What You’ll Be Creating
In this tutorial you’ll learn how to create a laser-cut pop up card, perfect for showcasing retail offers or adapting for events. We’ll break down into simple steps some of the essential techniques for preparing your artwork for post-print processes, including laser-cutting and accommodating for folds.
Suitable for beginner-to-intermediate users of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign, this tutorial will show you how simple it can be to create a 2D design that’s perfectly prepared for a 3D transformation.
Ready to go? Great, let’s get started!
1. Prepare the Dieline for your Card
We need to keep in mind that the dimensions of the card once printed and folded will be 5 inches by 7 inches (127 mm by 177.8 mm), a standard greetings card size. The card will be double-folded, which will ensure that the card is mail-friendly.
To start, we’ll be using Adobe Illustrator. Open it up and go to File > New to create a new document.
Set the Width of the artboard to 10 in and the Height to 14 in. Click OK to create your new artboard.
Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and select New Swatch from the panel’s drop-down menu.
Name the new swatch Crease, and choose Spot color from the Color Type menu. Set the Color Mode to RGB, and the values to R=255 G=0 B=0. Click OK.
You’ll need to create Spot Color swatches both for the dieline and for scoring (for folding). Your printer can advise you on whether one spot color is sufficient for both or whether you will need to create two different colors for each. If the latter, repeat the process above, perhaps setting the RGB values to R=0 G=255 B=0.
Ensure that the rulers are visible (View > Rulers > Show Rulers), and then click and drag a guide out from the left-hand ruler, dropping it at the center point of the artboard. Drag down a second guide, from the top ruler, dropping it at the horizontal center point.
Select the Line Segment Tool (), hold down Shift and drag across both guides to create two straight crease lines across the entire breadth of the artboard. Set the Stroke Weight of the lines to 0.25 pt, and set the Stroke Color to your Crease spot color.
2. Create Your Pop-Up Artwork
Remaining on your Illustrator artboard, go to File > Place.
Now you can choose an image which you’d like to ‘pop up’ on your card. Make sure that the image has a distinctive, simple outline and doesn’t have any white elements towards the edge of the image (or a white outline). If this isn’t the case, you may need to adjust your image in Adobe Photoshop before continuing to the next step.
Go to Window > Image Trace to open up the Image Trace panel.
Select the image, and Trace with the Preset set to Shades of Gray.
Go to Object > Image Trace > Expand. Then select and Delete the white background of the traced image.
Go to Window > Pathfinder. Drag across the image to select all its elements, and then choose Unite from the Shape Modes selection in the Pathfinder panel.
Swap the colors of your Fill and Stroke, and increase the Stroke Weight to 0.25 pt. The Fill Color for the inside of your image should now be set to