Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to Format Photos for Printing in Odd Sizes

The company my husband works for just moved from a tiny basement office to a huge, brand new office space.  All of the employees will be getting cubicles to go with their individual desks to give them each their own space, which is huge considering they were all sharing folding tables that were about 6 feet by 2 feet with four people plus all of their computers and equipment per table.  I guess that's just what happens when a fairly new company has enormous growth...OK bragging over, but to celebrate my husband's new personal work space, I wanted to make a special gift for him that would help bring some life to his cubicle.

For Valentine's Day, I made him these wooden framed pictures.  I used this tutorial here from Sugar and Cloth and it's a really simple process, but I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to show you guys how to format pictures so that you can print them in odd sizes, like 4x4 or 7.25x7.75.  If you want to print from places like Costco or Walgreens, they don't have sizes like these as options, but I'll show you how it's still possible to print your photos in odd sizes without having to spend a lot of money ordering from a specialty printing company.  Even though there are other types of photo editing software available, I work with Photoshop CS5, so you'll need that in order to do this particular tutorial.

First things first, work with a duplicate of your photo so that you don't accidentally compromise the quality of your original.  I have a habit of using the keyboard shortcuts to save my work and I know that if I didn't use a duplicate, I would totally save over the original with my edits and that would be awful.  What if I didn't want it to stay little or enlarged forever?  I wouldn't get the quality back by resizing it.

Next, you'll want to create a blank canvas for your background with a contrasting color.  Let's say the photo you're wanting to print is a 4x4.  The easiest way to print it is to format your photo to this size and the blank background to 4x6.  The color on the background will allow you to see where you need to cut so that your photo is the exact size you want.

When you're formatting your background, make sure that you set it to at least 150 dpi (dots per inch, or pixels per inch) for the best quality.  Whatever you choose for your dpi, make sure that your photo is formatted to the same, otherwise you'll have an issue with the inches not matching up.

When you go to format your photo, change the size to what you want it to be, always keeping it set to "constrain proportions" so that the subjects in your photo don't become contorted in a weird way. 

Sometimes you'll need your photo to be formatted to a size that it can't do while set to constrained proportions, for example you need it set to 3x3 but it will only do 3x2.967 or 3.033x3, set it so that one side is exact and the other is slightly larger, in this case the 3.033x3 size.  Then, with your rulers shown as a guide, use the crop tool to cut the photo to exactly 3x3.

When you add your photo to your background, make sure you line it up exactly with two of the edges so that you're only having to cut out along two sides.  This isn't necessary, but it does make the process easier.

If your photos are small enough, you can add multiples to one background.  Like in the case with these wooden framed pictures, I printed mine out on 5x7 size backgrounds and had 3 pictures on each.  If you're going to do this, make sure that you have space between your pictures so that way when it comes time to cut them out, you don't accidentally mess up and cut too much from one while cutting out another.

I hope this tutorial was helpful and I'd love to see what you create!  If you'd like to share, leave a link to your project in the comments section.