How to create pixel perfect images for patterns or print using free software
I'll start off by saying that you can definitely create your images in Vector format using software such as Adobe Illustrator or Gimp. But getting to know how to draw with these tools might be a bit of a learning curve if you haven't used them before so this quick tutorial is for those who are more comfortable using Windows Paint or MacPaint or other paint-based software. But you can easily make your graphics using Windows Paint or MacPaint and add them to a program like Word to create your pattern. Below is a bit of a step-by-step which is lengthy but hopefully helpful. Just make sure that Rulers are turned on (under the "View" menu) and that the Properties for your document (under File) are set to what you want them at (I would suggest for this process you use cm or inches - whatever you have Word set at.) I would also suggest that you create your initial drawing 3 times larger than you need so that when you re-size it for the PDF is doesn't get too stretched or over-pixelated. PAINT Program
Create your image in Windows Paint or MacPaint for Macintosh (see bottom of blog for other free software downloads).
Make sure you have Rulers turned turned on (under the "View" menu)
Set the size Properties for your document under File (I would suggest for this process you use cm or inches - whatever you have Word set at.)
Create your image to be 3 times as large as you want it to be in the end.
Crop your document down so that it is the exact size of your drawing, meaning that all the edges of your drawing are right on the edge of your document (see the crop handles in the blue circled areas). Pull these handles into the exact edge of your graphic.
Save your image as a JPG or PNG or GIF, etc.
If you want your image to be super, super accurate you can use a free program called IrfanView to size it to the correct dimensions for the 300 DPI print that you need. You can download the program for free here: http://www.irfanview.com/ This is an excellent program for doing any simple photo alterations such as resizing, colour adjustment, etc. Be sure you watch when you are installing for any check boxes that are set by default for installing browser software or anything like that. I installed this program a long time ago and don't recall if they have any of those or not, but it is free software and sometimes free software has that kind of thing.
Check out the screen capture above and the areas I have circled in blue.
Open your image in IrfanView and then click "Image" under the top menu. Then click "Resize/Resample Image" from the dropdown list.
Set the exact dimensions that you want your image to be (under "Set New Size")
Set your units to cm or inches (to match what you are using in Paint and Word)
Add checks in check boxes as I have checked in the capture for "Apply Sharpen after Resample" and "Adjust DPI".
Change the DPI to 300
Click OK and then Save your graphic with a new name (so you can revert to the old one if you need it).
Create a new Word Doc (or open one you already have going)
Insert the newly sized graphic you just made
Click on the image and then click on the “Format” Tab on the far right of the top ribbon (see the format button in above image circled in blue)
Enter the exact height or width that your image should be on the right. It should keep it’s ratio so if you change one dimension the other should change to match the correct ratio (see area circled in blue).
Add the rest of your pattern instructions or other details to your document and save to PDF or whatever you would normally do.
I tried this process and printed out my image and it printed to the exact size I wanted it at, so this should work for you. Any questions or suggestions of software or processers you have used please let me know. I'd love to hear if this works for you so add some comments below and I will get back to you.
Upcoming blog - Making Vector Graphics
Using vector based programs will get you a vector graphic which you can resize to any dimension that you want without losing quality and send for laser cutting, etc. I'll write a post later on for creating a pattern using Illustrator later on.
How to use Windows Paint
FREE software downloads:
Mac based software:
Windows based software: