How to prepare pop-up cards for laser processing

Want to emphasize lettering or logos on invitation cards, or present buildings and landscapes 3-dimensionally on a card? You can easily create original pop-up cards with your Trotec Laser.

Working principle of a pop-up card

With a pop-up card, the insides fold up (or "pop up") when the card is opened. For these types of cards, we recommend using paper with a slightly firmer grammage (e.g.: 150 g), so that the card is stable in itself.

Step by Step

Step 1: Create a new file and design graphics

To achieve the three-dimensional effect, follow these steps: Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator. For ours, we have selected the A4 format. Next draw a horizontal cutting line in blue in the center of the document. The card can be folded together later. Then you can arrange your graphic elements in the center. Be sure to assign red cutting lines to the contours and black fillings for engravings.


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

Step 2: Define the cutting lines

As soon as you are happy with your graphics, you can start fine tuning. With the tool “Scissors” (shortcut C), chop the center line into segments so that the line is covered by your graphics. Then you can delete the lines you don't need. Next, define the supporting "feet" of your elements using a blue cutting line. Use the “Scissors” tool again to break up the contour. During the laser process, the blue cutting lines are only scratched so that the elements can be neatly folded.


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

Step 3: Define the web height

The next step is the most important part: The webs. For this, draw a rectangle from the supporting foot of your element up to the center line. This height from the supporting foot to the center line is very important because it defines how far the graphic elements are pushed forward from the card. You can select the width of the rectangle freely. In the case of the fir tree, the width should be small, since the web is placed at the top of the tree; however it should be at least 2.5mm, so that the web does not bend inadvertently later on. Because our design includes three trees 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: Unite the individual elements

The last step is placing the webs at the top of the corresponding graphics element. Remove the red filling in the web and replace it with a red cutting contour. Next join the web with the graphics element using the “Unite” path finder tool. In order for the webs to bend later at the top and bottom, we also still need blue cutting lines at the upper and lower end of the webs. It is best that you draw these cutting lines in advance so that the height of the web is not changed. Finally, you border the completed document with a green cutting line as the outer contour. You can cut these with a faster speed than the red inner contours of your graphics. Now you can send the file to your Trotec laser.

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