Laminated Plant Signs

willameadowsJuly 29, 2006

I'm sitting here at the computer at 5:40 a.m. on a Saturday. I didn't go to the Market today, but my husband did. But I got up early to make a couple plant signs he needed. I saw a thread on this forum from awhile back about how to laminate signs for crops. So I thought I would share what we do.

We bought a laminator this year, for about $25.00 at Walmart, and it was a great investment. I make signs (@ 5" x 7")for each crop by going to Google, type in the plant name, and search "Google Images". That usually brings up lots of pictures. I find the one I want, then I copy it to a blank Word document (note that some images are copywrited, but many aren't), add text boxes and type in the description. (I copy it using the 'Print Screen" button on the keyboard, along with "Ctrl + C", open the blank document and hit 'Ctrl + V". That puts the whole screen image onto a Word document.) I crop the picture of the screen to get just the plant image, then insert a text box and add a description. Then I print the sign and laminate it. It has worked really well, and we have good looking, waterproof signs for all our crops. We clip the signs onto thin bamboo stakes and put one in each crop.

I don't know how/if this would work with other word processing programs, but it works with Word. When I click on the image that I just copied to the document, a tool box opens that has the tool for cropping. (It looks like #) Click it, then click on one of the little boxes that will be on each side of the image. Drag the box to where you want to crop to and release. It sounds complicated but is really easy.

I have used Print Shop in the past to make signs, but for me it is easier to use Word and find the images on Google. I don't know how to store the images I find as a picture file (like jpeg), so I couldn't use them with Print Shop. If anyone knows how to store images from the internet as a picture file, or how to change a word document with just a photo on it to a picture file, I would like to know how. There are web sites where you can buy images, or buy a subscription to get images. I have never tried that.

Well, it's 6:12 a.m. and I'm going back to bed. Hubby and I take turns going to market, and it's his turn, so my turn to sleep in!

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You have to use some sort of graphics software to manage images but Word seems to be getting you most of what you need. When you crop the image after cutting and pasting it there should be a tool (pull down) that allows you to Save or Save As. After clicking on that function it should give you a choice of what storage system you want = like JPEG or TIFF. You should build a file somewhere on your system where you want to store all your signs - like a "My Signs" folder inside your My Documents folder, and inside that folder you should build another folder and call it "Pictures" (yes, I mean a folder inside a folder inside another folder). When you get the photos the way you want them you can save them each there - but name them with some sort of systematic name. If you accidentally name the same name you have already used your system may not tell you that it is overiding the old picture with the new one. I use a system of the plants name and the date just to be safe. When you build your document (sign) in Word, you then can link to each photo from your photo folder by cutting and pasting. Sometimes after printing or if something goes wrong with your computer the files will loose the link to the picture and you will have to re-establish the links but if all your photos are in the same folder it won't take long. If you want to save the files of the finished signs you can just save (Save As) the Word documents in the My Signs folder and remember to develope some sort of naming system so that all that information makes sense.

There is plenty of simple text + image management software out there - no need to learn something new, just use what you got.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 4:21PM
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I have lots of folders within folders within folders! Right now I just save the finished signs as word documents, and you're right - if I do more than one of the same plant I have to give it a new name. I have been using just a number after the plant name, but I like your idea of using the date. I have tried using "Save As" to save a picture that I pasted onto Word, but it doesn't give me the option of a jpeg or other picture file. I guess that's not really important, but if I could save the pictures as a picture file I could import them to Print Shop, which is more versatile than Word for making tags, etc. One method that worked but was tedious was to print out the Word document then scan it back into the computer as a picture. It always seemed to lose some quality doing that, tho.

Well, it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon so I'm wondering what I'm doing here at the computer......the garden is calling....

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 7:07PM
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Well it's now Monday morning and I am sitting in an office that doesn't even have a window!

You could just save the file after you screen capture the entire image. Build the sign, make it fill the screen, press the "Print Screen" button and then paste it into a new document, but the quality would suffer a bit.

Computer screens live in the land of 72 dpi resolution and speak only RGB language. Printed on paper things live in the land of 200 dpi or greater and speak only CMYK. No matter how big the file is for your photo or sign, the screen on your system is gonna display it at 72 dots per inch - so when you do a screen capture (the Print Screen button) you can only grab a 72 dpi image. Comparing monitor images to printed on paper images is worse than comparing apples to oranges. It is next to impossible to get a paper print as vibrant or accurate as a projected on a screen image.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 9:21AM
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