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Pop-Up Cards: Tips and Ideas

Paper crafting has been my passion since I was a child. I love sharing paper projects, ideas, and products. Get more from your paper.

Pop up cards are fun to create and fun to receive.

Pop up cards are fun to create and fun to receive.

The Most Basic Pop-Up Card

In its most basic form, the pop-up card is a card base with an inner liner. The inner liner is cut in such a way, most often with a template that will support the pop-up images. When the card is open, the image will literally jump out at you. But when the card is closed, the pop-up elements remain flat.

The simplest configuration is a basic card base with a single pop-up element in the center. However, there are many variations on this theme. Start with a simple card first and then try your hand on some alterations.

Using Dies to Create Pop-Up Cards

There are pop-up dies available to create both interior elements and outer elements of your cards. Some are specific to a design scheme. Others are the basic elements of a specific card base like a box card.

In most cases, you run the die through a die-cutting machine. Then fold the elements with a bone folder to create crisp folds. Then you adhere the pieces following the directions. Cover the elements with some some printed or solid cardstock.

Pop-Up Card Tips

  • When you are creating pop-up cards, it is very important that all your folds are straight lines.
  • You will hear the terms "mountain fold" and "valley fold." Mountain folds look like a mountain and valley folds are like a v shape or a valley.
  • If you are making a rectangle, make sure that all of the sides are of equal length. If they are not equal, the card will not function correctly.
  • Good quality double-sided paper is the perfect paper for pop-up cards, especially box and explosion cards.
  • Round the corners of your pop-up cards for a softer look.
  • Use foam tape and dots to create extra dimensions on your pop-up cards.
  • Use a bone folder along the edges of your folds. Getting crisp folds on all of your elements will give you better results.
A basic pop-up card

A basic pop-up card

Where to Get Pop-Up Card Templates

All you have to do is to go to any browser and type in 'pop-up card templates.' You will find hundreds of templates that you can use to create your own designs. Most of these will be PDF files that you will be able to download and print. Or they will be images that you can save to your downloads to print when you need them.

Sometimes, they will be attached to a tutorial that explains how to use them. This is a huge help especially if you are a beginner or unfamiliar with the design.

Remember that the pattern or template is the property of the designer. They will offer personal use, professional use or both. They may offer personal use for free, but charge a nominal fee is you use the design for items that you sell (commercial use). You can share the location where you found the item, but you should never share the template itself. That gives away something that you do not own. That is true especially when you have purchased a template.

You should know and understand the license on these designs. Many of them are for personal use only. That means under copyright laws, you cannot use these files to make and sell cards. In some cases, the files may be for personal and professional use. Always check for the information that covers your use of a template.

Having said that, feel free to find what you can. We have shared the location of some templates that may be helpful to you.

Another location to find free templates is on Pinterest. Just type in the type of template you are looking for and you are sure to find a source.

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Free pop-up card templates can usually be found in a tutorial or on your favorite browser

Free pop-up card templates can usually be found in a tutorial or on your favorite browser

More Free Pop-Up Card Templates

How to Make a Basic Pop-Up Card

It is not as difficult as you may think to create a custom pop-up card. You basically start with a good heavyweight card stock somewhere in the range of 85-110 lbs.

There are actually two pieces to this card. There is the inner piece where the pop-up is based. Then there is the outer piece that is the actual base for the card. You need to know the size of the pop-up portion of the card so that it will fit in the size of the base that you are considering making.There are just a few tools that will help you create the perfect pop-up cards. The tools make it easier for you as you learn and grow.

Tools Needed

  • A craft knife helps you cut elements for your cards.
  • A self-healing craft mat protects your work surface.
  • A stainless-steel ruler with a non-stick cork base draws the lines on your card elements.
  • Bone folders give you the crispest folds and lines for your card elements.
  • A scoreboard makes the process of creating your folds much easier.
  • Pencils and erasers draw your lines and make corrections.
  • Glue sticks and glue.
  • Decorations and embellishments.


  1. Cut your cardstock for the inner piece to the size of your card base.
  2. Fold the inner piece of the card stock in half.
  3. Use the bone folder to make a crisp fold.
  4. With the folded side of the inner card facing you, cut two 1.5 inch slits. The paper between the slits will form a tab where you can secure your images. The tabs can be as wide or as narrow as you want them to be. Cut as many slits as you need for the pieces to attach.
  5. Open the card and fold the tabs inward.
  6. Crease each tab at the center with the bone folder.
  7. Attach your images to the tabs with glue or glue stick.
  8. Allow them to dry.
  9. Add a sentiment to the inner card.
  10. Decorate the outside of the card base any way you would like. You can use printed paper or any embellishments that suit you.
  11. Using double-sided tape, secure the outer card to the inner card. Make sure that your pop-ups are in the inner card.

More Basic Pop-Up Card Ideas

  • How to Make a Pop-Up Card |
    Pop-up cards can be a lot of fun to give and to receive but can feel overwhelming to try and create on your own. Learn how to make a pop-up card with this tutorial. It works for nearly all occasions so you will want to make a few while you're at it.
  • How to Make a Pop Up Card + Printables - Personal Creations Blog
    Making a pop-up card is quick and easy, and it will show the recipient you went the extra mile to make them feel special! Learn how to make a pop card in six simple steps. We've included printables and message ideas if you're not sure where to start.
  • How to Make a Pop Up Card (with Pictures) - wikiHow
    Pop-up cards are a great twist on the ordinary greeting card. Make a few simple cuts into a piece of decorative paper to create a tab. Push the tab forward and apply your pop-up image. If you want to work with a card you've purchased, just...

Make a Pop-Up Card With a Cutting Machine

If you have an electronic cutting machine like a Cricut, a Silhouette or a Scan N Cut, you are likely to find pop-up card projects in the program that your machine uses.

Generally, if they have these projects in their programs, it is just a matter of cutting and putting together the elements of the project. This of course will save you a lot of time and create a better end result, especially if you are a beginner in card crafts.

You will know exactly what you need, no guessing. In most cases, you will be able to understand the features of the project and how to use the pieces that you cut.

If you have an electronic cutting machine, take some time to consider what projects may be available to you.

Electronic Cutting Machine Pop-Ups

Step Pop-Up Cards

Step pop-up cards are easier than you may think. With just a few steps, you can create a lovely card that your family and friends will appreciate. The step-up mechanism is made separately and then glued into the card. It is best to use the same-colored cardstock to hide the step mechanism.

There are a variety of different step pop-up cards to choose from. You can opt for a single step, or three or four step pop-up card.

There is also a tri-step pop-up card. In that case, the pop-ups are not like stairs but are in different levels.

More Step Card Ideas

Create a fun card using puzzle pieces

Create a fun card using puzzle pieces

Concertina Cards

The technical explanation for a concertina card is that they consist of a single row of four, six, eight or ten printed panels across and one panel down, which are adhered to a pair of round cornered front and back covers. Wow that is really a mouthful! So you could say that these cards were not for the faint of heart.

Concertina Spring Card

This has the concertina folds and will remind you of an explosion box. But in this case, you manually pull up the card with a ribbon pull to see the card.

Quad Fold Aperture Concertina

This card has the features of a concertina card with an aperture as the front panel

Interlocking Concertina Cards

As the name might suggest, these have panels that interlock yet still fold flat. You start with a plain card base and then start building from there. Using die cuts for some of the panels in this card make things easier. You could also use your electronic cutting machine for some of the elements too. Learn how to make an interlocking concertina here.

Double Interlocking Concertina Card

Two panels that interlock show off all of your lovely patterned paper.

It might seem like a bit of a challenge, but concertina cards take you to a whole other creative style.

It might seem like a bit of a challenge, but concertina cards take you to a whole other creative style.

More Concertina Pop-Up Card Inspiration

Explosion Box Pop-Up Cards

These special pop-up cards have become so popular in recent years. They are a series of graduated sizes of boxes all connected at the base. They literally explode open when you remove the lid on the largest box. As the sides fall down, little notes, photos, and sentiments are revealed.

They are made simply with paper and glue. Decorating them is up to you. They can be as simple or as intricate as you wish.

A simple explosion card is fun to make

A simple explosion card is fun to make

How to Make a Simple Explosion Box Insert

This is the easiest way to fold and create a simple insert for an explosion box. If you follow the steps, you will find that it is easier than you think. You can make the explosion piece as large or as small as you want. Size it to fit your card base. Whatever size you chose, your paper needs to be a square piece. You can use a piece of the printed paper that is printed on one side. This is a great way to use some of that lighter printed paper you may have in your stash.

You can also use some stamps to create a special themed paper to suit the occasion that your card celebrates. Getting your stamps out and creating something special makes your card a more custom creation.

  1. Fold stamped (or printed) square piece of cardstock or paper in half, stamped side in- plain side out. Burnish (crease the fold) with a bone folder or a ruler.
  2. Fold again, along the same crease, but stamped side in. Burnish with a bone folder.
  3. Fold again, stamped side out. Mark the center of folded side and the opposite side with a pencil.
  4. Fold the left corner to top center pencil mark. Burnish with bone folder.
  5. Unfold both sides. Turn paper over. Refold and burnish with a bone folder.
  6. Unfold the left side and push the bottom fold inward to invert the corner.
  7. Do the same with the right side and burnish with a bone folder. You now have a triangle.
  8. Fold top corner on left over to center pencil mark. Burnish with a bone folder.
  9. Repeat with a corner on the right.
  10. Unfold, turn over and repeat steps nine and ten. This burnishing makes the creases easy to move.
  11. Unfold corners, open up, use the index finger to push it in and invert corner, push it in. Burnish all edges with a bone folder.
  12. Do this on all four corners.

More Pop-Up Explosion Ideas

You Need This Tool

Twisted Pop-Up Cards

This card is a little more difficult than the average pop-up card. However, it is fun to make and those that receive it will enjoy the results. The card will fit in a standard A2 envelope. Depending on the thickness of the layers, it may need extra postage. We have included both step-by-step directions as well as a visible video to help you complete this project.


  • Cardstock
  • Coordinating printed paper
  • Strong adhesive like tacky glue
  • Scoring tool
  • Bone Folder
  • Stamps and or die sets to add images to your cards
  • Stamps for saying or sentiments
  • Inks for stamped images
  • Die-cut machine


  1. Cut a card base, 4 1/4" x 11”.
  2. Score at 5 1/2" on the long side.
  3. Fold the cardstock into a top-fold A2 card.
  4. Decorate the card front as desired. It is easier to decorate the front now while the card is flat rather than later
  5. The inside panels can also be lined with paper at this time or you can wait till step 16
  6. Cut cardstock for the pop-up mechanism, 3” x 8”
  7. Score down at the center of both sides – at 4” on the long side and 1 1/2" on the short side.
  8. Mark at 2 1/2" from each corner with a pencil, on the top and bottom edge of the cardstock.
  9. Score an X from mark to mark. The center of the X should match the center of the cardstock where the other score lines intersect.
  10. Burnish all score lines with a bone folder, folding both ways on each fold.
  11. Push the long center score lines toward each other until they meet. Fold the sides back. The center X should form triangles front and back, with the folded sections inside, folds together.
  12. Mark the center point on the fold of the card base, 2 1/8".
  13. Center and adhere one side of the pop-up mechanism, gluing only the triangular area. Close the card to be sure the point does not interfere with the fold.
  14. Add adhesive to the triangle facing upward, and close the card to adhere it into place.
  15. Allow the glue to dry, and test the pop-up mechanism by opening and closing the card.
  16. Cut two layering panels for the inside of the card, 4” x 5 1/4". Mark at 2” on the short side, and 2” down on each side. Cut from the side points up to the center point to shape panels that will fit inside the card and cover up the central part of the pop-up mechanism
  17. Adhere the panels to the inside of the card.
  18. Cut cardstock for the focal piece, 3 3/4" x 11”.
  19. Score at 2 3/4" from each end on the backside, if the cardstock has an obvious front and back (print or texture).
  20. Flip the cardstock to the right side and score at 5 1/2".
  21. Fold the panel into a W shaped booklet and burnish the folds.
  22. Embellish the panels as desired.
  23. Each panel will accommodate an ATC sized panel, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2”.
  24. To assemble the card, center the booklet at the top of the open card, ends upward just inside the edge, with the back ‘page’ facing up.
  25. Apply adhesive to the pop-up mechanism as shown, above the fold on the right side, covering about 1” from the end.
  26. Close the card to apply the adhesive to the booklet. Allow the glue to dry before moving to the next step.
  27. Apply adhesive to the other side of the pop-up mechanism as shown, below the fold on the left side, covering about 1” from the end.
  28. Close the card, bringing the booklet to the card’s edge with the left side of the mechanism closed in on top of it.
  29. Press down to secure the adhesive and allow the project to dry completely.
Twisted pop up cards can be an artful expression of your sentiments

Twisted pop up cards can be an artful expression of your sentiments

More Twisted Pop-Up Card Ideas

Gatefold Card

In simple terms, a gatefold is when each side of the card folds inwards toward a middle point.

The "doors" of your gatefold card can be equal sizes or different sizes. That is your choice. The gatefold card starts with a rectangle piece of cardstock in any size that you would like.

Basic Gatefold Card

The basic gatefold card opens in the front. You fold the outermost flaps in a quarter of the total length of the rectangle you have created. Do the same on the other side. The gate doors should be equal in width.

Double Gatefold Card

A double gatefold card adds has another two folds added to the first folds created

Curved Gatefold Card

The gates in this card are curved rather than solid lines, The curves do fit together.

Easel Gatefold Card

Combines two kinds of card bases-a simple gatefold card with an easel card inside

Interlocking Gatefold Card

This is similar to the basic gatefold card, except that you have two attachments to the gates that interlock.

Lock And Pop Gatefold

Again, you start with a basic gatefold card. The doors or the gates of this card will tuck into a cental panel.

Floating Gatefold Card

This is like a simple gatefold card with elements inside that seem to float.

Twisted Gatefold Card

The panels on the front of this gatefold card literally are twisted.

Three D Cascading Gate Fold Card

The concertina insert is sure to add that wow factor to your creation. You can keep it simple or go all out on this one.

Shutter Gatefold Card

A shutter gatefold card has an aperture inside the opens when the card is opened to reveal a sentiment.

More Gatefold Card Ideas

Pop-Up Collage Card

This type of pop-up card is more like an actual scene than it is just one or two elements. You create a background and then pop up elements are added to the front of the scene

The scene could have a foreground if desired. It can incorporate any occasion o holiday. These kind of pop-up cards really call for a bit of artistic imagination.

This pop up card features elements inside the card in ab accordian fold fashion

This pop up card features elements inside the card in ab accordian fold fashion

Pop-Up Accordian Card

Think of these cards as little booklets that are actually like fan folds. They can be oval in shape or like a standard rectangular shape.

You fold them very much like a fan to create a custom card that is sure to please anyone you send it to,

Accordion Pull Up Card

You can also create a pull up card that uses the accordion fold to create the elements of the pull up feature.

One o the easiest of the pull up cards

One o the easiest of the pull up cards

More Accordian Card Ideas

    Hi frnds,in this tutorial video i have taught how to make accordion card without using ready made dies.I have tried my best to teach in better and easiest wa...
Pop up shadow box cards are always popular Once you understand how to complete these cards, you are going to want to create more of them

Pop up shadow box cards are always popular Once you understand how to complete these cards, you are going to want to create more of them

Pop-Up Shadow Card

These shadow box pop ups are very popular in the commercial greeting card market. But you can make a custom version of your own.

There are basic shadow boxes that have scenes within a little box that flattens down for mailing. As you remove the card from the envelope, the shadow box opens up to reveal the design

Pullout Shadow Box Pop Up Cards

There is another variation of this card that had front doors. You only get to see the shadow box when you release the doors.

More Pop-Up Shadow Box Ideas

Pop-Up Box Card

People often get explosion pop up cards and pop-up box cards confused.

A pop-up box card is styled like a pretty box shape when on display but has the benefit of folding flat into an envelope for posting and gifting. Imagine the wonderful surprise when this stunning card comes out of the envelope and pops right open.

There are some dies available that make the process easy, but honestly, this is not as difficult as you may think it is. The main thing to remember when making this kind of card is understanding the scoring to create the box.

You can use a ruler and a pencil, but a scoreboard sure makes the process for this or any other pop-up cards so much easier.

Create a card that lays flat when you mail it and then opens up to a lovely design

Create a card that lays flat when you mail it and then opens up to a lovely design

More Box Pop-Up Box Card Ideas

  • How to Make a Pop Up Card (with Pictures) - wikiHow
    Pop-up cards are a great twist on the ordinary greeting card. Make a few simple cuts into a piece of decorative paper to create a tab. Push the tab forward and apply your pop-up image. If you want to work with a card you've purchased, just...

Final Thoughts on Pop-Up Cards

There are so many options when it comes to custom pop-up cards. What could you create?

We have tried to give you an idea where you can take your creativity to a new level. Have you been inspired you to consider going out of the box so to speak?

Start with a simple version then gradually move up to a more difficult design.

Beyond just using templates, you can take it further by designing your own pop-up cards. This would be the ultimate custom pop-up card.

Give it a try and expand your horizons! Happy Crafting!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Linda F Correa