Crafts ~Scrapbooking » DIY Canvas Prints

DIY Canvas Prints

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Do you love those canvas prints you can get for mega money, but hate breaking the bank to get them? Here is a DIY Canvas prints tutorial that is very quick and inexpensive to do.

To put your own pictures on canvas you’ll need a laser printed photograph, matte gel medium, a foam brush, and a canvas board or stretch canvas.

You can get that same LOOK and Feel, and do it yourself for just pennies compared to the “Real Deal”. Your friends and family will have to look really close to see that its not a printed canvas from one of those expensive companies. These canvas prints are so fun, so quick, and extremely easy to do, you will want them in all your rooms.

Customizing DIY Canvas Prints

One of the greatest things about these is there are several ways to do them. you can make a stretch canvas print and just hang that as is.

Use canvas panel and just hang the panel as is or frame it. These frame nicely, and you don’t need glass. I don’t use glass in any of my wall hangings. If you hang a bunch of pictures and all you see is glass glare or haze from that non-glare glass instead of your picture, it is not very pretty! But this is your choice, it is a matter of preference. This makes it really easy to pick up vintage frames at yard sales that don’t have glass very inexpensively.

Paint the canvas first to have a colored background. Just a light coat is all you need. Let dry completely. This may take away some of the feel of canvas, but you will still have the canvas look.

Burn the edges of your photos for a vintage effect. These also really stand out on a white canvas.

You can center your print on the canvas or cover the whole canvas. you can add a border or decorations to a centered print. Sharpies work great for making mats and decorating your canvas.

Making large canvases.. you definitely want to start out small, at least for the first one. but you can definitely do large ones buy printing your picture in several sheets of paper (unless you are able to get large prints).

Most places don’t do large copies. But you can get your print done in several copies. Trim them and put them on the canvas one by one. It is time-consuming but worth the time. This works best on very busy prints because it will hide any seams you might have.

Don’t be afraid to edit your photos, make them look like watercolors or an oil painting, play with the lighting, add words and saying, have fun.

These make absolute great gifts. Instead of giving a card to someone make a canvas print with a saying or something special on it. An inspirational saying or flowers or that special photo of the two of you, don’t be afraid the edit that picture and give it a special effect or even a matte, before printing.

Canvas Print Life Expectancy

How long do they last? They are probably not made to last forever, but I have some “Real” canvas prints that have faded greatly over just a couple of years, even after paying out a LOT of money. I think these will last until you are sick of them!

DIY Canvas Prints Tutorial

Before we start this tutorial, please be aware that this is NOT the reverse and rub off (all day).. kind!
Materials Needed:
• Laser Photo Copy: Any Picture you wish to transfer Printed with a Laser Printer. (Yes.. it needs to be a laser copy and on about 24lb weight paper. You can trim your picture to fit the canvas size if you need to. I would also not do a photo larger than one sheet of paper for the first try.)
Canvas board or stretch canvas
Matte Gel medium ( I use liquitex) The Matte Gel will kind of suck the paper to the canvas and give it a canvas texture and feel. you will not be able to slide the phot around on the canvas, or should not be able to. If you do, you have too much Gel.
Foam brush
• Hangers of some sort, saw tooth for stretch canvas, plastic stick-on hanger for canvas board


Sharpies, if you want to add a border, or decorate around the picture, and a frame if you want your photo canvas framed. You can also get frames for stretch canvases.

A paper trimmer will be very helpful. Especially for large photos.

You will be basically gluing your photo to the canvas. Apply your matte medium ALL OVER your canvas in a thin even coat.

Lay your trimmed photo on the canvas (ink side UP) and rub from the center to the edge, if you have matte medium coming out the sides, you are using too much of the medium.

Keep your hands clean and with the palm of your hand rub gently to press your photo onto the canvas.

Let it dry, When this is dry, it will take on the texture of the canvas itself.

This will give you a really nice photo canvas print. Occasionally rub your photo during drying. Keep your hands dry at all times, and try to not get the matte medium on your photo.

Also about the canvas. . . I buy studio-grade canvas, the better the canvas the more texture of the canvas you get. Having more texture gives your canvas print more canvas effect.

I have bought canvas prints that had not canvas texture at all! Canvas texture is good!

If you have a hard time getting the photo on the canvas even, just put a couple of small pieces of frog tape before you put the matte medium, it will give you a guide, diy-canvas-prints
then pull off the tape as soon as you have the picture where it needs to be. Then go over the area where the tape was with the matte medium, keeping it off of the picture.

If you get the medium on the photo and it shows, you can just go over the whole picture, it will look fine but you will lose a bit of the canvas texture.

Tips on burning edges of photos:


Use a candle, a plate, and a cloth. touch the edge of the picture to the edge of the flame, then touch it to the plate, press the cloth on top if you need to.

When you have finished all the way around, take something with a flat edge (knife works) and scrape the excess black off, if it falls on the picture, don’t rub it, it will smudge, gently blow off the dust.

When you are done, gently wipe front and back with a clean cloth or paper towel. ( a cloth works best) You want all the soot gone, leaving a brown edge. You can also color wash the edge of the canvas for a slightly different matted look.



Things that WILL Not Work:

  • Inkjet Printers– the print MUST be printed with a LASER Printer
  • Lighter Weight Paper (such as regular copy paper, 18# paper, etc)
  • Modge Podge– it will transfer but you will NOT get the same results as you would with the medium gel, you will not have the Canvas Look and feel and the photo will mostly likely wrinkle. It’s very thin, dries very fast and does not yield anywhere near the results as the Liquitex Medium Matte Gel.

Budget Friendly Tips for DIY Pictures on Canvas

  • If you do not have a Laser Printer, you can get copies at OfficeMax, Staples, Office Depot, Some CVS & Walgreens store, etc for about 25¢ per Page.
  • Purchase the Canvases on Sale at AC Moore, Michaels, or Joann’s Fabric and they frequently offer 50% coupons each week at each of the stores so you can purchase them at half price.
  • Liquitex Medium Matte Gel can also be purchased at the above stores using one of their store coupons (check their flyers) for half price. When you purchase an item at most big box craft stores a coupon for 40-50% off good on your Next purchase will print With your receipt.

With a little planning, you can make a full-sized Canvas print for as little as $3 each, as opposed to a price tag of $15-50 for one for a 6″x6″ print.


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