Poster Plotting in the UW Dept of Earth and Space Sciences
Note that there are multiple alternative resources nearby for making plots, some of which that will take cash money. On campus resources include OUGL, the Art Department, and the Health Sciences computer graphics center. The Health Sciences does have one really cool but pricey option … making your poster on a canvas like cloth that readily folds for packing, but you then press with a dry iron (pad with dry towel for pressing) before hanging. But one generally must plan ahead as the lead time for plotting at external places can be 1-3 days. Off campus, one good handy close by resource is Professional Copy & Print, at 42nd and the "Ave", where they will do an E-Size (36x48) matte print for about $55 and glossy for $75. They will take about 2 hours.
Here in the UW Dept of Earth and Space Sciences, there are two large format plotters, the older HP DesignJet 500 in ATG-219, and the newer HP DesignJet Z5200 in Jhn-029. There is also a large format scanner in Jhn-029.
The ATG-219 HP DesignJet 500 is a 4 color 600 dpi "near-photoquality" plotter loaded with 36" matte roll paper. This plotter will support 42" roll paper but we have a supply of 36" paper that needs to be used up.
The Jhn-029 HP DesignJet Z5200 is an 8 color 1200 dpi "photo quality" Plotter, loaded with 42" matte roll paper.
All plots cost money, including test-plots, failed-plots, and the final real plot. Approximately $20 for a 36"x48" plot. You must have a budget # and approval to use it, before you begin plotting. Sign for your plotter use on the clipboard charge sheet.
The plotters are no longer available as network devices. You must go to the target plotter room and plot from a computer in that room. In Jhn-029, the four main windows computers are set up with the right driver for the HP-DJ-Z5200. This forces the operator to be present and allows for quick deletion of incorrect plots before wasting 4 or 5 of ink. The windows computer in ATG-219 has the same plotter driver, so these directions apply to both rooms. Sorry for the inconvenience, but this policy has dramatically improved the success rate of plotting while eliminating waste.
The Mac in Jhn-029 is also set-up with a driver for the Jhn-029 HP-DJ-Z5200 but use of the Mac for plotting is different from these directions, which are specifically for plotting from windows. I use to recommend that Mac people make their plots via a transferred pdf file that was viewed and plotted from a Jhn-029 windows computer, but there is a new plotter driver on the Jhn-029 mac that has been pretty reliable of late. I guess I still recommend that, but you now have more of a choice.
If you do not know what you are doing or having any kind of problems, you are strongly urged to seek help from Ed or Nathan. We would much rather help somebody than to have to fix the plotter. Definitely come see us if there are supplies issues.
Poster layout and design is beyond the scope of this document, but there are lots of resources on the web. The software tool most often used for poster creation is Microsoft Office PowerPoint, but many different software programs can be used for poster creation. Using a PDF file as an intermediate output stopping point has certain advantages and disadvantages.
PDF Advantage : makes output independent of actual size, and easier to get the desired size.
PDF Disadvantage : might cause raster images to become pixelated. If this happens, you may need to plot from the original source program.
In general, I recommend plotting from an intermediate PDF file unless examination of the PDF shows unacceptable pixelation compared to the original source file.
After you have created your poster, and carefully proofed it, both on screen and via printed test output on a color laserprinter. If the text and images on the laser printed page is too small to read with a hand lens, then it may be too small for a good poster. But be sure to carefully proof it as your goal is that your first plot is your final plot.
Plotting can seem a bit like black magic, … wave your hands … genuflect to the computer-gods … submit your job and maybe you will get a good plot. But the reality is that it is actually usually fairly predictable by using the following steps. Note that when plotting from a pdf using Adobe Reader, the original source size does not matter as you will be telling the computer to "fit" to the output size as specified in the plotter driver, but when plotting from most other programs, you must have the design size properly set AND properly set the paper size in the plotter driver windows as shown below.
These directions are assuming plotting from an intermediate PDF file using Adobe Reader, but much of it is applicable to plotting from any poster design program. So you have created your poster, carefully proofed it, made a pdf of it, and transferred the pdf to a Jhn-029 windows machine, and opened the pdf with Adobe Reader.
Tip: before starting plotting, I like to open the plotter Print Queue as t helps show what is happening. The overview is that you have a program on the computer that will be plotting using the "Jhn-029 Plotter --PCL6" driver which is a raster type driver with all imaging being done on the computer. The program & driver will create a plot file in the print queue on the computer, which will typically take a minute or two, and then the plot file disappears from the print queue as it gets sent to the plotter. It should start plotting within 1 minute of disappearing from the print queue, and will take about 10 minutes to plot depending on size. The plotter will stop after it is done, wait 30 seconds for plot to dry, and then cutoff the plot automatically.
Assuming your poster looks good in Adobe Reader and you are ready to make your final real plot, from Adobe Reader, pull down <File> and select <Print>. The print dialog box will open, similar to Figure-1 below.
The next step is to set the needed "Properties" by clicking the <Properties> button. A 2nd multi-tabbed "Properties" dialog box will open. See below in Figure-2.
You are now ready to set the paper size. This is typically done by clicking on the <Custom Paper Sizes> button. A third dialog box will open. See below in Figure-3. The desired paper size of 42"x55" has already been entered in this Figure-3
After entering your desired custom paper size, click <OK>, the custom paper size window will close and the properties window should reflect the chosen custom paper size. See Figure-4 below.
You should now click on the <Finishing> Tab. The Properties dialog box will change (See Figure-5 below).
You should make appropriate selections. Then change to the <Effects> Tab of the Properties Dialog box.
In the <Effects> Tab of the Properties Dialog box, you will need to change the resizing option from the "Actual Size" radio button to the "Print Documents On" radio button. The option should show your previously set custom paper size.
The Color and Services tabs of the Property dialog box usually do not need changing. Figure-7 shows the color tab with no changes needed. We will not bother with Services tab.
Now go ahead and click the <OK> button, the properties dialog box will close.
Figure-8 now shows the print Dialog box with everything ready to go.
Note that the <Fit> radio button has been selected and the orientation should match what is desired and works. Note that you usually get a decent mini-preview of the actual plot and it should look good. You can go back and repeat some of the above steps if the preview window is not as desired. Once all is good, click on the <Print> button and it should be heading off to the plotter.