Photos That Pop Out of the Page, Literally! DIY Photo Pop-Outs in 20 Minutes

Got a photo you just adore and want a unique way to show it off?

Behold! Photo Pop-Outs!

Gather up a bit of foam core, a bit of tape, a knife, and 20 minutes and we’ll show you how to give your photos an eye-popping 3D effect — no special glasses required!

But wait, there’s more! We’ll even show you how to make a nifty tabletop stand when you’re done.

Pop on over to our tutorial to find out how…

A note on selecting your photo: Good choices for photo pop-outs are photos where you’ve got a clear subject (person(s) or thing(s)) that you’d like to separate from the background. Photos where the pop-out is anchored to the bottom of the frame look best.

Ingredient List

  • Two copies of a single photo

  • Foam core (enough to back both photos) + a little extra

  • Photo Mount Spray or Double-sided Tape

  • X-Acto Knife – (a new blade will give you a nice, clean cut on foam core)

  • Ruler

Step 1: Back Your Photos with Foam Core

Cut your foam core to the same size as your photos, erring on the side of making it too large. Follow the instructions on your photo mount spray to attach your photos to your foam core pieces. (Double-sided tape works, too. You’ll want to apply it generously.)

Once the foam core is attached to your photos and the adhesive has dried, use your ruler and X-Acto knife to trim away any excess foam core.

If all went well, you now have two photo/foam core slabs. Set one aside to use as your photo base later and work with the other slab to create your pop-out.

Step 2: Cut Out Your Pop-Out

Next, take your pop-out slab and use your X-Acto knife to cut out the people or objects you want to pop-out. A few tips:

  • Go slow, and think before you cut.

  • Slant your blade inward toward the center of your subject. This will bevel your pop-out so the foam core is less visible later.

  • Pop-outs work best when your subject is anchored to the bottom of the photo. Cut accordingly.

  • Don’t sweat every strand of hair. Get the big shapes right first and go back for the details.

Step 3: Clean Up Your Pop-Out

Carefully slice off any stray bits of foam core from your pop-out. Now turn it over and use your X-Acto to make sure you’ve got a good beveled edge all the way around.

Step 4: Make A Simple Photo Stand

You can display your photo pop-out however you wish, but making a stand from leftover foam core is super easy. Here’s how:

Cut out a piece of foam core that’s 2 inches longer than your photo, and about 2/3s the width. This piece will become our photo stand.

Using a ruler or your photo as a guide, cut a rectangular strip out of the photo stand. This strip should be as long as your photo, and as wide as your foam core is thick. For best results, angle your cut toward the front of your photo stand so when you stick your photo into the stand, it’ll lean back a bit.

Clean up any loose foam core and stick your base photo in your stand.

Step 5: Put it All Together!

Now we’ll attach your pop-out to your base photo. Use photo mount spray or double-sided tape on the back of your pop-out, then align it carefully with the base photo.

Because your pop-out will sit on top of the photo stand, it’ll be lined up slightly above the corresponding subject in the base photo. This helps hide the base photo subject and enhances the pop-out effect.

All done!

What to Do Next

A few ideas for taking your photo pop-outs to the next level:

  • Use black or gray foam core to complement darker photos.

  • Use markers to color in the edges of your pop-out so they blend in better with the base photo.

  • Use additional photos and pop-outs to create multi-layer effects. Popping out some objects on a third or even fourth layer will give your pop-out more dimension.

  • Paint your photo stand to complement your photo.

Photo Credit: Youngna Park