How-To: Build Your Own Mosaic Poster (Part 2 of 2)

February 21, 2013
All tacked up

So you've got your fancy-pants mosaic made from Part 1, huh? I hope you had fun!

In this post, I'm going to detail how to prepare your poster for printing and mounting it to your wall.

Step 1: Download PosteRazor

Some print shops can print in very large formats. However, depending on the size, it's much more affordable to print your poster across several "standard" paper sizes (Letter, Legal, Tabloid).

To turn our mosaic image into something easily printable, we're going to be using a free app called "PosteRazor". What PosteRazor does is let you import an image, select how large you want your final print to be, and it will generate a PDF that you can print across a paper size you've selected.

It's available for OS X, Windows, and Linux here

Step 2: Create Your Poster PDF

We're actually going to do this step (almost) twice. We need to determine how many pages your poster will be printed on, which will let us decide what is the easiest and most cost-effective solution.

  • Open PosteRazor and choose your image that MacOSaiX created for you.
  • Choose your paper format (first time, choose Letter; second time, choose Tabloid)
  • Orientation: Portrait
  • Borders: 0.5906 in (leave as default)
  • Overlapping size: 0.2 in (leave as default)
  • Overlapping position: Bottom right (leave as default)

At this point, the app will show you a preview of how many pieces of paper it's going to use. In my poster, using Tabloid (11 x 17) paper, it will be printed on 20 pieces of paper. Using Letter (8.5 x 11) paper, it will be printed on 40 pieces of paper.

In my instance, it's going to be cheaper and much less time consuming printing on Tabloid paper, but your poster is going to be a different size. It also depends on what your printing method is going to be: if it's going to be cheaper to print at home, you might not mind printing on Letter paper to save some money.

My recommendation: if you're going to a print shop, print on Tabloid. It will most likely be cheaper, and it will take less time to cut and assemble your poster.

  • Absolute size: put in the dimensions you measured out for your final print
  • Image alignment: centre (leave as default)

Save Poster! You now have a PDF!

Step 3: Print Your Poster

If your poster is not very large and will only need a few Legal sized paper sheets, you could probably print at home. However, I recommend printing at a local print shop if your poster is over a few pages.

Your PDF is probably quite large (mine came in at 105MB), so I recommend putting it on a portable flash drive instead of using Dropbox or FTP. If there's any confusion at the print shop, it's much easier to just hand them your drive instead of logging in to an online account and waiting to download your file.

OK, now that we're at the print shop, loaded up our PDF, and we've hit File > Print, here's a few tips:

  • select 'Print Entire Image'. This will not scale your image and will ensure that when pasted together, your poster will be the same size that you measured out.
  • be sure your paper orientation is vertical (this is usually the default setting)
  • be sure to select the same paper size you selected when doing your export in PosteRazor (either Tabloid or Legal).

Hurrah! You now have something physical to hold onto! Total cost for me? $17.68. Not bad.

The clerk at my print shop asked how large my final poster was going to be. One of their machines can print very large formats, and after a quick calculation, he said it would cost over $100. You can see why PosteRazor is such a money-saver.

Alright! Now we can finally construct our poster!

Step 4: Prepare Yourself

You're going to need a few things to pull this off:

  • a large, clean surface
  • scissors
  • sticky tack (glue will not do; you will see why)
  • two to three hours of listening material
  • several beers (not optional)
  • the PDF you used to print on a screen nearby to use as a reference to make sure you're on the correct page

Step 5: Cutting and Pasting Your Poster

You may have noticed earlier when using PosteRazor the 'overlapping size' setting. What this allows is some forgiveness when we are cutting and constructing our poster.

OK, let's do this. Set your upper-left corner piece of paper on your surface, then take the piece of paper to the right of that. Cut where your images begin appearing. Remember, you have some forgiveness, so don't be afraid to cut a millimetre or two in.

Now that you have it cut, take some sticky tack and spread it in a few lines down the *first* page. Now place your second piece on top of the sticky tack.

Why are we using sticky tack instead of glue? Good question: the first time I built one of these, my immediate inclination was to use glue. What I found was that when it came to aligning a piece of paper that was in the middle of the poster, it never lined up correctly to surrounding pieces of paper. In theory it should, but in practice, it just doesn't happen.

Using sticky tack allows for some flexibility. The paper isn't going to be completely flat, but your images will line up, which is the higher priority. Trust me on this. Use sticky tack.

As you can see, I'm leaving the bottom border so as to allow the paper below to have something to attach to.

This step took me several hours. It's a good idea to have something to listen to while doing this. At the end of it all, you should have something like so:

Step 6: Cut the Border

You got 'er all tacked together and now it's time to cut the excess white paper off. If you have size restrictions onto what you're mounting to (such as a picture frame), you should measure again and see if you would like to leave some border.

Step 7: Mount Your Poster

Mounting time has come! In my case, I am using sticky tack again to mount it on my wall. You could probably come up with a more permanent and stable solution, but after almost two months of mounting, not a single piece of paper has come loose.

Way of the future.

Step 8: Invite Some Friends Over

Congratulations. Your abode is now equipped with the most interesting conversation piece among your peers.

At first, most think it's just a really great photo that's been enlarged. Then a few seconds go buy, and they notice that it's made up of a whole whack of tiny images. They get closer and start examining individual photos, and then ask how in the hell you pulled this off.

You can kindly direct them to these blog posts. That would be really cool.

From there, you can describe the process of making it, but if your poster is themed (using photos from a single trip, for example), you can start to tell tall tales from your adventures. 

I hope you enjoyed making these!