Reading Nook Book Art

Book Collage


With Tiffany working full-time I decided to move her desk upstairs and transform that space into a reading nook. Surfing the web for reading related art projects, I found this amazing piece by Ekaterina Panikanova.


I can’t draw or paint nearly at the level I would want for this project, so I needed a printable workaround. I also did not want to have to deal with the weight of real books hanging on the wall. With those things in mind I did the following:

Digital Process


I went to a couple campus libraries and perused the shelves for what I considered interesting books to function as the background to the picture. Had I not rushed from idea to creation, I might have given more thought and care to the book selection, but I wanted to make it sooner than later.

I used a flatbed scanner at my university on a higher quality, color setting. You don’t want to use black & white, as much of the real book detail/texture is lost. I scanned quite a few more than actually got used. Again I might have better selected out of my scans but I was antsy to make it. (I am also a PhD student)

Focal picture

I suppose the image could have been of anything, but I liked the idea of the picture in the reading nook being of them reading. I got the younger girls out of their skeleton costumes, tied Aly’s hair back, and posed them with books they actually like to read. They were actually really great about the photo shoot. I took several different poses but felt like the final selection fit the shape of the space the best.

DSC_2324 DSC_2331 2 DSC_2319 2

You can view the video for more explanation of the digital processing after the scans and focal picture are completed. I apologize that its quality is terrible; my computer was not interested in cooperating. (you could probably watch in 1.5x or 2x speed)


Since I’m a really high-end graphic designer/photographer (/sarcasm), I did all my editing in PowerPoint. I removed the background, adjusting as needed. Then I went with a sepia color system (for the background books as well), increasing the brightness quite a bit on the photo. Of course, you are welcome to adjust the colors to your tastes as well.

I then imported scans pages, resizing and laying them over the picture. I wanted a more gestalt feel to mine (more empty spaces) compared to Ekaterina’s (though I wanted the kids’ faces to be mostly clear). The sizing of the page scans is an important part. I needed my horizontal distance to total very close to 50 inches. I also wanted each of my scans to print on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. This constrained the layout of the books. One could make bigger books but this would complicate the resize.

Once the books were appropriately sized, I brought the focal picture in front of the books and gave it a 50% transparency. I then calculated the scaling factor from the largest book page to the printable size to prepare print-ready pages. [This section is clearer while viewing the video, I think]

To make print-ready pages, I duplicated the slide and removed all but one of the book pages. I then cropped the focal image to the edges of the remaining book. I then grouped the images and resized, using the factor I had previously calculated. I then repeated that process for the remaining 11 books.

Physical Process

Print pages

I printed in color, using a decent but not fantastic printer at the university (certainly not photo quality). I had to export as a pdf, if I remember correctly, so that the transparency would be recognized and print properly. So, before printing, make sure your prints are rendering the transparency (if you want it; I personally prefer it).

Cardboard “Cover”


For the book’s cover, I laid each print on some roughly 1/8 inch corrugated cardboard and cut around, leaving a hardback book-sized margin.


Extra pages


To give the piece a more authentic feel I added additional pages behind the prints. This helped bulk out the ‘book’ and give it some curvature. I did this by laying the prints on a phonebook and cutting around them several layers deep with a utility knife. I then gave them all a soft fold together (the scans I had gave the illusion of a fold some already).




With all the pages stacked together I ran a short bead of hot glue along the edge and then flattened the glue into the pages, so they would stick together without the glue showing. I just repeated this as much as needed to get all the pieces to stick together. I then glued it to the cardboard, trying to flex the pages a bit to give it a more book-like shape.

Lastly, I laid them out, and then starting at one side, leveling, I nailed each into position, minding the alignment of the images and the needed gaps.


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