I need a good source for a huge image to put on a wall 8' x 11'.
September 14, 2004 3:06 PM   Subscribe

I have: A dorm room wall, about 8' x 11', and access to a high quality, 54" printer that prints to a roll. I want to cover my whole wall with one image. Help me, please. [MI]

I haven’t moved in, so I don’t have more specific measurements, but you get the idea. I need a cool source image at an insane resolution, or some idea of how to obtain one. There must be a place to get something like this on the web, right? Alternatively, what sort of film could be enlarged to that size? How much would it cost to persuade an artist to do so, if it came to that? What should I use to affix the two pieces to the wall? I can’t permanently damage them, and I imagine this superposter will be pretty heavy. Something like thumbtacks is OK, normally, but to support something of this size, it would make too many holes and be too visible on the image. I can manage cutting the image in Photoshop and matching the edges, I think.

As for what kind of image I’m looking for, well, that’s the really hard part. I’d like this to be a conversation piece because of its size and content. For you decorator types, the other walls are white. The furniture is either a light wood color or black.

I’m just tired of having a boring-looking room, and this project screams out to me as something that could be cool. I’ve got access to a whole print shop, so other ideas are welcome. Non mefites should feel free to email me at the address in my profile. Other dorm-room-décor ideas are welcome in small doses, but the pressing questions are outlined above. Thanks, AskMefites.
posted by rfordh to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A work-around to th resolution problem could be to find a realy great piece of pointilism or op-art. These things look pretty lo-res when viewed up close anyway, but very cool from afar.

Nothing more to add, but this whole project sounds very cool.
posted by Coffeemate at 3:13 PM on September 14, 2004

(Psst... your e-mail is only visible to logged-in users.

But it's: chris dot worrall at gmail dot com
posted by rafter at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2004

for those of you not logged in)
posted by rafter at 3:16 PM on September 14, 2004

Daido Moriyama is very, very cool
posted by matteo at 3:17 PM on September 14, 2004

How about a high-resolution image of a dormitory wall--from another college. Get it?! Another dorm room wall?!!!!!!
posted by ParisParamus at 3:20 PM on September 14, 2004

Affixing w/ wallpaper paste works good but might be a pain come the end of the year. Is it like a concrete dormwall or normal wall?

Anything vector should be able to be scaled up however you like. There are a bunch of things on the web to do split/stitch whatever with PDFs. There was this awesome free one but I can't seem to find it.

This scroll-printing thing...what kind of color can it do? Is it like a plotter...?

ps - what is with the google ads on this page?
posted by jeb at 3:22 PM on September 14, 2004

The Rasterbator and Adobe Acrobat Reader are your new best friend.
posted by FreezBoy at 3:28 PM on September 14, 2004

Go to http://seamless.usgs.gov/ and get high-resolution satellite photo imagery from one of the available cities. You will have to download it in chunks and reassemble it on your own computer, but when you're done, you have an enormous, wall-covering, high-resolution aerial photo of a metro area.

P.S. After putting the photo on your wall, try not to act in any way like a terrorist.
posted by tss at 3:32 PM on September 14, 2004

Damn it, FreezBoy beat me to it. The rasterbator is wicked cool.
posted by holloway at 3:32 PM on September 14, 2004

Might not be a high enough resolution(D'oh!), and isn't the right dimension(D'oh!), but what about this map of Springfield?
posted by gregchttm at 3:33 PM on September 14, 2004

Response by poster: (thanks for the email correction)

I'm googling the hell out of that guy, matteo. Thank you.

Wallpaper paste, etc. is out, I think. The walls aren't cement. They're normal, uh, housey walls (I don't know the term.) I'm thinking about something like poster putty, but, I'm worried about support. Maybe buying a lot, and spreading it into a thin sheet...

I'm looking at vector stuff, definitely. Photo would be very cool, though, methinks. I don't know what this printer would be called. It's used in a small business to print full color signs and advertisements. I've been told it's photo quality, but I don't have a specific dpi or anything.

on preview: rastorbator and sat photos... interesting stuff. Thank you both!
posted by rfordh at 3:34 PM on September 14, 2004

The largest pictures I have,

2835x2050  rms-bw.jpeg (as in GNU RMS)
4500x2250  storm-troopers-vs-nazi.jpg (battle scene)
8000x12000 gashcroft.jpg (Ashcrofts face as porn)
9372x9372  wtc-photo-large.jpg (from overhead)

This old photo has always been a favourite though and the rasterbator does it well.
posted by holloway at 4:03 PM on September 14, 2004

I did this in my dorm room, which sounds eerily like yours. I assume you are using a printer from an architecture school?

I had a HUGE pic of Samuel L. from Pulp Fiction drinking from a wax cup that was wicked sweet. It was pretty high rez too. You can also get super high rez pics from NASA, I can't find a good link, but if you search you should come across something good.

sorry I'm so lazy.
posted by sciurus at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2004

Some of Barnett Newman's stuff has a stark awesomeness to it. You could make something like Onement 1 a really pretentious conversation piece; just talk about sublimity v. beauty.

This could be kind of creepy.

If you are or will be near a museum with a good modern collection, maybe you could borrow a camera that can take really high-res images and take a picture?

(On preview: given that this will be in a kind of confined space, how well would the results of the rasterbator work? Could you see the forest for the trees (so to speak)?)
posted by kenko at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2004

Oh, this is another good Escher one.
posted by kenko at 4:09 PM on September 14, 2004

If you don't mind fractals, get Ultrafractal and make your own. You can also subscribe to the UF mailing-list and ask permission to use someone else's. Fractals can be scaled to any resolution. To see an example of what Ultrafractal can do, check out these FPPs: [1], [2], [3], [4].
posted by Gyan at 4:09 PM on September 14, 2004

Dammit, tss. I second the USGS high-res maps. You can download 1-meter res maps in chunks that are about 60 megs each (IF and ONLY IF the area has already been surveyed). It takes forever to download all the chunks and put them together. The other problem is, if you don't have enough RAM, you're not going to be able to assemble them in one huge file. I have about 6 2-gig files that comprimise all of Lincoln, Nebraska... resolution is off the charts. Certainly a few feet x a few feet @ 300 dpi.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:03 PM on September 14, 2004

Could I print something like this (massive, color, high quality) at Kinko's?

I'm willing to shell out $80 if I can get a nice big print of whatever I want.
posted by lbergstr at 5:26 PM on September 14, 2004

Damian Loeb puts up high resolution jpegs of his paintings on his site. Scroll down to the Public Domain show for super high res jpegs (7120 x 1484). Don't know if you'll like his style but it might be worth checking out.
posted by snez at 5:57 PM on September 14, 2004

88ft^2 goatse is prob'ly outta the question.

NASA images as suggested would be cool.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:03 PM on September 14, 2004

lbergstr, the problem with kinko's is that you can't get them to reproduce "anything you want" for cash money, because they're copyright nazis. They'd rather limit their liabilities than trust that you're not going to turn around and sell a copywritten image for profit, gettin' them sued.

A private party with a big-ass printer, though. That's gold.
posted by LimePi at 7:18 PM on September 14, 2004

at an insane resolution

You don't need to worry about this as much as you think you do. The Rasterization Image Processor software (RIP) that runs the printer will make even a modest image look okay at a large size. Obviously, the better the image, the better the print, but I've had remarkably good results printing at massive-poster-size with regular old email-quality JPEGs.

If it comes down to selecting one image you like better vs. another that's got better resolution, I'd go with the one you like better.
posted by scarabic at 7:23 PM on September 14, 2004

Yeah, but if your options are: take the extra time to get the extra resolution, or save yourself some headaches and cut a few corners, I'd go with the resolution any day. Particularly with high-resolution satellite imagery. Seriously, you can make out what kind of car people drive with the resolution of these images. I'd want to encourage people to get up close to the wallpaper -- really look at all the detail. But you're right, if it's just a plain image, the resolution isn't as important.

Oh, and we mustn't forget another easy wallpaper idea: Gigapixel photographs. See what the puppy looks like printed out here.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:37 PM on September 14, 2004

As for hanging the thing up, I highly recommend mounting squares, which are basically just a thin square of foam with sticky crap on both sides. kind of iffy in terms of permanent marks that it might leave on the wall, but you won't need many of them and a good clean up job at the end of the year (possibly with some white touch up paint) should remove all traces.
posted by rorycberger at 7:40 PM on September 14, 2004

Mounting suggestions:

(a) 3M is now making a bunch of stick-on/pull-off hooks and stuff. They can hold the weight of a picture and frame, yet can be pulled off by grasping a little rubbery doohickey and pulling; I guess it "stretches" the post-it note glue off the wall.

(b) regular ol' staples leave much, much smaller holes than thumbtacks and "pinch" the paper to the wall better than thumbtacks.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:45 PM on September 14, 2004

why not a huge picture of kim deal?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:57 PM on September 14, 2004

You could use a couple of Brad Templeton's Panoramic Shots. I just purchased (and cannot decide where to hang) his spectacular picture from Burning Man 2002.
posted by jeffbarr at 10:12 PM on September 14, 2004

Self plug: Vector is cool stuff. Way fun cool stuff.

Note the Creative Commons license. Feel free to print. If you need something larger or actually want vector email me and we'll talk.

Anyone have a building they want covered?
posted by loquacious at 11:42 PM on September 14, 2004

You might not need as high resolution as you think. Because your putting it up on a wall the viewing distance will (usually) be a least a few feet away. This means you need less detail. Billboards are often printed at 36dpi!
posted by rschroed at 6:40 AM on September 15, 2004

Hm.. Sounds like the viewing distance will be significantly closer than billboards - 70-80dpi is probably the minimum desirable for anything photographic. 100+ would be great.

QImage might be able to help with the big-image-over-multiple-sheets aspect. Genuine Fractals is a bit pricey for a one-off use, but if you know anyone with a copy you can borrow it does upsizing a lot better than photoshop does.

If it were me I might think about making some sort of wooden framework to hang the work off, then you can attach the paper however you want (staples, for example) and the frame could support its own weight and just be anchored at the top. Maybe make a few segments so it can be easily relocated to another room/abode.
posted by cell at 7:04 AM on September 15, 2004

For mounting to the wall have it mounted on foam board. It'll be a couple dollar a sq foot but you can then move it around with ease.

If you going with an actual photograph a drum scan will give good results. You do want as much resolution as you can get. The aerial photos we used to put under 3'X4' maps were ~100MB in size.
posted by Mitheral at 8:53 AM on September 15, 2004

Response by poster: Before this scrolls off the front, I'd like to thank you guys for your ideas and info.

An idea I considered last night was taking my 4MP Canon Powershot G2 (An askmefi solution to my lack of camera, I might note) to an art museum and getting a series of closeups of something, then stitching them together gigapixel style for a larger source image. Since the museum in question would probably be the SF MOMA, there could be some cool stuff about. If they still have the life-sized porcelain Michael Jackson with Bubbles statue...

Also got to thinking about photomosaics. This blurs the copyright line a bit, but it's pretty easy to find album cover scans. I could take the album cover for a few hundred of my favorites and generate something from those. Then, there's the close-up value of the satellite photography, as people look for CDs they know, and the bigger picture of whatever.

Regarding mounting, the wooden/foam backing idea sounds pretty cool, actually. If I did a little research I might be able to get some sound dampening between my room and the next, which I can only imagine will be useful in the coming year.

Anyways, keep it coming, if you have ideas. If this turns out, expect pictures.
posted by rfordh at 9:32 AM on September 15, 2004

Foam core or Gatorboard is nice but it's really a pain to transport in large pieces. For a dorm room I'd totally recommend laminating it (if you have access to a Seal or Orca large format laminator/roller) and putting grommets in the corners for hanging. It'll last nearly forever.

But if you really want it to last, make sure it's UV-proofed. Either with UV inks, or UV resistant lamination. It's amazing how fast an inkjet will fade with even minimum UV exposure.

And if you're going to do large format for art/creative purposes, go big. Many large format inkjets these days are hitting the 1440 DPI counts and above. Depending on the raster source file you can sometimes still see pixelization even with a 300 DPI source file. Which makes for a some enormous TIFF files, for sure.

Don't expect too much sound-dampening from foam core or Gatorboard or any of that. They're both insanely great sound resonators. They're not tuned or designed to dampen sound. It might actually make things louder and act as a passively resonating speaker kind of thing.
posted by loquacious at 12:55 PM on September 15, 2004

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