How the Pancakes Pop Up Was Made

Junko Mizuno's Pancakes Pop Up Before and After
Junko Mizuno’s Pancakes Pop Up Before and After

In this post we’ll be taking a look at how the Pancakes pop up was made, one of the most complicated pieces in the book. This is Junko’s ode to her love of breakfast, and also one of her favorite pieces of her own work  which is both how and why it’s in our book. First, let’s take a look at the original artwork and everything that’s going on in it:

It’s a lot. There’s breakfast being made, over an open flame revealed in the main girl’s removable chest, and a cast of silly breakfast buddies helping make stacks and stacks of delicious pancakes. After looking at this piece for a few weeks and thinking about how it could possibly be turned into a popup, we knew a few things needed to happen: that the girl’s body needed to be a main structure in the page and that there would need to be a significant amount of artwork filled in in order for this to work out. So the first step was to digitally cut out whatever elements we could in Photoshop off of the original. That ended up looking like this:

Most of the main girl’s body, which we knew had to be one of the pop up pieces that would support the entire spread, simply didn’t exist. So then we asked Junko to complete the girl’s arms by filling in the missing artwork. That, along with the circle cut outs for the flame sections are seen here:

This gave us a piece to cut out, but there was something else missing – the hair. When you look at the original piece, there’s so much going on, but also a lot of hair. In the bottom, in the background, hair pretty much everywhere. Some bits of hair were able to be cut out from the original art, but it wasn’t a fully connected piece. And the background page of the popup needed art too – and that art had to be hair. So Junko created new hair, both for the new background and for the pop up piece:

This then gave us the two pieces needed to create the main elements of paper engineering by having both the new hair and the new body intertwine and rise off the page:

In order to replicate the flames section in the girl’s chest, Junko redrew the flame shape so that it could be cut out by the plotting machine. Three different pieces of paper are used on each side to create the flames (one for each color. Here is a mockup showing initial placement of the flames, seen here in white:

Next, both of the pancake girl’s feet needed to be filled in, so that they could be their own independent pieces coming off of the body. Here’s one of the girls before the feet were filled in:

And once Junko filled in their feet – stacks of both pancakes girls were cut out for mockups:

There was now enough of the main cuts done and new art filled in that a mockup was able to be setup to make the hair pop out, with the arms, and have the two smaller girls in place too – the main elements of this page. This photo shows a mockup where the main girl’s face was still a separate piece of art that was connected to the hair near the middle crease:

And here is the next iteration with the girl’s face on the same piece of art as the hair:

That gets us to about the halfway point, and also where Part 1 of How it Was Made ends.  Ironically, the final paper engineering used to pop most of the pieces in Pancakes out is actually quite simple – but as you’ve seen getting to that point was not.

Junko Mizuno's Pancakes Pop Up Before and After
Junko Mizuno’s Pancakes Pop Up Before and After

After getting the body and hair pieces filled in as we saw in Part 1, we then had to figure out how to get the flame pieces seen in the chest to look right. Of course there wasn’t enough flame to cut out the correct shape, so Junko redrew her signature flames as seen here:

The first thing to do after the flame shape was redrawn was to figure out how to layer the paper to look like the original art. There had to be three layers of paper, glued in top of each other in order to get the effect feel like a popup.

The final piece has a piece of black paper backing the chest area, and each of the 3 flame shapes are glued on top of another, in the same order on both sides.

With the flames all set, the next important part was to get the stacks of pancakes as seen in the original to work in the pop up, and to do that they had to be a standalone strip that doesn’t interfere with the way the body and hair pops out.

This was done by cutting out about 4 or 5 complete pancakes shapes from the original and then using many layers in Photoshop to create a single connected strip of pancakes that could pop out in the front of the spread, above all other pieces. The image below shows a cut from the original art on the bottom and the newly create strip of pancakes on top.

Setting the general placement of that front pancake strip:

A mockup showing the front strip, prior to the flames being worked out.

Separate mockups with certain parts working. Combing these…..not easy.

With the front strip of pancakes ready to go, that left only one thing to figure out for that section: where to put the Dokuro. Dokuro is the little skeleton guy that shows up often in Junko’s work, and is helping everyone flip pancakes in this piece. Without giving away too much, the image below kind of shows what happened to Dokuro. He’s not visible in the photos we have shown of the Pancakes spread, but trust us he’s there, just waiting for you to find him!

Finally, a handful of tiny pieces of art needed to be added: the 3 little pancake guys hanging off of the left boob, and the breakfast ingredients that are seen in the original piece (Eggs+Butter, Milk, and Sugar). After a few back and forth mockups  and ideas Junko decided that the ingredients would still work at about half size glued in the same general areas as the original, they just needed to not be over or near any of the folding lines in the main hair/body piece.

The three little pancakes guys were attached with three tiny metal rings, and ended up looking just like the original art. These metal rings will be in the final pages as well, and it’s a fun little addition to have in the book, and to play with. See an early version of these guys here:

Detail in the final spread:

A huge thanks goes out to Junko was has been totally open to adding to, reworking, and changing her artwork for the sake of popups.

We’re looking forward to having you see all the detail in this page in person, and hope that these updates have given some insight into the process.

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