DIY Portfolio Book | Sea Lemon

Being a designer, I know how important a portfolio
is for a career in the creative field. And being able to make your own portfolio book
gives you freedom to customize and make it your own. For all you student or professional
designers, artists or photographers out there — I’m going to share with you my process
on how I made my own… In this tutorial, I’ll show you an alternative
way to make your own portfolio book. I won’t be showing you how to layout your work on
the pages, I’ll leave that up to you, but I will mainly focus on the cover and binding
which will provide a professional look and an easy way to update your pages without having
to make a whole new cover. You are free to use this tutorial as inspiration
for your own book. Feel free to alter some things, like the colors, materials or size,
to suit your own style. Here’s a list of materials and tools I’ll
be using. So for the sake of this tutorial, these pages
will be blank because I’m focusing on the construction of the book. First, I’m going to get the inside pages in
order and build my cover around their size. This portfolio book is basically a booklet
saddle stitched to the outside cover. I decided to make my booklet 12 pages. To
make the inside booklet, you can design it yourself in Adobe programs and print it on
your own or work with your local print shop to print the spreads for you. Another way you can do it, is to find a printer
to make the entire booklet for you. There are some print services online that can do
this, just do a search for “saddle stitch book printing service”. Their sizes and prices
may vary, but it is an option. You can then remove the staples, or see if
they can make it without staples and then bind it to your handmade cover. For me, it’s convenient to use my home printer.
So I’ve decided to make my spreads 12×18 which will be printed double sided on 13×19 paper, then scored, trimmed out and folded into a 9×12 booklet. I like this
size, but of course, it’s up to you. You can adjust the size to suit your preference. You can then trim the ends of the booklet
so they’re even. And make sure you’ve adjusted your layout for this, so you aren’t cutting
off an important part of your artwork. If you get a rough edge, you can use a file
or sandpaper to lightly smooth it out. Then prepare the book for binding. Start from
the middle and pierce holes on the spine. Make them about 1.5″ or 4cm apart. Now it’s time to make the cover. To learn more about board you can use, check
out this video here. You can also find the link in the about section below. I’m using the back of 2 11×14 drawing pads
for my board. I recommend using thick board, that is at least 2mm thick. First, take the measurement of the booklet
and add 1/8″ (3mm) to the width, and add 1/4″ (6mm) to the height. This will be the size for both front and back
covers. For the spine, use the same height and make the width 1/2″ (13mm). Then cut all
the board pieces out. For the cover material, I’m using this black
vinyl that I bought from a local fabric store. You can use thick paper too. If you want to
use fabric, check out this tutorial here to learn how to make it into book cloth. This
will prepare it so the glue doesn’t seep through or cause wrinkles. You can also find this
link in the about section below. I chose vinyl because I like that it can easily
be cleaned and it’s pretty durable for when you need to carry your portfolio around to
a lot of places. Because my vinyl already has a backing, It’s
fine to use as is. Cut out a good size piece so there is a border
of at least 1″ (2.5cmm) around the edge and glue one cover down. Flip it over to smooth out. Then measure 1/4″ (6mm) plus the thickness
of your board. Use this measurement to make a gap on both sides of the spine. And glue on the remaining board pieces. Flip it over and use a bone folder to smooth
out any air bubbles and press in the creases. Then place heavy weights or books on it and
let it dry. This is a good time to rinse off your glue brush while you wait. After it’s dry, make sure the edges are trimmed
with an even border all around, and cut the corners like this, leaving a small gap at
the tip. Then glue the edges over. It helps to have a paper towel handy to wipe
spilled glue off. For the corners, press the little gap in.
This is hard to do with vinyl, but I found if you use a binder clip to press it for about
10 seconds, it helps it glue better. Just don’t leave them on because it will leave
a dent. Now, measure the whole flat cover and subtract
1/2″ (13mm) from the width and height. Use this measurement for the inside material.
Measure and cut it out. Then glue this piece centered onto the inside.
Use a bone folder to smooth out and press the material into the creases. If you’re using black vinyl like I am, make
sure you wipe away extra glue from the sides. Dry glue is more visible on black vinyl. After all sides are glued down, put some scrap
paper over it to soak up extra moisture and place heavy weights or books on it to let
it dry. I let the whole thing dry overnight so that
overall cover would dry flat. After the cover is dry, it’s time to make
the holes for binding. Using the booklet as a guide, center it on
the outside spine, and mark where the holes will go. Then you can use an awl to pierce through. This is optional, but I like to use eyelets
on the holes. If you choose to use these, make sure the holes are big enough for them
to fit. You can either press and lightly tap them in so they are snug. Or you can put a
little glue on them. Once those are set, saddle stitch your booklet
in. To learn more about thread you can use, check out this video here. You can also find
the link in the about section below. Whatever thread you choose, keep in mind,
it will show in the center of your book. I’m using a large needle, single threaded
with craft thread to saddle stitch my booklet to the cover. If you want to learn more on how to saddle
stitch bind with thread, check out this tutorial here, or see the link listed below. After all that hard work, you are now ready
to show off your projects in your new portfolio book. Then when you want to refresh your pages,
just cut off the thread, and saddle stitch your new pages in. I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Feel
free to like, share and leave your comments below. If you end up making one of your own,
I’d love to see it, so feel free to post a pic on my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram. For more tutorials, be sure to subscribe and
check out my channel. You can also find direct links and more information listed in the about
section below.


  1. I am in need of building a Tattoo Portfolio so i can try to snag an apprenticeship 😀 ty ty for the starting ideas i needed to get this thing going! I almost went to my target shop today with out anything forgetting you HAVE to have a portfolio if your looking to get hired/apprenticed at a tattoo shop 😛

  2. Where did you get your printer? I've been using my schools printer but after graduation I would have to pay to get my stuff printed. I would rather much invest in something that is at my reach rather than having to look for print services.

  3. Hi there, I love your videos. I enjoy making things myself and i've always wanted to try book making. Good job 🙂

  4. What is the maximum number of pages this would work for? I'm making a portfolio right now and I'm planning on having 36 pages (9 pieces of paper). Would it be better to make a text block?

  5. I made this as my sketchbook, I love it thank you so much I have been looking for a diy sketchbook tutorial for soooooo long!
    New Subbie!

  6. This tutorial is great! I have a question, it can possible do a similar portfolio book but with plastic folder sheets? I usually use those when i do auditions with comic editors, so it would be great 😀

  7. I'm a student and I'm thinking about a book that can be added new pages if needed (like binder notebooks? Not sure that's the name)
    But I see your ideas is inspiring like this so… Can you help? Thanks

  8. Hello Sea Lemon, I may have missed it but could you make a small (purse size) diary/calandar book? 🙂 Thanks so much! So creative and inspiring!

  9. Hi there…
    Please could you do another portfolio video using clear cases.

  10. Hi Sea Lemon! I wanted to make a book with coptic stitch and a vinyl cover but I want the vinyl to be shown inside the book when it is opened. Do you know how I can glue the text block without covering the inside vinyl?

  11. When you say First or But first your voice reminds me of the selfie song xD
    and you've earned another subscriber nice work you're creative!

  12. I was able to more from one video than a years worth of book binding classes. I should have listened more in class. Thank you for your tutorials.

  13. Would it work if instead of vinyl, I use card stock paper? Maybe with Elmer's glue instead? I plan on having a diecut on the front cover.

    Thank you for your awesome tutorials. I previously used single sheet stitching for my junior portfolio and it came out great!

  14. i just do not understand all of the different printing ; and software's / websites so i have decided to switch to another channel which it TOTALLY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!
    thanks for posting it for no reason, Duh

  15. Hello, I was just wondering if I could use 3 signatures all individually saddle stitched through the eyelets to effectively turn this portfolio into a journal? I love the eyelets and want to incorporate them into my look but there needs to be considerably more pages and they must be secure. Any thoughts would be appreciated, your videos have been a Godsend.

  16. What exactly is a portfolio? I need one for the photography class I'm taking in July and I don't really understand what it is.

  17. I've been subscribed to your channel for a long time and i never thought i would actually use you tutorials till today, thank you so much you saved my day

  18. You could also make it with fasteners like the ones in binder folders you buy for school that are really cheap or on manilla envelopes. It makes it easier to add more pages, though the holes would need to be bigger if you get the larger ones and you could use the circle stick on hole strengtheners for the pages if you wanted.

  19. if i use illustration board how many should i stick together to have the thickness of binders board? coz i cant find it here and im just 14 years old

  20. i saw this at the perfect time i'm an interior design student and we have to find an internship soon so i'll be using this tutorial for my portfolio book

  21. hi, i really like this portfolio. is there a way where this can be turned into a DIY choir folder or choir ring binder? thanks

  22. This method isn't going to work as adding new pages on the back will mess up the order of the spreads. Therefore, you can only add work in the middle and that may not be where you want a particular piece of work to go. I think a single page binding method would have worked better.

  23. What if u hot glue gun the inside of the spine and you put your signatures together and wait when it dries over night will it come off or will u have a book??

  24. You are really perfect teacher. Thank you SO MUCH! Really easy to understand you –
    it's important if you are not english speaker C:

  25. hi, I love your videos so much and therefore come to you with my request. Could you do a padfolio with a zipper closure? Thank you.

  26. Hye..! Am a student of design, i really need a help. Our sheets are 27" by 21" and to handle them is very tough i really cant find any idea to make a portfolio for them I'll be very greatfull if you see my comment and do respond to it.!

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