Introduction: How to Make a Poster Sized (high Quality) Tiled Image for Under $5!

Picture of How to Make a Poster Sized (high Quality) Tiled Image for Under $5!

Have you ever wanted to get a poster of your favorite photo printed? I have. But I'm broke. Then I realized that you can make a very good looking poster sized image using a bunch of 4 x 6 photos.  

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

-16  4 x 6 photos (from cvs, walgreens, etc...)
- Foam poster board (I used 22 x 28)
-Computer paper
-Straight edge 
-Elmer's spray adhesive glue

Step 2: Open Your Image in Photoshop

Picture of Open Your Image in Photoshop

Increasing the contrast of your picture can sometimes help the final blown up image look nicer. 

Step 3: Divide Your Picture Into 16 (or However Many You Want) Sections

Picture of Divide Your Picture Into 16 (or However Many You Want) Sections

Create a new layer and name it: grid

Use the pencil and ruler tool to divide your picture into equal sections. When using the pencil tool, you can hold down the shift key to make your lines straight. It is very important to make sure each section is exactly the same size; otherwise the image can be distorted.

Step 4: Make 16 Layers

Picture of Make 16 Layers

Use the rectangular marquee tool to outline the box in the upper left hand corner of your picture. Right click inside the selected area and choose: layer via copy. This will make that section its own layer. Now do this same thing for the remaining 15 sections. It makes things easier to label each layer numerically 1-16, layer 1 being the upper left hand corner.

Step 5: Create a 4 X 6 Blank Document

Picture of Create a 4 X 6 Blank Document

After you create your blank 4 x 6 document, go back to your picture that is now divided into 16 equal sections. Click window, arrange, tile. Now you can see both files. With layer 1 selected, use the arrow tool in the upper left hand corner to drag layer 1 to the new blank document. Click edit, free transform (Ctrl + T) and scale the image so it fits perfectly in the document. Now save that image. 

Do this process for the remaining 15 sections. 

Step 6: Time to Print Them!

Picture of Time to Print Them!

Now you should have each section saved as its own 4 x 6 picture. To make sure everything turned out okay, you can print each picture  from your printer. Since I had never done this before, I cut each picture out and taped them all together to see how it looked.

Step 7: Let's See How It Looks

Picture of Let's See How It Looks

The picture turned out much better than expected, especially since I used my low quality printer. All of the pictures match up perfectly which is exactly what I was hoping for. 

Step 8: Get Better Quality Pictures

Picture of Get Better Quality Pictures

Now that you know your picture has been aligned correctly, go and get them printed at your local CVS or Walgreen's. The pictures will look much better. 4 x 6 prints from walgreen's are very cheap, but you can sometimes find ways to get them for free. For example, I know that if you make an account at you get something like 50 free prints. 

Step 9: Mount Them on Your Foam Poster Board (or Whatever You Feel Like Mounting Them On)

Picture of Mount Them on Your Foam Poster Board (or Whatever You Feel Like Mounting Them On)

This is the only part I spend money on. I got a 28 x 22inch black foam poster board from Walgreen's for $4. I liked how the photos looked with a black background, but you can mount them however you like. You'll need to make some measurements to make sure your photo is centered on the foam board. 

Here's how I did my measurements. I decided I wanted a .125inch gap between each picture, so I needed to figure out what the dimensions of the whole photo would be. 

Since there are 3 gaps between the 4 photos, you just need to multiply .125 by 3, and add 24 (remember 4 x 6 pictues, so 6 inches times 4 pictures) to get the total length of 24.375 inches.

Do the same thing to get the height except after you multiply .125 by 3, add 16 to get 16.375. 

The dimensions of the poster board are 28 x 22, so to find what the border dimensions will be, just subtract 24.375 from 28, and subtract 16.375 from 22. The dimensions of the border from the edge of the board will be 1.8125 x 2.8125 inches. Wooohooo done with math!

Before i glued the photos on the poster board, I drew the border lightly in pencil using a ruler and yard stick as a straight edge. This allowed me to easily align the photos on the outside. The pencil erased easily off the board. 

My measurements kept the image pretty straight, but not perfect since I glued all of the photos by hand. If you have any other ideas on how to align the photos, feel free to try them and share.

Step 10: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Congratulations! you're done. This project makes a great gift for parents, friends, or anyone else you care about. Your subject can be anything from a close-up of a family member or pet to a landscape of the ocean.

I am submitting this to the Holiday Gifts Contest, so if you liked this instructable your vote would be much appreciated!


omalachowski (author)2012-01-12

Great 'ible!

I want to mention that if you take your photos to a drugstore or instant shop, you should tell them to turn the color-correction off on their machine. Many of the instant-develop machines hit your photo with an auto-contrast, and each of the photos will come out differently, which will cause a weird look when assembled.

As for spacing, a drafting table with guide would be key to getting good lines. If you don't have one, maybe you could use tile spacers?

michaelbain (author)omalachowski2012-01-12

Thanks! You're right. One time I was doing something similar to this with a color photo, and the auto color from walgreens ruined it. Those are good ideas for alignment.

LindseyM19 (author)2016-01-24

I just wanted to say that I did this and it was amazing ! BUT I find photoshop very hard to use and even with your fantastic instructions I couldn't makenitbwork even after about an hour of trying. So I decided to find a new way and i did ! Took about 3 mins to do, is amazing ! Just add rows or collums to get a proportional size of a 4x6 photo, so simple and much easier and less time consuming !

fronters (author)2015-01-20

Super poster!

I do not have photoshop. But I use one of the specialized programs (link).

lschwartz (author)2012-10-16

When you have a lot of pages to assemble, an aid is to make a print of the entire image (even in B&W) on regular paper. Mark lines to match the way the big print is chopped up, and then letter the individual squares with a row-column numbering scheme. As you print the final copies, keep track of the order in which you print them and write the row-column number on the back. This should guarantee getting the final prints in the proper order.

A gimmick, if the wall isn't solid and the image can handle it, might be to make a print with a "hole" in the image that surrounds the anomaly in the wall. An example might be a light switch that breaks up the "smooth" wall.

dan and kon (author)2012-09-09

The slice tool can save you a lot of time dividing the image. Here is the basics behind it:

LeahYeah (author)2012-01-09

to divide the image... i would make a 4x6 document... and i would paste it onto your image... then id duplicate it a few times...

select the layers and use the align tools to make sure its all accurate... then all you have to do is hold ctrl and click on each of the 4x6 layers and hey presto you have selections and all :)

ok after reading over my post i understand this sounds like a lot of trouble... but thats what id do... because i absolutely hate measuring and re measuring things only to find out in the end ive got the measurements wrong xP

michaelbain (author)LeahYeah2012-01-14

good idea!

dBrez (author)2012-01-12

THIS IS AN AWESOMAZING POSTER! Perfect for empty wall spaces or just a taste for something different and not too mainstream. Thorough instructions and great attention to detail; beautiful finished product. Well done! :D

LeahYeah (author)2012-01-09

ahhh... i love this as a gift idea.....
its something thatdoesnt cost a lot of money... but isnt cheap and thoughtless....
thanks for sharing!!

michaelbain (author)LeahYeah2012-01-12

No problem :)

pravs2k (author)2012-01-12

Beautiful.I'm going to try this though I am not very computer savvy.

Did you use a sealant after every thing was in place? I mean like Krylon spray matt varnish.Do you think it is necessary to protect the surface?

The tile effect is really very attractive.In fact I thought it was done on tile and thats why I opened this site first before checking all the others.

Thank you for the very clear instructions.

michaelbain (author)pravs2k2012-01-12

You should definitely try it. I'm not that computer savvy either. I didn't use any sealant, but would probably be a good idea.

Thanks! I would like to try this on actual tile sometime.

Doganie (author)2012-01-12

It looks really good, but I think you might have accidentally switched the two middle tiles in the far left column.

michaelbain (author)Doganie2012-01-12

Thank you! Yes I did... Every time I look at it I notice it now. But next time I'll make sure not to do it again!

agis68 (author)2012-01-12

very nice instructable....when i see the cat on the poster, u reminded me my beloved cat, wich we lost him from stroke....a couple of years now....i have same small pics under his favorite corner but this is what realy worth....I will make it as soon is possible.....thnx again

michaelbain (author)agis682012-01-12

Thank you! Sorry about your cat. I've lost one too.

letsneck (author)2012-01-12

This turned out very nice. One comment though, if you look closely at the very last picture of the completed project, you will notice that two of the 4 X 6 photos are out of place. Can you figure out which two? I do a lot of photo editing, so I picked it out very quickly. Great work though. This is an easy way to make nice artistic enlargements.

michaelbain (author)letsneck2012-01-12

Oh no!! You're right... wish i noticed that before the glue dried. thanks, ill make sure not to do that again.

susanrm (author)2012-01-12

My home photo printer does a better job than CVS or Walgreens. Plus I can see if I need to make any adjustments at home. But nice instructable. I thought from the look of it that you had found a way to print them on tile, which would be ultra cool.

michaelbain (author)susanrm2012-01-12

printing them on tile would be very cool! i believe there is another instructable that shows how to do that.

redtiger2 (author)2012-01-12

Some of the "photo quality" spray adhesives will dry in my desert climate and photos will peel off in a few months. I use a good spray contact cement and so far my mounts that are about 10 years old are not showing signs of coming off or deterioration. I pay under $6 for a 16 x 20 inch poster at S--'- Club. A 16 x 20 inch from other places in town can be $30 or more. I use the do it yourself kiosk at the club and get 1 hour prints. Very high quality and spectacular color. I have won awards at the state fair and a professional photographer who was a judge said my large prints were much better than where he had his done.This article inspired me to make a wall sized poster with 16 x 20 prints. Always remember that cropping, altering contrast and brightness are the 3 simplest and most important things you can do to make your pictures spectacular. For competition prints, size matters, if it is worth printing and you want to win, print big!

tn. (author)2012-01-12

*photo, even (not phone, that would be a whole other ible)

tn. (author)2012-01-12

what about using lo-tack pinstriping, such as that used by painters? you can get them very thin (just a quick search and i've got 3mm, a little less than 1/8") use it to mark out the grid, apply adhesive to the phone but not all the way to the edge. once the photo has set, pull up the tape and secure the edges.

zerfall (author)2012-01-10

You may want to make your 6x4 image at 300 dpi. That is the right resolution for printing to scale as long as you don't have to up scale the copied layer too much it will look much better, as long as you start with a large enough image.

maazr (author)2012-01-09


mrg2k8 (author)2012-01-08

Or, you could use the free piece of software called the Rasterbator, which saves you a lot of work in Photoshop. You only need a high-res picture.

Uncle Kudzu (author)mrg2k82012-01-08

But the Rasterbator doesn't produce a continuous tone print, if I'm not mistaken. If I correctly understand this instructable, one wouldn't see the pattern of large dots that the Rasterbator makes at close range with this method.

mrg2k8 (author)Uncle Kudzu2012-01-08

You can choose the dimension of the dots. I did a 2.5 x 1 meters poster and the dots aren't visible when you look at it from ~1 m. Yes, the program processes your image slower, but it's it doing the job, not you in PS :)

Uncle Kudzu (author)mrg2k82012-01-09

Thanks for the correction, then. I have an old Rasterbator image on my wall and the dots are pretty big. Perhaps I should re-familiarize myself with that process before I write about it next time. Thanks again.

bmelton1 (author)2012-01-09

There is a website that allows you to do the same thing for free as well if you do not have photoshop.
saves the final image as a multi page pdf and allows you to take it to kinkos on a flash drive to use up all their color ink.

Uncle Kudzu (author)2012-01-08

Nicely done and good instruction!

If you print a little overlap, there is a way to splice a photo like this so that the grid effectively disappears - a little like splicing wallpaper patterns to match up. But the grid has its own graphic appeal, too.

michaelbain (author)Uncle Kudzu2012-01-08

Thanks! Yeah I liked the way the grid looked with just a little gap between the pictures. Looks cool either way though.

CatTrampoline (author)2012-01-03

Outstanding! I like that you gave clear directions on how to create the effect in PhotoShop.

I have a large blank wall that could use something like this for dramatic effect.

Thank you! Go for it. I have a feeling my wall is going to be covered in photos now.

bigwhitebear18 (author)2012-01-02

I did a similar project on a slightly larger scale. I printed a panoramic I took on single-weight mat board 8x10s and hung them using Command strips. Now I have a massive 5ft x 2ft panoramic hanging on my wall. It isn't a straight as I would like but it looks good from a short distance. I'm sure yours is much straighter since it's on a smaller scale and a yard stick could be used to keep everything in place.

That looks really cool! great photo. Yeah it took me awhile to get mine straight, so I'm sure yours was hard. I'd like to try it on a larger scale sometime.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a high school cross country and track runner who enjoys making random things in his free time!
More by michaelbain:How to make a poster sized (high quality) tiled image for under $5!
Add instructable to: