How to create a wall calendar

In this tutorial you will learn how to design a 12 month wall calendar with your own pictures.
If you have at least twelve images you want to show throughout the year, a wall calendar is ideal and quick to prepare, following these few, really easy steps.

Choice of calendars
Choice of calendars

Choose a suitable app

To make your own photo calendar, download free Designer software from an online photo printing lab, like e.g. FotoInsight, whose photo calendar quality has been lauded in many reviews across the UK, Ireland and Europe. The free Designer app is available for Microsoft Windows, MacOS X, Linux as well as the iPhone/iPad and Android. After installing the application and starting it, you simply choose the print product you want to create (i.e. photo calendars).

 

Wall calendars

There is a range of wall calendars in portrait, landscape and square format and in different sizes. To pick a suitable format, you should check the direction and shape of the pictures you want to use and the space where you plan to hang the wall calendar.

 

Paper qualities and the print process

Different photo labs use different paper qualities. CEWE Calendars are all made on quality cardstock, using digital print at 300dpi or special photo paper. The paper can be prepared with a glossy or matt finish, where again, the wall calendar’s location will play a role. For example a high-gloss finish, popular for its radiant elegance, will display more reflections. Processed photo paper is more radiant than direct print, so that even a matt finish photo paper will provide brilliant colours. Photo paper also feels stronger, though if hung over a stream of hot air, like above a radiator, it tends bend a little, as it is composed of layers with different thermal properties. The photo-chemical exposure on photographic paper reproduces balanced colours with sharper detail, with no noise from print dots, not even under a magnifying glass.

 

Starting month and bank holidays

Calendar_change_featuresWhat is your calendar for? If the calendar is for example for a birthday present it could start the month of the birthday? Bespoke calendars can also follow a twelve month school or academic year or start on any other month of the year. To change calendar features like the starting month click on the “tools” in the top left corner of the software interface. Here you can also tick the option to add bank holidays or add date-specific free text to the calendar template. Note that some smaller calendar templates may not display the bank holidays due to lack of space.

 

Basic layout

Calendar_basic_designThe Designer App offers all three categories of basic designs of the CEWE photo calendar:

  • The default calendar provides one or more images per page in front of a plain background, for which there are many choices of colours. It also offers the usual calendar templates.
  • The Designer Calendar provides designer backgrounds and calendar templates, often on specific topics, at a surcharge.
  • The templates of the free customisable calendar will usually assume that the image or images cover the page to the brim. Only in these highly customisable calendars, is it possible to set images as a full page background, as is popular in photo books, by right-clicking the mouse over the picture and choosing the option in the pop-up menu. In the free customisable calendars it is also easier to add small images on top of the calendar template, for example, to show passport pictures on birthdays.

 

The basic design sets the calendar template, background and image layout as a theme for all 13 pages of the calendar. The background and image layout can be changed for the cover and each individual month at the next stage.

 

Design menu

Calendar_design_choiceThe FotoInsight Designer app menu gives access to the choice of designs and image folders in the section on the left hand side of the interface. This section can be expanded by positioning the cursor over the separating line and then dragging it right to enlarge the section or left to give more room to the design area.

 

Layout in the design menu

The layout section in the design menu allows to drag image templates onto individual calendar pages. The image frames can be individually adjusted, layered and text frames can be added with ease, using the icon on the top toolbar or with a right click or “Ctrl + V”.

 

Text over images can be difficult to read, but for example a white text on top of a uniform surface, like a clear blue sky, can work well. The design grid, which can be activated from the ‘Designs’ block of the toolbar, helps to position picture or text frames.

 

When creating a bespoke design for one month, it can be saved to use in other months. To apply a specific design to the whole year as a basic design, right click on the design template and click the option in the pop-up menu.

 

Calendar templates with columns

In some calendar templates, such as those for the kitchen calendar and time planners, it is possible to insert columns in the calendar.

In the headings of the columns you can then enter the names of your family or team members, so that each member has a separate area for notes, tasks and appointments.

In the first row of headers write the heading for the first column, in the second line, the heading of the second column, and so on.

 

Moving a design and picture to another month

Individual calendar pages can be changed by dragging one month (e.g. July) from the page selector (on the right hand side) onto the other month (e.g. May) with the mouse, while pressing the left button. In this case the pictures, background and design from July will appear in May and vice versa.

 

Picture editor

The FotoInsight Designer app comes with a photo editor. The editor is handy to quickly post-edit pictures while creating a photo book or calendar.

Calendar_preview

Save

To save a project click on the disk icon on the “General Tools” menu on the top left hand side of the toolbar or under the header “File” (“Save File” or “Save as”). It is advisable to save projects during the design process, though FotoInsight Designer also autosaves projects as the work progresses.

 

Calendar_basketAlready stored projects can be opened by clicking on the folder icon in the “File” section on the left hand side of the toolbar or on the header “Open” (“Open another project” or “Ctrl + O”). The latest projects which you have worked on, including auto-saved projects, are listed directly under the header “Open”, where they can opened directly.

 

Upload / buy

Once the photo calendar has been completed the Designer app makes it easy to order a print. Just click on the red “Add to Basket” field at the bottom right of the screen, to order one or multiple prints. It is best to save the project to make sure it will be available for later use.

 

You can read more about the print quality in the photo calendar test. That review also discusses the main software options here: http://photopresent.typepad.com/english/2015/05/which-calendar-print-test.html

 

The Photo Canvas Test

Comparison of two leading Photo Canvas Printing Services

 

The Photo Canvas Test

Decorative large format prints from digital photographs are becoming ever more popular. The artistic possibilities offered through post editing of digital images make canvas prints an ideal medium for decorative art at home or in an office.

The resolution of even some cheap digital cameras suffices today for large format prints. As with any “light drawing” the work is only as good as the artist. Digital photography does not only allow to “snap away” at virtually no cost; higher resolution cameras allow to further enhance good pictures. In line with the trend to print outstanding images, a growing number of online photo printers who are selling prints and posters are also offering laminated, framed enlargements and photo canvas printing.

Many modern so called photo canvases are not printed on traditional linen. For good reasons man-made fibres are being used. Such synthetic fibres have a finer, more even structure and allow to optimise the materials so that the inks perfectly adhere to the fabric, improving longevity and colours. As a result, all canvas prints in this review can be swiped with a humid cloth.

Mounted on a wooden frame
Stretching a printed cloth evenly over a wooden frame requires skill. Most services supply the photo canvas mounted on a wooden frame. Both FotoInsight and Printing-1 supply the canvas print wrapped around the sides of a wooden frame, ready to hang on a wall. As this does away with heavy glass, the frame is surprisingly light and should hold onto even the weakest plaster board wall of modern houses. FotoInsight’s frames are delivered with all the necessary parts to suspend them on a wall. Synthetic fibres resist the tension of the stretch over the frame and therefore do not need re-tightening.

The Photo Canvas Test
From the broad range of online photo services in Britain we separated those delivering softened, greyish, orangey or dark images and those that are simply too expensive and instead focused on reviewing two leading photo canvas print services. The main criteria were range of products, ease of use, delivery time, quality, support and price.

Product Range
Decorative Photo Prints
FotoInsight’s range of decorative print products on canvas, laminated posters, gallery and acrylic prints, including a Nielsen wooden frame, is probably one of the most comprehensive on the Internet. Posters are processed on photographic paper and have bright colours and a satin surface. FotoInsight offers a lamination to seal the surface, which makes heavy, reflective glass redundant. Printing-1’s offering is more specialized covering photo books, calendars, poster and canvas prints (no framing).

FotoInsight: 9/10 Printing-1: 7/10


Choice of canvas print formats

FotoInsight offers canvas prints in only twelve sizes, from 20×30 cm (12″x8″) to a maximum of 90×130 cm (52″x36″). Printing-1 offers a phenomenal range of 55 sizes, which increase in 10 cm (4″) steps from 30 cm (12″) to 120 cm (48″) for each side. Any size from 30×30 cm (12″x12″) or 30×120 cm (48″x12″) to 120×120 cm (48″x48″) is possible, or any combination in between (in 10 cm / 4″ increments).

FotoInsight: 8/10 Printing-1: 8/10


Ease of use
Photo CanvasBoth photo services offer free software to design the photo album or canvas. After uploading a picture to Printing-1 using the client software, the user has to use an Internet browser to log into the website before the print can be ordered. The advantage of the web account upload is, that it allows the user to show others their print project online before buying and also to allow friends and family to buy their own prints. This seems convenient for photo books, especially for a wedding album or other festivities. For one-image-products like a poster or photo canvas it seems an unnecessary complication.

FotoInsight offers two routes to order. Those who want to print just a single picture do well with the web-upload through their browser. Using this route gives access to all large print products like canvas with or without frame, collage canvas, Alu-Dibond or acrylic poster prints and XXL posters. FotoInsight offers text tools and highlights the frame fold area; but the browser upload misses tools to zoom and position the image. The free ordering software “FotoInsight Designer” provides a zoom tool, however FotoInsight print on the area folded over the frame. Those who wish to avoid that a computer algorithm ‘optimises’ the colours of their prints, should use the ‘FotoInsight Designer’ software’s option to turn this feature off. Also people who wish to upload several images or higher resolution pictures should better use the ordering software tool. Another feature of the ‘FotoInsight Designer’ software are templates, which help to elegantly layer several pictures on a canvas.

FotoInsight: 9/10 Printing-1: 6/10


Delivery time
The canvas prints from FotoInsight reached us in four days (though the ones ordered with a frame took a full week longer). The photo canvas prints from Printing-1 took five working days.

FotoInsight: 9/10 Printing-1: 7/10

 

Quality
Canvas PrintThe fabric used by Printing-1 has a fine structure and a more paint like ink, which gives more of an impression of a classic canvas. The fabric is stretched over a wooden frame and stapled to it. The colours look brighter and less warm than with FotoInsight. Especially when FotoInsight’s “automatic image correction” has been activated during the upload, the colours tend to use a skin friendly spectrum, which may help portraits, but can be undesirable on landscapes, specially with snow. When turning the “automatic image optimization” off, FotoInsight offers outstandingly realistic colours. The material used by FotoInsight is a fine, synthetic fabric, appearing more real, with good colours and contrast. FotoInsight prints at 300 dpi, a resolution higher than most services and states that it “uses man made optimised fibres and fade-resistant archival inks to guarantee longevity and brilliant colours, with all materials guaranteed by their manufacturers to last 100 years”.

FotoInsight: 10/10 Printing-1: 9/10

 

Support
Both firms provide support by email. During office hours we received a reply the same day. In addition to email support, FotoInsight offers also free telephone support under telephone number 01926 463117. Longer service hours in the support  team would have lead to full marks.

FotoInsight: 8/10 Printing-1: 6/10


Costs
A mounted canvas print does not require a frame. If you want one, it will be as expensive as the mounted print. For that amount, FotoInsight offers professionally cut Nielsen frames with a float (i.e. a gap between the edge of the canvas and the frame to display the area folded over the edge).

Prices for canvas prints in comparable sizes:
Format 30×40 (print size 36cm x 46cm): FotoInsight: £34.99 – Printing-1: £39.95

Format 40×60 (print size 46cm x 66cm): FotoInsight: £49.99 – Printing-1: £54.95

Format 60×60 (print size 66cm x 66cm): FotoInsight: £49.99 – Printing-1: £64.95

Format 60×80 (print size 66cm x 86cm): FotoInsight: £69.99 – Printing-1: £74.95

Format 80×100 (print size 86cm x 106cm): FotoInsight: £115.99 – Printing-1: £94.95

Postage & Packaging per order
FotoInsight £4.49 for a 20×30 cm canvas, raising to £8.99 for the largest 90×130 cm format).
Printing-1 £9.90 (faster 5 day turnaround £16.40).

FotoInsight: 9/10 Printing-1: 8/10

Result
Photo Canvas PrintingIn the final count FotoInsight leads with 60 points ahead of Printing-1 with a respectable 51 points. If a classic canvas structure is desired or flexible formats are required, Printing-1 is worth the extra money and time. Those who can do with a standard format or want a high resolution print with warmer colours can save money with the test winner FotoInsight.

FotoInsight UK: http://fotoinsight.co.uk/posters-and-canvas.html

FotoInsight Ireland & Europe: http://fotoinsight.ie/posters-canvas.html

Printing-1: http://printing-1.co.uk/


Conclusion

From this review, we excluded photo canvas services with prints that can’t fulfill modern expectations. If you choose to print your canvas with Printing-1 or FotoInsight should depend mainly on the specific characteristics of each service, which we have tried to outline here, are most important to you. We hope, that the information in this review will help to make the right choice and that your canvas print will deliver lasting visual pleasure.