Lightroom 3 Poster Tutorial

I received a comment from a reader last week who was curious how I created my posters and what software I used. I covered this in detail about nine months ago but it’s well worth the time to review it once more today.

As you know, there are several different ways to create a poster in Photoshop CS4 or CS5 and Scott Kelby’s books explain most of these methods in great detail. Being lazy, I prefer to let Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Print Module do the heavy lifting most of the time.

Palo Duro Canyon 20x16 Poster

The first step in creating this type of Print Template is to setup a custom Page Size in Lightroom 3 such as the 20″ x 16″ page shown above. I chose 20″ x 16″ since its a common frame size available and the white borders used result in a very viewable 17″ x 11″ image size.

Once you’ve set your page size you’ll need to change the Image Settings as shown below to add a medium gray Stroke Border around your image giving it the appearance of being matted.

Lightroom Print Layout Settings

Lightroom Image Settings & Layout

To create a poster Layout, you’ll need to change the Margins to add the white border and set the Page Grid to 1 row and 1 column. This should result in a Cell Size exactly 17″ wide and 11″ high.

I use Lightroom 3’s Overlay settings to add a custom Identity Plate to the white border below the image as shown below.

Lightroom's Overlay Settings

Lightroom's Overlay Settings

This is where things can get a little tricky so I’ve created three custom Identity Plate templates including a one-line, two-line and three-line version to add and modify as needed.

Lightroom's Identity Plate

Centering Lightroom's Identity Plate

Centering the Identity Plate in the bottom white border can also be a little tricky and this feature has been improved only slightly in the Lightroom 3.

The best way I’ve found to do this is enlarge it to 100% and then center it with the edges of your image, moving it up and down, little by little until it looks about right. Then reduce to to somewhere between 60% – 75% until the text is smaller than the image width as shown above.

Editing an Identity Plate

Editing an Identity Plate

A few tricks to make this look really nice:

  • Use an all-caps font like Trajan Pro for a really elegant look.
  • Add a blank space between each letter in a word and three blank spaces between each word.
  • Create a multi-line identity plate by adding pressing Option+Return to start a new line.
  • Use different font sizes for different parts of the identity plate.

Once you’ve finished this you can save your poster as a Print Template to use again and again.

16 thoughts on “Lightroom 3 Poster Tutorial

  1. Interesting that the Windows version does not have the overlays panel or line options as shown above or even the Trajan Pro font.

  2. Great Tutorial. The only problem I have is that now I save the JPG to disk and have to reimport into Lightroom to publish to Flickr or Facebook. Do you know of anyway around this? If not, then I might be easier to just edit in CS5 and add the border as I’m already going there anyway for post processing.


    • Sean,

      I don’t reimported my .jpg files into LR3 since they are the finished “product”. For uploading into Flickr I use the Flickr Export plug-in.


  3. Silly question I suppose…

    I’ve been doing these poster layouts in PhotoShop, but love the idea of using LR3 to speed up the workflow. Problem is how to do the two and three line identity plate. I saw the ‘Option Return” to get the second line, but I can’t see it. The cursor goes to a new line, but it isn’t visible in the box. What am I missing, how do I scroll down the box to position the second line? Also how do I center the two lines so they are not simply left justified?

    Thanks Jeff, I’m enjoying the instructive posts.

    • Glenn,

      You’ve hit upon the largest problem when creating posters in LR3 but if you are careful you can create a two or three line identity plate using text. I’ve got four or five different versions that I use and modify. It’s just a case of trial and error I’m afraid. At least until LR4. If you get stuck send me an email and I’ll go through it in detail.


  4. Hello Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial. One problem I am having is getting the print size for 20X16 in the print module. Can you share how you got the print size set up?


      • I use an Epson Artisan 810 on Windows Vista and it doesn’t allow me to specify a print size that large.

        All I want to do is create my own size for printing purposes via MPIX.

        • Chris,

          I’m not sure how this works in Windows but try setting the Page Setup as shown in my previous comment. Does it all you to set the Format For: to Any Printer?


        • Hi Jeff,

          I figured out how to change the dimensions to 20X16. First off, you need goto “Print Job” section and change “Print to: JPEG.” Look for “Custom File Dimensions” then change it to 20X16.

          Hope this helps.

    • Bettie,

      Thanks for reading. I don’t do my own printing these days since the folks at Mpix are much better at it than I ever was. You can use this poster template to print to a high-res (240 lpi) JPEG just like I do.


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