Flip Books!

This is a really fun, hands photography project.  While technically it’s really easy to technically execute, the real trick is deciding what to shoot!  I did a really basic concept here, but there’s so many things you can explore–moving objects in a frame, moving your location as you shoot, altering and creating the variation in photoshop…it goes on and on.  So once you decide what brilliant situation you’re creating for your flipbook, you need to take the shots. 45 shots, to be exact.

1. Digital Camera Settings:

You start by determining your proper exposure and focus, as always.  Since these flipbooks are printed fairly small, I suggest a Medium sized Jpg setting for file size, but if you have the space on your card, you could even shoot raw if you desire.  If you’re doing a quick series of motions like mine, you can set your camera onto continuous shooting mode:

You see where it says ONE SHOT on the lcd?  You can select or tap that option and choose to shoot multiple images or “Continuous Shooting Mode.”  Each camera has specs on how many frames per second it can shoot in this mode, but if you select Continuous Shooting as the option, it will continue taking pictures as fast as it can (and as fast as your shutter) for as long as you hold down the shutter button (or shutter release cable.)  I took more than 45 shots and had to decide where to stop and start afterwards.  BUT, remember that you can do time-lapse, like with claymation, use photoshop for the background and do carefully planned shots, so continuous shooting is NOT the only option here.

2. Prepping files

This part is pretty simple.  Just download them in order, in their OWN folder. Take out anything else.  If you do any color correction or editing, make sure you do it to the entire series for consistency. Load them in Bridge or Photoshop for the next part, which is making a series of contact sheets.

3. Contact Sheets

There are two ways to make contact sheets: if you have the Output Module plug in downloaded for Bridge, you can make them there using the same options I’m going to choose…but if you are working at home you may not have that installed already, so let’s just skip to the easy option, going directly into Photoshop’s contact sheet maker.

In photoshop, go to File > Automate > Contact Sheet II. 

It’ll pop open a new window with a bunch of things to select:

  • At the top of the window under USE select Folder, and click Browse to find your folder of images to use.
  • Then under Document  use 7.75 for the Width and 10.5 for the Height, 300 ppi, and flatten all layers.  You can change the other things, like bid depth and Color Profile if you know what to change; otherwise ignore them.
  • For Thumbnails, Place down First, and use 2 Columns, 5 Rows. Check on Use Autospacing.  Hit OK.  Be patient as photoshop merges and compiles each contact sheet.
  • Once it’s done creating them, it will place them in Photoshop, but you will still need to save them so they can be printed later!

4. Printing Files

Print each contact sheet onto quality photo paper; we use Ilford Galerie Prestige, pearl surface in our lab.  Do not expand to fill the sheet in the printer settings. The sheets are 8.5×11 and that’s important, because you’ll want the extra border as your flipbook spine! You’ll see each sheet gives you 10 images.  Once your prints are dried (ink will be soft for a few hours at the least), you’re ready to cut them.  I’ve drawn lines in red where you’ll cut–we’re keeping the white border on the left side to act as your spine.  Make sure you keep all your image in the correct order as you cut them out!  Trust me, it’s not fun trying to figure out which ones are out of place if you don’t…


Once you trim off all the excess white, use a medium binder clip–the kind you get at staples (I will have some for my students doing this project) and clip it to the left side–that way the clip covers the white border, and doesn’t cut into the photos at all.

Then you’re done!  Since you can’t see the results without a printed book in front of you, I made a quickie video below.  :)

We’re still figuring out how exactly to present these in a gallery, but I think I’m going to try hanging them each from string on a wall.  That way people can just pick it up and flip without dropping it.  Each one will be a little slice of time and creativity, I’m really excited to see what people come up with.

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