Category Archives: Tutorials

Should tourists walk to the Zaanse Schans?

From my window I see tourists on rental bikes and sometimes in an electric rickshaw going to the Zaanse Schans and then I wonder, “should tourists walk to the Zaanse Schans?”. In fact many actually walk all the way. But some clever business men started renting bicyles to tourists and one started a electric rickshaw taxi service. But is this necessary and are those tourist duped?

So I open my trusted Google maps and just let Google calculate the distance from the railway station Koog-Zaandijk to the entance of the famous open air museum Zaanse Schans. And what was the result? A mere 900 meters. A healthy person could walk that in less than fifteen minutes.

Taking a bike may save you some time, but not much. As a tourist you’re not used to the frantic Dutch traffic and you most likely have to stop a lot in order not to get in trouble. And you have to wait for the traffic lights just as much as a pedestrian. But most importantly you’re going to miss out at some photo opportunities the walkers enjoy.

First of all there is the windmill the “Bleeke Dood” (pale death). You’ll reach this windmill in less than 5 minutes. Walking on the other side of the street, which you will coming from the railway station, you are well positioned for a photo-op.
Walk to the Zaanse Schans

The windmill the “Bleeke Dood” is on the foot of the Juliana bridge across the river Zaan. It’s a big new modern bridge, you can’t miss it and you have to cross it to reach the Zaanse Schans. From this bridge you have beautiful view on the east shore of the river Zaan where the Zaanse Schans is located. Are you crossing the bridge on a bike? Prepare for a hassle and busy traffic which will dictate your course of action.

Walk to the Zaanse Schans over the Juliana bridge

Now you’re almost there. Enjoy your visit at the Zaanse Schans. When you’re done, on the way back you can grab a bite at two excellent bakeries. First a bit north of the Bleeke Dood at the other side of the busy crossing there is “Het Zaanse bakkertje”. On the same road back to the railway station you find “Bakkerij de Wijn“, a famous pastry shop in the Zaan region. You might have spotted it on your way to the Zaanse Schans.

So don’t spend your money on a stupid bike or rickshaw. But spend it on good food. And don’t forget to take some pictures with your iPhone, Nexus, Huawei or Samsung Galaxy.

Wrapping my head around Zazzle wrapping paper

A product change started me to wrapping my head around Zazzle wrapping paper again. Zazzle changed the size of the standard width of their wrapping paper products. They went from 24″ to 30″. Fine with me, I designed for 24″ so I keep to that width. Alas, 30″ is the only option and this is the result.

Zazzle wrapping paper fail

Normally I create an image of 5400 by 3600 pixels which give me 150 pixels per inch. The standard length is 36″ and the standard width was 24″. After 36″ the image is replicated again, a kind of tiling along the length of the roll every 36 inches.

Those who used a much smaller image and tiled it with the 36 by 24 inch format, wouldn’t have any problems with the new with of 30″. I could tile my large image also (along the width of the roll), but that gives the following ugly result at the egdes.

Ugly tiling Zazzle wrapping paper

This is because my images take in account tiling along the length of the roll and not the width. The solution is to create smaller square tiles and tile these over the 36 by 30 format. The problem is, how do you resize the square tile so that the row fits exactly in the 36″ length (remember, that 36″ is tiled again along the total length of the roll)?

With some experimenting I figured out that the default dpi for wrapping paper is 100dpi before resizing the image. So, with 36″ lenght and a square of 100 by 100 pixels will give me a row of 36 tiles. A bit too much, as is a tile of 200 by 200 (18 tiles). The best option is either a tile of 300 by 300 or 600 by 600. Keeping with the 100dpi default the tiles will fit exactly along the total length of the roll. Lets see an example of a 300 by 300 pixel tile:

Tile 300 by 300 pixels

When using the tile function of the Zazzle product tool we’ll get the following result. It looks great and Zazzle doesn’t protest about the low dpi of 100. Apparently it is good enough. But what if you want a higher dpi?

Completely tiled with 100dpi

A higher dpi you can get by simply take a larger image (f.i. 600 by 600 pixels in a 6″ by 6″ square) and resize to half the size in the Zazzle product tool (f.i. 600 by 600 pixels crammed in 3″ by 3″). This should result in 200 dpi, but Zazzle doesn’t allow for exact resizing. Tiling along the length, over the 36″ format, won’t give a nice result.

One strip of tiles to rule them all

For this problem I deviced a clever solution. Simply create one image of a row of a desired number of tiles and “fit” this in the standard lentgh of 36″. I created this example of 7200 by 600 pixels (12 tiles).

One strip of tiles to rule them all

Next step is to fit this image in the 36″ by 30″ format. So 7200 pixels snuggly fitted in 36″ will get me 200 dpi, good enough for me.

Fit the strip snuggly

Since tiling along the length of the roll is now fixed properly, I only have to tile along the width of the standard format. For that I use the build in tile function of Zazzle. With the following result.

Tiled correctly all the way in 200dpi

And the result in my Zazzle store “Fresh Patterns”.

Now, I made a bunch of wrapping paper design with the first 100 dpi tiling method. From now on I’ll use the second method in order to get the desired 200dp.


I’ve made a Pinterest board for all my Zazzle wrapping and gift paper designs.