Using Photoshop CC to Create a Poster for Photo Lab Printing
In this fourth post on preparing images for printing at a photo lab, I describe using Photoshop CC to lay out a poster that includes one of your photographs plus some text that acts as a title. Note that most of the steps can also be accomplished with older versions of Photoshop as well as many versions of Photoshop Elements. So no matter which edition of the photo editing program you have, you should find some information to help you correctly prepare your favorite image as a poster for printing.
Create a New Document
To begin, decide on the paper size you want for your poster. Check with the photo lab you plan to use to ensure they have that size available, especially if you want to create a panoramic style. For this example, I’m creating a horizontal (landscape) poster 16 x 20 inches.
Open Photoshop CC and from the File menu choose New. In the window that appears, provide a name for the document. Then fill in your choices for the width, height, resolution and background, which will be the background color of your poster. I set the units to inches and type in 20 for the width and 16 for the height at a resolution of 300ppi. I plan to use a color photo, so I set Color Mode to RGB Color and 8 bit. My poster will eventually be saved as a JPEG file, which is 8 bit, so this saves me a step later on. I want the Background Contents to be White. Clicking on the Advanced arrow reveals the Color Profile box where I select sRGB since this is the color space most photo labs work with. When you are satisfied with your choices here, click OK and a blank document appears.
Set up Margin Guides
To help position your photo with even margins, it is useful to have Photoshop display guides. These light blue lines do not print; they are just for reference. From the View menu choose New Guide. Create two Vertical guides, one at 1 inch and one at 19 inches for the left and right margins, respectively. Also create two Horizontal guides, one at 1 inch for the top margin and one at 13 inches to leave a three-inch bottom margin where the title will go. Also in the View menu, turn on Snap and then Snap to > Guides. This ensures that your picture exactly lines up with these margin guides.
Select the Picture from Bridge
Now you are ready to add the picture. Open Bridge and find a final edited image you want to add to your poster. Select the picture and from the File menu, choose Place > In Photoshop. Using the Place command allows you to reposition and resize the photo without compromising the quality. It also means you can double-click on the layer thumbnail for this picture and do further edits to fine-tune its appearance later.
Position and Size the Photo
Your picture appears centered on the page with an X through the middle. Move your cursor inside the photo and drag it into position. If you need to resize the image, hold down the Shift key and drag a corner. The Shift key preserves the original proportions of your photo. When you are satisfied with the position and size, click the check in the Options Bar.
Now it is time to add the embellishments to make this poster stand out. There are many effects you can add with Photoshop, but I am going to add just a complementary border and a title.
Add a Stroke Border
To add the border, from the Layer menu choose Layer Style > Stroke. In the window that appears, adjust the width of the stroke border using the Size slider. Choose the position of the stroke. Inside and Centered will cover part of your image. Leave Blend Mode and Opacity at their defaults of Normal and 100%. Fill Type is Color and starts with black. If you want a different color border, click the swatch to reveal the Color Picker. Move your cursor over the photo to click on a different color in the image. Click OK to save your color and OK again to apply the stroke effect. If you change your mind later, you can double-click on the Stroke Effect in the Layers panel and make changes.
Add the Title
To create the title, choose the Type tool. In the Options Bar, select the font, style, size, alignment and color. The fonts and styles are what are installed in your computer. Size is in points (72 points equals 1 inch). You can type a larger number in the size box if needed. For a different color, click on the swatch to get the Color Picker again. You can make the type color match the border color by clicking in the border itself. Click OK to save your color choice. Then click below the picture and start typing. You can select the text and make further changes to all the choices in the Options Bar until you are happy with the title’s appearance. When you are finished typing, click the check in the Options Bar. If your type is not in the correct position below your photo, choose the Move tool. You can center the Type layer on the Background layer by Ctrl-clicking (Cmd-clicking Mac) on these two layers in the Layers panel and then choosing Align Horizontal Centers from the Options Bar. Select just the Type layer to adjust the title’s vertical position using the arrow keys. It is helpful to turn on the Grid (View > Show > Grid) to fine-tune the title position.
Apply a Drop Shadow to the Title
The font and color I chose do not stand out well from the background. So I add a drop shadow effect to the words. Make sure you have the Type layer selected. Then from the Layer menu choose Layer Style > Drop Shadow. Adjust the Distance, Spread and Size as desired; you can leave the other choices at their defaults. Photoshop updates the effect as you make changes. When you are pleased with the result, click OK.
To see a preview of your poster, turn off the Grid and Guides using the View > Show menu.
Save the Poster as a Master PSD File
Save your poster as a master PSD file and include the poster size in the name. This preserves all the layers and effects you applied so you can change them in the future.
[Note: The Save As screens are from a Windows computer. If you use a Mac, your Save As screens look different but all the same choices are available.]
Save the Poster as a JPEG File
Now create a JPEG copy to send to the photo lab. From the File menu, choose Save As. Select a Prints folder on your desktop (to make it easy to locate your file for uploading). Include the print size in the name and change the file type to JPEG. Click Save.
Photoshop displays another window of JPEG Options where you specify the amount of compression applied to your picture. I recommend using Quality 10; this provides a small amount of compression that does not have a detrimental effect on your image and usually cuts the file size in half. Also be sure to set the Format Options to “Baseline (“Standard”)” and then click OK.
Find your favorite photo lab online and upload, order and pay for your poster print. Consider ordering extras to share with friends and family.
To read the first three posts in my series on printing, check out these links:
Want to learn more from Kathy Eyster?
Visit her profile page and check out her RMSP offerings in 2014!