#EnjoyYourPhotos: Word Mat Panoramic Wall Art

A more contained way to celebrate a place or theme with photos is to create a custom word mat that you have printed as wall art. Here are two themed pieces I have done for two of the places where my family has lived, and keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to create your own!

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Initial Preparation: there are lots of sizes and vendors you can use for creating wall art, but for my Word Mat pieces, I have used Shutterfly’s 12” x 36” mounted wall art (https://www.shutterfly.com/home-decor/wall+art+12×36–mounted-wall-art) that allows you to upload a single finished photo. If you plan to do the same, start with creating a new custom file in a program like Photoshop that is 36” wide and 12” tall and 300 dpi.

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Choose a Word (Theme): in order to fit your word to the 12” x 36” size, the word should (probably) be no longer than eight letters, and you should use a nice thick font that allows your photos to show through. Some ideas for words/themes include: family (I MOM, I DAD, GRANDMA, etc); holidays (CHRISTMAS, BIRTHDAY, etc); sports (SKIING, SOCCER, FOOTBALL, etc); or places to which you have traveled or in which you have lived. For my example, I will use COLORADO with the font Futura Extra Black.

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Prepare Your Word for Photos: In order to make your word fit correctly in the 12” x 36” space, you will likely need to manipulate the height and width of the letters. In Photoshop under “Character”, you can change those dimensions. In my example, I had to make the font height 225% and the font width 94%. You may also want to tweak the spacing between letters to make that look correct (I adjusted between each word individually). Once you have your word finalized, make a copy of your type layer, hide your type layer, then rasterize your copied layer (Layer-Rasterize-Type in Photoshop). Now you’re ready to cut out each letter individually: start with C, put a selection box around it, choose Edit-Cut, then Edit-Paste Special-Paste in Place. Rename the new layer with the letter, and you’re ready for your first photo! Drag your photo in, place it on the layer above your letter, then right-click and select “Create Clipping Mask”. Move your photo in place (you may have to change the size as well), and you’ve got your first letter! Continue the process for each letter.

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Add Photos and Finish: Choosing the photos is the most fun (and often the hardest) part! You may find photos you like but don’t fit in your letters, and you may end up switching out photos for others as you go along (which is what I ended up doing). But eventually you will come up with a final product that you like! At that point, flatten your image and save it as a JPEG (in as large a size as you can, since it will be blown up to 12” x 36”). Then go to your printing company, upload your final photo, and you’re ready to order – congratulations!

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#EnjoyYourPhotos: Gallery Walls

If you have a blank wall screaming out for something interesting to do with it, see below for step-by-step instructions to create a gallery wall!

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Choose Your Theme: Once you have decided on a place for your gallery wall, you need to choose a theme for your photos. The possibilities are endless, but here are some suggestions: birthdays, holidays, celebrations, hobbies, etc.! Since my husband and I are close to celebrating our 25 year anniversary, I chose “couple” photos of us over the years for my new gallery wall.

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Frame Layout: Once you have decided “where” and “what” you want to display, you need to figure out “how”! Measure your space, then either create a layout yourself (I use Photoshop) or get ideas from others (google “gallery wall ideas”). I like to use inexpensive 8×10, 5×7 and 4×6 thin black photo frames and create a layout around those sizes.

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Choosing Photos: Probably the most fun (and possibly the hardest) part of putting together a gallery wall is choosing the actual photos that will go in each 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10 slot. The nice thing about creating a layout in Photoshop (or a similar program) is that you can try out lots of different combinations of photos before committing to printing anything. Once you have made final decisions, you can order prints and frames!

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Placing Photos: Once you have decided on your photos and sizes, print them out on plain paper in the correct sizes, cut them out, then place them on your wall using masking tape. This lets you play around with placement and make sure you like your choices before you put any holes in your walls!

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Create Templates: The easiest way to put up your frames is to create templates for each size of photo, then use those templates to put the nails in the correct places for each photo. You can just use the cardboard or extra paper included in the frames, then turn the frame over and mark a dot where the nail would go for each size frame (both horizontally and vertically).

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Finish Your Wall: The last step is using your templates to put up the nails, then you can hang your frames. Just put a template over each taped-on photo, tap the nail a couple of times, remove the template and taped-on  photo, finish putting in the nail, then hang the frame!

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Once you have done that for all your frames, your gallery wall is finished! Congratulations!