- Frame depth - The thicker the frame depth, the more drama the print will have. For example, a two-inch frame will have more visual impact than a .75-inch frame. Likewise, deeper frames are needed if the print will hang on a heavily textured wall, like one covered with stone.
- Border color - A white border gives a canvas print the appearance of floating on the wall while an image wrap border extends the print around the sides of the frame. There are other options as well, including a mirrored border and just about any color under the rainbow.
- Canvas finish - If glare is a concern, a matte finish is ideal. If you want your print to have the look of an oil painting, a semi-gloss finish is more appropriate. There are other choices, too, including glossy, vintage, and iridescent.
- A First-Timer's Guide to Getting Professional Prints of Your Photos
- How to Create a Stunning Photo Wall Display
I love a good canvas print. There's just something about the texture that gives photos an added sense of depth and dimension that I really like.
But as I discovered in my canvas print secret shopper shootout, not all canvas is made alike (spoiler alert - CanvasHQ won that contest hands-down). Unfortunately, a lot of people find this out the hard way when they opt for a bargain-basement canvas that ends up looking like trash.
What's more, there's tons of things to consider before you even order a canvas print, like the image quality, where you'll hang the print, and the shape of the print.
Below, I dive deep into 8 canvas printing tips that will help you ensure you get the highest quality print possible.
Editor's Note: I lean on my experiences as a customer of CanvasHQ to illustrate many of the points below because they have proven to be the best canvas printing company I've ever worked with. You're certainly free to choose whatever canvas printing company you wish, but for me, no one beats these guys!
Canvas Printing Tip #1: Image Quality is Important
Obviously, when having a photo printed, it's necessary to have a source file that has enough resolution to handle being printed, so the cell phone photo you took with your flip phone back in 2006 is probably not going to cut it in terms of resolution and image quality, unfortunately.
In fact, the larger the print, the greater the resolution the image needs to be.
Not all of us have high-end, professional cameras that capture 50-megapixel images. But you don't need that much resolution to get a great-looking large canvas print.
Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras (and compact cameras, too) offer plenty of resolution to turn images into sizable prints.
Quick Tip: When selecting a printing company, be sure they offer insights into how large your image can be printed. For example, when you upload your image to CanvasHQ, they only show print sizes that are appropriate for a quality-looking print. Nice!
Canvas Printing Tip #2: Don't Forget About Old Photos
photo by StockPlanets via iStock
While your ancient cell phone photos are probably not going to work for printing purposes, don't forget that you might have some actual printed photos you might want to turn into a canvas print.
Whether it's your parents' wedding photo from the 1970s or your kid's baby picture from the mid-90s, you can create a high-resolution scan of the print and use that to get a large canvas print made.
Sure, scanning old photos isn't exactly a fun exercise, but if you have a special photo that you love from decades ago, the time and effort spent turning it into a digital file will be worth it when you see it hanging on the wall as a gorgeous canvas.
Quick Tip: Don't just scan old photos - process them as well! A little work in Lightroom or Photoshop to remove blemishes on the print, alter colors, crop, and so forth, can go a long way in making it a better candidate for a canvas print.
Canvas Printing Tip #3: Be Wary of Silly Photos
photo by Halfpoint via iStock
I have a "wall of shame" in my home office of photos of my loved ones that are truly terrible.
I find them amusing, and love to look at them and bask in the glory of how bad my family and friends look in these photos.
However, I would never have any of the images on my wall of shame turned into a huge canvas print...
The time and effort and cash spent to make a high-quality canvas print are better suited for photos that I want to display in common areas of my home. So while the photo of my little brother vomiting in front of a urinating horse is fine for my home office, it's not something I'd want hanging in the entryway of my home.
Quick Tip: When selecting a photo to turn into a canvas print, ask yourself, "Is this something I want to look at for decades to come?" This is especially important for older portraits, as hairstyles and clothing can quickly become the butt of a joke rather than being the stylish selections they once were!
Canvas Printing Tip #4: Ask Yourself Where the Print Will Hang
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people order a huge print only to find that it's too big for the space in which they intended to display it.
Knowing where you want to hang the print will determine all sorts of characteristics about the canvas, from its size and shape (more on that next) to the color scheme, canvas frame depth, and finish as well.
The location you wish to hang the canvas will also be a factor in which image you choose to have printed. While a photo of your daughter with her pony might be appropriate for her bedroom wall, it might not be the best option for the dining room.
Quick Tip: If the hanging location gets a lot of natural light, be sure you opt for a printing company that uses high-grade, UV-resistant inks that won't fade.
Canvas Printing Tip #5: Consider the Size of the Print
Building off the previous point, you not only need to consider where the print will go, but the size of the print as well.
The size of the wall space available for a print will dictate how big or small the print needs to be.
This can be the trickiest part of sizing your print because you don't want it to be so large that it overwhelms the space, nor do you want it to be too small as it will look puny hanging on the wall surrounded by blank space.
Quick Tip: Bear in mind that the midpoint of the print should be between 58-60 inches above the floor and that you need a few inches of clearance above furniture. This will help you determine how large you can have your photo printed.
Canvas Printing Tip #6: The Shape of the Print Matters Too
Understand that some photos are best displayed in horizontal format while others are best displayed in vertical format.
Your family portrait will likely be in horizontal format, so not only should you choose to print it in that manner, but you should also select a spot to hang it that's conducive to a horizontal-format print (i.e., above the fireplace).
Conversely, your favorite photo of your favorite waterfall is likely more appropriate for a vertical-format print that hangs on a very tall wall.
Many canvas printing companies offer square prints, too, so be sure to peruse their selection of sizes to ensure you've made the right choice regarding the shape of the print.
Quick Tip: Don't be afraid to crop the original image when processing it to fit a different format. Many horizontal images can be turned into beautiful square or vertical images, and vice versa. Just be sure that when cropping that you avoid cutting off parts of the subject (i.e., like cropping out the top of a person's head or omitting their hands or feet).
Canvas Printing Tip #7: Consider the Print Options
Just a sampling of the different sizes, shapes, and print options of my canvas prints.
There is a whole host of options you can select when having a canvas print made that will influence how it looks on your wall:
Quick Tip: Not sure what type of finish to get or what border color or frame depth best suits your photo? Any canvas printing company worth their salt will help you make smart decisions so you get the best-looking print possible. If in doubt, just ask for help!
Canvas Printing Tip #8: Don't Be Seduced by Cheap Prices
As I noted in the introduction, I think the biggest mistake made when getting a canvas print is being seduced by bargain-basement prices that seem too good to be true.
Often, the case is that the price is too good to be true and you end up with a print that looks like its low, low price.
Now, this doesn't mean that you have to dump hundreds of dollars into a canvas print. Instead, you should look for a blend of affordability and quality.
Needless to say, I have a ton of CanvasHQ prints in my house.
I mentioned earlier that CanvasHQ is my go-to canvas printer, and that's because they are the perfect blend of pricing and quality.
I've tested dozens of printers over the years, and no one has been able to match the final product that I get from CanvasHQ.
I appreciate the fact that the frames are handcrafted from kiln-dried wood, that way the print stays square and true for decades to come.
I also like that they use archival-grade canvas and high-quality inks that are fade-resistant and moisture-resistant too.
The CanvasHQ team is just plain nice as well! They have top-notch customer service and will bend over backwards to ensure your print is exactly what you want.
Their prints come with a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee, so if something is amiss, just send it back and they'll remake it or refund your money within 30 days.
I don't mean to gush here, but these guys really are the real deal. If canvas prints are on your mind, do yourself a favor and see what CanvasHQ has to offer.