Category Archives: Photography

Dos and Don’ts for the Engineering Print

**Update** Staples no longer offers these prints. It was fun while it lasted. They still offer a variety of larger prints, but gone are the days of the four-foot long b&w prints for seven bucks. Got any other photo printing hacks? Let me know in the comments!


This idea isn’t new, but since it’s a part of my backpack wall post, I figured I’d post a how-to. And since I made so many mistakes on my first try, Dos and Don’ts seemed like the logical way to show you.

Engineering prints are available from Staples online or in the store (it says “not suitable for photographs” …sorry, Staples, we’re going to do it anyway). They come in three sizes: 48×36, 36×24 and 24×18. Most digital pictures are big enough for these, if they were taken on a camera. Phone pictures, prolly not. (The one on my backpack wall is a 48×36, and it’s MASSIVE. DO: Measure your space first, bigger isn’t always better. So I’m ordering a new one in 36×24, which is still plenty big.)


Back to my first effort… when I got my print back after a few days, I was so excited to get it on the wall. First, I noticed blank space at the top and bottom of the print. No problem, I just cut it down. Then I noticed smudges on the ink, probably from handling it right after it was printed. Not a big deal, they’re hardly noticeable, but I was careful with how I handled it after that.


See the smudges on his black shirt? ^^^ DON’T rub the ink.

I followed the instructions for mounting it, which said buy a sheet of foam insulation from Home Depot for a few dollars, cut it down to size and use a spray adhesive. It was going really well, too, until I tried to cut the Styrofoam sheet. Have you ever attempted to cut ANYthing made of Styrofoam? Instant snowstorm… billions of weightless, static-charged flakes. Everywhere. Not ever doing that again. DON’T DON’T DON’T.


I didn’t get a picture of that happy time, but it looked nothing like that.

(THIS time, I will spend a few more dollars for some nice, flat foam core. Still no holiday to cut it straight, but I won’t be up to my ankles in rug dandruff like last time.)

Next, the instructions said to paint the sides of the Styrofoam black, since it will be visible on the side. Um, that’d be fine if the edges were smooth, or straight, or remotely ready for public consumption. Not the case. So I had an idea. Black duct tape. I’ll tape a frame around the edges of my picture. Easier said than done. It would be a Pinterest fail if anyone else was dumb enough to think that would turn out well. But at least it’s passable. Or as Cher would say, it’s a full-on Monet.


It seemed like a good idea at the time. DON’T assume you will be able to apply duct tape in a straight line.

Since it was so lightweight (and I was tired from all the rug dandruff et al), instead of mounting it on the wall, I just let it set on my 3″ wide shelf. What I didn’t think about was that a not-even-stiff breeze would knock it right off, and that’s how we ended up with a nice tear in it, right across his lil collar. DON’T be lazy – secure it to the wall.


But in this picture, you can see how clear the image is, even blown up to that size. If you took the picture you want to use on a camera, and that camera’s image size is not set to small, you should be ok.

I’ll let you know how my next one turns out.