$100 An Hour Making Exclusive 3-D Foto-Figures.
This is a creative business in which you can turn your spare
time into big money, and all you really need to get started is a
few materials and your existing work shop. If you don’t have a
workshop, a corner of your basement or garage will give all the
space you need.
You could have paid $14,990 for a course and setup in this
business. That’s what one company has advertised in Entrepreneur
magazine. Why would you want to pay such a high price when this
brief report will show you virtually everything you will need to
WHAT ARE 3-D PHOTO FIGURES?
You may have seen them on display or sold under different names
such as photo sculptures, photo statues or self-standing
figurines, but the principle is the same. Basically, they are
photographs that have been cut and mounted onto an acrylic
background, then fastened to a base. And, they sell like hot
cakes to those who want something unique and different
-especially when it is a likeness of themselves, a relative,
their home, or favorite pet.
If you’ll be starting from scratch, your total investment
should not exceed $200… and it should be considerably less if
you already have a home workshop in your basement.
These are the basic tools you’ll need:
Variable speed scroll saw
Belt sander (or sand paper)
Drill & drill bits
Work table ( or picnic bench)
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU MAKE?
If you have just a few spare hours available each week, you
should be able to make a nice part time income, a few hundred
dollars or more once you get rolling in this business. Here’s a
breakdown of approximate costs and selling prices for the
various size photo figures:
Approximate Cost Approximate
Size Cost to Make Selling Price
3X5 $1.40 $10.00
5×7 $1.90 $14 to $18
8×10 $3.95 $20 to $25
16×20 $5.00 $30 to $35
Now, figure in your labor and the time necessary to make such
figure which will be about 15 minutes when you complete a few
practices jobs and become accustomed to working with this
Using the largest size as an example, if you had an assignment
for jut 4 figures and you completed each in 15 minutes, this
gives you a gross of $120 FOR an hour’s work. Now subtract your
production cost of $5 each or $20 for the four figures, and you
still come up with $100.
Naturally, all jobs won’t be for the larger size, but you could
(if you really wanted to) specialize, only in the size to make
the biggest net profits. You might do better, however, if you
will provide all sizes to attract the most customers.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – AND PROFITS
Although this is relatively easy work, a certain amount of
practice will be needed to become proficient. Just how much
practice you will need depends on how skillful you are in
working with your handS. If you already have a workshop in which
you have done creative work, you will probably master 3-D
Figures in just a few minutes after getting a “feel” for the
acrylic materials. Otherwise, it might take an hour or two
before you begin feeling comfortable at this job.
HOW AND WHERE TO BUY YOUR ACRYLICS
Check your local Yellow Pages under Plastics. Acrylic is
generally sold in 4×8 foot sheets, such as wall paneling, but
ask if they will cut yours into smaller 2 x 4 foot sizes, which
will make the material easier to handle when you begin cutting
Be sure to check several sources because prices can often vary
greatly among suppliers. You shouldn’t have to pay more than
$100 for a 4 x 8 foot, quarter inch sheet. In fact, ask if they
have scrap pieces available that you can buy. If so, this could
save you a lot of money.
YOU’RE NOW READY TO MAKE 3-D FIGURE
Make sure your shop or working area is well lighted and
ventilated. If you don’t already have a scroll saw and have to
buy one, select one with a fast speed because the faster the
speed, the smoother the cut. Always use a sharp blade in your
saw – a fine blade for cutting small details, a wider blade for
larger area cuts. CAUTION: If the blade isn’t sharp, it tends to
melt the acrylic.
Take one of your practice photos and begin cutting out the
primary subject for your figure. The primary subject is what you
want to highlight, such as a head and shoulders figure of a
person, an entire group of people, a car, house, pet, etc. All
background areas will be eliminated.
DO NOT cut close to the subject, but allow about an inch all
around making sure your scissors are sharp right to the points.
The size and shape of your acrylic backing will of course depend
on the size of the subject. You’ll want to pre-cut a section of
acrylic that will accommodate your photo. A good adhesive for
this is a photo mount spray glue, available at most photo
stores. Before you glue the photo to the plastic, blow away any
remaining dust or plastic chips from the surface or they will
show through the picture.
To mount your photo, first spray your acrylic, then lay one edge
of your photo down and gradually bring it down to the other
edge. You only have one shot at this step, so sure you’re
practicing on your own photos before attempting to work for
Keep your glue away from fire and flame, and allow plenty of
ventilation to protect yourself from fumes. You can use a rubber
roller to smooth out the photo and eliminate air bubbles. The
glue will dry completely in about 15 minutes.
Now you’re ready to make final cut around that border you had
originally left on. Lay the picture down, face up, and begin
cutting… moving the acrylic into blade. To make cuts in the
middle of a photo, such as between arms and legs, drill a hole
where you want to cut… then insert the blade in the drilled
hole and cut out the portion you want removed.
NEXT, INSTALL THE BASE
The base is what will make your figure stand upright and it can
be either a rectangle shape or cut free form – whichever will
make the picture look best. Be sure to sand all edges before
gluing the base. Super glue will probably be your best choice
When your figure is finished, examine it carefully to make sure
you have made all the right cuts in the right places, that all
edges have been sanded smooth, and that it stands straight on
the base. Now, put the finished figure into a plastic bag for
protection, or have small boxes ready.
At this point it would be a good idea to have small labels
printed with your name and address to put on the bottom (or
back) of each figure. When someone picks it up, they will see
who made it and this can produce a lot of extra business for you.
Don’t be afraid to experiment (on your own photos, of course) to
create new and different ideas that will be saleable. For
example, acrylic comes in a variety of colors, so you can
standardize on black or white… or experiment with your color
for the backing and another for the base; or, you might want to
arrange your figures on layers of different size and color
backings. Let your imagination guide you.
SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS
We’ve just covered the creative end of 3-D photo figures, but
now we must find an outlet for them, first establishing a
business. You’ll need official stationery for this, so decide
what you will call your business, or just use your own name;
John’s 3-D Figures or something like that. Any local quick print
shop can print your name and address on letterheads and
envelopes, and it would be a good idea to also include business
cards as well as Statements and Order Forms.
MARKETING YOUR CREATIONS
Check your local photo shops to find out if they offer such a
product to their customers. If not, you have virgin territory.
If they do, see if you can beat the prices they pay and sell
for. Show them a few of your samples and offer to work with them
on a 50/50 arrangement. You do all the work, they make sales to
their own customers. If you have 5 or more shops working with
you this way, the business should keep you pretty busy.
Of course, if you would prefer not to share your profits, you
might want to sell directly to the public. To do this, run small
ads in your local newspapers, something like this:
YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOS COME TO LIFE
Beautiful Lifelike 3-D Figures. Skillfully crafted and mounted
on durable, colorful acrylic. Show off your prize possessions or
those you love on these free-standing 3-D Photo Figures. A
perfect gift for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas and other
holidays. A cherished lifetime gift for as little as $9.95.
Phone ______ (Your name & address)
You can enhance the above ad by including a small picture of one
of your 3-D photo figures, or several samples, to show what they
look like for those who don’t know.
SELL BY MAIL
These 3-D Photo Figures make an ideal mail order item, so your
might want to establish your own mail order business. To do this
properly, however, you should keep your ad small (to reduce the
cost) and ask readers to write for information
To those who write, send a friendly letter and circular/brochure
illustrating your sample figures. Include an order form
including your size and prices for the various figures.
Naturally, you will have to ask potential customers to send you
the photo they want mounted, with full assurance that it will be
beautifully created into a 3-D Photo Figure that they will be
proud to display or give as a gift.
Using the pricing example on Page 1 of this report, you can
determine the price for your customers based on your cost, size
of the finished product, and the length of time it requires to
However you decide to sell your creations, you can quickly build
this into a very profitable part time (or fill time) business in
which you can make $100 or more per hour. Even if you work only
10 hours a week, $1000 weekly isn’t to be scoffed at.