Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

Code and Hacks Splitting a large image to print on multiple sheets

Posted by Admin • Wednesday, December 23. 2009 • Category: Code and Hacks
This really seems like such a simple task, doesn't it? All I wanted was to print a large (48 megapixel) raytraced image I generated onto several pages, and then tape them together to make a poster.

In my efforts to find a convenient tool to do this, I've attempted the following:
  • Kinko's: (or any neighborhood print shop). I am listing this option because it eliminates the need to do this altogether - they can print an image on a huge poster all at once. This 'should' work, and is probably the best but most expensive option. In my experience, Kinko (Fedex) simply could not receive the image, perhaps they can't handle large uploads.
  • Online Printers: You are probably seeing some options in the google ads on this page already. Of course, I wanted it right now, so that was not an option
  • Rasterbator: A great tool, but not what I need. It creates nice looking multi-page PDF's from low-res images by using the old school newspaper graphic dot approach.
  • Adobe Illustrator (CS3): It seems to have a "print on multiple pages" option in the print dialog, but I've tried every single setting, and it always loses about a 1/4" off the sides, making them un-stitchable. Maybe I'm just Adobe-dumb. Illustrator also insisted that I trust it to manage the print colors rather than trust my printer (a solid-ink Phaser), and the printouts came out practically all brown until I told it to trust the printer. It easily wasted $30 of solid ink before I gave up on Illustrator
  • Photoshop: It can be done. Easiest way is to add guides (view menu) using percentages (eg 50%, 25%, as needed), then select the area between guides (snaps to guides), and copy into new images. This is labor intensive, but if you're careful with mouse movement you should get the right pieces. If you're printing on a small quantity of sheets, this is the best option probably. You can also paste each copied sliver into the same second image - you will then retain any options you've set for that document (such as layout, color quality, etc). Maybe there is a plugin for photoshop that does this automatically?
  • Gimp: Apparently there is a poster plugin of some sort, but in my haste to get this out the door I didn't have the time to understand how to install/compile/use Gimp plugins
  • ImageMagick: This is what I ultimately used. Being a command-line tool it doesn't have a nice visual "layout and split" interface. But what it does have to offer is reliable operation, unix style - one thing, done right. Read more for details on how, below.
  • PDF: What I have not tried is to use the ImageMagick approach above, then auto-convert each image into a PDF and stitch them into one document so they can be printed all at once. I'm not sure if this can be done (easily). If I have to do this again, I'll look into this. (Update: This is no longer necessary, see Geeqie note below)

Continue reading "Splitting a large image to print on multiple sheets"