How to Create Engineering Prints for Inexpensive Art
As a photographer, and more importantly a mom, I can't tell you enough how important it is to print your photos! There are so many easy and affordable ways to do it these days, so there's no excuse! I heard a photographer say once that your photos should hang on your wall because it's like getting a big hug every time you walk by!
And check out the impact this photo has because of its size and simplicity:
Perfect for a nursery!
There are a lot of different ways to showcase your printed photos, but today, I want to highlight a super-easy and super-cheap way to print oversized photos to hang as fun, funky, artsy-fartsy, wall art.
The secret is to use your local printer (think: FedEx Office) to make you an engineering print! I'm a little behind the trend on this one since I think it was all the rage 4 or 5 years ago. But I put it on my "someday" list and finally got around to doing it this spring.
I used this post as a jumping off point from Chris Loves Julia's blog and then kind of winged it from there. I had to try a couple of times before I got it right because: MATH.
Below, I show you the exact way to save the file in Photoshop to get the dimensions right for a 24x36 engineering print and the difference it made in our living room!
How to Make Photo Art with Engineering Prints
1. Size and Save Your Photo
Find a photo you like. It's best if you have one with a plain background. It doesn't have to have a plain background like mine (I took these photos with this project in mind) any photo you love will work if you are okay, but if you need to do some creative editing, having a blank background helps.
Also, engineering prints tend to be a little grainy due to the ink and paper that is used, but I think that adds to the artsy-fartsy vibe, embrace it!
For my first two framed engineering prints, I shot with the frame and idea in mind. I used my professional camera and a grey background and then edited the photos in Lightroom before exporting them and resizing in Photoshop.
One other photo-picking tip: Chris and Julia make a great point about choosing photos that represent the size of your kids. For example, Kate's head is waaay too big proportional to Townes' body. BUT because of Townes' funny facial expression, I think it works!
It's best if the photos are saved as a high-resolution file and resized in a program like Photoshop or Picmonkey.
IMPORTANT: Get the ratio right! In order to not have the white border at the top and bottom of your print (like in the photos below), you'll need to save your photo at the correct ratio. For a 24x36 print, you should save it as a 6x9 for regular quality and a 12x18 for higher print quality. If you don't, the printer will not print to the full 24x36 because it would distort your photo. It enlarges it as much as possible without distorting it.
I totally forgot about this important point and I went to frame these this morning and they were clearly too small after trimming. I remembered my error and came back to FedEx Office this morning for a do-over. And now you won't make that same mistake!
Also, make sure it's a high resolution file (again, you can adjust this in Picmonkey or Photoshop).
Here's how I sized mine in Photoshop before saving them:
2. Save it to a thumb drive
Save your oversized photo file to your thumb drive, put the dogs in the kennel, grab your keys and head to your local FedEx Office or other printing resource that offers engineering prints. You could upload it to the FedEx Office website, but I think it's best to see the techs in person to make sure everyone's on the same page.
3. Print/Resize to 24"x36"
Ask the attendant to print it at 24x36 or, if you're lucky, you'll have the big printer to your self like I did. Here are the steps if you are using one of their large format printers:
Put in your thumb drive in the slot provided and your files will pop up on the screen.
Touch on the 'edit' button for the black and white (it wouldn't already say 24x36, I took this photo after I changed the settings).
Touch "fit to" and it will take you to another menu with tons of different sizing options. I chose the 24x36 because that was the size I chose for my two prints to hang over our living room couch. And because you saved your photo at the correct dimension, the engineering print will be printed all the way flush to the edge of your paper.
Once you have the size you want, you select how many copies and hit "print" and sit back and wait about 1-2 minutes! SO EASY.
Once it's done printing you just flip the large claw things (technical term) back and pull out your print. It took me less than five minutes to make these two prints.
4. Pay the $9 for the artwork. NINE DOLLARS
Unreal, right? Two 24x36 black and white prints for under $10!
5. Insert Into Your Frame
I really like the look of "no mat" for prints this size. It definitely makes the kids feel larger than life and puts the focus on the image. IKEA sells inexpensive frames this size and you can usually catch some great discounts at Michael's.
I can't get over how much I love the look of these extra large prints. It does feel like art--it's a great solution if you have a large wall like we did above this IKEA sectional.
We got the grey couch after we made these prints and I've considered painting the frames red for a pop of color. Wood frames would be ideal, but I couldn't find what I wanted at the Michael's sale when I did this a couple of months ago.
If you've ever considered doing this, I HIGHLY recommend it and I hope this little "tutorial" helped. I'm no expert, but it should hopefully make sense. Let me know if you have any questions!