Do you have a favorite photo that you would love to display in your home but can't find the perfect frame? Or do you want to turn a photo into a canvas on a budget? You can add a photo to a canvas to make your own DIY photo canvas with authentic canvas texture! Not only is it a great way to showcase your favorite memories, but it also adds a personal touch to your home decor. Learn just how easy it is to create your own DIY photo canvas with this step-by-step tutorial!
If you have ever wondered “can you turn a printed photo into a canvas?” or “how do I turn a print into a canvas?” you are in the right place! Sure, there are lots of places where you can upload a photo and have it printed onto a canvas, but that can be surprisingly expensive!
I have been making my own photo canvas prints by adding a photo to canvas for years! They are one of my favorite ways to display family photos. They are fun and easy to make, and they are an incredibly affordable option. So get those awesome photos off your phone or computer and start displaying them on your walls! Once you learn how to make your own DIY photo canvas, you will be hooked :)
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- Blank canvases
- You can also upcycle old canvases that you have around your house or buy at Goodwill!
- Enlarged photo prints on photo paper (I get mine enlarged at Costco's photo lab) by a photo lab
- I do NOT recommend this method for photos printed at home. Also, do not get “poster prints” from office supply stores–those are printed on banner paper and that paper will peel.
- Mod Podge Matte Finish
- Foam brushes
- Black acrylic paint (latex, chalkboard, etc. are all fine to use)
- Exacto knife / craft knife
- Cutting board
How to Add a Photo to a Canvas to Create a DIY Photo Canvas: A Step-by-Step Tutorial
For this tutorial, you will essentially be gluing a photo to a canvas and then adding texture on top of it. This is the most affordable way I have found to create photo canvases! If you prefer video tutorials, the short video below gives a GREAT overview of this project. It will play after a short ad.
Time needed: 20 minutes
Making your one DIY photo canvas takes about 20 minutes (excluding drying time).
- Have your photos professionally printed.
First, choose the photo you want to create your canvas with and have it enlarged and printed to your chosen size at a photo lab on photo paper. I do not recommend printing them at home–I've heard from many, many people telling me the Mod Podge smeared their photos that were printed at home (even if printed on nice photo paper). Also, make sure they are not printed on “banner paper” (which is often used at office supply stores like Office Depot and Staples). 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.
- Paint your canvas (optional).
Buy a blank canvas in a whatever size(s) correspond with the photos enlargements you have made. 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. Paint the sides of the canvas of the canvas with black acrylic paint if you want to–this is totally optional, I just think it gives a more finished look. If you are upcycling an old canvas, paint the entire canvas black. That's what I did for mine!
- Coat your canvas with Mod Podge.
After your paint dries (if you painted your canvas), use your foam brush to coat the front of the canvas with a layer of Mod Podge. Mod Podge is very similar to glue, but is used for decoupage projects.
- Apply your photo on top of the Mod Podge.
While the Mod Podge is still wet, place your photo with the photo side facing up on top of the wet Mod Podge. Use your hands to press it on, being careful to make sure it's straight. Then flip the canvas over and continue to press/ flatten it with your hands to ensure that it adheres nicely and to smooth out any air bubbles. If you have a brayer, you could use it for this part.
- Let it dry overnight.
Leave your canvas upside down and place some books on top of it to ensure you photo doesn't wrinkle as the Mod Podge dries. Allow it to dry overnight.
- Trim off any excess photo paper.
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 Exacto (or 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.
- Add your texture!
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 stop now.
Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge (matte finish) on the front of the photo. Do not panic, I promise, promise, promise you that it will dry clear and will look gorgeous. Use long, even strokes. Seriously, calm down :) You are about to get to the good part.
There are 2 different methods I have used to add that authentic canvas texture to the top of my photos.
Texture Method #1:
Quickly grab a blank canvas and sandwich it ON TOP of your photo that is coated with wet Mod Podge. Gently press the two surfaces together. Now, peel the blank canvas off and you will be left with that authentic canvas texture. 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.
Texture Method #2:
Quickly grab an old t-shirt or dish towel. Spread it out on top of the photo and wet Mod Podge, being careful to avoid wrinkles. Gently press it on top of your photo and then lift it off!
This is how the texture will look while the Mod Podge is still wet.
And this is how that G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S. texture will look once it is dry. The first photo is texture using the canvas stamping technique. The second photo is the texture from using the dishtowel technique. Both are beautiful, so use whatever method you prefer!
After the Mod Podge dries, hang up your beautiful DIY photo canvas and admire your work!
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
I do NOT recommend this method for photos printed at home on an ink jet OR laser printer. I've heard from many, many people telling me the Mod Podge smeared their photos that were printed at home (even if printed on nice photo paper).
I do NOT recommend this method for photos printed on regular paper (or even cover weight paper). It is too thin and will absolutely wrinkle, which wouldn't look very good.
No, I do not recommend “poster prints” from office supply stores either. They are usually printed on something called banner paper and that paper will peel.
What do you think? Don't you just LOVE that authentic texture?! It totally MAKES this project and it's not a tip I had seen before I did it for the first time–I was pretty proud for thinking of it ;) Be sure to pin this post to Pinterest if you want to be able to find it again later.
Making your own photo canvases is a creative and fun way to display your favorite memories–they are on of my favorite DIY wall decor ideas ever!. With just a few materials and a little bit of time, you can create a personalized piece of home decor that reflects your style and personality. So why not give it a try? I hope this step-by-step guide has inspired you to create your own DIY photo canvas masterpiece!
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