Portfolio building on a budget – Part II

Posted by Ines Opifantion Filed under Personal work, Writings · Ramblings · Musings

Here is the first part of the post about portfolio building on a budget.

The Paper Choice

Finding the right paper was another endless task. In a last minute change-of-mind, I decided to make my portfolio in portrait orientation instead of the much more commonly used landscape orientation. Why? Because I realized, most of my current work is either in portrait orientation or square. It doesn’t work exceptionally well in landscape orientation. Shouldn’t be a problem, just turn the paper, right? Wrong, actually! When paper sheets are being cut from a big roll, the paper has a natural running direction. And if you plan to score your paper (which I need to do, as the the pages need to turn without cracking or making weird folds), you need to score the paper along the running direction. Otherwise, the paper surface will crack or tear, or bend in waves. Not good. And it happened that it is incredibly hard to find duo inkjet paper that can be scored along the long side. Sigh.

I finally got lucky with paper made by Tecco. It’s much cheaper than the Moab paper I prefered, but the prints still look incredibly good and it doesn’t feel as cheap as the price tag suggests. Paper costs: 40€ for 50 sheets. Plenty of paper, so you can risk wasting a few sheets. Paper type: Tecco:Photo PD305 Duo Matt 305gsm, DIN A3.

(Edit: After going through a test package from Hahnemuehle, I’m actually very glad I went with the Tecco paper. While the Hahnemuehle Photo Rag surely is an excellent paper, the duo paper just isn’t smooth enough for me. And their Ultrasmooth paper isn’t made for duo printing. So the Tecco paper is cheap, smooth, heavy AND prints well. I’m happy with the choice I made.)


I also bought some thinner A3 paper (on the left) which I want to use for promo materials, but it isn’t listed in the costs as it isn’t for the book. And excuse the dog. She just sneaked in.


And finally, I needed some other tools and materials for finishing the book, which I’m going to list here:

Singe hole puncher: 5€

Screws for the book: 5€


A bone for scoring the paper: 4€

Tiny magnets (for holding business cards): 3€
(oops, sorry for the dog hairs…)

Colored paper for the first and last page: 1,50€



The rest wasn’t that hard. I made a template in InDesign, where I could quickly drop in my images. It includes the marks for the hole punch. The images were put together with Pixellu’s Smart Albums, I downloaded the trial version and it’s really handy for designing image spreads. I’m planning to buy it in the future.

Screenshot 2015-05-13 10.13.53

In the beginning, I struggled with a slight magenta hue in the prints.

After a few unsuccessful prints, I found out my printer prints best from InDesign when using the settings everybody says you shouldn’t use. Default, default, default, A3 borderless, matte paper, no paper profiles, Adobe RGB. I’m not going to ask why it works, I’m just enjoying the results. (Fun fact: using the exact same settings in Photoshop makes horrible prints. It must be some kind of voodoo.)

But when it works, the results are stunning.






Next important step is to score the paper. This is necessary to help the pages to bend along the score line. The scoring bord is really handy for this.



After printing, scoring and punching the sheets, I drilled the holes into the wood (and rubber) for the screw posts. The screw posts are 2 cm long (measure: 2x 3mm wood + 2x 2mm rubber + 1cm paper height). I used a 6mm drill, the screws are 5mm.



Putting it all together

Next step is to assemble to book and tighten the screws. Voila!

As a final touch, I glued the magnets to the inner back side of the wood. These are used to mount my business cards. If I need to leave one at a client’s or agency’s office, I can just take them off. They are small but quite strong, the cards won’t fall off by itself. Yay.


And now, this is my first book. I really like the wooden look, it is professional but with a down-to-earth feeling. I’m really proud and can’t wait to show it in person soon :)

Of course the process of extending it has just begun and it’s very easy with the printer and the screws. Could the book be prettier? Sure. Can you see it’s hand made? Yes! And that’s what I love about it! I put a lot of effort in it and I’m quite happy with the outcome. In fact, I am already planning a second book in landscape orientation for my personal work and side projects.

In conclusion, this is little DIY-project just went right. I spent a little over 250€ for making this book, but I still have a lot of paper left, and of course I calculated the printer into the budget which hopefully will last many pages to come. ;)

If I hadn’t done the book myself, I would have spent more than the same amount of money for the prints alone.

Costs for this book:

A quick recap of the costs so far:
– Scrap wood: 7€
– Laser etched logo: 32€
– Used printer: 50€
– Full set of Canon inks: 100€
– Single hole punch: 5€
– Sheet of rubber: 4€
– Glue: 6,50€
– Screws: 5€
– Magnets: 3€
– Paper: 40€
– Colored Paper: 1,50€
– Scoring bone: 4€
= approx 260€

In the very end, I spent a few bucks more, but not much. Some of the materials turned out not to be a perfect fit, or I changed my mind during the process. I probably “wasted” around 30€ but of course I can still use these things for other projects.
First, I bought some wood in the local DIY-store (10€) but realized that it was too soft and surely not as pretty as the wood I bought from the carpenter later. I had intended to stain it, so I bought wood stain and primer (10€), which I didn’t use because the carpenter’s wood is already darker and didn’t need staining. I also bought some mint-colored paper stock for the first and the last page, but then ended up buying some more blueish, turquoise paper because it fitted my CI better. Another thing I bought, but not especially for this book, is a scoring board. It’s very convenient to score paper with it if you don’t have a steady hand. It’s perfect for promos, cards, envelopes and such. Of course you can also score paper perfectly with just a ruler and a scoring bone, but I find using a scoring board very convenient. It costs around 20€ and I can highly recommend it.

Oh, and if you wonder about storing the book: I ordered a very usual and very standard A3 portfolio carrying back from Amazon for 25 bucks. I’m not counting it to the costs because you don’t necessarily need it, but until I found a better solution, I’ll go with it. I’m thinking about making a wooden slide-in box or something like that, but for carrying the book around I think the portfolio case will offer good protection from rain or accidentally bumping it around.

I’ll finish this post with a few pictures of the book’s details and prints. I hope you enjoyed reading this, I surely did enjoy making my book :)















PS: The Canon ink set lasted until the very last picture of the book. Lucky me. The ink warnings started when I had 3 pictures left to print and now, 2 cartridges are completely empty. The other 8 ones still have around 1/4 of their filling. Just in case you’re curious about how much you can print with these tiny canon cartridges, the full set lasted 40 full A3 pages for my book (4 Pages are text, 36 are images, most are full bleed), 6 more full bleed images that I had to reprint because of beginner struggles or computer crashes, roughly 5 full bleed A4 pages, a full bleed 5×7″, 3 6×4″ cards and a bunch of test images I while and after cleaning the print head.