How to inexpensively enlarge photos from small to big

Enlarging photos is a nice way to make custom art for your walls. I recently designed a show, titled Monsters, Angels, and Heroes, with large-scale prints featuring work from Youth Interactive artists to be hung at the Underground Hair Artists – a local business in Santa Barbara, California.

Step 1: Measure your wall space

You need to measure your wall space where you want to hang the artwork. You can get a measuring tape and have a friend help you figure out the length and height of the wall.


Step 2: Curate the art virtually

The next step is to place and curate the images using something like Photoshop in order to get an idea what the images are going to look like in the space. In this example I did forget to calculate in a curve in the wall, and so one print did not fit in the final installation. It’s good to take obstacles into consideration when planning virtually.


Step 3 Format the images & Print small copies

For affordable large-scale printing I planned to use the black and white self-serve copy machine at my local FedEx Office. This machine is used mostly for copies of architectural plans. I formatted my images and printed them on 8.5×11. To avoid a strange pixels, when enlarged, I applied a halftone pattern filter over the images so they would look stylized when enlarged.


Step 4 Enlarge prints

I then calculated that I needed to enlarged my 8.5×11″ prints by 420% to the max size of 36×48″. You can use an online proportion calculator tool to help you calculate the percent for any size. The machine at FedEx Office that I used cost .75 cents per square foot. You can calculate also how much each print will cost. a 36×48″ print is 12 square feet and totals about $9 – pretty affordable. The machine has a big scanner connected to a big printer. You need to adjust the scanner settings to match your image type, like photo or text, and then set the enlargement percent.

Large scale scanner and printer.
Large scale scanner and printer.
Showing small and large prints.
Showing small and large prints.

Step 5 Hang and enjoy your BIG prints 🙂

Once you have your prints, you can purchase some thumb tacks or mounting putty to put up on the walls. If you want to see how this show turned out, check out the final photos on