through a lot of paper!” he says. “But failing is OK. That’s how I discover ways to make a piece move in a really new and cool way.”

Courtesy of Matthew Reinhart

Next, Reinhart colors his pop-ups. He may use paint, paper collage, or digital art.

Once Reinhart has crafted the perfect pop-up, he carefully takes it apart. He marks the pieces to show how they fit together, then scans them into his computer. That makes a pattern. A manufacturer prints the pattern and assembles the pop-ups for the final book.

It takes Reinhart about six months of work to design each pop-up book. “But it’s worth it to take something you had in your mind and make it happen before your eyes,” he says.

Next Reinhart colors his pop-ups. He may use paint, paper collage, or digital art. Finally, Reinhart has the perfect pop-up. Then he carefully takes it apart. He marks the pieces. This shows how they fit together. Next he scans them into his computer. That makes a pattern. A manufacturer prints the pattern. It’s assembled into the pop-ups for the final book.

Making a pop-up book takes Reinhart about six months of work. “But it’s worth it to take something you had in your mind and make it happen before your eyes,” he says. 

Back to top
videos (1)
Skills Sheets (2)
Skills Sheets (2)
Lesson Plan (2)
Lesson Plan (2)