Thursday, April 21, 2011

Put your photos on Canvas

There are a bunch of great online stores out there that will make your photos into books, print them on canvas and give you about 500 other fancy and fabulous options to display your favorite pictures. I've seen the occasional promo for getting one of these free (+ $6.95ish shipping). In reality that's probably a great deal but I'm one of those people who can't bear to pay shipping for anything (I call it the Amazon Super Saver complex). Add to that my major case of OCD indecision (should I use this picture or this picture or this picture?) Even if I could move fast enough, I wouldn't want just one canvas, I would want several and I'd end up spending more money than if I had never seen the promo deal in the first place.

Enter my sister, author of Fostered Attentions.

Becca found this ingenious tutorial on how to put any picture on canvas using your inkjet printer and tissue paper!

Now, between the original tutorial and my sister's blog entry you can definitely figure out how to do this yourself. I just developed some instructions of my own to add some extra advice based on my past 3 days of experience. I'm going to list the exact supplies I used so I can be extra specific with the shortcuts I share. We got everything that I didn't already have at home at Hobby Lobby. They had canvases 30% off and we brought two 40% off coupons and got a pretty good deal over all. I'll give you the complete price per finished canvas at the end of the post.

My Tip-Covered Tutorial

Mounted Artist Canvas (18x18)
Tissue paper (20inx20in sheets)
Regular printer paper
Krylon Workable Fixatif
Elmer's Multipurpose Spray Adhesive
Roll/large sheet of brown butcher/kraft paper
A glue stick
An ink jet printer
CorelDraw graphic software

Note: Any graphic software will work, I just like Corel best. Use what you know. I was originally going to include all the details of how I worked in Corel for this project but I've decided I'm going to do a separate tutorial for that in a day or two for anyone who's interested.


Choose a photo.

This step probably took me twice as long as all the other steps combined. Told you I'm indecisive.

If you haven't already edited for red eye and anything else you really want fixed, go ahead and do that now. It's never a bad idea to go ahead and save a copy of your picture before you start any editing. That way you can crop and segment and resize and generally experiment to your heart's content without worrying about destroying that precious original. I decided I wanted to put a stone wall from a different photo in to cover the trash cans for my canvas piece. I used Photoshop for this part. I rotated and cropped it just a little to get the wall to look right and then saved it as a new jpeg before I moved on to the next step.

Open a new blank document in CorelDraw and import your selected picture.
If you're not sure how to do these next few steps, I'm going to be including it all in the CorelDraw/General Graphic Software instructions but I'm only going to post that tutorial if people leave comments to let me know they want it.

Resize and Crop picture to 18.5x18.5 square.

Create a grid pattern and break your picture into pieces.
Since we're using a regular size printer for this, we need to make more manageable sized pieces for the printer to print. My printer will go all the way to the edge of an 8.5x11 but to be safe I wanted to leave a margin. So I made sure none of the sections were larger than 8x10.

Now it's time for a definite experience tip. For your grid layout: Make sure you do a regular grid pattern where the corners all meet at corners. Like this:

Do not, whatever you do, try to get creative and reinvent the wheel/grid and do something like this:

For some strange reason I thought my way would be better and I did my first canvas' printing like that. And getting the pieces to line up properly when I didn't have a single corner to work from was not fun. I made other mistakes on that one too and if you look at the end result (it's the black and white wedding shot), you can see lines where I had no choice but to overlap my pieces. I'm going to have to get an Xacto knife and do some tweaking when I get a chance. So there you go, random tip number one.

Assemble your tissue paper/printer paper combos for printing
In order to get your printer to print on the tissue paper, the tissue needs a backing to carry it through the machine. So that's what the printer paper and glue stick are for. You want to put glue just around the outer edge of the printer paper and then smooth on the tissue paper. This is another reason for leaving a margin around your pieces for printing. You don't need very much glue at all but you want to be able to peel up the tissue paper afterwards without worrying about tearing the part with the picture.

Random tip number two: Since you're going to need 6 separate sheets for your 6 separate sections, I wanted to share the bulk assembly system my sister had going. Instead of cutting the tissue paper out and then sticking it to the printer paper and then trimming around the edges, we spread our 20in square tissue paper sheet out on the table and did four at a time.
Like this:

Just lay out the tissue and then stick the printer papers (with their nice glue borders) in the absolute corners. This will mean you only have to cut out two sides for each paper. I also don't know how helpful it actually was but we folded part of the tissue over one short side of the paper and glued it down so it would have a better grip at the top (the end we were feeding into the printer first). It just gave it like a 1/4 in lip. Like I said, I don't think you really need to do that but it made us feel better. Plus our bulk system left the perfect little amount of tissue paper to fold over.

You'll want to change your print quality setting to High. I left my media type setting on Plain Paper, and it worked just great.

Print each newly segmented piece of your picture on a separate sheet of tissue/paper combo. Make sure you have it printing on the tissue paper side and not the regular paper backing.

And now random tip number three:
This is my brand and model of printer.

(Stay with me on this.)

See how it has a rear feed paper tray in addition to the bulk paper tray underneath?

We tried three different times to get the tissue paper sheets to feed through the rear tray. It did not work. It demolished the tissue paper, tearing it from the regular paper backing. You may be smart enough to have already figured out the reason but I can be kind of slow on the uptake at times. This step was actually why we originally thought of folding one of the edges over to give the tissue a better chance of hanging on. Well, I finally realized that the rollers for the rear feed tray are top rollers and they were pulling on the tissue without touching the regular paper at all. Now, I'm very fond of my rear feed tray. It makes me feel all professional when I'm printing photos on photo paper. However, the moral of the story we have before us is: Use the regular underneath bulk paper feed tray! Just open it up and leave whatever paper you already have in there and then lay your tissue/paper combo tissue-side down on top. The awesomely fabulous bulk paper tray rollers will now pull on the paper instead of just the tissue and zip your project right through the machine. Yeehaw!

Spray newly printed sheet with ink fixative.

As soon as a page is finished printing, pull it off the printer immediately and lay it printed tissue side up on a flat surface covered with butcher paper (newspaper or any other covering you don't care about will work as well). Shake your Krylon Workable Fixatif really well and spray a very light, even layer over the printed tissue. This will lock the ink in place so it doesn't run together or smudge badly. Let the Fixatif dry (the instructions on the can say let dry for an hour before handling). You can get all your pieces printed and sprayed while you're waiting for your first one to dry and then you can move on to...

Trim the printed images.
Once your pages are dry you need to very carefully trim away all the white (non-image) tissue paper from around the picture sections. You're not going to want any overlap or gaps between the tissue on your canvas so cutting exactly on the edge of your image is important so things will line up perfectly. At first I removed the tissue from the paper before trimming but after a couple fairly botched attempts at cutting a straight line, I discovered that leaving the paper backing in place (and holding it there once you've trimmed the glued edges off) makes for much less paper wiggling and made it easier for me to cut straight. (Random tip number four.)

Apply tissue to canvas.

If you haven't already been using a table as your "flat surface covered in butcher paper", you'll definitely want to be working at a (perhaps newly cleared off) kitchen table at this point. I did all the work for my first canvas on the floor of our computer room (so it can be done) but you'll be able to work more effectively at a table. Lay your canvas on the butcher paper and set your tissue pieces somewhere to the side but close at hand so you can work quickly. Break out your Elmer's Multipurpose Spray Adhesive. Shake well and spray an even, but not too heavy layer over your canvas. Start with a corner piece and remember we printed a 18.5in square picture so there will be a quarter inch to wrap around the edge of the canvas on all sides. Lay the tissue down, lined up how you want it. Gently smooth and pat the tissue to get rid of creases and bubbles. The Elmer's allows for repositioning so you can take a little time and try to get it just right. Just be gentle when you try to peel the tissue paper up if you want to move it. Tissue paper is pretty good about hanging on even to minimal tackiness but don't take too much time or you might have to start over and respray.

After all the pieces are stuck to the face of your canvas, take your glue stick and add glue to the sides of the canvas. Wrap your extra quarter inch border of tissue around the edge of the canvas and stick it down well to that glue.

Random tip number five:
I definitely agree with the original tutorial that having someone (like your awesome previously-an-architect-major-so-she-knows-her-way-around-a-straight-edge sister) to help you work and eyeball the straightness of your layout is a good idea.

Display your new artwork!

Project cost:
Money spent on stuff I didn't already have:
18x18 Canvas - $5.75 ($17.25 for 3)
11 oz can Krylon Workable Fixatiff - $7.59
11 oz can Elmer's Multipurpose Spray Adhesive - $6.99

Then we'll throw in a couple bucks to cover the ink and tissue paper and glue we used from our stash at home. I did three canvases so...$2.50 sound good?

So, since the Fixatif and Spray Adhesive still have a lot left in them and can be used for future projects, I think we can comfortably say that the cost for this project was a little less than $10 a pop. You could even go cheaper and easier by doing a smaller size canvas like Becca did. 18x18 is pretty big. I just needed a serious punch for where I'm planning to display these (more details to come on that later).

I hope you love your new display pieces! Now when people come over you can either: smile and just quietly let them think you're wealthy and can afford expensive mounted canvas artwork, or you can explain and wow them all with your savvy money-saving crafting prowess. Either way, people are bound to be impressed.

P.S. Can you say Mother's Day gift?

P.P.S. I'm linking up:

Photobucket  Beyond The Picket Fence   
Tip Junkie handmade projects       


  1. that. is fantastic. Definitely going to have to try this one

  2. This is awesome! I have always wanted to do some prints on canvas! I love them!! Thanks for coming by Sassy Sites and linking up. Have a wonderful weekend! :)

    Don't forget to enter the giveaways...


  3. That's a great project- I like that you printed on tissue paper.

  4. I love different textures. I have never printed on tissue paper but love the thought for many projects! Thanks for the inspiration to make my own wrapped canvas picture and the tutorial to do it!


  5. I have been planning on doing this exact project for about a week! I've been putting it off because I really didn't want to have to figure out the grid thing. Thanks for the tutorial - now I'm going to have to get my rear in gear!
    bugaboo, mini, mr & me

  6. Do you know if this can be done without Corel or Photoshop? Would really love to do this but I don't have either of those softwares. Love the tutorial and tips! =}

  7. I love canvas painting. You inspiration of tissue paper is really very nice. You must be a professional art lover.
    -family pictures

  8. What a great knock off! I've featured this post on Copy Cat Crafts today, you can view it here

    We'd love it if you'd like to display a featured button! You can grab your button on the right hand side of your post. Thanks!

  9. Hi,

    I started on this project last night. Could you please post the tutorial for the Corel? I tried to work on it last night and only confused myself. Thanks so much!


  10. Sarah,
    I hope it's ok, I sent you an email with the instructions I had written up back in April. I'll try to post an edited Corel tutorial on Monday for anyone else who's interested.
    Thanks to everyone for the great comments! Good luck to all those who are giving this a try!

  11. Amazing work..
    I have some photos of my friends and i want to print those a canvas art prints.can you please suggest me how i can do that?

  12. quick question... do you not see the lines at all one the canvas? it's hard to tell in your photos but ya know up close because if you can't see them i'm going to try this and try to save myself (more than) a few bucks!

  13. @Stacia - I actually CAN see the lines on my canvases when I view them up close. The place I have them displayed is up high so no one can get close enough to see the lines. If you have any overlap or gaps between the pieces of tissue paper, there will be lines. However, if you do an 8x10 canvas (or smaller) and your printer is a standard 8.5x11 printer you will only have to use one piece of tissue paper and there will be no chance of lines. Good luck!

  14. @singhsk - Sorry, I don't really know how to create graphics like the ones in your link. The principal would be the same for putting the graphics on canvas though. You'd just create your image with a photo editing software and print it out as shown above. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
    Thanks for visiting!

  15. oh good point on the smaller ones!!! great thank you!!!

  16. Hi I'm new to your blog but I love it. I'm a graphic designer & amateur photographer so I use Illustrator & Photoshop every day, however, if you don't have experience in these programs they can be tricky/frustrating to use, not to mention expensive if you decide to buy after the trial download period ends. For those looking to try graphics software, there are two totally FREE programs out there that I would recommend: Inkscape (with capabilities similar to Illustrator & CorelDraw) or GIMP (similar to Photoshop). In regards to this project, there is also a website where you can upload your photo and it will automatically split it into a grid for you to print, but I've never used it so I can't guarantee it's any good:

  17. Thanks for the tips, Polly! I'm so glad you started reading my blog!

  18. Its a great information that how can we put our photos on canvas...

  19. Different aspects of giving print on to canvas for family photos.

    Print on to Canvas

  20. This is a great project.. again, always inspiring Amy!

  21. great step for making our photo into canvas print, great posting, i know about something Corel tool i have use it many time, i have read your step carefully and i want to try it shortly, i hope i can do it.

    canvas prints

  22. This is pretty nice! I recommend for when you need them done. They have awesome prizes and various sizes.

  23. Hi, I agree with you. Really this blog is very informative.
    Photos canvas

  24. Hi, I agree with you. Really this blog is very informative.
    Photos canvas

  25. I love your ideas....and have done an I am looking to go bigger....but having trouble trying to get my pic bigger...was wondering if you could send me the corel draw steps that you spoke about....please

    1. @Joeleen - Here are the instructions I typed up last year.

      "The way I actually did this in Corel was by using the rectangle tool to make a 18.5in square box. Then I used that as a guide for sizing my picture down until the part of the picture I wanted for the canvas was all that was in the box. Then I kept the picture selected and got my cropping tool and selected the outline of the box as my crop. The nice thing about using the box to guide my cropping is that the tool will say "node" when it's at the very corner of the box and that way you know you're getting the exact 18.5 square size.

      The way I used Corel to break my up picture was by making 6 duplicates of the picture (I planned to break it up into 6 pieces that's where that number came from) in the same document and centering them all on top of each other. Then I made a grid using the regular old grid tool and lined it up over my picture. I tried to line it up in such a way that I wasn't cutting right through anyone's face, or at least as little as possible. Then I sent the grid to the back of the page (if you right click on it it will give you that option under "Order") so it was still there but behind all my copies of the picture. Then I used my crop tool the same way as I did with the original cropping only I used each segment of the grid as my outline for one copy of the picture. You have to kind of "feel" around for the nodes a little bit when you have the pictures over the top of the grid but they are still there and that's the easiest way I've found to do it. This left me with 6 separate pieces of my picture."

      I hope this helps and at least gets you started. If you have any other questions about the Corel process or any of the other steps in the project, just shoot me an email or leave another comment and I'll try to help as best I can. Good luck!

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.


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