How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Basically, a zine (pronounced “zeen”) is a low-budget DIY booklet. The word stems from the shortening of the word magazine and was developed as a rejection of commercialism and mainstream publications. In stark contrast to the mass media industry, zine artists don’t seek to make a profit. Instead, they are designed to share ideas, stories, and artistic work.

Due to the fact that they haven’t gained much of a corporate backing, creators of zines pay homage to their own creative roots, carving an organic niche in visual arts for themselves. Originally churned out by hand, the prospect of a potential zine is an exciting one, with an endless amount of technology, media, and materials readily available.

The constant evolution of technology mixed with older, more traditional techniques means that zines continue to intrigue with highly individual and versatile methodology.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

The contemporary zine emerged alongside technology like the photocopier. The interest and creation of zines grew in popularity during the punk movement of the 70’s and quickly spread from the United Kingdom to Australia and America. Marginalized creatives sought a medium that wouldn’t leave them broke. Graffiti was one solution to the problem, and one of the others was zine-making.

Authors of zines soon developed the DIY magazines to incorporate new ideas, personal observations, poetry, concepts, and artworks within their limited pages. Let’s have a look at one of the predominant zine styles today – and how you can make simple and effective photography books with a printer and a bit of low-grade origami!

How to create your own zine

You will need

  • A few blank pieces of A4 paper
  • Photo editing and printing technology
  • A craft knife
  • A marker, pen, or pencil

Method

Zines are designed as a simple, accessible and low-cost project. With a couple of folds, a simple piece of paper can become a comprehensive creative space.

First, we’ll build a scaffold to get a hold on the zine’s layout. It’s important to visualize the construction of a zine to understand the folding process. The layout will also guide your images later.  Practicing the process will allow you to create work quicker, but also with greater efficacy.

For this project, I’ll be using a blank, A4 sheet of paper –  but different sizes and colors work well too! Let’s get started.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Folding the paper

Step 1 – Folding

Fold your original paper (1) so the short edges touch and press down on the crease with a finger to create a neat line in the center of the page (2). Always fold the two smaller edges of paper together. Folding length-ways results in a paper fan instead. Fold 2 in half so that the shorter sides of the folded paper intersect. Press down along the center line to make a crisp edge on stage three. The next stage is…you guessed it! Double stage three over and crease at the fold to make stage four.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Unfold the paper.

Now, open your paper. You’ll see 8 evenly divided rectangles.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Labeling each of the sections of the paper.

Step 2 – Labeling

The next step is labeling each of the sections of your paper. Looking at the image above, you’ll notice that half of the pages are marked upside down. Folding the final stages of the zine can be tricky. Each image needs to be oriented in a specific way. The end result of the zine will be made up of different orientations of your paper, due to the final folding process. If you want all your images to be one size and right-side up, mapping our the zine’s final orientation like this is invaluable.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Mark one line and make a cut.

Step 3 – Cutting

Next, you’ll need to put a neat horizontal line in the inner two pages of the layout. Mark a continuous line between page 1 and page 4 and between page 5 and the front cover (as shown above). With a sharp craft knife, cut along the mark you made. Just be sure the knife is sharp, otherwise, it will leave nasty edges all the way up and down your cut.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Once you have finished cutting the marked horizontal line, you will have a result like this. with a pointed gap in the center of your paper.

Step 4 – Refolding into the zine

Hold onto the outer layers of the paper with your fingers and gently push the outer pages toward the middle slit, so that the slice opens up to accommodate the pages (see below).

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

As you push the push the outside layers of the paper, it will form together like a star.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

As you press the ends together, the other pages will form around the folded slit. Be sure to check that the front and back pages are in the right place with a little bit of fiddling.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Your complete layout has folded down into a neat zine. So what’s next?

Photographic Zines

Photographic books are one of the best ways to share your photography. But producing professional-grade art books is a seriously costly undertaking. They may be small, but zines are a powerful and fun way to present your work and build networks.

The DIY nature of zines adds an extra layer of physicality to a body of work. They emphasize tactility, size, and detail. As they are handmade, each zine is a personal, tailored body of work, with the care that can only be imbued by hand. Because they take on an informal appearance, people will be much more inclined to touch and interact with your work. The price of the copies doesn’t hurt the viewer’s hip pocket either. They can take your work and revisit it again later – at minimal cost to creator and viewer.

Making a photographic zine

Because we will be working on the computer, grab a template like the one below and open it in a new document in Photoshop. You can copy mine if you like. Open up a new document and paste the layout onto the page.How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Carefully transpose each of your images to the corresponding page on the layout. Refer to your test dummy zine to visualize each page in the booklet. Remember, each image has to be orientated in the same way as the layout. Otherwise, you will end up with upside down images on your final zine.

For the cover of this zine, I’ve decided to use a joint image that spans over both the back and front page so that the pages will correspond.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Here is the final layout before I print my zine. I took the time to experiment before sending it off to the printer. Then,  printed in a matter of seconds, I have my zine layout ready for folding!

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

Following through the folding instructions above, you’ll have your finished product! Now that you’ve made one, are you tempted to get started on a few more?

Here are a few examples of some recent zines I’ve made.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

This little character is a blood mascot tasked with recruiting more blood donors in Japan. I took a photo of her one day, and it was so cute I upped the contrast and used her as the front cover of a zine.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

To create this zine, I simply recycled an image I printed by mistake

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

I printed this photo which is a scan of an inky painting. I also added a blank white square to the back page section, for a little message to a reader.

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

How to Make and Fold a Little Photographic Zine

To make this zine I incorporated a few film photographs I took one night. Film makes great material for zines. Note that there is a white strip in the layout, due to a film end. I decided to leave it in the design as a testament to the original image.

Conclusion

Zines are all about sharing art and creativity, founding trades and friendships across the world. Please share your photographic zines below, I would love to see them. Perhaps we could set up a trade!

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