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Tutorial:   Using Photoshop to print a picture in sections to make a larger display

How to make big prints with little printers.


To the right is the picture. The method can be used with any printer. This tutorial is based on a printer that can print on paper up to 13 x 19 inches. If your printer uses smaller paper, then simply change the paper size numbers in this tutorial to your printer's sizes.

For this tutorial, I'm going to create a print that uses four sheets of 13 x 19 inch paper and ends up being 22 inches in width and 30 inches in height. The picture was originally created at around 3100 x 4200 pixels or roughly 22 x 30 inches at 150 ppi (pixels per inch). Ink jet printers do a fine job at 150 ppi.



To prepare the print, increase it's size by adding a white border completely around it. The border should probably be 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width. The white border is only used during the process. When finished, it will be trimmed from the print.

Since the method uses registration marks, the four prints that will be sectioned together must overlap to allow for the registration marks. Four 13 x 19 inch areas (the sheets of paper) at 150 ppi will overlap if placed over the resized picture with the white border added.



Next, the separate sections that will be printed need to be defined. Create a new blank file in Photoshop that is 13 x 19 inches in size at 150 ppi. Fill it in with a color, copy it and paste it onto the picture. Place it in the upper left corner and set the opacity at something low like 30%.

Use the pasted area to place guidelines along the right and bottom edges.



Next, duplicate the pasted area onto a new layer and drag it to the bottom right corner.

Use the new position of the second pasted area to place guidelines on the top and left sides of the area.



Now four separate overlapping sections have been defined. When the time comes, the guide lines can be used to create four separate files for printing, but before that, the registration marks have to be created.

The guidelines are most important. The colored areas can be turned off or deleted.



Using Photoshop's line tool, make four dark lines in the white border along each side of the picture.


Next on its own layer create a white band aligned with the bottom horizontal guideline. Near the top of the band, use the line tool to make a dark line from left edge to right edge.


Then also on its own layer create another white band aligned with the top horizontal guideline. Near the bottom of that band, use the line tool to make a dark line from left edge to right edge.


Make two more Photoshop guidelines: A vertical guideline between the two existing vertical guidelines and a horizontal guideline between the two existing horizontal guidelines. These two new guidelines will just be temporary.


Using the temporary guidelines, draw a dark line on the white border at the (A) points in the picture to the right. Make sure none of the black line overlaps onto the picture. Then on the white band layer with the (B) on it, draw a short vertical line using the vertical temporary guideline. Do the same on the white band layer with the (C) on it. Again, make sure none of the black line overlaps onto the picture.

The lines on the horizontal white bands should be part of each respective white band layer, so that when the layer is turned off, the white band and dark lines disappear.

Remove the two temporary guidelines.



Now it is time to make the four separate files for printing. To start, turn off the top white band layer.

Viewing the image to the right, use the rectangular Marquee tool and the guidelines that delineate the first section, to drag a selection box from point (1) to point (2). Use the Copy Merged option on the Edit Menu to copy the area onto the clipboard. Then use the New option on the File Menu to create a new file and Paste the clipboard into the new file using the Paste option on the Edit Menu.



The resulting file should look like the image to the right. If you look at the Photoshop Image Size dialog box, you should see that it is 13 x 19 inches at 150 ppi.

Save it to an appropriate filename



Do the same for the top right area and save it to a filename.

Then turn off the bottom white band. Turn on the top white band, which serves as the top for the bottom two areas. Use the rectangular Marquee tool to also copy and paste the two bottom areas into separate files and save them to filenames.

You should now have four files like the ones in the image to right. Print all four files using your printer.



Use a paper hole punch to punch holes at the line intersection points indicated in the left image above on just one of the top two prints.

Then, place the holes over the intersections on the other print and line them up (right image above). Use a straight edge and sharp blade to cut the two prints from top to bottom. TIP: I use double sticky sided tape to lock the two prints together for cutting. Place the tape over the hole and press down to lock the prints and then place the straight edge over the tape, which helps hold the straight edge steady while cutting.

Turn the prints over and use tape to join them together.

Next, do the same with the bottom two prints and join them together.


Now there are two joined prints for the top and two for the bottom. Punch holes in intersected lines indicated on the image at the right and use the same method to join the top and bottom parts of the picture together.

Trim the edges and the picture is ready.

With some adjustment and planning, much larger pictures can be constructed. I've put them together using up to twelve prints.