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Eight-In-One Postcard Printing Aid
Eight-In-One Postcard Printing Aid
Published by Bob
22nd October 2008
Default Eight-In-One Postcard Printing Aid

A simple printing aid (I hesitate to call it an easel) that allows eight 6x4 postcards to be printed on a single sheet of 12x16 paper, reducing processing time.


It is very simple: I didn't see the point in doing something complex for occasional use. The aid uses two pieces of black card (I used ordinary brown card covered in black paper) each 12x16 with cut-outs to print the postcards. To reinforce the card I have used black duct tape around the edges. Optionally, a lid is made for the cut-outs to allow positioning before making the enlargement. Alternately the red swing-out filter beneath the lens included with many enlargers can be used to position the aid and paper.

One of the card pieces has a 6x4" cut-out in one corner...

And the other has the cut-out 4" in from one corner.

The optional "lid" can be seen above too. The lid is made from card cut to the same 4x6" size as the cut-out. Another piece a couple of cm wider on three sides is stuck on top to provide a light-baffle and to allow the lid to sit snugly in the cut-outs. Black tape around the edges masks the overlap so the actual cut-out size is in white, allowing positioning of the aid under the enlarger without exposing the photo paper underneath.

In Use

Insert your negative in the enlarger and adjust enlargement size, focus and find exposure time, grade, burning and dodging etc as usual. Then prepare to print the postcards.

The cover with the corner cut-out is selected and a sheet of 12x16 paper is placed under it and placed on the baseboard of the enlarger. Because the cover and the paper are the same size, it is easy to align them. I start out with the corner cut-out at the top left.

The lid is placed on (or the red filter is swung in place) and the enlarger switched on and the aid positioned correctly under the enlarger.

Switch off, remove the lid (if used) and make the exposure.

Flip the aid over so the corner cut-out is at the bottom left and repeat the positioning and exposure.

Flip the aid over so the cut-out is at bottom right and repeat.

Flip the aid over so the cut-out is at top right and repeat.

Now select the aid with the cut-out 4" from one edge and repeat the sequence.


Of course, if you prefer to start bottom left and go clockwise etc, feel free, but get in to the habit of doing it the same way each time to avoid confusion. After processing you end up with a sheet looking something like below. There will be some overlapping of images at the edges but if you are careful these are only a couple of mm and easily trimmed off.

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By Dave miller on 23rd October 2008, 06:37 AM

This looks good, I note that you have waited until just after I ordered a box of Ilford postcard paper before posting this.

Two immediate thoughts occur to me.
  • If a card base is made with a 2cm strip along one short, and on long side, then you would have something to butt both the paper and card cut-outs against, which may make alignment easier.
  • If the printing cut-outs were slightly smaller then a white border will be left around each print, which will make trimming easier.
A self adhesive label on the back will stiffen the paper for its journey through the postal system, and provide a better medium for writing on.
Just as soon as Ive used 100 sheets of Ilford Post Card paper up I shall give this a go.
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By Bob on 23rd October 2008, 05:18 PM

Sorry 'bout that Dave - I did give prior warning a few days ago, but that was probably too late too ...

One thing I did think of was to take a 12x16" frame and adapt that so you can drop the paper and cover in to obtain more accurate alignment but it just seemed too much hassle - KISS is my motto (especially when it comes to me attempting Blue Peter presenter impersonations)...

Yes, I use labels on the back so I can print the details via computer and it does as you say add stiffness. Fibre paper works well too and the world's various Post Offices manage to not damage them - I suspect a label is important for fibre survival tho.
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By Stoo Batchelor on 6th January 2010, 06:34 PM

Just a quick thanks to Bob,

I needed some small identicle prints for doing some testing. I remembered your article and set about making one of these myself. I made a slight modification in that I made just the one card from black mount board cut to size and glued together (see pic)

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It works on the same principle, print two images, turn card over away from you, print two more and turn card over to your left, print two more and turn card over towards you, print the last two, job done. I did keep the cut out pieces but instead of using them I just covered the cut out not in use with one of the black plastic bags that come with all printing papers.

It's worth remembering that a 645 neg when printed full frame will not fill a 6 x 4 inch window, so you will have to make some adjustments if you are looking for perfection.

Very easy to use and in a short session I had made the sixteen prints that I needed .

Thanks again

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By Mike O'Pray on 6th January 2010, 07:06 PM

Looks good, Bob. If anyone was in the business of producing a large number of postcards and had access to a machine shop or knew a Design and Technology teacher at a local school/college then there's a good chance these days that there is a laser cutter which cuts plastic to within a fraction of 1mm.

It could probably give consistent borders and a keyline if required.

Just a thought to those of you looking to produce postcard size prints in volume. With a 16x12 slotty thing or tray you could produce 24 6x4 prints from a 24 frame roll on 3 sheets in a fraction of the time taken to process each print one at a time.

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By Bob on 6th January 2010, 07:15 PM

Cool idea Stoo - love the lateral thinking!
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By helmutk on 5th May 2011, 02:03 PM

Nicely done. Will show you my version of it soon :-)
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