Have you ever seen a piece of clip art and wanted to put it on your wall? Since clip art is raster–based, you can’t scale it up without losing a lot of detail. The blocky pixels that make up raster clip art simply become bigger blocks.
So how do you make a little clip art label into a 3–ft tall sign without losing a lot of clarity? You make your graphics program upsize a little at a time. This is the process I used:
1. Open your clip art in a graphics program that gives you control over the file size, like Photoshop or PaintShop Pro. I use Photoshop.
2. Most clip art is 72 dpi. Change the resolution to 300 dpi while restraining the file size.
3. Start enlarging the image 0.5 inches at a time without restraining the file size. The image will begin to look terrible on screen, but keep going until the image is the size you need to print out.
4. Print out the image using the tiling setting. I set a generous overlap of 1 in. using legal–sized paper. You need overlap to accurately match your pages. Print at actual size. The result may still be slightly pixelated, but we’ll fix that.
5. The best way to align and attach a tiled print is to tape the first page on a large window and align the next pages in the sequence, matching the images. Use a glue stick to attach each page.
Optional: After the sign was together, I covered the whole paper with a layer of matte medium while it was still on the window. I didn’t want to worry about the paper buckling when I decoupaged it onto its base as can happen when the paper is unsealed. I sealed both back and front with a layer of matte medium.
6. If the image is not quite as crisp as you want it, you can use thinned paint and add back the missing details. Since this sign is vintage looking, the hand–painted details make it look more authentic.
You can really see the difference between the unpainted pixelated letters and the painted letters. I didn’t worry about being super precise with the painting. You’ll get a better result with a looser style. I did thin the paint with thinner made for craft paint. It keeps the paint from getting too watery but allows it to flow easier.
7. Cut out the paper sign and place it on a piece of insulation foam. The foam is lightweight but rigid. Trace around the sign with a craft blade, just scoring the surface. Snap the foam at the score to produce a clean break. Trying to cut it all the way through will result in a raggedy edge.
8. Paint the edges of the foam to match the background of the print and let dry. Glue the print to the foam using ModPodge or decoupage glue.
9. A large pop–top ring from a can works well as hanger when hot–glued to the back. You also can hot glue a saw tooth hanger to the foam.
Here she is, in the tall skinny area above the toilet, just as I envisioned her.
You can see the seams where I glued the tiles together only if you look very closely and you catch the angle just right.
The sign is 16–in. x 37–in. The whole project took about a day and a half because I was kind of making it up as I went along. Plus, you need drying time. No use rushing.
The vintage sign is now mounted in the same bathroom as the vintage plates I made with other antique labels.
If you make a vintage sign, please post a link in the comments. I would love to see your results using this enlarging method. Let me know if you find a better and more accurate enlarging method, too. I found these instructions a million years ago, and Photoshop has had a few revisions since then.