Canvas Prints: Best Practices

How to Print On Canvas

If you need to know how to print photos on canvas or need to create canvas prints of your artwork, we can provide your some tips and helpful information to get started. Even if you are not an artist or photographer, you can easily get the best print possible.

What if I Still Don’t Understand?

FinerWorks was designed with the average person in mind. With that said, we recognize there are some people where the simplest of computer tasks are challenging. There is nothing wrong with that so if you are not comfortable with ordering canvas prints yourself and need some assistance, we now also offer a custom canvas products through our sister website in which a designer will work with you to create a beautiful canvas print from your photos. But most likley you just want to do it all yourself by uploading your image, and previewing it online without any help. If that latter part describes you, please read on.

Choosing Gloss vs Matte Canvas

FinerWorks is one of the few canvas printers in the country that offers a choice of gloss or matte. We like gloss simply for its benefits in both appearance and how it better protects the print.  If you select the matte option there are some things to be aware of.  First thing to note is the base canvas we use for the gloss and matte is exactly the same. The only difference is with the protective coating which is sprayed on. Currently FinerWorks uses a gloss coating for the gloss canvas and a matte/satin coating for the matte. After the print comes off the printer we apply the coating to the canvas print with a pressure sensative spray gun. The finish itself is water-based, oder free and will not harm the enviorment. If you are familar with acrylic paints which are used by artists, the coating is very similar to some of the acrylic gels used to thicken the paints.

The gloss canvas looks more refined and finished. Customers will appreciate how colors and tones appear to show better contrast. It is not a plastic looking gloss but more like a luster look you would expect from painting or quality portrait. Because the coating is applied liberally, the inks are much better protected.

Customers may opt for matte when they want a true matte surface. Just be aware that even though it too is coated we have to be more careful not to coat it too heavily, otherwise it will develop into a semi -gloss and not look as refined. We have tried many different types of brands for matte coating but until one comes around that protects it like we want and retains a matte look, we will likely continue to favor gloss.

Solid Sides and Image Overlap

If you have purchased canvas print with solid sides before, you probably noticed that the image slightly overlaps the edges of the canvas by approximately 1/8 inch. This is common practice in the canvas printing industry and ensures that when viewed head-on, the prints sides/edges are not visible.

Layout Concerns and Image Wrapping

If you are ordering a canvas print in which the image is going to be wrapped (gallery wrap), make sure you account for the amount of the image that wraps around the sides. Check our mounting options for the frames thickness.  If you want a 16×20 with a thick wrap (1 ½ thick) and the image to wrap around, make sure your image size is the equivalent of a 19×23 to account for the 1 ½ thick sides, top and bottom of the frame.

For the thin, you would instead need to account for 3/4 on each side which means a 16×20 would be best suited with an image that is formatted as 17 ½ x 21 ½ inches.

Also be aware that canvas “stretches” when mounted.  Different factors, such as overall canvas size, temperature, pressure via the mounting machine and more can affect how much.   It is hard to predict exactly how much but just make sure you keep the main subject matter of your image positioned so it is not too close to the edge.

For instance, if you add margins, decorative edges or borders around the image or have a signature in the corner you might be at risk of some of it wrapping around the sides if it is too close to the edge. It’s totally normal for a small amount of what is normally reserved for the face of the canvas to creep onto the sides. Again, prediciting how much is not always possible so some varations a little more or less than 1/8 of an inch is not unusual.

Mounted Canvas Prints

We offer two mounting frame thicknesses levels which we simply call “thin” and “thick”. The actual materials are made of kiln dried wood and fabricated in such a way they are very strong, resistant to warping yet lighter than most other stretcher frames. We cut these approximately 1/8 smaller then the listed size so that they can fit within a frame’s insert area (rabbet) .  All stretched canvas prints are machine mounted which can accommodate canvas prints up to 40×60 inches.

You can opt for a thin mount (3/4 thick) but these frames are really best suited for a canvas which is going to be inserted into a decorative frame meant to hold a mounted canvas. The exception might be smaller canvas prints up to about 11×14. You may still opt to wrap the image or select solid color sides, and hang unframed but many professionals feel a canvas will look less impressive or even cheap when displaying a smaller canvas print unframed.  We tend to agree which is why we always display thicker mounted canvas at shows and or events we sponsor.

The most popular is the 1 ½ or thick mount. This is ideal for canvas prints in which the image wraps or you opt for solid color sides.  Typically prints about the size of an 11×14 or larger will look great on this mounting style.  The only downside is if you plan on framing the print you might have to shop around a bit more to find one which can contain a print this thick.

In addition to stretched canvas prints we also have an option for mounting canvas on a panel substrate like artboard, masonite, etc. We are one of the few companies that does this because getting the back of canvas to adhere to anything is challenging. Fortunately we found a way to do this reasonably well while not using adhesives which overtime might harm the canvas. These canvas prints will be printed with some bleed which is necessary since the coated canvas can shrink before it gets mounted.

Canvas Does Shrink

Canvas is a fabric. Even the high quality canvas we use which is a poly-cotton blend will have some shrinkage after it is coated with the protective coating. This is normal and a non issue when we are stretching and mounting your canvasThe general elasticity of the canvas will be enough to compensate for the shrinkage. If doing the stretching and mounting yourself, normally the stetcher bars you purchase are a tiny bit shorter then they are advertised therefore you should not have any problems with the shrinkage issue.

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