Showcasing children’s artwork – 16×20-inch poster template & directions

As any parent knows, children have a way of creating lots of art work in a short amount of time, starting from the time they’re a toddler and continuing well throughout elementary school. Realistically, it’s not possible to save every work of art. But that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it altogether. I’ve come up with a beautiful way to showcase your children’s artwork for you.

My 8-year-old daughter comes home at the end of each school year with a folder of artwork, created throughout the year in art class. A couple years ago, I found a great way to showcase all of her talents without having to keep all the originals. I created a 16×20-inch poster template and chose the top nine works of art from the year to feature. I printed the poster at a local copy shop and had it matted and framed. Each year’s work hangs in her room where she can enjoy looking at it with a sense of pride and accomplishment, which I think is so important for children today. Here’s what hers from 2015-2016 looked like printed and framed (see here).

Choosing the artwork

You’re probably going to have lots of items to choose from. This template features nine different pieces of art, so you’ll need to narrow your selection down to that number. Once I narrowed down my selection, I spread each piece of artwork flat on a piece of white foam board and took a photograph of it, standing directly over it so as not to distort it. (Just be sure you’re feet don’t end up in the photographs!). I then downloaded the images, cropped them and edited them in Photoshop until they looked like they did in real life. Sometimes you have to tweak the colors a little bit as the photographs can look kind of washed out at times. Next, I sized them down to fit in my template (you’re going to want to size them approximately 4 inches wide and 300 DPI) and saved them in a folder titled “Hannah Artwork.”

Poster template

Next, I opened my poster template (download your template here). You’re going to need Photoshop in order to use this template. If you don’t already have Photoshop, you can download a 30-day free trial here, or sign up for their Creative Cloud Photographer’s Plan which includes Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99/mo. here (that’s what I have).

Putting together your poster

Open the poster template titled “Yearly Artwork Retrospective.” It should look something like this:

Each line of text is editable, so you can change anything you want to via the layers palate on the right hand side of the screen. The gray squares are where we’re going to clip each work of art to, forming the poster.

Here’s what the template looks like opened in Photoshop:

You can see on the right side of the screen the different layers we’re going to be working in. There are three text layers and we’re going to edit them first.

Click on the “Child’s Full Name Here” layer, chose your text tool on the left side of the screen (the icon that looks like a “T”) and type your child’s full name into the poster. The line of text is already centered. Next, select the “Year-Year ARTWORK” layer and type either the school year range or the year the artwork was created. Again, this line is centered for you as well. You can also edit these lines to read anything you want if you would like to change something.

Adding the artwork

Next, we’re going to add in the artwork files you’ve edited and saved. Each of the nine images you selected are going to be placed into the template and clipped to one of the gray square layers. The layers are identified by their location (bottom right, bottom middle, bottom left, and so on).

Start by highlighting the layer you want to clip the first image to using your arrow tool from the left side toolbar. From the main menu, select “File>Place” and chose your image. Press “enter” to place the image. You can move it around later. My example looks like this:

You can see how my artwork image is hiding behind the gray squares. Next, we’re going to clip the new layer you placed to the gray square below it over in the layer’s palate on the right side of the screen. You can do this by selecting the artwork layer with your arrow tool and pressing “option” (you’ll see a small gray square with an arrow pointing down to the layer below) then clicking on the gray “Clip image here” layer below. Alternatively, you can select the artwork layer with your arrow tool, go to “Layer>Create Clipping Mask” and select the layer you want to clip to. Use the arrow tool to move the artwork to the desired square until it fills it. If you need to resize the image to fit the template square, use “Command-T” to transform the artwork into the desired area.

Here is my template with the artwork clipped to the bottom right layer:

Next, repeat these steps for the remaining eight squares. Remember, you can select the artwork layer and use “Command-T” to transform the artwork to fit the square as needed. You might have to get creative how you crop some of your child’s artwork or you may choose to enlarge it to feature a prominent design element, it’s up to you. Do what looks visually best to you.

Finalizing the poster

Now that we have all the artwork clipped to all nine of the gray boxes and sized appropriately, we’re going to flatten the entire poster down so we can save it as a JPEG, which is what most print shops require for printing. Once you’re absolutely certain everything is exactly as you want it, go to “Layer>Flatten Image.” This merges all of the layers into one. Next, we’re going to save it as a JPEG. Go to “File>Save As.” You’ll see this dialog box pop up. Name the file whatever you wish. Under “Format” you’ll see a list of options, select “JPEG” and click “Save As” to complete the process.

Printing

Now you have your finished poster, all ready for printing. Generous margins are included so there is no worry of any of your child’s artwork being accidentally cut off the print. The file is 16×20-inches at 300 DPI which is a more than adequate resolution for printing. Simply choose the print shop of your choice (I’ve used Costco, Walmart and Walgreens with good results), upload the image and have it printed. It fits in a 16×20-inch frame with generous white margins if you don’t want to mat the image and put it in a larger frame.

Finally, hang your child’s artwork on your walls for everyone to enjoy. You’re going to love how this simplifies all the paper clutter while showing off your child’s artistic talents. It’s also fun to see the evolution of their style over the years as they develop new skills and techniques. And it’s a great boost to your child’s self-esteem to see their work valued in such a manner.

I can’t wait to see what you create!

If you have any questions or run into any trouble using this template, please leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to trouble shoot for you!



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37 Comments

  • Jessica Peresta

    This is such a great idea! I am always looking for ways to save my kiddos art work, but not have it thrown around everywhere also.

    • Jen

      Thank you – this is a great way to display it in a stylish fashion (and get rid of the paper mess!)

  • Belle

    This is such a great idea! I need to do this!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  • Dara

    What a fun way to preserve art! My son made a very similar when I’m 100 project. 🙂

    • Jen

      That’s awesome – I’d love to see it!

  • Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms

    I love this idea! Will definitely be saving this for when my daughter is older!

    • Jen

      Thank you! I’m starting one for my two year old daughter this year.

  • Joanna

    This is such an adorable idea! I need to get better at doing something with my kiddos art.

    • Jen

      Thank you! I finally decided on this after years of artwork was hoarded by myself … knew I couldn’t keep it all forever and wanted a way to preserve most of it!

  • Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries

    Awesome idea! My daughter has SO much artwork and it’s starting to overtake our apartment! 🙂

    • Jen

      Thank you! Time to start taking some pics and make yourself a poster!

  • hanna - platforms and pacifiers

    Oh my goodness! I love this! Such a sweet way to show off the kids art but not in a sloppy way!

    • Jen

      Thank you! I love that this blends well with our decor.

  • Angela Fry

    I love this idea. I have triplets and we are overflowing with artwork that I just can bear to toss out. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Jen

      Oh boy, you have your hand – and home – full! I hope this helps contain some of their creations!

  • Stephanie Cox

    Oh my gosh! I am pinning this for sure. What a fantastic way to display their work.

    • Jen

      Thank you! I love that’s it’s very classy looking, yet still shows their talents well.

  • Meg

    I love the idea of turning all the random artwork into a fun photo collage!

    • Jen

      Thanks! My daughter loves seeing all her work showcased!

  • Danielle @ A Sprinkle of Joy

    This is such a great idea! I don’t think I would have every thought of doing something like this.

    • Jen

      Thank you! Once you have the template, it’s a quick project!

  • rachel

    I need to do this. Is it bad that I’m AWFUL and keep literally every piece of art my 4 year old does!? LOL

    • Kiley D. Smith

      I love love love love this idea. Thank you for the awesome template!

      • Jen

        You’re welcome – can’t wait to see what you come up with. Share it with me if you make one, I’d love to see it!

    • Jen

      I know, it’s so hard to let that stuff go … this makes it a little easier!

  • Charissa | thenotsobusymom

    We choose some pieces and hang them here and there, but I really love your idea. The work can be preserved and displayed.

    • Jen

      Thank you! I still keep the “best of” and have framed a few of the originals too.

  • Adriana

    This is a brilliant idea! Thank you so much for sharing all the links, info, etc. I’m going to see if my husband can make it for me for mother’s day. haha

    • Jen

      This would be a great mother’s day gift! We actually made the first one as a father’s day gift for my husband!

  • Melissa

    This is such a great idea! I want to do this when my little guy gets a little bit older.

    • Jen

      Thank you! I’ve even started saving my two-year-old’s drawings to make a poster like this soon.

  • Hannah

    This is such a good idea so that you can condense art papers!

    • Jen

      Thank you! I still keep the “best of” each year, but this weeds out so many of the others!

  • val

    THANK YOU for this! I really need to get my daughter’s art projects under control and I love the idea of keeping it consistent in a pretty print 🙂

    • Jen

      Thank you – it’s really quite easy to do. The hardest thing for me is getting all the pieces to lay flat to photograph them. Sometimes I have to place them under a heavy book for a day or two.

  • Lindsey

    What a great idea!! Love this and want to try it for our artwork!

    • Jen

      Thank you! If you make a poster, send me a pic – I’d love to see it!

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