Frequently Asked Questions Tips HowTo

Tips for Top Notch Results

Here are some tips to help you get the best results from Poster Buddy:

(1) Use a decent quality (resolution, color) source image  

Better quality digital images tend to produce better better posters.  In general, it is best to use images that are 2 or 3 megapixel resolution or higher.  If you are scanning in a picture to make a poster from, then set the scanner resolution high enough to capture all the details that you want to see in your poster. 

Try to avoid making big posters from very low resolution image.  If someone sends you a photo via email and you want to make a poster from it, then you might want to ask them for the high resolution version of the image.  Often people will take a picture with a 5+ megapixel camera and then email a low resolution version of it (this makes total sense for email, because all you need is low resolution to view an image on your monitor).  For posters, it is best to use the higher resolution source image.  Making a poster from a 10K size image might not produce the results that you want.     [Top of page]

(2) For higher quality inkjet posters, use photo paper

If you are using an inkjet printer and want higher quality prints, then try using photo quality paper.  Inkjet printers don't work very well with plain photocopy paper.  Using photo paper produces much more vibrant colors.  You'll get the greatest chance of excellent results if you use photo paper that is made by the same company that makes your inkjet printer.     [Top of page]

(3) Try borderless printing

If your printer supports it, then try borderless printing.  Assembling borderless tile prints is easier because you don't have to trim off the margins.  Furthermore, Poster Buddy's Edge Calibration feature ensures that borderless prints assemble together seamlessly.     [Top of page]

(4) Even "small" posters make a big impact

To help you learn how to use Poster Buddy, and get used to the software, it is a good idea to start off by trying to print small posters.  For example, before trying to print out a wall-size poster, try printing out a 2 x 2 tile poster.  Even a 2 x 2 poster will be 400% larger than a normal print.  You can very quickly and easily make a very nice framed 16 x 20 inch poster by printing a 2x2 poster of 8 x 10 inch tile prints.  

Also, you can try to make a 3 x 3 tile poster out of 4 x 6 inch photo prints from your photo lab.  It will cost very little, doesn't require a printer and will be almost 10 times the size of standard photo lab prints!  [Top of page]    

(5) Try mounting your poster in a frame or on poster board

Posters will last longer and look better if they are framed or mounted on poster board.  Poster frames and poster board can be bought for a few dollars from any arts and crafts store or general department store.

For more tips on assembling your poster, see the  "Detailed How To"  page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

(1) What types of digital images can I make posters out of?
(2) How many megapixels does my source digital image need to be?
(3) What type of printer do you recommend?
(4) How do I print my poster at a photo lab?
(5) How important is it to select the right paper size and margins?
(6) When do I need to use Edge Calibration?
(7) Why can't I get my entire source image to fit in my poster? For some images, the top/bottom or left/right edges are outside of the frame.
(8) What does the "image quality" mean? What minimum image quality do you recommend?
(9) What software should I use to print the poster images that Poster Buddy produces?
(10) What are the most common poster sizes?

F.A.Q. Answers:

(1) What types of digital images can I make posters out of?

Poster Buddy can make posters from any digital images from any source.   This includes digital cameras, scanners, internet, etc.  The only thing to watch out for is that the image is not very low resolution.  Also, Tiff format files should be saved without compression before they are used in Poster Buddy.  Gif files should be resaved as jpeg, bmp, or tiff format before using with Poster Buddy.


(2) How many megapixels does my source digital image need to be? 

In general, the higher the resolution (megapixels) of the source image, the better the quality of the poster that will be created.  The image quality of poster depends on many factors, including how far away the poster will be viewed from. 

For digital camera images, a 2 or 3 megapixel image is generally the smallest size recommended for posters.  Although a 7 or 8 megapixel camera image will produce better results, it is not absolutely necessary for all posters.  Even a one megapixel image can be used and could produce decent results, depending on the type of poster that is created.

Very low resolution images (e.g. internet thumbnail images or small email attachment images) can be used to make posters, but the amount of detail in the poster might not be as great as you would want. 


(3) What type of printer do you recommend? 

Poster Buddy works with all types of printers.  This included inkjet, laser, thermal (dye sublimation), etc.  Poster tile images can also be printed on photo lab printers.  There are pros and cons to using each type of printer.

Some inkjet printers can produce borderless prints.  Using borderless printing can make creating posters easier.  With its Edge Calibration feature, Poster Buddy works well with borderless prints.  Also, assembling a poster made from borderless prints is quicker and easier than assembling non-borderless poster tiles.  

Inkjet and laser printers also have the benefit of being able to print out larger poster tile images.  That means that larger posters from fewer poster tiles. 

Printing poster tiles at a local photo lab is another option that has some real benefits.  The print and paper quality of from a photo lab is very high and the cost is fairly low (as low as 15 cents or less for each 4x6 inch print).  Some other obvious benefits are that you don't need to have a home printer, and you can have your prints in as little as an hour or less without doing any printing yourself.  The biggest possible downside of printing poster tiles from a photo lab is that the photo lab printers typically automatically adjust the color and lightness of each print separately.  This can sometimes cause a visible color or lightness mismatch between adjacent poster tiles. 


(4) How do I print my poster at a photo lab? 

If you are printing your poster at a photo lab, then all you need is:

  • The digital image that you want to make your poster out of
  • A computer to run Poster Buddy on
  • Some way to transfer your poster tile images to your photo lab.  Options include:
    • Use a digital camera memory card (e.g. SD card, Compact Flash card, etc.)
    • Burn your poster tile images onto a CD to bring to your photo lab
    • Transfer images to your photo lab over the internet

Basically, you just run Poster Buddy on your source digital image (paper size = 4x6 inches, borderless), then copy the resulting poster tile images onto a memory card or CD to bring to the photo lab.  If the photo lab can accept print orders over the internet, then you can transfer the images that way. 

The poster tile images should be printed just as any other photo prints would be.   The only special instructions that you might want to give is to tell the photo lab is for them to try to turn off their "auto adjustment" feature which adjust the lightness and color of each print automatically. 

One other thing to keep in mind is that Edge Calibration should probably be used when making photo lab prints (because they are borderless and probably cut off parts of the edges from images).  You can make a custom Edge Calibration profile by printing an Edge Calibration test image (generated for you by Poster Buddy) and then inputting the results into Poster Buddy.  Otherwise, you can use one of the default photo lab Edge Calibration profiles that come with Poster Buddy. 


(5) How important is it to select the right paper size and margins?

It is very important to select the correct paper size and margin sizes that are being used.  Without this information, Poster Buddy might not produce poster tiles that fit together seamlessly. 

It should be easy to select the paper size that you are using.  Poster Buddy presents you with a list of the most common paper sizes.  Poster Buddy even allows you to enter custom paper sizes. 

Poster Buddy automatically compensates for the margin size that you enter.  If you aren't sure what margins your printer produces, then it is always better to overestimate the margins.  If you enter a margin size that is smaller than your printer can print, then your poster printing won't work well.  Using a margin size of 0.5 inches should work with most printers. 


(6) When do I need to use Edge Calibration?  What is an Edge Calibration Profile?

Edge Calibration is needed primarily when making borderless prints.  In order to make borderless prints, printers print over the edge of the paper.  They do this to be absolutely sure that the entire paper area is covered.  The problem with this is that you lose a small part of your image.  When printing posters, this causes adjacent tiles to not come together smoothly.

Poster Buddy uses "Edge Calibration Profiles" to keep track of how much a printer clips off of the edges (top, bottom, left, right) of images.  You create an edge calibration profile by printing an Edge Calibration Test Print.   The test print is supposed to have four colored lines around its edges.  By telling Poster Buddy how many lines exist on each edge of your test print, you are telling Poster Buddy how much the printer is cutting off of each edge.

You can make a new Edge Calibration profile (or simply adjust the numbers in an existing profile) any time.  You definitely should make a new Edge Calibration Profile for each new borderless printer that you use.  You should probably make a new profile for each new size and type of paper that you use in your printer. 

Even loading a new stack of paper can sometimes change the amount of clipping of the edges of prints, d epending on how your printer feeds paper.  You should reprint the Edge Calibration Target any time that you think that things might have shifted in your printer, or any time that you think that poster tile prints aren't aligning as well as they should.  You can use the new Edge Calibration Test Print to adjust the existing Edge Calibration Profile or make a new one.

See the Edge Calibration section of the Detailed How To page for more information on Edge Calibration.


(7) Why can't I get my entire source image to fit in my poster?  For some images, the top/bottom or left/right edges are outside of the frame.

This is normal.  If the aspect ratio (ratio of width/height) of the poster doesn't match the aspect ratio of the source images, then it is impossible to both fill the poster and cover the whole area of your source image. 

A similar situation occurs when you bring a digital camera picture to be printed at a photo lab on 4x6 inch paper.  Most digital camera pictures have an aspect ratio of 4/3.  That means that the width is 4/3 times (1.333 times) as long as the height.  4 x 6 inch paper has a width that is 6/4 times (or 1.5 times) as long as the height.  You really would need 6 x 4.5 inch paper to exactly fit your digital camera picture.  Since the paper is only 4 inches tall, the photo lab cuts off a 1/4 inch from the top and bottom of your digital picture.

To make sure that your poster contains the most important portion of your image, Poster Buddy allows you to adjust the poster shape (by changing the paper size, margins, and number of poster tiles high and wide that you poster will be).  Poster Buddy also allows you to pan and zoom into your source image so that you can select exactly what portion of your source image will be included in your poster.


(8) What does the "image quality" mean?  What minimum image quality do you recommend?

The "image quality" rating that is listed in Poster Buddy is an estimate of how good the poster will look.  This estimate is based on the resolution (dots/inch) that the poster will be printed at. The higher the print resolution, the more detail and the sharper the poster will be. This print resolution is affected by several factors, including the resolution of the source image and the size of the poster being printed.

It is difficult to put an absolute value on image quality. Perceived image quality depends on many things.  One of the primary factors is how far away the final printed image will be viewed from. Posters are typically viewed from much further away than normal photos. Because of this, a print resolution that would seem to yield poor image quality for a 4 x 6 inch photo print, could likely produce acceptable quality for a poster.


(9) What software should I use to print the poster images that Poster Buddy produces?

You can either use your favorite imaging program or even Windows's built in print function to print out your poster images.  For more information on printing, see the Poster Tile Printing section of the How To web page.


(10) What are the most common poster sizes?

You can really print any size poster with Poster Buddy.  Framing a poster or mounting it on poster board often produces nice results.  You can see what size frames or poster board is available at your local store and make a poster to fit that size.

For example, a common frame size is 16 x 20 inches.  You can buy that size frame in any department store or crafts store.  To make a poster to fit that frame, you can print a 2 x 2 tile poster with 8 x 10 inch prints (i.e. 8.5 x 11 letter sized paper with .25 inch left/right margins and .5 inch top/bottom margins).  This is fairly easy.  It requires only four prints and can produce a nice, framed small poster in as little as 10 or 15 minutes.


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