Create your own canvas

Canvas with family images on wall behind a sofa and chairs

Make memories into works of art.

In this snap-happy, technology driven age, large collections of digital prints are amassed, but many remain on phones or computers indefinitely.

One artistic way to bring photos to life is by printing your favorite shots on canvas.

Benefits of printing to canvas


Four square canvases showing baby photosPrinting pictures to canvas produces a much more tactile result than traditional photo printing, with a unique texture closer to what a painting may produce, says Cathy Church who runs a photo centre specialising in underwater photography.

Bouke Maddock of Picture This photo studio agrees, saying canvas has a soft finish due to the texture of the material, giving the image an artistic look.


Canvas lends itself well to any interior design style due to its multitude of framing options.

“One advantage of a canvas is there is no need to place in a frame, whilst a photo print will need to be matted and framed to look good on the wall,” says Bouke.

The option to leave a canvas unframed allows for bigger images in less space.

“Because canvas is stretched around the outside of the wooden frame, the image goes from edge to edge,” explains Cathy. “Thus, the amount of image space on a canvas hanging on a wall is bigger than the same wall space where the image is surrounded by a mat and frame. Canvas images take up less space on the wall.”

Canvas also avoids glare and reflections, which traditional framed prints with glass-fronts fall foul to, detracting from the details, and possibly requiring specific lighting.

Canvas with underwater photo showing coral, stingray and turtle


“The best thing about canvas is that you are really freed from the standard sizes like 16 x 20 inches,” says Cathy. Custom-sizes are available, as is the option to split images across several different canvases, with the image folded around the sides to create a seamless continuity.

Underwater shots, and other photos that benefit from a larger size, are especially suited to canvas.

“Almost all underwater cameras produce files that can make excellent enlargements,” says Cathy, who advises setting the camera to a RAW file format, or fine, or superfine jpeg setting. These high-quality image can be enlarged for canvas.

“You can easily get a long panorama like 16 x 35 inches, or any other combination,” explains Cathy. “Also, the canvas will be lighter than the same-sized, more expensive framed-print with backing board, mat, Plexiglas or glass.”

As with any photo enlargement, size and quality must be taken into consideration. Generally, photos should be high resolution, 2MB or more, as higher dimensions allow for clearer, larger canvases.


If canvas is done well it can be a long-lasting, sturdy medium.

“There are different grades to canvas which affect the thickness and quality,” explains Bouke.

“A thin canvas can lead to buckling or sagging of the canvas over time, and the quality of the canvas affects the sharpness of the print. Low-quality canvas can also have burrs and lint leaving white spots on the finished product.”

Longevity is enhanced when the printer uses the right materials.

“Always make sure your printer is using a high-quality ink such as Epson UltraChrome ink, which holds its colour over time and provides resistance to liquids,” says Bouke, who advises that printers should finish the canvas with a UV spray to hold the ink and prevent sun and light damage.

Another factor that while remaining unseen in the final product, affects the lifetime of a canvas piece is the wood frame, known as the stretcher bar.

“When it comes to the stretcher bar it is important to ensure the wood has a decent density and is shaped correctly to give the perfect finish and hold the shape,” says Bouke.

“Inexpensive is great but temporary.”

“Also, thicker bars are needed on very large prints so that they do not warp under the pressure of stretching the material around them,” adds Cathy.

Childrens bedroom with photos of children on canvas above two beds


Costs for printing to canvas vary, but you can expect to pay around $75 to $85 for an 11 x 14 inch canvas, printed and stretched, and up to $440 for a very large 26 x 84-inch canvas.