Harry Potter Book/Paper Prop Tutorials, Photos + Complete Advanced Potion Making


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How I made my Half Blood Prince: Advanced Potion Making book

Since some people have asked me to write up a tutorial on how I made my Advanced Potion Making book I've decided to write this up. There are different ways to make a replica like this, but this is a step by step of how I made my particular version!

The photo references I used were from screen captures. Recently EW.com released a high resolution photo of the cover, and it revealed that the cover was printed on some kind of canvas material. However I have seen references that suggest there may be some variations on material and even subtle design (slight variation in the Potion Making shadow between references). In some photos it appears to have a more smooth cloth/paper like surface. Since it’s a movie prop, this type of thing is common.

Material’s list:

Journal approximately 5” x 8”, this proportion works well with the design and is likely very close to the original.

Large image file for the cover, designed for a 5"x8"x1" book can be downloaded here:


Silver parts separate for the people who want to try using the laser foil.


Here are a few files that Oliversnape cut up to fit standard letter sized paper for printing.




Printable paper surface: In my case I used Rives printmaking paper, light weight 185 gsm sheet that was cut down to 11” x 17” for print via inkjet printer. I chose this paper because it sands incredibly well and receives acrylic medium/paint very well also, and it has a nice texture. Depending if you want to add foil to your cover, the paper choice might require experimenting, I will get into more of my personal experience with that soon. It's good to do some research as to what paper might work best. Some good printmaking paper tends to be easier to work with when it comes to the sanding and acrylic medium. (Update: To make it clear, I initially used the Rives paper, but then later found out the heat transfer foil does not work well with it. My front cover and spine was then later removed and replaced with another paper that worked with the foil and then attached, and sanded to hide the edges. However, the Rives paper works well with the sandpaper and acrylic. In short I have yet to find the "perfect" paper for all of the techniques.)

InkAid (optional): This is a liquid medium that is used to prep various surfaces for inkjet printing. Because some papers are more fiber like than others the ink might not adhere perfectly or as sharp. InkAid can help to fix this issue. The only downside is that some papers might wrinkle because of it, but once glued down it isn't an issue.

Exacto knife, Acrylic Matte Medium, Acrylic paint (black, yellow oxide), 220-600 grit sandpaper.

3M Spray Mount, or whatever adhesive you feel comfortable working with. I used spray mount only because of it’s evenness, however its harder to work with because it’s so sticky and can get messy.

References! (Notice there are subtle differences among the props. Including the alignment of the foil parts.)


1) Prepare file: Depending on the book you have you may have to size the file to fit your book. My file is sized to fit a 5” x 8” book, approximately 1” in thickness. I used Photoshop to make adjustments.

2) Prepare the paper for printing: I cut the sheet to 11” x 17”, and coated it with a light coat of Inkaid. If you do not have a large format printer, it’s possible to do it in sections by printing the cover/spine and back separately, and then later hide the edges by sanding them down to appear worn, since this book has a lot of wear on it.

3) Adding Silver Foil with Heat Transfer Foil: This step is applicable if you want to add silver foil via Heat Transfer Foil. Skip to step 4 if you don’t want to use this method. If you do, it will be likely be the most difficult part of the whole process. For your information, the Rives paper mentioned in the materials list doesn't work very well with the heat transfer foil. It’s too fuzzy. For mine I had to redo my front cover and spine separately by replacing it with a smoother paper, but close in appearance, for this method. Smoother papers work better with the foil.

a) Separate the parts in the file that are going to be silver, and print it out via a laserjet printer, or get a b/w photocopy made.

b) iron on the Heat Transfer foil. Be sure to cover the work area to be ironed with paper, or else the heat could damage your print. Use the highest heat setting on the iron (this depends on your foil, just follow the instructions that came with it)

c) The hard part is lining up the rest of the cover image to the silver parts, mainly because the margin of error is very narrow for this design, with all the drop shadows, etc around the titles. What I did was mainly frustrating trial and error, printing test pages and then holding the sheet with foil underneath the test sheet under bright light to see if they line up, and then make adjustments to the margin through Photoshop for my printer. Unfortunately it was more difficult because I got my laser print made at a copy center, so the alignment changed from my original file. If you have a laser printer of your own, it may be easier.

d) Once you feel everything appears to line up ok, feed the sheet with all the finished foil through the inkjet and print out the rest of the image. Don’t worry if the printer prints over the foil, in fact it may be better to do so and then carefully wipe off the ink from the foil parts afterwards.

4) Gluing the print to the book cover: I actually cut the book block (pages) out of my book and worked on the cover flat, because I was considering replacing the inside with different pages and then rebinding. You don’t have to do this. It is possible to first fit and then fold the cover paper onto your book, and get it to look right. Once it looks like it is fitting correctly, you can start to glue a section of it at a time to make sure things stay aligned. For example once you glue down the cover, than the spine and back should align just fine.


5) Finishing the cover: At this point it should look like a clean version of the book. The degree of wear you want to add on the cover is up to interpretation. I started with 220-400 grit sandpaper depending on the paper, and lightly working into the edges of the book first. If you can print a test page and work on that first, it will help. Look at your reference to see the wear patterns. Don’t over do it and sand too hard, you’ll get the feel for it a little at a time. The prop has some splitting on the spine, so an exacto knife was used to carefully cut into it, and then sanded as well. Different papers will sand differently.

6) Darkening and aging with acrylic: After the sanding seemed about done, I used Acrylic Matte Medium with very very small amounts of black and yellow oxide paint to darken the sanded areas. This has to be done in very thin strokes, because too much might make the inkjet print run or bleed. Quick thin layers should be just fine. Just work lightly and don’t mix too much paint into the matte medium. You can go darker, but not lighter, so work slowly and carefully. The good thing is that the matte medium will eventually kind of seal the cover for you and protect it.

Once you start to get a hang of the materials, it will feel more natural to go back and forth between sanding, cutting, and painting with the medium to get the look you want.

7) Gilding the page edges: There is a scene in the half blood prince, in the Gryffindor common room where Harry, Ron and Hermione are sitting around the couch, and it's obvious that the pages are gilded in silver as Harry is reading the book and eventually having it taken away from him.

They make silver foil pens that could work for this, but I used silver leaf on mine, which can be kind of messy. you’ll need some adhesive for the leaf.

8) If you decided not to do the Heat Foil Transfer for the silver accents, it’s possible to find other methods to do it, like with silver paint etc, but might not be as reflective.

Hope this helps!, the steps are fairly simple, but it's just trial and error and experience that will make the most difference.

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Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

(y)thumbsup(y)thumbsup:thumbsup finally a tutorial!
Very much appreciated!
I will be trying it asap and I hope my finished book would be good enough to show you here!
Excellent work! :)

oh btw, the links need registration to get there
maybe another one?
try this: http://xs.to/
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Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

Hi, thanks! I updated the links...they should be accessible now, if not I can rehost them!
Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

Ecl, what a stunning result, and an incredible tutorial to match! Thanks for all the info on how you put this together. A while back I made a tutorial on Instructables.com about making "generic" Hogwarts library books, but mine were not accurate replicas like this is, just "in the style of".

Harry Potter Spellbooks Tutorial

Again, wonderful work, I'm going to have to experiment with the heat transfer foil soon, I've not played with that before!
Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

WOW, amazing result!! but I don't really understand how to use transfer foil in this prop.
Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

Thanks everyone;

@Ignisfatuus: The foil part was a kind of hard to explain. Basically the idea is that the foil only reacts to black toner (laser jet printer or b/w copy machine) and when ironed the foil sticks to only those parts. You would have to print the parts you want foiled first, iron the foil on, and then put that through an inkjet printer to print the rest of the cover, and to do so you would have to make sure everything lines up, which is the hard part. There may be a better method for the heat transfer foil, but it was my first time using it. It seemed either way lining things up was really difficult.

@PeteSSS: I really love the book and tutorial that you made! It really looks like it came from the Potter universe, and would be cool to make a whole library of books like that :D
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Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

Thanks for sharing your (very detailed) work with us :thumbsup
I think everyone should now be able to build a perfect one,
Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

hello ecl, i have couple of questions. i plan to make this book nowadays but foiling part is a little complicated for me bcoz; first, it is really complicated and second, in a different language than my own :D so a little hard to understand. my questions would be these: i wanna know how to obtain this foil? i sometimes use foil while i cook chicken in oven, i guess it is not the same foil right? :D sorry if thats a funny question, i only try to understand :) the other question is that, is laser printer absolutely necessary? what would happen if we use inkjet in every step? oh and another question is that what if i simple cut the foil step by step stick on necessary parts and iron without printing it? so why is it necessary to print the foil? i am sorry, i know i ask lots of silly questions but i really need answers

by the way, i have just finished cover of easy spells to fool muggles. thank you a million times. i guess it looks nice. i am gonna post a few pictures. you are one of the bests on designing. take care
Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

Hi Lynx, the foil is a special kind of foil. Here is a link to the one I used: Gold metallic heat transfer foils

It was my first time using it and it does take a good amount of time to get working. The foil only works with copy/laser black and white ink and then ironed. The process is actually pretty frustrating on this book because you would have to do the foil parts first, then put that back into the printer to print the rest of the image, and it's hard to get right. That's the only reason why I don't really want to make another one hehe.

The foil looks good, but maybe you might consider painting the silver parts in afterwards? There may be a couple of ways to try it. The only thing is there are so many small lines and words that are foil on this book that it would take a long time to do by hand, but it's possible! They do sell some pens that have silver ink and also some other inks that have a silver color.
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Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

Hi Lynx, does that method require that you have to make a stamp? It would be pretty difficult to make a stamp with all the tiny details I think!
Re: Tutorial for my HBP Advanced Potion Making book

This is awesomeness.

Well, your tutorial is really good and I think you´ve put very much time in it. Its really cool and you helped me alot to make this and do something what got sense this afternoon.

Best regards,

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