How To

We endeavour to provide you with the most useful information regarding file preparation.  Adobe Photoshop is recognized as the industry standard, and therefore all our tutorials are Photoshop based.  If you use other imaging software programs, please query your favourite internet search engine for the topics covered here.

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Preparing Your File For Printing

How to size your image for printing

While our 'Upload a Photo' tool allows you to preview your uploaded image in a number of common print sizes, if the file you upload is too small to print, our software will automatically grey out larger print size options.  This is to maintain the integrity of the image quality by not allowing an image to be printed large than would be visually acceptable.

For example, you upload a photo from your phone and you want a 16”x20” print.  The native file size doesn’t contain enough resolution for that image to look acceptable at that large size. Our system will detect that and only give you options that we feel are acceptable for that file size.

This is where checking the size of an image in Photoshop can be very useful.

First, open your image in Photoshop.

Next, on the top tool bar, go to 'Image'.  Then slide down and click 'Image Size'.

This will open the 'Image Size' dialogue window.

Here we can see the image size properties in pixels or measurement units like inches and centimetres.  We can also see the Resolution of the image.

To change the size of the image, choose inches or centimetres, then input the desired width or height.  When the 'Constrain Proportions' check box is ticked, entering one value will automatically adjust the other.

At this point you can see if your image conforms to the aspect ration of the print size you want.  Often traditional print sizes like 8”x10” or 16”x20” will require cropping.  See Adobe’s excellent tutorial on Using the Crop Tool in Photoshop.

In the “Image Size” dialogue window you can also set the resolution.  Typical print output should be no less than 240 dpi for photographic images.

During this entire procedure make sure the “Resampling” checkbox is ticked.  This will allow Photoshop to ‘grow’ pixels when enlarging.

Click “OK”

After resizing, zoom in to 50%.  This will give you a better understanding of how your image will look in terms of visual quality once it’s printed.

Remember to include any borders you may want on the print (see our How To article “How to Add Borders to Your Image ”).

How To Add Borders to Your Image

All images that are sized at 8"x10" will be printed on letter size (8.5"x11") paper. This means that we will provide you with an 8.5"x11" print that we do not trim unless the "Borderless" Option is checked during order creation.

All prints larger than 8.5"x11" will include a half inch white border.

If you require borders of a particular size, you must include them in the file. See our How To Page for instructions on creating custom borders.

If you require borderless (full-bleed) prints, there is an Option during the last step of order creation to choose “Borderless”.

Once you’ve set the image size, you can easily add white (or another colour) border to your image.

To easily add borders to your image open the image in Photoshop.

On the top tool bar click on “Image” and move your cursor down and click on “Canvas Size”.

You will now see the “Canvas Size” dialogue window. Here you can see your image in pixels or the default unit of measurement set for your computer (usually inches or centimetres). You will also see two numerical inputs as well as a check box and a nine tile box that is called Anchor. At the bottom is where you set the colour of your border (or, as they call it, Canvas Extension). Default options are Black, White, Grey. However, you can use the colour picker box to the right to choose any colour you like.

If your image size is not correct, you will want to return to “How to Size Your Image” and review that process first.

To add your desired border, click the checkbox labeled “Relative”. You will see the numerical inputs turn to zeros. This is normal. We will be using the “Relative To” feature to add the white space/border.

You might think that typing a value of 1 into the width and height would result in a 1 inch border being added to the image. However the one thing you have to remember is we are adding our border relative to the existing image size. Therefore, if we want 1 inch of border to a side, we will need to input 2 in both the the width and height. Remember, the value is split between the two sides of the width and the two sides of the height.

As an experiment you can click on one of the eight tiles that surrounds the centre point of the “Anchor”. The anchor ‘dot’ will now be in that tile and the directional arrows will change place accordingly. With a bit of practice, you can use this method to create a bottom weighted effect (more white space/border at the bottom of the image).

Another method the “Canvas Size” dialogue box can be used for is to crop your image.

With this method you would leave the “Relative” checkbox un-checked. The actual width x height of your image will be revealed. Now if you enter a value that is less than the current value of the width or height the image will actually be cropped. This can be equally from both sides if you leave the “Anchor” point in the centre. But you can also shift the “Anchor” point to left or right, up or down and the cropping will come from the direction(s) the arrows are pointing.

This method can be useful if during the image sizing process the aspect ratio of your image did not work for the desired image size (i.e. you want a 16”x20” image, but when you set the image’s narrow dimension to 16” the long dimension ended up at 24”). Using “Canvas Size”, you can clip the 24” sides to 20”. Shifting the anchor point, you can take all of it from one side leave it in the centre for equal cropping.

Sharpen Your Image for Printing

Sharpening is very subjective. In Photoshop we tend to use the Unsharp Mask tool to sharpen up digital images. Our rule of thumb is to under-sharp images as over-sharpened images tend to have a crunchy, overly processed look.

Here’s a useful video from Adobe on how to Sharpen Your Photos