Printing kaleidoscopes for standard photo sizes

We’ve had a cluster of questions lately about printing kaleidoscopes for standard sizes of photo paper and/or frames, e.g. 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″, etc. So I thought I would do a blog post explaining the issue and how to address it.

As you’ve probably noticed, all of the kaleidoscopes that are made in Kaleidoscope Kreator default to a square shape, i.e. the width and height are the same. However in Kaleidoscope Kreator 3, we added the ability to specify a different width and height in the Print Kaleidoscope and Print Multiple preview dialogs. See the little check box that says “Maintain Proportions”? If you uncheck that, then you can specify a different width and height.

Uncheck "Maintain Proportions" to specify different width and height values.

The downside to this approach is that it stretches the image, so if you use an image of a person or animal to make the kaleidoscope, they will be noticeably distorted. (You will see the distortion in the print preview before you actually print, so you can decide not to print if you don’t like the way it looks.)

Unfortunately, when you specify a different width and height, recognizable subjects such as people and animals will appear distorted.

So what can you do to get around the distortion? There are two options: either crop the square kaleidoscope into a rectangle or add “something” to the square kaleidoscope to make it a rectangle.

Option #1

The first option is the easiest, but not necessarily the most desirable since it removes a portion of the kaleidoscope. Essentially, you need to crop opposite sides of the kaleidoscope to get the correct proportion. As an example, let’s say we want to print a 4″ x 6″ image.

  1. File > Print Kaleidoscope
  2. Choose the paper size of the image you want to print, e.g. 4 x 6 in.
  3. Make sure “Maintain Proportions” is checked, since you don’t want to distort the image. Set the Width = 6 inches. This will also set the Height = 6 inches, which is what you want to fill the entire sheet of paper.
  4. Check “Center Kaleidoscope on Page.”

The printed kaleidoscope (which you can see in the preview) will be printed centered on the paper with the left and right sides cropped to fit on the paper:

The first option for fixing the distortion is to crop two opposite sides of the kaleidoscope.

You may have noticed that there is a white margin around the printed kaleidoscope. This is because of the built-in printer margins. If you have a printer that prints borderless photos, you may want to use that option. If not (and you want a true 4″ x 6″ printed image), then change the paper size to larger than 4×6 and use the page margins to restrict the printable area.

In the following example, I set the paper size to 5 x 7 in, then set each page margin (Top, Left, Bottom and Right) to 0.5 inches. This has the effect of restricting the printable area to 4″ x 6″. (For example, 5 – 0.5 – 0.5 = 4 and 7 – 0.5 – 0.5 = 6.)

Don’t worry if you don’t actually have 5″ x 7″ paper. You can still put regular letter size paper in your printer and print on that. It shouldn’t care that you specified 5″ x 7″. (If it does, then check out how I print on letter size paper at the end Option #2.)

To ensure that the printed image is a full 4" x 6", choose a larger paper size and use the page margins to restrict the printable area.

The obvious downside to this first option (cropping) is that you lose a significant portion of your image through the cropping the occurs. Because of that, you’ll want to make sure that the heads of your subjects are near the center of the kaleidoscope.  If they are positioned towards the outside edges of the kaleidoscope, they will be cropped off!

Option #2

If you don’t want to crop opposite sides of your kaleidoscope, the only other way to turn a square into a rectangle is to add something to opposite sides. In this case, we’ll be adding additional kaleidoscopes as an embellishment on the top and bottom.

  1. File > Print Multiple
  2. Choose a paper size larger than the size you want to print. In this case I chose a paper size of 5 x 7 in.
  3. Set each of the page margins to 0.5 in. This restricts the printable area to the desired 4″ x 6″ size.
  4. Enter a list of kaleidoscope sizes to print, starting at the top. In this case, the main kaleidoscope will be 4″ square (because that is as big as will fit width-wise.) That means there will be 1″ on the top and bottom that needs to be filled. Check “Maintain Proportions” to ensure that everything remains square. Then:

a. I can fit a 1″ tall kaleidoscope in that space and I can fit four 1″ kaleidoscopes across the width. So set the Width = 1″ and Quantity = 4, then click Add.

b. Now place the 4″ main kaleidoscope. Set the Width = 4″ and Quantity = 1, then click Add.

c. Important: You may be tempted to enter another Width of 1″ and Quantity of 4, but Kaleidoscope Kreator will group those with the first four at the top (which is not what we want)! So to get around that set the Width = 0.999″ and Quantity = 4, then click Add. This will add four (nearly) 1″ kaleidoscopes to the bottom.

If you don't like the cropped kaleidoscope, then you could fill in the "blank" areas with smaller kaleidoscopes using the Print Multiple feature.

There’s a slight variation on this option that you might want to try as well. You could “stretch” the top and bottom embellishment kaleidoscopes instead of keeping them square. Yes, this does distort the design at the top and bottom, but most people will not notice because they will be focused on the main kaleidoscope. If you want to experiment, try this:

  1. File > Print Multiple
  2. Set the paper size larger than your desired image. In this case, I chose Letter size paper.
  3. Adjust the page margins to restrict the printable area to about 4″ x 6″. (Click on the image below to see the values that I used.)
  4. Uncheck “Maintain Proportions“, then:

a. Set Width=2, Height=1 and Quantity=2, then click Add.

b. Set Width=4, Height=4 and Quantity=1, then click Add.

c. Set Width=1.999, Height=1 and Quantity=2, then click Add.

You are not limited to square kaleidoscopes when filling in the blank area; you can "stretch" them out for yet another option.

Online Printing

All of the above options assume that you want to print on your home printer. If you want to send your kaleidoscope images to an online photo printing website such as Shutterfly, you will probably find that their default handling of square images is Option #1, i.e. cropping opposite sides of the kaleidoscope. However, there should be a way to change this default. Here is how to do it on Shutterfly. (Other websites should have something similar, but you may need to search for it.)

  1. Click on the kaleidoscope in your Shutterfly album to select it.
  2. Move your mouse over the Edit menu and choose “Crop Picture” from the drop-down menu.
  3. At the bottom of the Crop menu, click on the link for “Custom crop tool”. Then choose “Square” for the custom crop. It should already have the entire kaleidoscope selected for the crop, but adjust if doesn’t.
  4. Next, click on the Borders tab and you should see that the kaleidoscope will print with a white border. At the bottom of the Border menu, you can adjust the border width. I would probably choose .1 to make the kaleidoscope as large as possible. (Also, make sure that “Trim my picture…” is UNchecked.)
  5. Click on Return to Album to save the changes.

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to print kaleidoscopes to print in standard size frames.

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