With summer well under way, your digital camera is likely to be loaded up with shots of beautiful scenery and unforgettable memories. Unfortunately, few will ever see the light of day.
Printing out and displaying a few of your favourite snaps around the home is an obvious option, serving not only as a talking point for envious guests but as a reminder of your summer fun during those cold and dark winter days. Online photo-printing sites can produce posters as well as standard prints from your digital images – but with these services charging around £10 per poster, you might prefer to print your own.
You don’t need an oversize printer to produce large prints, either. A number of software programs can split an image into A4 sections that can be printed out and stitched together. Easy Poster Print offers this function for free, while several other packages have free trials.
Of course, printing an image at poster size isn’t as simple as it sounds. Tiny blemishes in your shots will be magnified, as will any problems with exposure, colour balance and so on. Since even DIY poster-printing costs around £3 a pop once you’ve taken inks and paper into consideration, you’ll want to get it looking good first time round.
But don’t just correct the obvious: if you experiment with colour levels, shadows and midtones, you can make an otherwise average photo come to life. Some photos – and their subjects – are crying out for special treatment. Consider applying a filter such as watercolour to make your image look as though it’s been printed on to a canvas.
Many of these tweaks can be conducted using free software, such as Picasa and open-source The Gimp. We’ve used the latter to beautify our snaps before printing them as posters. Follow our advice to make your favourite snaps even better, then print out huge versions for all to admire.
Edit your photos for printing
Step 1. Download and install The Gimp. Once the installation is complete, launch the program and browse to the image you want to edit. Click the File menu in the main window, select Open and choose the file you want from the Explorer window. Press Open.
Step 2. The first step is to check the image is correctly aligned. If your image opens on its side, click Image, Transform and choose to rotate the image 90 degrees clockwise or anticlockwise. If the image still appears slightly wonky, again click Image, Transform, but this time enter a smaller value to rotate the image.
Step 3. The Crop tool lets you compensate for poor image composition and make a subject appear more prominent. Its scalpel icon can be found in the Tools pane on the left side of the workspace. Alternatively, click Tools, Transform Tools, Crop. Drag the cursor over the content you want to keep and hit Enter.
Step 4. Boost the brightness and contrast of your image by selecting Colour, Brightness-Contrast. Alternatively, the Colour Balance tool in the same menu lets you adjust CMYK levels in shadows, midtones and highlights. Use the sliders to adjust the levels; you can see a preview of your image before accepting the changes.
Step 5. Artistic effects can be used to make your photo look like an oil painting, a cartoon or even a ‘photocopy’ (a halftone print). To experiment, choose Filters, Artistic. Click on an effect to preview it. Some options offer granular controls – Canvas lets you choose the depth of your canvas, for example.
Step 6. Once you’ve finished editing, click Image, Canvas Size. Check the resolution of your image and select an output size. Most free software allows you to print posters up to A0 (841x1,139mm). Note that by changing the size of the photo you’ll also alter the print resolution. Press Resize to implement the changes.
>> NEXT PAGE: Print your image at poster-size
Step 1. Download and install the free Easy Poster Print 2.0.3 software. Launch the program and browse to a photo that you want to print. You can import an image by clicking the Poster Image button on the left of the workspace, then navigating to the image you want to use.
Step 2. With your image open, click Standard Formats and choose the print size. Easy Poster Print will then tell you how many A4 pages will be needed to print it out. Sizes range from A3 (297x420mm) to B0 (1,000x1,414mm). Alternatively, you can specify a print size in the Dimensions section on the left.
Step 3. By default, the individual A4 pages are in portrait orientation, but you can change this using the Paper Orientation drop-down menu. You can also scale the image to prevent paper wastage using the Scale Up or Scale Down commands in the Paper Scaling drop-down menu.
Step 4. The image resolution can be adjusted under Print. Also here, you can adjust the thickness of the cut lines that separate the pages. To print the image using your default printer, simply select Print Poster, Ok. To use a different printer, choose the Printer icon at the bottom of the window and select a different model.