DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial {with a secret tip to create REAL canvas texture}!

 

DIY Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

Hi friends!  It’s time for the much anticipated DIY photo canvas tutorial.  Some of you glimpsed my photo canvases that are hanging in our upstairs hallway in a photo from my $71 laundry room reveal and I have received lots of questions about how I made them myself.  THANK YOU to those who have patiently waited for me to get this post up :)  So, without further delay, I am going to tell you how to make a DIY canvas for yourself!

Materials needed to create a DIY Photo Canvas

  • Blank canvases
  • Enlarged photo prints {I get mine from Costco}
  • Mod Podge Matte Finish {*affiliate link}
  • Foam brushes
  • Black paint
  • Utility knife
  • Cutting board

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

Steps to create a DIY Photo Canvas

1) First, choose the photo you want to create your canvas with and have it enlarged and printed to your chosen size.  For this tutorial, I chose to focus on professional photos that were taken of my girls on the steps of a lighthouse this fall.  I LOVE these photos, so I went with a nice, large size–16 x 20.  I had mine blown up at Costco for $5.99 each.

2) Buy a canvas in a corresponding size.  Since my photos are 16 x 20, I purchased a 5 pack of 16 x 20 canvases on sale at Michael’s Crafts for $15.00.

3) Using your foam brush, cover the top of your canvas with a layer of Mod Podge.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

4) Place your photo on top of the Mod Podge covered surface and flatten it with your hands to ensure that it adheres nicely.  Allow it to dry.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

5) After it dries, you will have to cut off any portion of the photo that is overhanging the canvas.  My enlargements from Costco are always a tiny bit larger than my canvases.  No problem.  Flip the canvas over and grab your utility knife and cutting board.  Using the edge of the canvas as your guide, cut off any portion of the photo that is overhanging the edge of the canvas with your utility knife.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

6) Next is the fun part, but you have to have a little faith that this is all going to work out.  You are going to “stamp” that canvas texture right on to your photo.  THIS TOTALLY MAKES THIS PROJECT so don’t wimp out on me and stop now.  Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge {matte finish} RIGHT OVER THE TOP OF YOUR PHOTO.  Do not panic, I promise, promise, promise you that it will dry clear and will look gorgeous.  Use long, even strokes.  This is what it will look like at this stage.  This is what it SHOULD look like.  Seriously, calm yourself down.  You are about to get to the good part.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

7) Quickly grab a blank canvas and sandwich it ON TOP of your wet photo.  Gently press the two surfaces together.  Now, peel the blank canvas off and you will be left with that authentic canvas texture.  You know, the texture that makes people spend $50 to $75 on the “real” photo canvases.  But not you, you are too smart and thrifty for that!  Since I used a spare canvas that was smaller than 16 x 20, I repeated this process until my entire canvas was done.

This is a quick step.  You want to “stamp” your canvas texture on AND remove the blank canvas while the Mod Podge is still wet.  *Note- if your texture does not look right and looks more like the Mod Podge was just smushed around, you may have used too much Mod Podge.  Again, don’t panic.  Wipe some of the excess off with your foam brush, smooth out the strokes and try again.*  Now, let the Mod Podge dry.

DIY Photo Canvases Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

This is what the texture will look like when it is still wet.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

And this is how that G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S. texture will look once it is dry.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

8) The final step is to paint the edges of your canvas black using a small foam brush.  This will probably require 2 coats, maybe 3, but it’s quick and easy.  I also paint a “sloppy” black edge on the top of my photos, but that is totally a personal choice.  You may prefer to paint a straight line and could use painter’s tape to get a crisp line.  For some reason, the photos I was working with for this tutorial had a white edge border {I’ve ordered lots of enlargements from Costo and this was a first}, so some sort of black paint on the photo was necessary, but I do it on all of my photo canvases.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

9) After the paint dries, hang up your beautiful DIY photo canvas!  I was SO happy to add these two beauties to my collection {most of which I made about a year ago when we first moved into our new house}.  They make an otherwise boring hallway one of my favorite places in our house :)

The Best DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Photo Canvases by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

Cost and Time

A single DIY photo canvas in size 16 x 20 cost me around $10.  Not bad!  To order a 16 x 20 canvas from Shutterfly is $71.99 ON SALE.  How crazy is that?!  I love saving $62.00.  Each canvas takes me about 20 minutes to complete, not including drying time.  It’s a fast, easy and fun project.  My girls sat at the table with me and painted while I completed these two canvases.

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

What do you think?  Don’t you just LOVE that authentic texture?!  It totally MAKES this project and it’s not a tip I have seen before–I was pretty proud for thinking of it {not to toot my own horn}.  I did recently see another great way to create texture on canvases using a foam roller, so if my “stamping” technique freaks you out at all, head over to the wonderful blog Carrie This Home to see another fantastic option.

Now, what you are you waiting for?!  Go make your own DIY photo canvas without spending tons of $$$!

 

MUST PIN!  Best DIY Photo Canvas tutorial out there!   #diyphotocanvas #photocanvas

DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}* This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a (very) small commission if you click a link and purchase something.  It does NOT result in additional charges to you or cost you anything extra.  The small amount of affiliate money I earn per month is how I pay the fees to keep this site up and running. Thanks so much for your support!

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Comments

  1. says

    GENIUS!!!!!!!!! I heart you!!! I just ordered my first canvas thru Costc with a coupon, but I know I’m going to want more!!! Thanks for the great tutorial and a few laughs!!

    Amber @ Averie Lane

    ps…PINNING!!!!

  2. says

    We are really on the same wave length! I am posting a really similar photo canvas tutorial tomorrow – though slightly different. Great minds… And I love your photo wall!

    • says

      Hi Carrie! It’s so funny because Carrie This Home posted a great tutorial last week. Different from mine, but she also has a great way to get texture on hers. Yes, great minds think alike :)

    • says

      Hi Kim! So happy you stopped by. This is SUCH a great way to display your favorite photos. I hope you can convince your daughter to do it!

    • says

      Hi Lindi! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your sweet comment. I would love to see how your photo wall turns out. Heading to your blog now!

  3. says

    I am all over this post!!! love love love it. That is so smart! I’m definitely going to be recreating this at some point in the future. thanks for sharing your smarts with us!

  4. Jessica says

    Beautiful!!! Love this idea and looks so simple!! One question, Did you use actual photo paper for your pictures and did you print on computer paper??

    • says

      Thanks so much, Carrie. I have done it both ways. You can definitely paint the edges black before, but I do feel like you need to go back over the edges of the photo after the fact because they will appear white. You can do it pretty easily without getting paint on the front of the photo if you choose not to paint any kind of edge of the photo itself. I hope that helps!

  5. says

    I think your canvases are just gorgeous! I love how they turned out! Great idea on using another canvas to create the texture. You’re a genius! Thank so much for sending readers my way if they’re a little too scared to try this version. Either way the readers will get a great finish!

    • says

      Hi Gail! Thank you! That’s a fabulous question. I have used my “stamp” canvas again with no problem. In other words, the canvas I have used to stamp the others then becomes its own photo canvas. That said, I always wind up with one spare to be the “stamper,” so I will always have one canvas that winds up not getting used as a photo canvas. If I ever use the “stamp” canvas for anything other than a photo canvas, such as a painting, I would probably lightly sand the residual mod podge off before reusing it. I hope that helps!

  6. says

    what?! no kidding! you are a genius tasha! that replicating the texture of blank canvas to get that professional texture is pure genius!!
    i am totally going to try that texture effect♥

    huggies♥
    rea

  7. says

    I truly love this idea Tasha! I have seen numerous tutorials for applying pictures to canvas, but this one is by far the best one I’ve seen yet! Thanks again for linking up to Thursday S.T.Y.L.E. each week. I can’t wait to make my own canvas pictures using your tutorial:)

  8. says

    Beautiful, Tasha! Thank you for the awesome tutorial ~ I’m pinning this.
    Thank you so much for sharing this at DIY Showcase on VMG206.
    ~ Megin of VMG206

  9. Elaine says

    Love this idea, but I have one question. You said you used professional photos and Costco enlarged them for you. I don’t know of any place that will do that with professional photos due to copyright issues. Ours stores around here refuse!

    • says

      Hi Elaine! Great question. I always purchase a full copyright release CD of all of our photos for this reason. I only pick photographers who offer this as an option! I also enlarge a lot of my own photos. About 40% of my canvases are made with my own photos, so it still works well with “amateur” photos.

      • Elaine says

        Thanks for replying to my question. I love this decorating idea. I have tried to get copies of really old photos from when I was a child. The photographer is long dead and gone, but most places still won’t copy them. Hence, my question.

  10. says

    Wow! I was peruving online canvas prints and they’re awfully proud of their work (as you said, $50-$80) I’m wanting just this type of photo (3 actually!) and will definitely be attempting this project. Wow! once again, and thank you!

  11. Mimi says

    Thank you Tasha for the easy tutorial! Who knew it could be that easy. I’m going to work on some photos with my nephews next time they’re over…they’ll LOVE it. You’re the best for sharing your knowledge with us all.

  12. Jennifer S says

    I am so excited to have just read this DIY project! I have pinned and shared it with some friends. This is a “Why didn’t I think of that” type of project. Thanks for the inspiration! My walls are going to love me and my husband might want to kill me when he see’s the finished projects thinking I ordered them from somewhere. I can’t wait and the best part is that I get all of my pictures from Costco! Thanks again!

    • says

      Awww, thank you, Jennifer! Ih ope you and your friends have fun with making your own. Your husband will love you when you tell him how inexpensive they were!

  13. Cec says

    Can I use a canvas that has something on it already (a cheap bought canvas print I don’t like) to stamp the canvas texture on to the wet photo?
    I love this idea & can’t wait to try it out!!!!

    • says

      Why not use that canvas as the photo canvas. The photo covers the canvas picture. It’s like getting a free canvas. Now another reason to shop thrift stores and get canvas prints for cheap. I’m thinking that textured fabric might lend to a cool texture on the photos too. Something new to try. Love this whole make your own canvas photo idea. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Carla says

    I am so glad I stumbled across your blog! I have seen all the DIY canvas tutorials and tried a couple but it just didn’t look like a canvas print with the brush strokes. I just finished a gallery wall of (9) 16×20 prints and was too chicken to put the coat on top of the pictures. I just used the canvas to mount them. So I practiced your ‘sandwich’ method on a couple of smaller prints and love the finished look so much, I may just take down my 16 x 20 prints and give them a canvas finish! And…I’m so inspired I’m already making a batch of canvas prints to give for Christmas this year.

  15. Thersea says

    I just did this with my kids’ spring pictures and you are right- this is the BEST tutorial for photo canvases. They look amazing and it was not only cheaper than buying printed canvases, but it ended up being much cheaper than framing my 11×14 prints too. I’ll be using this again and again!

  16. Andrea says

    I recently printed 2 16×20 photos from Walmart the photo lab man told me my mod podge would ruin my photos because ink jet photos aren’t water proof!! Are the prints you covered from an ink jet printer? My photos were only 12$ but I still am nervous about covering them!! This has to be the easiest trick I’ve seen!!

  17. Diana says

    I Loooooooove this… Such an Awesome Technique and I Love Costco…. Question, Did you print with the glossy or lustre? Will be trying this over the weekend :)

    Thanks

  18. Kim says

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I just made 12 6×6 canvas’ for Mother’s Day gifts of my grandson. Made one set for each grandparent and one for his mom. I got my pictures printed at Sams and they were .48 each and bought my canvas’ at Michaels when they had buy one and get two free. So all in all a pretty inexpensive gift that looks great.

  19. Tamara says

    You are amazing! Thanks a million for this tutorial. I’ve always wanted to try this but it seemed so complicated. You have broken it down to make it so easy. Super excited to try this and I will be checking out your other posts. Thanks, from another designer trapped in a lawyer’s body :) all the way in the British Virgin Islands!

  20. Marie says

    Hi Tasha! I NEVER comment on blogs, but I just had to tell you what a genius you are! This is by far the best canvas tutorial I’ve seen. I just finished my first canvas, and I’m amazed at the result. Your stamping technique makes the finished product look so authentic. This canvas will definitely be the first of many, as I already have plans to do at least four more. The possibilities are endless! I’m excited just thinking about it! Thank you so much for sharing your secret! You’ve given me a fun new hobby that makes me smile. :)

    • says

      Hi Marie! You just made my day! I am so happy that you enjoyed the tutorial and that you have already made a canvas of your own. Isn’t it fun?! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and say hello!

  21. cyndy says

    OMG… I have done the canvas prints before but never did the “stamp” part — absolute GENIUS!! Can’t wait to try this with the new instructions. Thanks

    • says

      Thanks, Beverly! I actually didn’t have issues with that. I used a foam brush. And maybe “stamping” the other canvas on top helps pops any air bubbles??? I’m not sure, but it’s never been an issue for me. Hope that helps!

  22. says

    Stopping in to pin……after I quit shaking my head for how smart and simple an idea this is. Pat yourself on the back from me.

  23. Julie Franz says

    If I were to print off my own computer do you think the ink would smear if I let it sit or should I get a copy made? Can you reuse the top canvas to print another? Would you wipe the mod podge off to reuse? Great project and I love saving money!

    • says

      Hi Julie! I have never tried printing my own. I have only used photos that I had printed at Costco. You can absolutely reuse the top canvas for another. I tend to make mine in batches, so if I make 5 in a sitting, I use the same canvas to stamp all of them. I don’t wipe the Mod Podge off in between, but you could if you prefer. I hope that helps!

  24. Erin says

    What kind of paint did you use for the edges? So glad I found your tutorial! This had been a fun project.

    • says

      Hi Erin! I use regular old black latex paint. One time, I even used chalkboard paint because it’s all I had on hand. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Have fun with it!

  25. Sharon says

    This is awesome. I have a question about the blank canvas that you use to press onto the photo – can I reuse that blank canvas for other photos that I create later (as the one that I press on top of the photo) or do I need to use a new one for each photo?

    Thanks,
    Sharon

    • says

      Hi Sharon! You definitely don’t need to use a new canvas every time. If I make 5 canvases in one sitting, I use the same canvas to stamp them all. AFTER the Mod Podge dries on that canvas, however, it does make the canvas texture less prominent. So, I will actually apply a photo to the canvas I previously used for stamping, and will use a fresh canvas to stamp the next set of canvases. Does that make sense? I hope so!

  26. Mary says

    loved the tutorial and can’t wait to try this. we are merging our families (marriage) and needed a way to display photos of the grands. Now simply need to decide on the wall.

  27. Corri says

    I love this tutorial! I love the look of photos on canvas but I only have one due to their high cost! I was so excited to find this and I bought a few canvases yesterday for some photos waiting on frames. Can’t wait to try it out….thank you so much!!! :)

  28. Erica says

    Ok, I’m late to the party, but found this link via Pinterest. I love this idea! However, I did try something similar with a map for my sons nursery, and it came out warped/bumpy. I dont want this to happen with my photos. I’m thinking it was that the canvas was not pulled thought enough? Is there a specific brand you usually like?

    • says

      Hi Erica! I don’t buy a specific brand of canvases–whatever is on sale is what I go for. When you apply your photo, be sure to turn it over {face down} and really smooth it out by rubbing the canvas with your hands. That should help to keep it nice and smooth. But it does sound like maybe you were working with a loose canvas as well. You should definitely give it another shot!

      • Emily says

        On my first try tonight, both canvases came out very bumpy no matter how much smoothing I did. I didn’t have it printed on photo paper, just regular paper at Office Max. I think that was the issue. It didn’t hold up when wet and it only got worse as it dried. I’m off to Costco tomorrow to print it on actual photo paper this time and re-doing the project. Despite the bumps, I can really see how much I’ll love it once I get it down right. I need to practice the cutting of the edges since mine came out uneven. I’m testing on 8x10s before I do a bigger one. I’m making all the wall art for our baby girl nursery too. So fun!

        • says

          Hi Emily! I do think you will have better luck with photos printed at a photo lab. Have you tried it yet? Did you have better luck? After you place the photo on top of the Mod Podge, be sure to flip the canvas over and smooth it with your hands to get out any lumps and bumps. Let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to help!

          • Emily says

            Yes, the second time around using photo paper did the trick! I’m trying to get a more even texture and found that using a bigger canvas to stamp it is helpful. I didn’t paint the edges of mine black because I did very light colored grey, white and lavender prints for the baby room. It still looks great though!

  29. Julie says

    Great tutorial! I have just completed 4 of the 10 photos I plan on finishing this way. On a couple of my completed photos, there are small white bumps that are especially noticeable where there is black in the photo. I didn’t notice them when they were wet. Have you experience this and do you have any ideas to remove them or smooth them out? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Julie! It sounds like those are dried air bubbles. I have not experienced them, but if you can catch them while they are wet, you can smooth them out with your paint brush. I’m not sure how to deal with them once dry since I haven’t had that issue. Have you tried lighting scraping them off with a fingernail? So glad to hear you have already completed 4–that’s awesome!

  30. Olivia says

    I am so happy I randomly came upon these DIY instructions. I am usually quite bad at “crafty” things, but this was easy! I made ten 8×10 canvases in under an hour tonight. Can’t wait to hang them up in my apartment tomorrow!

  31. Angie says

    I will start by saying, I am BY NO MEANS crafty…but I am frugal :) I followed this tutorial (thank you for posting!) except I used a black canvas to begin with. It turned out okay.

    My Texturing did not turn out as good as yours looks…I guess I should have pressed it better or something. I wasn’t sure since it was my first go-round.

    Next time I think I will just do smooth texturing, lol. But I still LOVE the idea of this! Thanks again for sharing

    • says

      LOL! Thanks, Angie. It will certainly look great with smooth texture, too. I think a lot of people are hesitant when it comes to the “stamping” step :)

  32. Denise says

    Hi! I’m trying this out for the first time and am seeing that my photo edges are not lying flat on the canvas. Any tips or is it not really an issue? So excited about finding your blog! :)

    • says

      Hi Denise! I have never had that problem. It sounds like you may not have placed enough mod podge around the edges??? I’ve never had that problem, so it’s just a guess, but that is my only thought. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  33. denise says

    Hi tasha! i want to start making my own canvas as well and i was just wondering if you print your pictures on regular photo paper or do you print them on fabric or cardstock?

  34. Justin C says

    Really amazing! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Do you think it’d be a problem to paint the sides of the canvas a different color? I know the black is neat but not sure it’ll work in my room. Also, how would you go about replacing the old photo on the canvas with a newer one? Use Mod Podge over the existing photo or attempt to take off the old photo? Thanks so much!

    • says

      Hi Justin! Absolutely you should paint the sides of the canvas any color you want! I do think I would place a new photo on top of an old one as opposed to removing the old photo. That said, I have never tried either, so it’s hard to say! Hope that helps.

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