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

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MUST PIN!  Best DIY Photo Canvas tutorial out there!   Learn the secret to creating REAL canvas texture with this full tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.

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}

 

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 $$$!

 

* 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!


Comments

  1. Shannon Stevens says

    Hi Tasha! I am so excited to try this. Quick question – did you use any acrylic sealer once the project was complete? I’ve done several projects with mod-podge, and they are always a little sticky when finished unless I use acrylic sealer. Thank you!

      • Tessa says

        I have a couple questions…I saw this tutorial and was super psyched, as I’m looking to do something like this for my best friend’s birthday. However, I’ve encountered some trouble along the way. I’ve attempted this a couple times, and it’s never come out right. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I didn’t get prints from Costco, I printed them off myself using photo paper. Is that OK or should I be using regular paper? The initial application onto the canvas is no problem at all, but once I layer mod podge on top of the picture and try and stamp, things go terribly wrong. No matter how little mod podge I use (I heeded your warning about not using too much), it comes out really streaky and not stamping wright. Can’t figure it out really. Thanks so much for your help! Otherwise I thought this was a really cool tutorial :)

        • says

          Oh no, Tessa! I am sorry to hear you are having trouble. You should be using photo paper, so I don’t think that is the problem. Are you letting the photo dry overnight before you do the stamping? If so, the only problem I can think of is that maybe you aren’t using quite enough Mod Podge. There is a fine line between using the right amount and too much, but try using a little bit more. Also, if only some areas are not stamping, you could let it dry, then apply Mod Podge to ONLY the areas that didn’t stamp correctly and stamp those areas again. That way you don’t have to start all over. I hope that helps!

  2. Sahar says

    Curious if it makes a difference on the type of mod podge? I know you used matte but would this also work with the gloss finish?
    Thanks for the tutorial! Can’t wait to give it a go!

  3. Scott says

    How many uses do you get out of your “stamping” canvas since it gets layered with mod podge? Or does the increased texture from the mod podge just add to the stamped image?
    Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Scott! I probably use the “stamping” canvas for 5 to 6 canvases at a time, in pretty quick succession {I tend to make them in batches}. Then, I glue a photo on top of the “stamping” canvas and start the process all over again. I hope that helps!

  4. Sara says

    When you ordered the prints from Costco, did you order the with a thin, white border or as is? Also, did you get them printed glossy or lustre?? Thanks!

  5. Lorrie J. Postnikoff says

    I am wondering how you do the black edge without it looking messy on the top? You use the phrase, “sloppy” black edge. How does this turn out, not looking sloppy?

    • says

      Hi Lorrie! To me, it does look sloppy, but that is the look I was going for. I wanted to mimic the look of the sloppy border that you can have printed on your photos at photo labs. You could certainly paint the edges of your canvas first and forgo the black edge all together if you prefer. I hope that answers your question. Happy new year!

  6. Francesca says

    Thank you for the fantastic tutorial! I finished my first attempt at two 16×16 prints last night and they came out FABULOUS! I followed your tutorial step-by-step and they look so great! The black paint finish on the sides and the stamping really makes it! Can’t wait to make a ton more! For those struggling- be sure to let each step dry before moving on to the next and remember- a little podge goes a long way!
    Thanks again!

  7. meredith says

    I would love to do this but I use my cell phone for most of my pictures and I’m wondering how everyone gets their cell phone photos printed. It usually says Warning! Low resolution photo being ordered or something like that. Is there a way to fix that? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Meredith. I don’t know if there is a way to fix the resolution of a photo after it has been taken, but a photo lab might know the answer. I have never tried to enlarge a cell phone photo. Sorry I can’t be more helpful! Happy new year!

  8. Kristen says

    thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! I dived right in and did nine 11 x 14 canvases. I ordered my prints from Costco and the rest of my supplies from AC Moore. All said and done it cost me only $70! What also helped is I read through the comments before I did this. It helped ,e realize some potential mistakes I might make like using too much or too little glue or not waiting long enough for the, to dry before pressing. Btw pressing was my favorite part! They turned out great! It was my first time doing anything like this and also the first time I enlarged any of my pictures I took. They will make great gifts and now I know what I’m going to do to decorate the rest of my house!

  9. Lex says

    What kind of paper did you use?
    What do you do with the other Canvas that you used to Stamp the photo?
    Does the image completely transfer to the canvas with the modge podge or partially?
    I wish you had an image of the stamped canvas after the transfer. Just curious.
    I’ve seen other methods where people just put the picture right on the canvas an use water to take the paper off. Have you tried that before and how did it turn out if you did.?

    • says

      Hi Lex! This actually isn’t a method to transfer the image to the canvas. Instead, you actually glue the photo itself {which was printed on photo paper at a photo lab} onto the canvas and then stamp it to look like the image is printed on the canvas. There is a photo of the finished canvas in the post. There is even a close up of so that you can see the texture. I have never tried the transfer method that you refer to. I hope that helps. Happy new year!

      • Khushbu says

        Tasha,

        So what do you do with the other Canvas that you used to Stamp the photo? Is it possible to use that canvas for stamping for later projects?

      • Khushbu says

        Hi Tasha,

        So what do you do with the other Canvas that you used to Stamp the photo? Is it possible to use that canvas for stamping for later canvases projects?

        • says

          Yes! After I stamp several canvases, I use the canvas that I did the stamping with to adhere a photo to and then use a fresh canvas to stamp another 3 or 4. The cycle just keeps repeating itself. I hope that helps!

  10. Kara says

    Are those actual photos? Or are they on pieces of PAPER with pictures printed on?
    I’m a bit worried I did it wrong…I had actual 4×6 or 16×20 photos at Costco. But after looking at your tutorial pictures it almost looks like nice paper with the pictures printed on it. Please let me know ASAP!! Thanks. :)

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  1. […] you enjoyed this art project, you may also want to check out how I create my own DIY photo canvases {with REAL texture} and how I created DIY art for my powder room.  You can also see how I painted that gorgeous […]

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