If you need an easy DIY project to fill up the wall space in an office, nursery or living room, making your own color engineer prints is the perfect solution. I’ll show you how to get your own large format prints on your wall for under $20!
Let’s get started.
It can be overwhelming moving into a new house with completely empty walls. I’ve always loved hanging lots of things on the walls and I’m a huge fan of gallery walls, so when we were looking for a new house, I was intentionally looking at wall space. I knew I wanted to fill the space of our new walls either with large format prints or gallery walls.
I had always assumed large format prints would be super expensive, like $40 for a 16″ x 20″ print. When I started researching places to print these poster size prints, I was really pleasantly surprised to find out I could print a 24″ x 36″ color print for under $10!
It’s so easy to get these prints done at your local Staples. I order my prints and picked them up at the store two days later. I decided on these colorful maternity photos that we took last year during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
I’ve always seen people doing large-scale black and white prints and assumed it was because color engineer prints wouldn’t look good. Well, I was pleasantly surprised with my experiment printing these large format photos in color!
I love that the quality of the paper almost gives these photos a film effect like they were printed in a darkroom photo lab. The thing to remember about these prints is they aren’t meant to be like prints done on photo paper. They’re printed on regular printer paper that is large scale.I decided to use these simple, modern frames from IKEA to focus in on the subject matter of the photo instead of the frame itself. These STRÖMBY IKEA frames are inexpensive ($~13 each for these 19 3/4″ x 19 3/4″ frames). There is a variety of sizes that you can buy. I bought three square ones, two huge vertical frames and three smaller vertical frames. I plan to put these prints all over my house!
Step 1: Crop the Photo Using Software
First we have to prep our photos. The best way to do this is using a photo program like Photoshop, but you could also use a free photo editing software. Open your photo in your photo editing program. You’ll need to know what size frame you are going to get before resizing your photo. Then find the crop tool and enter the size of your frame into the width and height sections of your photo. Where it asks for resolution, enter 200. Click crop and your photo is ready to be ordered from Staples or another print shop that offers engineer prints.
Step 2: Cut Print to Size for Frame
Because my photo frame was square, I ordered a large print and “cropped” it myself by cutting it to size. If you don’t have access to a photo editing program, you can do the same thing. Order a size print that is larger than your frame and cut it to size.
Remove the inside paper from your frame. This will be your template. You’ll also need a yard stick and an exacto knife.
You’ll need a large cutting mat, cardboard box or another surface that you can cut on top of. I used two old bookshelf shelves! Use the template to measure what part of the photo you want to be in the frame. After you find where you want to crop your photo, place the yard stick on one of the sides. Using your non-dominant hand, hold the ruler in place, being careful not to move it. With your dominant hand, run the exacto blade along the edge of the yard stick. Repeat on remaining sides, being careful to line up template with the sides that have already been cut.
If your frame has a thicker border around it, you’ll be able to have a little more slack on how exact your cut is. If you have a thinner frame, you’ll need a more exact cut. You can also trace the template on the back side of the print and cut it using that drawn template instead of the piece from your frame. Whichever makes you feel more confident about getting the cuts right!
In hindsight, I could’ve just cropped the image before submitting it in the exact size of this square frame and then used this method to trim the borders off of the photo. For my next set of prints, that’s how I will do it!
Eventually, I want to put a set of these maternity photos in my son’s nursery since they are so colorful! I have a few photos I want to print in black and white as well. I’m curious to see the quality difference between the color and black and white prints in person.
This project is so easy to complete and the best part is you can have a large format print for under $20 including the frame! The larger the prints, the more expensive they are, but even the largest print will be much less expensive than getting a photo printed at that size using photo print quality.
What do you think? Would you do large format color engineer prints like this in your house?