Botanical Gallery Inspiration

Further to my post from earlier this week (in which I offered a collection of nine free fern printables) I thought I’d share a little botanical gallery love. Hopefully it helps inspire…

Fern Illustrations Gallery Grid

Botanical Gallery Wall

Botanical Print Gallery Art

 Natural Gallery Wall

Botanical Gallery Wall

Botanical Gallery

Fern Gallery Wall

Botanical Gallery Wall

Green Botanical Wall

Floral Gallery Prints

Botanical Gallery Art

 1 | 23 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 78 | 9 | 10 | 11

Have an ace weekend.

Oh, and if these kind of images float your decorating boat, feel free to hop on over and follow along with me on Pinterest.

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Free Fern Printables

Do you remember when I posted about this budget DIY sconce light update…

Industrial Cage Sconce Light Makeover with Rust Effect Paint | The Painted Hive

…which I mentioned was part of a refresh of the sitting room (conjoined ‘retreat’ off the master bedroom) over at my parent’s house?

No?

Well, that’s okay. I don’t blame you. That was over two years ago now and that little room refresh is still far from minty. Well, I mean, it’s okay, just not blog-worthy or anything (yet).

Anyhoo, whilst that particular space still languishes, we did recently make some serious progress in the adjoining master bedroom! One of the changes being a fresh set of prints for above the bed.

Mum is going for a soothing palette of predominant neutrals accented with deep blues and fresh greens so I couldn’t help but suggest my ‘go-to’ of antique fern illustrations – to me, they are just so amiable!

Although we only hung six prints above the bed (I’ll be sure to share pics soon!), I am offering a collection of nine botanical images. These illustrations are originally from Botanicus (more specifically, from this reference book: The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland by Thomas Moore). I have optimised each image for print, including having completely recreated the text elements for crispness, and re-sized them to fit standard 11″ x 14″ frames. Of course you could always shrink them to fit smaller frames if desired, or matte them and use even larger frames.

Free Fern Printables | The Painted Hive

I chose to retain all the imperfections (aka perfections!) visible on the scanned pages; watermarks, age spots, discolouration – I think they add interest, charm and a sense of authenticity.

These prints would make a beautiful statement in so many different configurations…a grid above a sofa, a horizontal line in a hallway, a haphazard cluster in a corner, a pair of vertical rows flanking a hutch or window.

Download this collection of nine high resolution 11″ x 14″ botanicals below.

Free Botanical Printables PDF

Here’s an example of one larger image to give you a better idea of what they really look like…

Collection of Nine Free Fern Printables | The Painted Hive

If you’d like a larger preview of all images in the collection prior to download, simply click here.

If you have a good quality large format printer you could always print theses at home though I recommend having them professionally printed for best results. I used the Officeworks online ‘Document Printing’ service (only $2.08 per print – so much cheaper than the comparable photo prints which cost almost $14 each!) and was super pleased with the quality.

Note: Ensure image proportions are retained during printing. If printing at home be certain that “fit to frame” (or equivalent) is not checked and all other printer options are correctly set. If printing professionally, make sure auto re-scaling isn’t applied. To remove any doubt regarding out-put size, I recommend first placing each image onto a digital ‘canvas’ sized to match your chosen printer paper. For example, I printed my images onto A3 sized paper so I first created an A3 sized document (in Photoshop, though you could use GIMP) then copy and pasted each image into it before saving them individually. Need more info or advice? Feel free to ask – I’m happy to try and help :-)

Anyhoo, enjoy!

Oh, and BTW…although it’s not totally spectacular or anything (it’s more one of those “power or accessorising” kinda makeovers) I hope to share some before and after pics of my parent’s refreshed bedroom soon, so keep an eye out!

 

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Free for personal, non-commercial use only.
Consent to edit and share these images was expressly granted by Botanicus – thank you!

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Flat Pack Hack: Chalkboard Faux Specimen Drawers

DIY Chalkboard Faux Multi-Drawer Hack with Card File Pulls | The Painted Hive

Flat-Pack. Knock-Down. Ready-To-Assemble. Whatever you wanna call it, there’s no denying the practicality, affordability, versatility and accessibility of this very basic form of ‘boxed’ furniture. Unfortunately though, often times there’s also no denying the generic, cheap and mass-produced appearance – luckily, however, there is always hiding it!

A little bit of elbow grease along with some head-cocked, squinty-eyed imagination can see any dime-a-dozen piece transformed into something that looks a million bucks (well, kinda). And anyone can do it!

If you read my blog from time to time, you may have seen this recent post outlining my plan(ish) for reinventing a very basic melamine storage unit from The Reject Shop with the help of some White Knight paint products (amongst other things). I was unsure how achievable my initial vision was so the whole idea was disclosed in a pretty ambiguous way (so there was plenty of wiggle room to pretend I always intended for it to turn out just the way it did – though surprisingly it ended up pretty much as I had planned – maybe even better!).

I’ve had this idea in my head for years. There’s a lot to love about multi-drawer cabinets, though the commonly exorbitant price tag isn’t one of them. Also, whilst lots of little drawers are great if you have heaps of small knick-knacks or flat stuff to store, they can be a bit impractical for the more general sorta stuff…like toys, and toys, and maybe even toys (do you kinda get the feeling I’m drowning in toys at the mo’?). Of course, if you’re fortunate enough not to have to swim through toys, you can store other paraphernalia :-)

Anyhoo, here’s how the whole makeover thing went down…

Supplies: Flat Pack Hack with Artificial Drawers

1 Storage Unit
As mentioned above, I used a very basic melamine set of drawers from The Reject Shop ($40).

2 Timber
I used a sheet of 900mm long x 60omm wide x 12mm deep MDF for the top and base (which I cut to size – $12) and a sheet of 900mm long x 40omm wide x 7mm deep ply for the faux drawer fronts (which I cut to size – $14).
Note: I used panels of timber which I could custom cut myself to save some cashola (around $60). If you’re not confident cutting timber, or if you don’t have the right tools, (or if you simply want to make the whole project quicker and easier), you can find more ‘ready-to-use’ alternatives or have your pieces cut to size at the hardware store.

3 Adhesive
I used Liquid Nails.

4 Caulk
I used Spak Filla.

5 Paint
I used White Knight Chalkboard Paint in Black for the entire storage unit and White Knight Metal Guard in Brass for the castors.
Whilst the intended use for chalkboard paint (that of creating a functional surface which can be easily written/drawn on with chalk) is obvious, the value of it as a stand-alone texture is often overlooked. For this project I actually chose to use chalkboard paint, not to create a functional surface to write/draw on (although this is of course a possibility), though primarily to produce a beautifully rustic graphite-like appearance – love!

6 Handles
I used antique brass card holder pulls from eBay ($14 for 10). LOVE these!
Note: Slightly different from the one pictured above in the supplies collage.

7 Castor Wheels
I used 50mm industrial swivel castors from Bunnings ($3.95 each). Bargain!

Create a Faux Drawer Cabinet (Step 1) | The Painted Hive

1 Measure and cut timber.
Top & Base: Measure the overall width and depth of your storage unit. Mine was 40cm wide x 29cm deep (29.7cm deep including the faux drawer fronts). Decide on your overhang (I went with 1.5cm) then add it onto the original dimensions (this made my top and base pieces 43cm wide x 31.2cm deep – remember to double the overhang when adding to the width to allow for protrusion at both ends!). I cut my MDF using our awesome plunge track saw which produces perfect lines. You could also use a circular saw, hand saw or jigsaw (if you have a steady hand!), or have it cut by the hardware store (do note however that due to health and safety regulations most hardware stores will not cut MDF – you could use an alternate material though, like ply or solid pine). Once cut, I lightly sanded the edges to smooth and round them slightly.

Faux Drawer Fronts: Decide on the number of faux drawer fronts you want (I went for four per original drawer – so twelve in total) and the approximate gap you’d like between each (I went for around 3mm). To determine the heights of my faux drawer fronts, I could have divided the total height of my storage unit (minus the cumulative gaps) by twelve, though for accuracy I decided to ‘zone’ the existing drawers (to give me optimal control over the placement of the faux fronts, particularly in relation to the horizontal ‘dividers’ to ensure they were neatly covered). Hopefully this diagram helps explain…

Faux Drawer Dimension Diagram

Zones 1 and 2 are identical, each incorporating one horizontal. Zone 3 is slightly larger, incorporating two horizontals.

Taking gaps into account, my eight upper fronts (for Zones 1 and 2) worked out to be 62mm high each. My four lower fronts (Zone 3) worked out to be 66mm high each. Again, I cut my fronts using our plunge track saw. I was really fortunate not to have to make any vertical cuts because my sheet of ply was the same width as my unit (40cm). Once cut, I lightly sanded each faux front to smooth any roughness, concentrating on slightly rounding each corner to help give the ‘drawers’ a subtle look of age.

Note: As mentioned in the ‘Supplies’ section above, I used panels of timber which I could custom cut myself to save some cashola (around $60). If you’re not confident cutting timber, or if you don’t have the right tools, (or if you simply want to make the whole project quicker and easier), you can find more ‘ready-to-use’ alternatives or have your pieces cut to size at the hardware store.

Create a Dresser with Artificial Drawers (Step 2) | The Painted Hive

2 Attach timber.
Using liquid nails, I first attached my MDF top. Once set (overnight), I flipped the unit over and attached the MDF base – easy.

For the faux fronts, I worked with one drawer at a time (or one ‘Zone’ at a time). For Zone 1, I first held up the top faux front in position against the unit, marked the base of it on the actual drawer then measured and marked the center (of both the actual drawer and all four faux fronts) before removing the drawer from the unit, laying out the faux fronts in position on top (the top front in accordance with my markings and the bottom front in line with the base of the actual drawer – with the two middle fronts evenly spaced between) and adhering them one-by-one using liquid nails. To create a strong bond and eliminate any bowing, I clamped each faux front until the glue was completely set (around 12 hours). I then popped the drawer back into the unit and repeated the process for Zone 2. For Zone 3 I needed to mark positions for both the top and bottom faux fronts before removing the drawer from the unit (as, unlike with Zones 1 and 2, the bottom front in Zone 3 overhangs the base of the drawer – to conceal the horizontal). This whole step sounds much more complicated in theory than in practice!

DIY Faux Drawer Cabinet (Step 3) | The Painted Hive

3 Counter-sink visible screws and fill holes.
I know visible screws can look industrially awesome on the right piece, though I don’t think my $40 flat pack is one of those! In fact, to me, visible screw heads are usually one of the dead-set giveaways of cheap production-line furniture. To conceal my screw heads, I simply drove them in a couple of millimetres using some good ol’ fashioned brute force. I then filled the depressions with caulk and sanded to a smooth finish once dry. If brute force isn’t enough to recess your screws, you may need to drill out a shallow depression first.

 DIY Chalkboard Multi-Drawer Dresser (Step 4) | The Painted Hive

4 Paint!
To give my melamine some ‘tooth’ to grip the paint, I first sanded it using medium grit paper before making sure it was thoroughly clean. White Knight recommends an undercoat of Grip Lock Primer on melamine though I’m a bit of a rebel so I went straight for the chalkboard paint (if you’re a stickler, feel free to use primer). I applied two coats of White Knight chalkboard paint by hand using a brush, allowing drying time between applications.

Brass Spray Painted Steel Castor Wheels | The Painted Hive

At this stage I also spray painted my castor wheels using White Knight Metal Guard. To age the perfect new finish, so the wheels better tied-in with my pulls, I also dry brushed them sparingly with some brown acrylic paint to give them a slightly tarnished appearance.

Chalkboard Drawers (Step 5) | The Painted Hive

5 Season with chalk then attach hardware.
The fun part! It might feel a little daunting to scribble all over your perfect black paintwork, though the results are totally worth it. Seasoning the paint produces a distressed slate-like appearance with subtle contrast and natural imperfections that, in my opinion, is just lovely! I simply coated my entire unit with a fine layer of chalk (using the side of a fat stick) then wiped it away in a haphazard fashion using a felt duster. I also experimented with randomly flicking the unit with a damp cloth to create extra areas of tonal variation for a more grungy look.
Note: I seasoned my unit prior to attaching the pulls so they wouldn’t obstruct the process.

Library Card Catalogue Pulls | The Painted Hive

Once the unit was seasoned and the pulls were attached, I ummed and ahhed over using the castor wheels. I thought they might detract from the vintage-style simplicity and increase the already masculine feel too much. Though I decided to attach them knowing they can always be easily removed. I like them, though I’m not 100% convinced. For a boy’s room they are ideal. Maybe in the future, depending where I choose to use the unit, I might switch them out for something a little less industrial and more refined, like porcelain castors.

To finish off the pulls, I created some tab in-fills using a digital antique paper texture and handwritten script font (Notera). Because my unit has the appearance of specimen drawers, I decided to use scientific botanical names on my labels. I have attached my file as a downloadable printable if you’d like to use them too :-)

Antique Style Card Catalogue Label In-Fills | The Painted Hive

Twelve Antique Style Labels with Scientific Botanical Names
DOWNLOAD HERE

6 Finished!
Style it up, stand back and admire your awesomness :-)

Budget Flat Pack Hack: DIY Chalkboard Faux Specimen Drawers | The Painted Hive

It’s hard to believe this is truly that same melamine storage unit. Maybe the tag line for step six should actually be “Hocus Pocus Alakazam!”.

Transform a Flat Pack into a Card Catalogue | The Painted Hive

I am super happy with how this little hack turned out! I think it’s easy for imagined outcomes to fall short in reality, though the result of this project actually exceeded my expectations – gotta love that!

DIY Faux Multi-Drawer Cladding (a cheap flat-pack/knock-down is transformed into a library catalogue) | The Painted Hive

As you can see, I failed to ‘fancy-up’ the drawer interiors. I’m good at neglecting stuff like that. I think a nice spearmint colour would look pretty on the drawer sides (and would probably make my photo much more Pinnable – we Pinners do seem to be suckers for a good jazzed-up drawer interior :-) Perhaps one day that’ll happen. Perhaps.

DIY Faux Multi-Drawer Chalkbaord Cabinet Redo | The Painted Hive

As mentioned in my first post about this project (covering my plan for the hack), recently I’ve been going kinda crazy due to a build-up of creative energy (it’s hard to dedicate time to personal projects with four cute and persistent hands clutching at your track pants). So now, not only do I have a pretty cool, and completely unique, piece of custom furniture, though also affirmed faith in the therapeutic power of DIY and a renewed sense of excitement about actually getting stuff done – maybe even half decent stuff!

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This post is sponsored by White Knight Paints
All ideas and opinions are my own.

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A New Project

Do you ever feel like your creative ideas are just gonna burst right out of your brain in the form of some crazy kinda full body fire stomping dance?

That’s me at the moment.

Over the past few months my kid’s nap times have been totally outta sync, or completely non-existent, which has meant lots of time for singing nursery rhymes, building gravity-defying block towers and reading ‘There’s a Wocket in My Pocket’ (over, and over, and over, again) though zero time for any of my own satiating creative dabbling (and I’m beginning to get just a little bit nervous that random strangers are going to start mistaking my developing facial twitch for some kind of unorthodox flirtatious wink).

Enough already! It’s finally time to make some time.

A few weeks ago I spotted a totally plain yet perfectly practical flat-pack (knock-down) set of drawers in a The Reject Shop catalogue. It reminded me of a long forgotten furniture ‘hack’ idea that I realised I’m still really keen to try out.

I won’t give too much away just yet, though here’s the general plan…

Flat Pack Hack - The Plan | The Painted Hive

To really release all my pent-up creative tension, I’m going for a complete, and kinda experimental, transformation. That means I’m not totally certain how the whole thing will go down just yet, though I do know it will definitely involve some White Knight Chalkboard Paint and probably some White Knight Metal Guard in Brass. I can’t wait to get started!

Now, just to find that paintbrush…

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Free Art Printables: Customising For At Home Printing (a complete tutorial)

PART II: SETTING-UP FREE PRINTABLES FOR AT HOME PRINTING

This is post two in a three part series.
Post one covered understanding and editing free printables.
Post three covers setting-up free printables (particularly those of large-scale) for professional printing.

Tutorial: How To Perfectly Customise Free Printables for At Home Printing | The Painted Hive

Aren’t we lucky? Thanks to some lovely, generous, sharing online folk, we have the ability to download awesome images, edit them to suit our custom needs, then print them straight at home – all for virtually no cost and even whilst wearing stripey pink pyjamas – if that’s your thing.

Yep, it’s a pretty dandy way for us budget-concious, DIY-focused home decorators to create potentially AMAZING wall art with the potential to make our modest rooms really pop.

Though going about customisation of digital images can sometimes be tricky. To achieve great results, often quality and size, and sometimes even shape, require precise modification. So, what’s the best way to go about said manipulation?

Well, of course, there are loads of different methods to employ, and of course the best technique is subject to personal opinion. Following – in step-by-step detail – is simply my favoured process. If you’re unsure about maximising the potential of free printables for your tailored needs, hopefully it might help :-)

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Of course there are heaps of different programs to use and alternate methods to employ when customising free printables. The following tutorial merely outlines my preferred process based on personal experience. It focuses on setting-up small scale (standard letter sized – or smaller) images for framing that you can easily print at home (I will publish a future post which concentrates on setting-up large-scale prints for professional printing). Though of course you can always choose to have them professionally printed. In order to ensure the outlined method can be accomplished by everybody, I have created two tutorials; one which uses Photoshop (CS4 – which is fantastic though expensive) and one which uses GIMP (2.8 – which is a Photoshop-like program that can be downloaded by anyone for FREE!).

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TUTORIAL ONE: PHOTOSHOP 
(see below for GIMP tutorial)

Step 1: Customising Free Printables | The Painted Hive

STEP 1 Download a printable image then open it in Photoshop.
Find a printable image online then save it to your computer (remember, depending on the image, you may need to maximise it or use a provided Download link to ensure you download the full printable version – not just a minimised screen version). If needed, browse my Free Printables Directory for lots of great sources for free printables! Once downloaded, open Photoshop and go to File>Open, then browse for your image, or find the image on your computer, right click it and select Open With then select Photoshop. For the purpose of this tutorial I am using this lovely vintage peacock illustration from The Graphics Fairy.

Step 2: Editing Free Printables | The Painted Hive

STEP 2 Check the image size properties.
Make sure your chosen image is sufficient for your needs – in both size and quality. Go to Image>Image Size. Take note of the Document Size (Width, Height, Resolution). We can see that this image has a Width of around 17cm, a Height of around 27cm and a Resolution of 300 PPI. These are great values for the purpose of printing at home. For further information about size properties, how they effect the image and how to edit them refer to my first post (Understanding & Editing Free Printables) in this series.

Step 3: Customising Free Printables

STEP 3 Create a new Photoshop document sized to match the paper you will be printing onto.
Go to File>New. Choose from one of the Presets or enter custom specifications. I have selected International Paper> A4 (standard letter size – with default values as shown). Ensure the Resolution is correctly set at your desired print output (keeping in mind that if your chosen Resolution differs from that of the original image it could drastically affect the physical size – for more information see note in Step 4). Once your new document is open, if necessary go to View>Fit On Screen (I find it much easier to work when the whole document is visible).

Step Four: Customising Free Printables

STEP 4 Copy and paste the printable image into a new layer in the new document.
Go back to the printable image, choose Select>All then Edit>Copy. Go to the new document then select Edit>Paste. We can see that the peacock image fits perfectly on our ‘paper’ (canvas). Depending on the size of your image you may need to scale it down to fit on the canvas. Do this by selecting the Move Tool, then clicking and dragging one of the corner boxes whilst holding the Shift key. The Shift key ensures the aspect ratio is retained so the image isn’t distorted.

Note: If once pasted your image suddenly seems to appear much smaller or larger, there may be a resolution conflict between your new document and the original document. Pasting an image with a low resolution into a document with a high resolution will automatically decrease its size, and vice versa.

Step 5: Editing Printable Images for Custom Frames

STEP 5 Determine the size your printed image needs to be.
Measure the opening of your frame – just the area where the print will be visible, not the overall size. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am using a standard 5″ x 7″ frame (12.7cm x 17.7cm).

Step 6: Tailoring Printables for At Home Printing

STEP 6 Create a new layer and render a shape sized to match that of what your printed image needs to be.
Go to Layer>New Layer. Select the appropriate Shape Tool (I am using the rectangle) and ensure that Fill Pixels is chosen. In the Geometry Options check From Center, click Fixed Size and then enter your dimensions (12.7cm x 17.7cm/5″ x 7″ in my case). Ensure you are working with a colour that will contrast with your background (I’m using black).

Step 6: Shape Creation

Place your cursor near the middle of the canvas and click. Your shape should appear. If necessary, use the Move Tool to reposition it. You now have a to-scale replica of the display area of our frame! This shape will form a precise guide for sizing the printable image so that, once printed, it will fit perfectly within the visible opening of your frame.

Step 7: Working with Free Printables | The Painted Hive

STEP 7 Reduce the opacity of the shape to around 20%.
Move the Opacity slider down to around 20% (or manually enter a value of around 20%).

Step 7: Opacity

The printable image should be quite visible through the now translucent shape.

Step 8: How to Customize Printable Images | The Painted Hive

STEP 8 Using the translucent shape as your size guide, rescale and position the printable image as desired, ensuring there is a slight ‘bleed’.
Select the image layer. Click on the Move Tool. Your image will be framed by a bounding box (identified by a fine outline with eight small points). To reposition the image click anywhere within the box, hold and move. To resize with constrained proportions, click on a corner point, hold Shift and drag. To distort the image, click anywhere on the outline, hold and drag.

Leaving a slight ‘bleed’ (small portion of the image outside the shape guide) provides a buffer which gives you some wiggle room to ensures no unprinted area is visible once framed. Of course, this helps provide a professional-looking finish.

It’s highly likely your image won’t have the exact same aspect ratio as your frame. This means that when resized with constrained proportions, it won’t completely fit within your shape guide (some cropping will occur). We can see that when resized with constrained proportions, my image is too tall – small portions at both the top and bottom fall outside my shape guide (obviously, once framed, these areas will not be visible). Due to the nature of this image, it’s not really a problem (some of the text is simply excluded), however to fit the image in its entirety, I could simply try distorting the proportions.

Step 8: Resizing

Distorting any image will result in some quality degradation, the level of which is dependent on the extent of distortion, and can make it appear disproportionate. I find that much of the time a minor amount of distortion causes no discernible adverse effects, though if you’d prefer to try incorporating an image in its entirety without resorting to distortion, another alternative is playing with some more advanced techniques and tricks (such as extending the image background or, where possible, repositioning certain elements). And of course there is also always the option of changing the physical display area of your frame by using a custom sized matte.

Step 9: Editing Printable Images for Framing | The Painted Hive

STEP 9 Delete or hide the shape, then if desired, view the document at print size to relatively assess the quality.
Right click the shape layer and click Delete, or click the Eye beside the layer to hide it. Go to View>Print Size. Due to monitor variables, Photoshop will not always display Print Size accurately. If when compared to your actual paper the canvas size does not match, here is a great tutorial for rectifying the issue.

Step 10: Modifying Free Printables

STEP 10 Make any modifications.
Here is where you can have some fun! Change the hue and saturation, add a border, increase sharpness, incorporate text, play with artistic filters, tidy-up any unwanted blemishes. The possibilities are almost endless! My peacock image didn’t really need any editing, though for demonstrative purposes, I simply added a cooling filter and slightly increased the blue saturation.

Step 11: Print

STEP 11 Print!
Print immediately from Photoshop (go to File>Print) or save as a JPEG and print later (go to File>Save As). This tutorial focuses on setting-up small scale images so that you can easily print from home though of course you could always have them professionally printed.

For good results, use a good printer and good photo paper. For great results, use a great printer and great photo paper. And don’t forget to select the best print settings. Nowadays, good desktop printers can be purchased for as little as $50 and a great photo quality printer might cost around $150. I just recently bought a fantastic new Canon MG7160 which is awesome!

Framing Free Printables

STEP 12 Trim, frame and hang!
I like to use the frame glass or matte as my guide when trimming the paper to fit neatly inside the frame recess. I simply accurately position the glass or matte over my printed image then trace around the outside of it before trimming away any excess paper. If preferred, you could pre-measure your frame recess and based on the dimensions add a fine border (to act as a trimming guide) to your image in Photoshop prior to printing it.

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TUTORIAL 2: GIMP 
(see above for Photoshop tutorial)

Step 1 Customising Free Printables GIMP

STEP 1 Download a printable image then open it in GIMP.
Find a printable image online then save it to your computer (remember, depending on the image, you may need to maximise it or use a provided Download link to ensure you download the full printable version – not just a minimised screen version). If needed, browse my Free Printables Directory for lots of great sources for free printables! Once downloaded, open GIMP and go to File>Open, then browse for your image, or find the image on your computer, right click it and select Open With then select GIMP. For the purpose of this tutorial I am using this lovely vintage peacock illustration from The Graphics Fairy.

Step 2: Customising Free Printables

STEP 2 Check the image size properties.
Make sure your chosen image is sufficient for your needs – in both size and quality. Go to Image>Canvas Size. Take note of the Width and Height (in physical dimensions – you may need to select centimeters/inches from the drop down) plus the PPI. We can see that this image has a Width of around 21cm, a Height of around 27cm and a Resolution of 300 PPI. These are great values for the purpose of printing at home. For further information about size properties, how they effect the image and how to edit them refer to my first post (Understanding & Editing Free Printables) in this series.

Step 3: Create a New GIMP Document

STEP 3 Create a new GIMP document sized to match the paper you will be printing onto.
Go to File>New. Choose one of the Templates or enter custom specifications. I have selected the A4 template (standard letter size – with default values as shown). Ensure the PPI is correctly set at your desired print output (keeping in mind that if your chosen PPI differs from that of the original image it could drastically affect the physical size – for more information see note in Step 4). If needed, you can manually adjust the PPI in Advanced Options. Once your new document is open, if necessary go to View>Zoom>Fit Image In Window (I find it much easier to work when the whole document is visible).

Step 4: Copy and Paste

STEP 4 Copy and paste the printable image into a new layer in the new document.
Go back to the printable image, choose Select>All then Edit>Copy. Go to the new document then select Edit>Paste. The image will be pasted as a floating selection. Go to Layer>To New Layer (to make the floating selection into a layer). We can see that the peacock image fits pretty perfectly on our ‘paper’ (canvas). Depending on the size of your image you may need to scale it down to fit on the canvas. To do this select the Scale Tool, ensure Keep Aspect is checked (so proportions are retained) then click on your image (a grid will appear). Drag one of the corner boxes to reduce the size of the image as required.

Step 4 Rescaling

Note: If once pasted your image suddenly seems to appear much smaller or larger, there may be a resolution conflict between your new document and the original document. Pasting an image with a low resolution into a document with a high resolution will automatically decrease its size, and vice versa.

Step 5: Editing Printable Images for Custom Frames

STEP 5 Determine the size your printed image needs to be.
Measure the opening of your frame – just the area where the print will be visible, not the overall size. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am using a standard 5″ x 7″ frame (12.7cm x 17.7cm).

Step 6: Tailoring Printables for At Home Printing

STEP 6 Create a new layer and render a shape sized to match that of what your printed image needs to be.
Go to Layer>New Layer (ensure Layer Fill Type is set to Transparency). Choose the appropriate Select Tool (I am using the rectangle), hover anywhere over your canvas then click, hold and drag to create a shape (position and size don’t matter at this stage). Next, in Tool Options ensure Fixed is unchecked and that centimeters/inches is selected from the Size dropbox then enter your dimensions (12.7cm x 17.7cm/5″ x 7″ in my case).

Step 6: Creating the Shape in GIMP

Lastly, fill the shape by selecting the Bucket Fill Tool and clicking anywhere within the shape. Ensure you are working with a colour that will contrast with your background (I’m using black). If necessary, use the Move Tool to reposition your shape. You should now have a to-scale replica of the display area of our frame! This shape will form a precise guide for sizing the printable image so that, once printed, it will fit perfectly within the visible opening of your frame.

Step 7: Working with Free Printables | The Painted Hive

STEP 7 Reduce the opacity of the shape to 20%.

Step 7: Opacity

The printable image should be quite visible through the now translucent shape.

Step 8: How to Customize Printable Images | The Painted Hive

STEP 8 Using the translucent shape as your size guide, rescale and position the printable image as desired, ensuring there is a slight ‘bleed’.
Select the image layer. Choose the Scale Tool then click anywhere on the screen – a few things will happen; a grid will appear atop the image, the Scale dialogue box will pop-up, and the image layer will ‘jump’ to the front (forcing the shape layer to be hidden beneath). The aim now is to resize and position the image so that the desired print area is just covering the underlying shape. There are two ways to achieve this; 1) first crop your image (if required) then manually enter dimensions in the Scale dialogue box which are slightly larger than those of your shape, 2) first crop your image (if required) then manually rescale it so it is just covering the shape – this might take a few stages, a bit of playing around and some repositioning though it is by no means difficult. To resize with constrained proportions, ensure the chain icon (beside the Width & Height in the Scale dialogue box) is linked. To distort the image, ensure the chain icon is unlinked. Whenever you click the Scale button in the Scale dialogue box, the image will be resized as specified, the grid will disappear and the transparent shape layer will ‘jump’ to the front again – use it to more accurately check your size and position. To reposition the image select the Move Tool (ensure that Move The Active Layer is checked in the Tool Options) then click, hold and move.

Leaving a slight ‘bleed’ (small portion of the image outside the shape guide) provides a buffer which gives you some wiggle room to ensures no unprinted area is visible once framed. Of course, this helps provide a professional-looking finish.

It’s highly likely your image won’t have the exact same aspect ratio as your frame. This means that when resized with constrained proportions, it won’t completely fit within your shape guide (some cropping will occur). We can see that when resized with constrained proportions, my image is too tall – small portions at both the top and bottom fall outside my shape guide (obviously, once framed, these areas will not be visible). Due to the nature of this image, it’s not really a problem (some of the text is simply excluded), however to fit the image in its entirety, I could simply try distorting the proportions.

Step 8: Resizing

Distorting any image will result in some quality degradation, the level of which is dependent on the extent of distortion, and can make it appear disproportionate. I find that much of the time a minor amount of distortion causes no discernible adverse effects, though if you’d prefer to try incorporating an image in its entirety without resorting to distortion, another alternative is playing with some more advanced techniques and tricks (such as extending the image background or, where possible, repositioning certain elements). And of course there is also always the option of changing the physical display area of your frame by using a custom sized matte.

Step 9: Editing Printable Images for Framing | The Painted Hive

STEP 9 Delete or hide the shape, then if desired, view the document at print size to relatively assess the quality.
Once you are happy with the size and position of your image in relation to the shape, right click the shape layer and click Delete, or click the Eye beside the layer to hide it. Go to View>Zoom 100%. Due to monitor variables, GIMP will not always display Print Size accurately. If when compared to your actual paper the canvas size does not match, ensure your monitor resolution is correctly set in Edit>Preferences>Display.

Step 10: Modifying Free Printables

STEP 10 Make any modifications.
Here is where you can have some fun! Change the hue and saturation, add a border, increase sharpness, incorporate text, play with artistic filters, tidy-up any unwanted blemishes. The possibilities are almost endless! My peacock image didn’t really need any editing, though for demonstrative purposes, I simply added a cooling filter and slightly increased the blue saturation.

Step 11: Print

STEP 11 Print!
Print immediately from GIMP (go to File>Print) or save as a JPEG and print later (go to File>Save As). This tutorial focuses on setting-up small scale images so that you can easily print from home though of course you could always have them professionally printed.

For good results, use a good printer and good photo paper. For great results, use a great printer and great photo paper. And don’t forget to select the best print settings. Nowadays, good desktop printers can be purchased for as little as $50 and a great photo quality printer might cost around $150. I just recently bought a fantastic new Canon MG7160 which is awesome!

Framing Free Printables

STEP 12 Trim, frame and hang!
I like to use the frame glass or matte as my guide when trimming the paper to fit neatly inside the frame recess. I simply accurately position the glass or matte over my printed image then trace around the outside of it before trimming away any excess paper. If preferred, you could pre-measure your frame recess and based on the dimensions add a fine border (to act as a trimming guide) to your image in GIMP prior to printing it.

 

Like I mentioned at the top of the post, I really hope this info is helpful. I know at first glance the process might seem kinda convoluted and maybe even over-thought, though I promise it is really quite simple and actually makes perfect sense. If, like me, you’ve ever wrestled with customising printables for optimal results, this method just might save you a few extra brow furrows!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask – I’m always happy to try my bestest to help :-)

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