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The Book Process

Posted: November 8th, 2020, 1:38 am
by Bass
Hi there!

It's been a super long time since I posted on this forum, but I've always considered this place a great resource.

While this COVID business is about, I have been creating diagrams for an eventual origami book. While I am only a quarter of the way in or so to my notes, I've learned a lot about InkScape and will eventually put some of my tips on here. Before I do that, however, I have some questions I want to make sure I cover while I create this book. Perhaps it will stoke some discussion?

1. I notice that some books in my collection use a left-to-right method for the diagram images, ordering them in columns and rows. Other books string the diagrams along on a path which swoops around from page to page. Do publishers care about this? Is there a preferred standard?

2. While there are diagramming conventions for symbols, arrows, and crease lines; are there conventions suggested for the actual diagram of the folds taking place? IE: The width of the lines used in the drawing, the gray-scaled shading of the colored sides or sinks?

3. What publishers are interested in non-fiction/origami?

4. My design style is very "off-the-table," in that after some basic steps a lot of my origami doesn't lie flat. A struggle I have is diagramming these steps, though I have succeeded with most. As I understand it, photo-diagrams are an origami faux-pas, but if I have to use them: are there conventions on the do's and do not's for photo-diagrams?

5. Is there a recommended or copyright-friendly font for the numbers and text of the steps?

Re: The Book Process

Posted: November 8th, 2020, 7:57 am
by Grace159
For the steps that do not lie flat I sometimes take a picture and then sketch along the edges to turn it into a vector diagram.

Re: The Book Process

Posted: November 8th, 2020, 1:29 pm
by Gerardo
Hi Bass :). I'm not the best person to answer your questions but I thought about doing it anyway ;). Most of the people that have made origami books through publishing houses are in the Origami Mailing List. I suggest you also ask there. There's also a WhatsApp group just for creators where you could ask, but it's private. Email me if you're interested in the WhatsApp group: gerardo(a)
  1. All I can say is that I've seen more books from publishing houses that use the left to right top to bottom scheme. Maybe it's because you can pack more steps on a single page, but I might be wrong.
  2. I think there aren't any standards regarding this, only styles that differ between different diagrammers.
  3. I can't say which ones will be open to your proposal but, as you probably know, there have been a couple that publish origami books. I suppose it also depends on the country. Right now, Tuttle comes to mind. Have you thought about self-publishing your book? It has become a lot more common nowadays. Marc Kirschenbaum knows a lot about it... he has a self-published a good number of origami books.
  4. I suggest you follow Grace's advice. Many diagrammers do exactly that when it comes to 3D steps.
  5. I suggest an easy to read not too fancy font: Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, etc.

Re: The Book Process

Posted: November 8th, 2020, 5:16 pm
by origami_8
Hi Bass,
I recommend you to read through the "Origami Diagramming Conventions" article by Robert J. Lang: ... nventions/
Even though it is not the newest it still holds true in many aspects and contains some valuable information.

It is recommendable to mostly adhere to the commonly used symbols, while still sticking to your own style. In the end how thick exactly a line is doesn't really matter, as long as everything is clear and consistent. As for shading you would have to ask the publisher whether they use a special standard. I can't remember the publishing house I worked with having any restrictions in that regard. The only thing they asked for was to get the individual drawings as .eps but that probably also depends on whom you work with. If you upload it to a self-publishing print on demand site it might be sufficient to upload a pdf.
Whether to use a Line by Line or Z-Line Style is up to you. Nicolas Terry noticed some time ago, that for the reader a T shaped alignment is the least confusing and therefore probably the one that should be preferred: ... 2207520000..

Re: The Book Process

Posted: November 11th, 2020, 7:37 pm
by foldworks

1. As Gerardo says, a rectangular grid can pack more diagrams in a page than a swooping Z-style layout. It’s also more predictable and easier to create and read. (Some may disagree and prefer the aesthetics of the swooping layout.) Some e-book versions of print books take the grid concept further and make each page contain just one diagram step.

The publisher’s preference depends on how the work is split: who will be drawing each step, who will be laying out the steps? Some publishers take the diagram text and EPS artwork and lay them out for you. Others may expect you to do this instead. The more you do, the more discretion the publisher will give you.

2. Anna gave a good reference (Origami Diagramming Conventions article by Robert J. Lang)

Line widths and grey-shading depend on the printing method. Avoid very thin lines (hairlines) as they can disappear: widths of 0.3 to 0.8 mm are ok. Printing ink spreads, so avoid having dark objects close together. Also Avoid dark shading: grey tints of 25% to 50% should be ok – it depends on the halftone used. If the book is electronic only, many of these restrictions can be relaxed.

Consistency helps give a professional look. You can define your own styles and assets. If your program doesn’t have these functions, use a single set of standard objects in a template file and make copies.

3. "What publishers are interested in non-fiction/origami?"
What kind of models are in your book? Try looking at current publishers of similar books. Their websites usually tell how to submit proposals.

A standard reference is the latest edition of
Owen, A. (ed.) (2017) Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018. Bloomsbury Yearbooks.

4. "Are there conventions on the do's and do not's for photo-diagrams?"

You have a number of choices:
• trace the photo and then delete the photo
• keep the photo and then add arrows and other artwork to make the step clear
• process the photo to emphasise the relevant details and remove any noise

I prefer the first option even though it takes more time. Some benefits are
• the diagrams are consistent with non-photo steps
• lighting and other photo artefacts are avoided
• ability to edit the diagrams to reveal layers, hidden flaps, etc.
• vector diagrams usually reproduce better than photos
• smaller file sizes (which can also mean faster editing)

Even so, appropriately lit photos sometimes give adequate information for complex objects (e.g. waterbomb corrugation).

5. "Is there a recommended or copyright-friendly font for the numbers and text of the steps?"

If you have correctly licensed fonts, you can use them in any documents you create. You can embed them if you do not expect your readers to have the font. However, you cannot distribute the font itself unless the license says so.

You can read some more advice about writing and publishing a book here. I wrote these articles after writing and publishing a couple of books (one was a conventional book of diagrams, the other was for teachers of mathematics).

Good luck with your book!

Re: The Book Process

Posted: November 13th, 2020, 4:38 pm
by steingar
You might think about Affinity Designer for your diagramming. I found InkScape nonintuitive and very difficult to use. Affinity designer is cheap and quite facile to use.

Re: The Book Process

Posted: December 2nd, 2020, 1:49 pm
by foldworks
My experience matches Steingar's.

I've used Affinity Designer since its release for both of my books. From time to time it's on sale at a discount: 30% off at the moment There's also a free trial.

Re: The Book Process

Posted: December 9th, 2020, 3:37 pm
by steingar
Yeah, I think I just hit halfway on my latest book. Maybe a little less, I still have to write an introduction, though that goes faster than diagramming. Gotta figure out how to do the self-publish thang.

Re: The Book Process

Posted: December 10th, 2020, 8:14 pm
by foldworks
You might find a couple of guides by Marc Kirshebaum useful. They're from
Self-Publishing Guide ... AF1S8/edit
Kindle Publishing Guide ... cUCHM/edit