Archive for the ‘Photoshop’ Category

Easy way to make Photo Canvas Box Frames

box frames

I like the idea of having canvas photo prints on the wall but I also have enough of an ego to think that I can take a photo good enough to warrant printing my own canvas. Also I think it’s a bit more personal too when it’s your own photo/ art.

I take alot of photos and never do anything with them, I always think about framing but to get the benefits you need to print big or do a series of panels, which is what I’ll be showing how to do along with a bit of printer/ photoshop advice. Just so you know Photoshop CS3 has some excellent tools for stitching photos together to make panoramas.

There are alot of shops that will print and box frame your photos on canvas for you and you can get canvas framing kits to help, so no worries if you don’t have a capable printer, it will probably just cost a bit more. I genuinely think anything over A3 you’ll want to pay to get printed anyway – because I doubt you’ll want to spend £1,000+ on an A2+ printer just to print one picture.

However, I am lucky enough to have worked for Epson so I own a Stylus Photo R1900. It’s fairly cheap I guess for what it can do but it’s limited to A3, so its just on the edge of the realm of large format printers. But doing your own framing is only cheap if you already have the printer – I doubt any decent shop will charge you more than £25 per A3 canvas print so don’t buy a printer specifically to do one print!

The right printer, media and ink

Whether using Epson printers or not to print canvas you need a decent printer and it’s all about the type of inks used, your average inkjet ink won’t stick to canvas and you need a printer that can also deal with thicker media and roll feeds. The R1900 can do that and it’s the cheapest one that you can get from Epson (around £400) – also look for the R1800, R2400 and R2880 as good ones to try. I would recommend the R800 but the smallest canvas roll you can get is A3 (13inches/ 330mm wide), there is a cheaper A3 one, the 1400 but don’t bother as its inks  (Claria) will just flake off canvas. Not sure about whats out there from Canon, HP etc… but I guess what I’m saying is check what your printer can do any decent manufacturer or shop should do you a test sample regardless.

Ok so you got the printer, now remember that I have worked for Epson, so please take what  I say as slightly biased and with a pinch of salt: Get the genuine Epson ink and media! (or the equivalent for your printer). You will honestly see the difference, in the case of the Epson stuff all the media is coated specifically for the inks and printer, so cheaper non-Epson paper/ canvas won’t work as well and you’ll see prints fade, smudge, chip off and blur – same for HP, Canon etc… If you use refills on these inkjets you’ll see the same kind of thing but you’ll also jam up your print heads – its the biggest cause of issues with the photo printers – that and continous ink feed systems. So if you use the shitty materials for this then expect the shitty results that’ll follow!

For the R1900 you’re talking about £95 for a full set of inks and £35-40 for the canvas roll. The £140 media outlay might seem high but this will let you do around 12 A3 panels, so works out about £10 per A3 panel with plenty of ink to spare to do other stuff, if like me you do A4 panels then I’ll easily get 20 on a roll – either way using this stuff is going to get you good results, even on auto settings. My only gripe with the R1900 is that it cains the inks so you have to be sure not to waste any prints – if I could, I would have the R2400/R2880.

Anyway so you get the idea: good printer, good media, good ink. Or just get your canvas printed by someone else – I’ll do it for you if you pay for the ink, media and postage!

Making the frames

Now you can spend some money and buy the wood, glue, tools etc… to make your own frames but you can get frames for around £2-3 for A4, maybe less (any good sources please let me know). Take a trip to your local wilkos, poundland etc… and find some existing box canvas prints (or cheap wooden photo frames). Check the dimensions to make sure your canvas will adequately cover the entire frame, the sides and some of the back for the best results, if you’re using a roll feed on the printer then the frame can be as long as you want just as long as the canvas can cover the frames width. I took a piece of canvas with me and a tape measure to ensure I got the best frames and odd looks from fellow consumers and store staff.

Pull out the canvas and staples

That’s it! Your frames are built – just strip off the existing canvas using some needle nose pliers and pull out the staples and you’ve got your frame ready in far less time and effort as constructing one yourself. Don’t worry about damaging the old canvas, chances are if you were cheap like me the picture on there was crap anyway.

3 A4 Frames for £9

Setting up to print your canvas
Whether or not you’re printing your canvas these instructions still apply. We need to create a template to help us print, crop and frame the canvas – please scroll down to the framing section to get an idea.

First measure up the width and height of the frame from edge to edge, now measure how thick  the frame is and finally measure the width of the wood used to make the frame.

For example my frame is 30 cm x 20cm, my frame thickness is 2cm and the width of each piece is 3cm. So my material needs to be at the very most 30cm x 40cm to get the best results. If you want to try and use as much canvas as possible for your print then just ensure that it covers the sides of the frame and around 1cm on the back to give you something to staple into and tension.

My printed area is going to be the area of the frame (30 x 20 cm) plus the sides, so that’s 34 x 24 cm.

For folding the canvas and getting a nice fit you’ll need to cut the corners off so make sure to add lines to your template. If you scroll down you’ll see why/ how this is done.

I used Photoshop CS3 to do my print templates but you should be able to  follow the steps and do this in any basic application that lets you draw a few guides and lines over a photo. I guess if you’ve got a decent photo printer then you’re using Photoshop – CS3 and onwards has a much better print interface.

Create a new document, from the measurements of the frame and make sure its at a minimum of 300 dpi resolution and use RGB colour.

Next show your rulers (CTRL + R) make sure you’re setup for mm or cm (Edit, menu then Preferences to change).

Drag guides to mark the sides of the frame.

Draw lines for cutting the corners off.

Create a white frame around the outside in a new layer – to save wasting ink on the material being stapled to the frame.

Now you can put your photo in this document for printing and it will be perfectly positioned for you. This works also if you’re doing multiple panels. I won’t go into colour correction here, I’ll assume that you’ve done all this.


First to save wasting paper do a very small test print to make sure your print heads are aligned and nothing funky is happening in your images.

OK so we’re ready to print. You’ll need to first load the canvas roll typically at the back of the printer – this can be a pain to do as the printer won’t feed the roll unless its absolutely straight. To remedy this before clipping the canvas roll on the printer feed it first into the printer and press the roll button on your printer. It’s hit and miss but eventually it will take it, you just need to feed the paper in straight.

Now clip the roll on to the back of the printer and you’re ready to go. When printing you just need to set a few basic things, the media type (Watercolour paper – radiant white), to use the roll instead of sheet and to set the paper size to user defined (size of your document).

I always tick photo enhance and best photo options, also using the gloss optimiser. I leave the printer drivers to render the best colour conversion it can, generally few colours in my prints are out of the gamut. To get better results spend time playing with these setting but be prepared to waste some ink.

Click print and thats it. Once you’re done, press the roll feed button on the printer to feed the canvas out so you can cut it – the R1900 can attempt to cut the canvas but it’s  too thick. Once you’ve cut it (It only needs to be roughly straight) then press the roll feed button again to retract the leftover canvas ready for the next time – for doing panels I printed all of them and then cut the roll after the last print to save canvas.

3 panels printed

Framing your canvas

OK, you’ll need a staple gun with 6-10mm staples to do this. Its pretty easy to do and takes about 5-10 minutes per frame.

Cut off the corners

Remember the corner lines I added in my template first cut these off.

Mark the sides of the frame.

Now mark and measure in the depth of your frame on each side of your canvas, so on mine, I mark the edge at 2cm and at 22cm for example – you need these marks to make sure you get your frame in the right place.

Fold the canvas.

With the canvas face down fold back along the edge of the picture.

Staple the canvas to the frame

You should be able to line up the edges of your canvas with the frame, put in a staple to secure.

Pull the canvas tight, and staple the opposite side.

Fold the top

Tuck the corners in at the top and staple down, repeat at the bottom making sure to pull the canvas tight.

Finished stapling the frame

Finish off by stapling all sides down – can be as messy as you like, no one will see.

You should be left with a nice end result! :) Please feel free to ask if you need a hand or something explained – or if you want me to print your photos!

First box frame attempt

Printing layout for images in Photoshop and probably most image software

photoshop pagelayout transform

I’m going to concentrate on Photoshop here, but this will also include a method that will work in any image editing software. The aim is to specifically print your image in a designated area of a page. Scroll to the bottom of this to see the really easy way in the latest Photoshop versions.

So in this example we have an A4 printer and say we want to make a greeting card. To keep it simple our card will just be an A4 sheet folded once in half, we have our picture that we want on the front of the card, so how do we make it print on half the A4.

By default when you print it will set it to the center of the page rather than the top or bottom. In later versions of photoshop you can specify where the image is printed but the other way to do this is as follows.

First create a new document at the size of the paper you are printing on, so in this case A4 (297 x 210mm), ensure that it has a white background colour – most printers don’t print white! So now where ever you position your image in this A4 document is where it will be printed on the page, allowing you to do basic page layout.


Now you’ll want to position it, to do this first make sure you have the rulers showing on your images – do this by pressing CTRL + R or by going to the top menu, selecting ‘View’ and then ‘Rulers’. Look closely at your measurements on these rulers, they may not be set to anything useful. You can change the unit of measurement on these rulers by doing the following: go to the top menu and click ‘edit’ and then at the bottom look for ‘preferences’ and then click ‘Units & Rulers’. In this dialogue box you can then change the units to cm, mm, inches etc… (in other versions of Photoshop, the preferences maybe under the file menu). If you have your rulers showing you can actually just double click any ruler to bring up the units preference OR just right click on a ruler to change the units of measurement for even more simplicity (and you look like a pro).


OK, so we should now have rulers on our A4 document – this will now allow us to draw some guides and accurately place our image. If you click and hold the left mouse button on the ruler (either one) and then drag your mouse pointer from here on to the canvas you will see a line appear (normally light blue). This is a guide – don’t worry it won’t get printed!

So now we can position these guides – for my example I dragged a guide from the top ruler to 148.5mm, remember that you can zoom into your canvas to minutely adjust where your guides are. If you want to remove a guide just click and drag it back on to the ruler. If you want to quickly hide guides then you can press CTRL + H to show/ hide guides.


OK so now we have guides we can now add in our image and place it on the page and we can be pretty confident of where it will get printed on the paper.

Now its possible that due to varying factors such as different image resolutions and dimensions your image won’t fit perfectly on the page, maybe its too big or to small. If you press CTRL + T you can transform and scale your image accordingly – hold the shift key when you do this to keep everything in scale. You can also find transformations under the ‘edit’ menu at the top.


Ok so below are the following steps to follow to layout your image to be printed pretty much exactly where you want it to.

Create document the size of the paper you are printing on (CTRL + N)
Show rulers (CTRL + R) and set them to a print measurement (mm, cm etc..) (right click on rulers)
Drag guides from the rulers to create a grid to help position your image
Select all of the image you want to print  (CTRL + A)
Copy it to your clipboard (CTRL + C)
Change to your A4 document
Paste your image in here (CTRL + V)
Now line it up on the guides and resize it if needed (CTRL + T holding shift key to keep transformations in scale)

That should get you started for now – you can also add in guides to allow for printer margins, borders and so on. This method has the benefit of allowing you to place multiple images on one sheet of A4 and you can expand on this to do montages and framing – if you do decide to do multiple images then the layer palette will be your friend!

One final tip for positioning this way – you can set some  options for how you place your images, this is called ‘Snap’ and it allows you to snap your images to the guides, a grid, another image and so on – these settings can be found under the ‘View’ menu at the top.

Of course in later versions of photoshop you can do all of this by just click print (CTRL +P ) and then setting up your margins and position here- thats it! Shame it took several versions before we had this functionality.


Although this only allows you to print the one image. For much better page layout and framing you should look at DTP (DeskTop Publishing) packages like Adobe InDesign.

Setting sizes for images in Photoshop (and any other image editing software)

Photoshop imageSize resolution

There are two important things in ALL image editing software concerning the sizing of your image – Resolution and dimensions. This is not specific to any specific program, it is applicable to all of them.

Firstly these factors depend on how you wish your image to be used. Will it be for the web and only ever exist on screen or will it be printed out?

Normally I always start by making my documents for print. This is because it requires a greater resolution than screen and with images you can always make them smaller but you can’t always make them bigger. So lets sort out resolution.

Resolution in this context refers to how much information can be stored within a set area. So the more information you store, the more detail in your image, in our case its how many pixels can be stored in an inch (2.54cm). On a typical computer screen it can display up to 96 pixels per linear inch, commonly in practice resolutions for screens are still set at 72 pixels per inch. So for every inch on your computer screen there are 72 pixels.

With printing, its slightly more complex, you are limited by how many dots/ droplets the printer can produce in an inch. Typically most printers can now handle 1200 dots per inch (Most Epson, Canon + HP inkjet printers), but this amount of data will create a very large image file, so best practice is to set a print resolution of 300ppi as generally you won’t notice anything more than this on your average paper. Professionally your image resolution will depend on the type of paper your printing to, photographic paper can handle the fine ink droplets of upto 1200ppi but your bog standard photocopy paper would be a big mess if you printed out something at this resolution – this comes down to the papers weight and how dense it is.

So to recap, 72ppi for screen based work, 300ppi generally for print based work. Always start with print based settings as you can always scale down – its hard to go the other way. Why? because if you have only 72 of something you have to stretch it to be 300, that means a lot of data gets added to make up the difference. Whereas reducing means losing data in the process which you wouldn’t notice on screen.

Now we have a basic understanding of resolution, we can move on to the size and dimensions of your image and you’ll see that on screen resolution has a big impact.

Image dimensions
Because it is easier to comprehend lets start with print sizes, Whilst we measure resolution in pixels or dots per inch, with dimensions its actually easier to measure in metric mm/cm. Typically in print it used to be measured in points and picas but I prefer millimetres.

So when you create a new image in Photoshop it will ask you for a width and a height – you can change the measurement from pixels to various settings. For now I would suggest always doing this in millimetres (mm), this will be the size that the image prints out at. Typical paper settings in the ISO A series are:

A6: 105 x 148.5mm
A5: 148.5 x 210mm
A4: 210 x 297mm
A3: 297 x 420mm
A2: 420 x 594mm
A1: 594 x 840mm

Any paper that you buy will always have the measurement on it and as a rule of thumb if you want to do borderless photos I would make your document 6mm wider and taller than your paper. Doing this is called ‘bleed’ what this means is you can print to the edge of your paper and you won’t risk showing a nasty white edge even if the paper loads in crooked. A lot of inkjet printers (not just the more expensive photo models) now have modes that let you print to the edge but this will only be for certain types of paper – normally photographic media.

So to recap, if you’re printing your image make sure the resolution is set to at least 300ppi and your width and height dimensions are set to your paper size, with 6mm added on if you want borderless pictures, or the dimensions are set to the physical size of how big you want your image printed.

When you create your image this will look huge on screen. This is down to resolution, your computer screen can’t display the 300ppi resolution so your screen will show you your image based on the pixel size of the image.

Thats right, on screen your image is measured in pixels – not any physical measurement! So please do not let people catch you measuring your image on screen with a ruler – I have more often that not seen this from our marketing department when they get confused with resolution.

So here’s how it works (briefly)…
You should be able to figure this out that for every inch you have 72 ppi so a 1 inch square at 72ppi will be 72 pixels wide and tall. If that same inch has a resolution of 300ppi then it will be 300ppi wide and tall. That Inch will print exactly the same size but on screen it will have much bigger dimensions. This comes down to your screen size, for instance most common screens are set at a size of 1024 x 768 pixels so my 300ppi inch square is going to take up a a third of my screen area when viewed at 100%. Now if my screen size is 1280 x 1024 that same square at 100% will take up around a quarter of my screen area and so on. This is whats called a relative measurement and this is why you can’t physically measure what’s on your screen.


So when you’re making an image for the internet, you stick it at 72ppi and then you’ll know exactly how big it will be on everyone’s screens – also this keeps the file size down remember? The higher the resolution, the more detail and the bigger the file. You can see from the image above the difference (hopefully) between the same image at 100% with the same print size just at different resolution, the left is 300ppi, the right is 72ppi.

So to recap:
Unless you are specifically working for screen/TV/web ALWAYS start your document with physical print measurements (cm/mm) and a resolution of at least 300ppi. This way you will rarely be disappointed by fuzzy/ blocky images when you print them out. You can always scale down later for web usage if you need to.

Briefly lets discuss colour modes. When creating your document you will see different ‘Color’ modes. Basically leave it at 8bits per channel and leave it as RGB – you can always convert your document to black and white later on. Remember like resolutions, colour contains more data than grayscale so you can lose it and convert, but you can’t convert grayscale and get back your colours because this data is lost and won’t exist.

In a printed world we would use the CMYK color mode as this best represents the pigment/ ink setup of a printer Most printers have just the 4 inks Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) but computer colour profiles are generally good enough now for it to be able to handle RGB and you’ll get just as good a result. To handle RGB, printers now come with extra ink colours to help produce more vibrant results. It’s also worth noting that the RGB colour mode contains much more colour information than CMYK, so it’s best to start in RGB, especially since this is the colour mode your digital camera will use.

To summarise
Use RGB, start at 300 dpi/ppi and work in physical sizes for your dimensions and this should sort you out.

So now hopefully you understand this a bit better (I hope). To create a new image in Photoshop, go to the File menu at the top left and select ‘New’ and go from there, or to alter an existing Images size go to the Image menu at the top and then select ‘Image Size’.