Prepare pop-up cards for laser processing

You can use your Trotec laser machine to easily create pop-up cards featuring a variety of designs including emphesised text or 3d landscapes and buildings. Follow our tutorial to find out how.

What is a pop-up card?

The insides of pop-up cards fold up (or "pop up") when opened. To make sure the interior parts of the card are stable we recommend using paper of a slightly firmer stock (e.g.: 150 g), when creating cards.

Step by Step

Step 1: Create your design files

To achieve the three-dimensional effect, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator (or your preferred software). We selected the A4 format for our design.
  2. Next draw a horizontal cutting line (blue in colour) in the centre of the document. You can fold the card together later.
  3. Arrange your graphic elements in the centre. Make sure that you assign red cutting lines to the contours and black fillings for engravings.

Important information:

Make sure you create the document in the RGB colour space.

Step 2: Defining your cutting lines

You can fine tune your graphic once you are satisfied with the design. Use the Scissors tool (shortcut C) to cut the centre line into segments so that the line is covered by your graphic. Once this is done delete any lines you don't need.

The next step is to define the supporting "feet" of your elements. This is done using a blue cutting line. Use the “Scissors” tool to break up the contour. When laser cutting, the blue cutting lines are only scratched which allows you to neatly fold the areas.


Turn the "Smart Guides" (Shortcut CTRL + U) on. This will make your cursor snap at an anchor point of two crossing lines, which is helpful when you are using the “Scissors” tool.

Step 3: Define the web height

This step is the most important: The webs.

Draw a rectangle from the supporting foot of your graphic up to the centre line. This height from the supporting foot to the centre line is important as it defines how far the graphic elements are pushed forward from the card. You can any length for the rectangles. In the case of the fir tree graphic, the width should be small, as the web is placed at the top of the tree, however it must have a minimum width of 2.5mm, so that the web does not bend.

As our design includes three trees, each with different distances, we need to create a separate web with the associated height for each tree. The webs are shown in the screen shot with a red filling so you can easily spot them.

Step 4: Uniting the individual graphic elements

The final step is placing the webs at the top of their corresponding graphic element.

Remove red fillings in the web and replace them with a red cutting contour. Join the web with the graphics element using the “Unite” path finder tool. Keep the blue cutting lines at the top and bottom of the webs so that they are still bendable. These cutting lines should be drawn in advance so that the height of the web does not change.

Finally, border the completed document with a green cutting line as the outer contour. These can be cut with a faster speed than the red inner contours of your graphics.

Now you are ready to send the file to your laser cutting machine.


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