DIY: Turn Photos into a 3-D Tunnel Book!

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

What do moles, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and photos have in common?

Why, they make awesome tunnels, of course!

Yup, photos can make tunnels! By separating the layers of your photos into cut-outs, you can turn your photos into a sweet 3-D diorama.

Use this project as a crafty way to study depth of field or turn your photos into magical miniature worlds.

The last time you tried to reach out and touch a 3-D photo? You got a handful of air. Womp-womp. Here’s the kind of 3-D photo you can really touch!

How to Make a 3-D Tunnel Book

Tunnels Aren’t Just For Moles Anymore

Take your 2D photos into another dimension without any need for 3D glasses with this crafty DIY.

By using and playing with the three, basic compositional spaces–the foreground, the middle ground, and the background—you can a cool scene from various, flat pictures that really pops out!

And hey, no headlamps, shovels, or fancy glasses used.

Your Tunnel-making tools:

  • Photo files
  • Computer
  • Photo-editing program, like Photoshop
  • Printer
  • Photo paper or thicker printer paper
  • Scrapbooking paper or just scrap paper
  • Cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • X-Acto knife &/or scissors
  • Stapler
  • Double-stick tape (or glue stick)

STEP 1: Lay Out Your ‘Grounds

before First, you wanna pick out some photos that’ll: A) make a sweet composition, and B) work for a photo tunnel book.

You’ll need photos to comprise the 3 main areas in your scene:
1. The foreground,
2. The middle ground, and
3. The background.

Background = full photos, and cut out elements—like people or buildings—for your foreground and middle ground parts.

The photos you choose for each of these areas don’t have to be from the same —you can mix ‘em up from different photos from different places. However, make sure the photos you’re using were all taken from the same or similar standpoint, so that when they’re layered, they’ll will work dimension-wise or scale-wise with each other.

For instance in our photo tunnel example, our standpoint is in line with the picture of the person in the foreground. We’re using this person as the scale for the person standing on the rocks in the middle ground, as well as the people in the background (the really tiny figures in the boats on the left). Since we’re viewing or “ standing” closest to our foreground area, the person in this area is bigger in relation to the other people in the composition.

You can adjust the photos to scale or dimension with a photo-editing program if needed.

STEP 2: Bordered

beforeOnce you’re figured out what photos you’re going to use, open ‘em up in your photo-editing program.

Make sure each of your photo files is 4 inches by 6 inches—or 10.16 cm by 15.24 cm for our cool metric buddies!

Then, add a 1 inch white border around all of your photos, so that each of your resulting photo files is 6 inches by 8 inches—15.24 cm by 20.32 cm.

For your convenience, put in some crop marks or guides so you know where your white borders are around your photos so you can cut around ‘em.

STEP 3: Print Party

beforeNow it’s time to print out your photos!

Load your printer with photo paper or thicker printer paper, hit the printer button, and jam to the printing sounds.

STEP 4: Cut ‘em Out

before Use your ruler & X-acto knife to cut out your white-bordered photos.

You can use your scissors to do this part, too.

STEP 5: Highlight the X-act Photo Pieces

before Now you’re going to carefully use your X-Acto knife (and/or scissors) to cut out the parts inside the white “frame” of your foreground and middle ground that you don’t want to show in your photo tunnel layout.

STEP 6: Cut out

before Set your photo pieces aside and grab some scrapbooking or scrap paper.

Use your X-Acto knife, ruler, and cutting mat to cut out two 6” by 6” pieces of paper.

STEP 7: Fold According to the Accordion Fold

beforeYou’re gonna take each of the two pieces of paper you cut out in Step 6 and fold 1” accordion folds.

Use a ruler and a pencil to mark out 1” alongside the top and bottom of your 6” square piece of paper.

Then use those marks to as guides for your accordion folds.

Notice how this folding technique produce folds that create “slots,” and how there’s inside and outside slots when you view your folded piece from the top. In the next step you’re going to being putting your photo pieces into the inside “slots.”

Familiar with the musical instrument but not the fold? Get the low-down in Step 4 of this other Photojojo DIY tutorial!

STEP 8: Line Up in Your Slot

beforeTake one of your paper accordions and hold it vertically.

Now take your background photo, line its left side up to your paper accordion, and put it in the back-most “slot” of the accordion.

STEP 9: Staple it Together & Call it Bad Weather

beforeGet ready to go into multitask mode!

Hold your slotted background photo in your paper accordion, get your stapler, and staple the accordion to your photo.

Staple near the top and bottom corners of the accordion.

Take your other paper accordion, line it up to the right side of your background photo and staple ‘em together like you did for the left side.

STEP 10: Stapling, Continued

beforeNow you’re going to staple in the middle ground and foreground photos in paper accordions, just like you did with the background photo.

Move up forward a slot in your paper accordions to staple in the middle ground photo, and move yet another slot forward to staple in your foreground photo.

STEP 11: The Finishing Touch

beforeTake a step back and admire your photo tunnel progress so far. You’ve almost completed construction!

Now it’s time to make a paper frame for a nice finish on the front of your photo tunnel.

Take your frame-making paper and use a ruler, pencil, and X-Acto knife to measure, mark, and cut out a 5” by 7” piece of paper with a 4” by 6” rectangle cut out in its middle.

STEP 12: Framed & Fabulous

beforeTake your paper frame and use double-stick tape (or a glue stick) to adhere your frame over your front-most photo—the foreground photo.


Time to showcase your dimensional masterpiece on your coffee table of fame!

Tunnel it Further

  • Get creative with your standpoint & your three compositional areas like we did with the photo tunnel above!
  • Add more layers to your photo tunnel. Expand the size of your accordion side pieces to accommodate more layers!
  • If you’re a perfectionist and got hawk eyes, you’ll notice the white frame around the middle ground and background photos show up as you’re looking into your photo tunnel. You can get rid of ‘em by expanding just the bottom edge of the your middle ground and background photos by half an inch, like we did above.
  • Make a photo tunnel book with vertical pictures! Think skyscraper photos!
  • Check out this extreme photo-tunneling: layered portraits by Michael Murphy.
  • Try eerie inverse photo tunnel idea.