Making A0 posters on GNU/Linux and previewing printout

We’re going to present PicoForge at the JRES 2007 congress, with an A0 poster.

I’ve been trying to make one with GNU/Linux of course, but it’s not been an easy task.

My main concern was to be able to preview the future results in real dimensions, i.e. being able to print various A4 sheets, then assemble them together to see a real size representation of the future poster. This would help notice readability issues that wouldn’t be obvious on the lower scale representation on-screen.

There’s a nice tool called poster which can be used to convert an EPS A0 (for instance) document into a multi-page A4 document (16 pages for A0) which will have cutting marks, and partial overlap of borders so that it’s easy to cut and assemble the sheets to form a full size poster.

I’ve also tried and follow the rules of our institution communication department to keep with their graphic charter. I tried and reuse their PPT example presentations.

The obvious path meant using OpenOffice, then… but the problem is that OpenOffice Impress (at least in the 2.0 version I used on my Debian lenny system) would not produce a EPS result that poster would understand 🙁

Believe me, these tests on several hundreds of megs (or a couple of gigs) documents were quite long 🙁

After several hours lost in testing, I changed my mind and tried Scribus. And guess what ? It will export nice PDF or EPS that can be converted with poster to what I need to preview my poster !

Of course, Scribus was designed to create the kinds of documents, more than OpenOffice Impress module 😉

So my advice is :

  • make an A0 document with Scribus
  • export to EPS
  • convert the EPS to PS with poster. Something like : poster -v -iA0 -mA4 -pA0 -o poster-A0.eps
  • check the results with a little bit of cut and paste, in full size

Now, I have to check the last steps : generate a 600 DPI PDF and try and have it printed on A0 by some printing shop… Hopefully it’s OK. I’ll keep you informed of the results.

Update 2007/11/27 : the poster was printed by the JRES organisers, and renders quite nice. More details here.

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