How to Make a Flipbook

on August 9, 2016

With its crisp, bright photos and sturdy construction, a softcover Chatbook is perfect for flipping through—flipbook style. If you’re willing to invest a little creativity and patience, a Chatbook can be the perfect home to a low-tech, at-home “stop-action movie!” Here’s how to design and order your own one-of-a-kind flippable story.


Turning a Chatbook into a flipbook is like making a custom toy: Imagine handing the birthday boy a flipbook showing him cannonballing from the high dive last summer, or showing off your daughter’s beautiful cutouts or drawings in a professional-quality “animated” book. It’s low-tech, old-school, and so fun!

Every Chatbook can hold two flip book stories (more on that below), so you’ll get to “storyboard” two distinct “film strips” that are the same length. One easy way to compile a full action sequence of individual “frames” (photos) is to use your smartphone’s burst feature. (Both iPhones and Androids have this capability.) On an iPhone, you can simply hold down the shutter button (which you normally tap to take a picture), and it’ll automatically capture 10 photos per second. So if you’re capturing some action, like your loved one finishing her first 5K or doing a flip on the trampoline, you’ll need to hold the button down for three full seconds to capture 30 frames (although there’s no reason not to capture more and later decide which section to use!).

You can also art-direct a cool stop-action film by mounting your camera on a tripod (or any steady surface) and taking photos of individual objects, moving them just a teeny tiny bit each time. (This is exactly how claymation and stop-motion films, such as Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Boxtrolls, are made, by the way! For proof, check out this incredible GIF of Coraline’s director pushing his pint-size star along.) And if a budding animator wants to draw every frame, encourage him to use identically sized paper for each, and to draw the first and last images first, so that all the illustrations in between can fill in what got the cartoon’s subject from Frame 1 to the final shot. Then you can either photograph each drawing or scan it and upload all the drawings.


OK, it’s time to settle into your director’s chair and do some math. A standard photo book is 60 photos—that’s 30 two-sided pages—but our Photo Books can be anywhere from 30 to 366 photos (that’s 15 to 183 pages thick). For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you’re going to work with a standard 60-photo Chatbook, which is just long enough for a quick flip-through. As a rough rule of thumb, flipping through about 10 “frames” will take one second.

Now, bear with us: Since there are photos on both sides of each page, you have room to create two flipbook stories, Story A and Story B. Story A will be animated on the right-hand side when you flip through from start to finish; then you can see Story B by holding the book with the back cover up and flipping from the back to the front, watching the left-hand side’s Story B. Each story will be 30 frames long, and will take about three seconds to view. Got it?

Normally, Chatbooks can automatically yank your photos into a book, print it out, and mail it to you—easy as pie. But with a flipbook, you’ll have to manually arrange your A and B stories in the right order…a little time-consuming, sure, but not too tough. It’s easy to drag and drop the photos from Story A (from start to finish) onto the right side of each spread and from Story B (remember: from the end to the beginning!) on the left side. This part might be a little easier to do on Chatbook’s app than on your desktop, because the app shows photos side-by-side.

Once you’ve dropped your photos in the right slots, you’re all done! And if you get confused at any point while putting together your masterpiece, don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Happy flipping, folks!