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Big Prints!

For all of its significance in the church year, creating a visual for Ascension Day is a tough assignment. Christ’s work on earth was done and he returned to heaven to take his rightful place. The tricky part in representing this idea is the mix of tangible and intangible. We can imagine what it might be like to be among the disciples, but what about the part about Christ being taken into heaven and, as Mark writes, sitting at the right hand of God? Both ideas are critical to our understanding of what Christ did for us.

Ready for Prime Time

In the past couple of years, prints from wide-format inkjet printers have fallen in price and are about ready for prime time in our worship spaces. By "wide format," I mean at least 56 inches wide and nearly unlimited length. These large prints are available at sign companies, office supply shops, and many copier outlets. The technology behind them is not much different than your desktop photo printer. The prints are just bigger. Much bigger.

The terrific color and print quality of these printers reproduce artwork or photographs well and allow for typographical treatments that aren’t possible with any other medium. For my Ascension Day print, artist Chris Overvoorde graciously allowed me to take a portion of one of his paintings of cloud formations, to which I added the word Ascension and the crown. I then used Photoshop, currently the most popular image-editing software, to add the glowing lighting effect to the typography.

The space on this page doesn’t allow me to go into adequate detail about how image-editing software works. If a computer isn’t your drawing board, find a graphic designer in your congregation to help.

Prepare Yourself

Getting a good print out of one of these machines requires having a quality image of high enough resolution to begin with. Prepare your electronic file carefully and try for a resolution of 100 dots per inch (dpi) at 100 percent of final size (or 200 dpi at 50 percent of final size, or 400 dpi at 25 percent, and so on). For our 5' x 12' banner, the final file was 330 MB; we delivered it to the banner-maker on a CD. Color depth should be process color (CMYK) and not screen color (RGB).

The sign companies that I dealt with were as interested as I was in experimenting and were very willing to show me samples of what they had done and the many different substrates that were available to print on: vinyl, canvas, and different weights of paper. Go for the canvas or heavy vinyl for durability. One print I had done was used outside for an entire summer and neither the color nor the canvas seemed affected by the sun or rain.

Think of the possibilities for bringing our art–and our message of Christ’s kingship–outside for all the world to see!