Homemade framed posters

The background for this idea was that we wanted to give a money gift at a wedding but we wanted it to be more than a card and an envelope. In essence, this is it: A framed poster featuring an aquarium and some fish. On closer inspection, the fish turn out to be origami made from bills of money. This works well because most currencies (except USD) have colorful bills.


Click to enlarge.

I admit that we’ve used this idea several times and we keep coming back to it. It’s always very well received and earns very positive comments from other guests too. It’s not even that hard to do:

  1. print an aquarium background image
  2. fold money bills into origami fish (YouTube instructions)
  3. put the fish on the aquarium image
  4. frame the image

How To

I recently made a handful of posters like this (without the money) to hang in the kids’ rooms and I had the thought to document the concept as well as the process. The brilliant thing is that we can turn this into a small family project, and we can repeat it at basically zero cost when the posters become boring.

You’ll need:

  • a high-res digital image (at least 1000 pixels on the shortest side; more is better)
  • a pair of sharp long scissors and a steady hand (longer scissors make straighter cuts; you probably don’t have a paper cutter that’s long enough)
  • liquid glue with a very fine tip (less glue means less wavy paper)
  • a frame (I like IKEA NYTTJA because it’s cheap, colorful, and easy to work with)
  • color printer and suitable paper (A4/legal size means less gluing than if you only have 10x15cm / 4″x6″)

First, we use Google Image Search to find whatever we like. If you do this, remember to click on “Search tools” and select “Large” image size. Small images don’t look good when they are scaled up to poster size. Also, choose an image that has the approximate proportions of the frame you’re going to use.



The next step is probably the most complicated: how do we print an image larger than one piece of paper? Luckily, smart people have made software that helps us, and it’s even free! I use Posterazor because it’s relatively simple to use, produces very good results, and it works on all operating systems.

Be sure to set at least 1cm margin because otherwise there won’t be enough edge to glue on. Experiment with the rest of the settings: portrait vs landscape, total size, … my goal is to minimize the number of pages because the result is nicer – and it’s less work! Make sure your poster is large enough to fill the intended frame. In this example my poster will be too wide so I will have to trim it later on.


Once you’ve found an image and ran it through Posterazor, you will have a PDF file that you can simply print out. Start with just the first page to make sure it comes out right - color, orientation, correct paper tray, etc. In this example, I used plain photocopy paper because it’s good enough for the purpose. It’s also thinner than photo paper which makes the glued result nicer. It’s a trade-off because colors are much brighter on photo paper.


Here I’ve lined up the pages and I’ve started cutting the edges off. I only cut two sides off because I need the remaining sides as overlap for gluing. I use an absolute minimum of glue because more glue means more moisture on the paper which means more wavy paper. You can see I’m using very little:


So far so good! The poster is actually too wide but the height matches the frame. So let’s see how much I need to remove from the sides.


As I said, I like the IKEA NYTTJA because it’s cheap and colorful.


Here I’ve unwrapped the frame and laid the clear acrylic on the poster. You can see the black markings on the protective film that I’ll remove later. At this point I’m deciding what part of the poster to trim.


Here’s the framed image. This one will also be a money gift (like the one at the top of the post) so I am going to disassemble it again and put some origami fish in, secured with small pieces of tape. In case you missed it above, I found these YouTube instructions for folding those fish. Put some googly eyes on them for added effect!


We also made some other posters that now hang in the kids’ rooms. Here are two:

BP 14 wickie_wikingerschiff-fa-it


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