How To Create a PCAL Calendar Superimposed Onto a Background Image


Iain Mac Donald has written and generously provided this tutorial, including screenshots, which describes how to create some very nice calendars by superimposing a PCAL-generated calendar onto a large background image.

Iain's technique should be useful in a variety of ways to create some visually-stunning calendars.


Iain says:

I was aware of a mouse-mat, manufactured by Hama, which has a short-edge slot and clear (but mottled) plastic covering enabling the insertion of a printed image. I had thought that this would make an excellent present for my girlfriend. The selected image will have a 12 month PCAL calendar super-imposed so that the mat could be used as a reference tool.

There was however one problem. When the foreground text colour and tone was similar, or the same, as the background image then dates could effectively become camouflaged.

Although it would be possible to change the colour of individual dates using PCAL, it would take a lot of effort to match this with the selected image. I decided it would be easier to achieve my desired result using a graphical application.


  1. Produce the calendar

    pcal -w -B -F monday -o -P a4 2008

    Change the year and filename to suit.

  2. Make the postscript editable

    The whole point of doing it this way is so that individual dates are editable. To achieve this we will use the excellent command line tool pstoedit (version 3.44). From the pstoedit man page:

    "pstoedit converts PostScript and PDF files to various vector graphic formats. The resulting files can be edited or imported into various drawing packages."

    Each date becomes an editable object. So, for instance, you can change the colour. As will be explained in the next section there are two ways I have edited the output of pstoedit.

    If you are going to edit using Skencil:

    pstoedit -rotate 270 -f sk

    If you are going to edit using Inkscape:

    pstoedit -rotate 270 -f plot-svg cal2008.svg

  3. Open calendar in vector graphics editor

    As noted above, you have your choice of vector graphics editors. I have used both Skencil and Inkscape successfully. There are lots of vector graphics editors available.

    The screenshot below shows the PCAL calendar imported into Skencil:

    pcal calendar imported into Skencil

    Figure 1 -- The PCAL calendar, imported into Skencil

    Note: The screenshot shows the text with jaggies. This only appears on-screen and not in the printed output.

    Open your calendar file in your application of choice and import the background image. Skencil (version 0.16.7) can import jpeg, gif, pbm, ppm, tiff, bmp, and pcx. Inkscape can import the same formats as Skencil plus png, bmp, and wmf among others.

    The screenshot below shows the PCAL calendar with background image in Inkscape:

    pcal calendar with background image in Inkscape

    Figure 2 -- The PCAL calendar, imported into Inkscape, with background image

    As an example "March 24th" with its black text is very difficult to read against the dark green background. So we select "24" as an object and change the text colour to yellow.

    fixing text color

    Figure 3 -- Fixing Hard-To-Read Text By Changing Colours

    Repeat with any other similar hard-to-read dates. Save and print.

Iain Mac Donald
January 2008
pcal (at) picturenow dot co dot uk