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Ask Tim Grey – Print Sizing

By Tim Grey– 


Today’s Question: In Photoshop you can easily juggle image size and canvas size to obtain a print with the image size and border combination you desire. In Lightroom 5 I cannot find a similar set of functions in the print module where I can do the Photoshop equivalent. The presets in Lightroom 5 give you a maximum cell size in both length and height depending on what paper size you select. How do you do you get the operational equivalent of Photoshop for this purpose with Lightroom 5?


Tim’s Answer: You can control the size of the print on the paper with the same degree of control in Lightroom as compared to Photoshop, though the process is a little different.

In Photoshop, the Image Size command allows you to adjust the size of the actual image based on pixel dimensions. The Canvas Size command allows you to adjust the size of the document, including both the actual photo as well as surrounding space that would presumably be empty (though it doesn’t need to be empty). Therefore, in many cases unless you’re using a color for the canvas area, increasing Canvas Size doesn’t really have any impact on the printed image. It simply makes it a little easier to see the relationship between the image and the paper. So, for example, you might resize the image as desired, and then adjust Canvas Size to match the final print size, so you can get a sense of the size of the image in the final print.

In Lightroom these factors are controlled through the paper size, the image size, and the available space outside the image (which is obviously dependent in large part on the size paper you’re using).

The first step then is to adjust the paper size based on the intended output. You can start by selecting a preset that is close to what you’re looking for, and then change the paper size (if necessary). You can do this by clicking the Page Setup button at the bottom of the left panel in the Print module. In the Page Setup dialog, set the desired size of paper you’ll print to using the Paper Size popup, and then click OK.

Next, you’ll want to adjust the image size. In effect, you’re defining a cell size within which the image will fit, but you can go about this in a couple of ways. If your focus is on the actual image size, you can focus your attention on the Cell Size sliders, setting the size for Height and Width to define the size you want the image to be. If instead your focus is on how much extra space is available on the page, you can adjust the Margins sliders to ensure there is space at the edge of the printed page, which will in turn cause the Cell Size sliders to adjust automatically based on the amount of extra space you’re using for margins.

You also have the choice of whether you want your image to be presented in full, simply fitting within the cell you’ve defined, or if you want to crop the image to the exact size you’ve set under Cell Size. If you want the image cropped you can turn on the Zoom to Fill checkbox in the Image Settings section of the right panel. If you turn the Zoom to Fill checkbox on, you can also then drag the image around within the cell to determine which portion of the photo you’d like to have visible. If you want to exercise more control over the cropping of the image in this context, you would need to use the Crop tool in the Develop module.

And, of course, if you want to add a color around the image as you might do when using the Canvas Size command in Photoshop, you can set a Page Background Color in the Page section of the right panel in the Print module in Lightroom.

Obviously these controls and the overall approach are different compared to what you might do in Photoshop. But in large part you can achieve the exact same result in Lightroom as you might achieve in Photoshop, when it comes to sizing an image in a specific way for printing.

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Original Publication Date: February 05, 2014

Article Last updated: February 05, 2014

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