It can be difficult to pull the trigger on a large scale wall art purchase. When you calculate the cost of the piece, transport, and hanging, the whole process can be pretty expensive -not to mention it's a huge commitment. So in the mean time, there your wall stands, lonely, empty, bare... while you wait (and save up for) that perfect piece. While we can't tell you exactly what art you should choose, we can offer a short term solution: create a super awesome one-of-a-kind stand-in with hardly any effort and just the ink in your printer.
The website Rasterbater.net has been floating around since 2004. We've written about it before and we're writing about it again because we love it. What is it, you ask? It's a super straightforward website that transforms your uploaded images into dots and can print them out up to 65' wide. This process is super easy to do at home, but if you despise changing out the ink cartridges in your printer as much as I do, you might just want to email your file to a local print shop and have them deal with using all that ink.
And all that stuff I said about using your rasterbated piece as "stand in" or "temporary"? Yea, good luck with that, because once you hang it on your wall and admire its awesomeness, you might just stop looking for anything else.
What You Need
- Digital image
1: Select a photo. This step will take you the longest because you'll become obsessed with the process and will stare at your screen in amazement at how pretty much any photo you select will look equally as amazing once rasterbated. Note: Photos of your grandfather when he was young will always bring the cool factor, so if you feel overwhelmed just start there.
2. Go to the website and upload your link. A preview of your photo will show up on the right side of the page.
3. Select paper and sizing by clicking on the drop down tab. Consider the wall you'll be hanging the art on and play around with the Output size until it's a good fit for your wall. There is a super handy silhouette that shows up next to your preview as you scale the number of sheets up and down to give you a better idea of how large your final image will be.
The image below on the left shows what the print would look like if it were printed vertically, on 8 sheets of paper; 4 sheets wide by 2 sheets tall. The image on the right shows what the size would be if it were printed vertically, on 32 sheets of paper; 8 sheets wide by 4 sheets tall.
4. Next, decide how large you want your margin to be, and if you want an overlap. If you are a perfectionist, choose to print with an overlap. The website provides a great diagram if you want a better idea of your options.
5. Step three gives you lots of options to choose from for your poster style. The site can not only convert your image into halftones, it can also do trippy wavy lines, high contrast effects, and barcode-like effects, to name a few. Decide what you want my clicking on each of the options and viewing your image in the preview area to the right side of the page.
6. Step 4 lets you decide what colors your raster and background should be. There are a few presets at the bottom, or you can choose your own colors and type them into the picker boxes. Click around on the presets to get an idea of what you might like. Black and white is probably the most popular option, but if you think a healthy dose of color would do your room good, try it out.
7. Step 5: Options. Don't get overwhelmed here, if you like what you're lookin' at, don't change anything. I found it was a good idea to play around with the shape of my halftones (drop down menu) and the raster size -just to be sure there wasn't a configuration I liked better.
8. Raster size is fun to play around with: the smaller the number, the more detailed your final image will be, the larger the number the less detailed it becomes. If you are putting this print in a really large room where a viewer could stand 20' away to view the print, you might have fun with a higher raster size. Check out the images below at 8, and at 20, to get a better idea of how raster sizing works.
9. Another important detail in step 5 is making sure to check the "crop marks" box and the "page position" box. Crop marks are super helpful because, well, crop marks.. it just makes cutting out your image a lot easier -especially if your printing black dots on a white page and there are no dots around the corner you need to cut. Page position is awesome because once you start printing your pages it's really difficult to decipher what is what, so the printed numbers in the bottom corner are a fantastic guide. Check out the guide below for more info.
10. Click "Rasterbate pages!" and wait for your PDF to download! Once you've downloaded your image, you can either print it out yourself, or send it to a print center and have them do it for you.
To construct and hang your image:
Use the crop marks as guides to cut around your image. A utility knife and straight edge make this job much cleaner and faster. Piece together the photo using the "page position" markers in the lower right hand corner.
With the print facing upright, line up the dots. Carefully lift each side of the paper and place a piece of tape from the backside. I did this by working across each row, then I attached the rows together at the very end.
After sticking the smaller pieces of tape, carefully flip the entire print over and place a few longer pieces of tape to make the print more sturdy.
The image above is a closeup of the borders around six sheets of paper on my print. I've included this so you can see that even if your dots are off a little bit, the overall image is still very effective at a distance.
This is of course just one way to construct your pages. I've seen some really cool examples where no borders were cut, and each sheet was hung from the wall with individual binder clips. I used three small pieces of gaff tape to attach my print to the wall but you could easily mount it to foam core, or matt board and even frame it.
- Use the paper size you selected on the site to rasterbate your image.
- Under your printer setting's sizing options choose "print at actual size" or a similar action.
- If you opted out of using a margin and want to use as much of your paper's surface area as possible, choose "fit to page" instead.
Have fun Rasterbating!
Have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know! We love checking out what you're making these days, and learning from our readers. When you're ready, click here to submit your project and photos.