Software for precision printing
September 16, 2011 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for printing software which will allow me to pinpoint with great precision the location of multiple images on the page (ie, margins, distances between images). I've tried using tables, but they're not completely reliable. I'm using Windows 7. Any suggestions? Thanks!
posted by katestap to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I understand the question, the easiest way would be to use page layout software like InDesign or image editing software like Photoshop.

There are other more esoteric ways to do it. For example, if your target printer is a PostScript printer you could code the whole thing in PostScript and just send it to the printer.

Can we have some more context? Is this a thing where you can drag the images around manually when you want to do this, or is it a "do thing with this folder full of arbitrary images" hands-off type thing?
posted by chazlarson at 2:38 PM on September 16, 2011

Response by poster: I've got some edited images on the computer and want to print them out on special fabric which will be wrapped to make book covers, so the front and back cover images have to be carefully laid out, down to about a sixteenth of an inch. Does that make more sense?
posted by katestap at 2:42 PM on September 16, 2011

Publisher is cheap, and may be on a friend's or library computer. It allows you to do pretty good layout. In Word (2007-2010), if you right-click an image, choose Wrap text, square, then again right-click Wrap text, size and position, position tab, you can specify the location of the image relative to the Margin or other page boundaries.
posted by theora55 at 2:55 PM on September 16, 2011

Best answer: And you're printing this on a single piece of fabric that is at the final work size?

Assuming that's true, here's the outline of what I'd do. My apologies in advance if this is too pedantic. I don't intend it to be.

Create an image as big as this single piece of fabric. Using your image editing software, cover it with a 1/16" grid and add some landmarks in the corners. What we're about to do is figure out what the printable margins of your printer are and whether the printer driver does any positional translation of the image it is sent. Cut some paper the same size as your fabric and print that grid on it. Make note of your printer settings; if possible turn off any "scale to print" options. When that paper comes out of the printer, it might be clipped on the edges with a white border. If not, great, your printer can print borderless. Compare the printed image with the grid you created. You may find that some portions are clipped or the image is displaced on the page in some way.

Print another just to make sure that the clipping and displacement are consistent. If they aren't, stop now and go have this done at a print shop.

Assuming they're consistent, you should now be able to place your images on that master image exactly where you want them in relation to the physical sheet. Make sure you create a separate layer for the images so you can turn off the grid when you print.

I'd suggest doing this poor-man's calibration with whatever software you use [such as Publisher]. The idea is to find out if there is any compensation needed, so that when you place that image on the page and tell Publisher/Word/InDesign/Bob's Pretty Good Poster Printer to position it 1" from the left edge of the sheet, that it actually comes out of the printer 1" off the left edge. If the software/driver moves everything to the right by 1/16", then you'd need to position that thing in the software at 15/16" from the left edge to have it end up in the right place on the physical sheet.

Does that make sense?
posted by chazlarson at 3:23 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I can't believe I didn't think of creating a document the size of my fabric. That's great. Thank you so much!!!
posted by katestap at 3:49 PM on September 16, 2011

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