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With our wonderfully busy life and five small children, I often find that I’m usually enjoying (surviving) the moment, rather than taking pictures of the moment. When I do manage to get pictures of all of the children, someone is inevitably not looking, or picking a nose (usually their own) or trying to walk away.
I’ve come to realize that these moments are a real glimpse and memory of what life was like at this stage, so rather than obsessing about trying to get the “perfect” picture of all of us, I’m learning to embrace the “beautiful but real life” shots instead.
A great side-bonus of this new outlook on family photos is that we’ve opted not to hire professional photographers for most family photos, and we save money by enlisting a family member or friend to take some shots instead. I figured I’d just go get prints of the shots I loved and do any edits on my own.
When I looked at the options, I fell in love with canvas photo prints that most photo-printing places offered. I didn’t fall in love with the price tag.
DIY Canvas Photo Print…
I figured there had to be a cheaper/DIY option. I stumbled upon a tutorial for making homemade canvas photo print on Pinterest, but the link didn’t work so I could never find the original article.
After some experimentation, I found a method that worked great to make homemade canvas photo prints for under $10 (or less, depending on size!)
The inspiration came when I was doing a craft project with my kids that involved Mod Podge and I realized that I’d used it for photos before. I decided to try using it with photos on a canvas and see if I could create a photo canvas look alike. It worked great and I’ve now found a few variations and adaptions as well.
Canvas Print Materials:
- Mod Podge (I used this Matte finish one to get the right texture)
- Photo print that you want to mount (same size as canvas or 2 inches bigger- see below for options)
- Stretched canvas (I’ve found good deals at local stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby and I’ve also ordered an inexpensive 7-pack of 11×14 canvases and this 12-pack of 8×10 canvases at a good price online)
- Foam Brush (I got this value-pack so we’d have extra for future art projects)
- One huck towel (I already had these in my kitchen)
I bought the materials to make 12 prints (six 8×10 and six 11×14) so that I could make some for Christmas gifts for relatives. I bought the materials in bulk and printed the photos during a sale, so cost may vary based on your location and sales:
- Pack of 11×17 canvases: $24
- Pack of 8×10 canvases: $19.99
- Mod Podge: $7
- Six 8×10 prints ($2 each on sale at Walgreens)
- Six 11×14 prints ($4 each on sale at Walgreens)
- Foam Brushes: $6.5
Total Cost: $91 for 12 prints or $7.58 per print.
I made the prints in the picture by following the basic instructions below, but have experimented with a few variations that also worked really well:
- Mount on a piece of 1/2 inch plywood for wooden photo prints
- Print the photo 2 inches bigger than the canvas and carefully wrap the edges to create the wrap-around photo effect in many store bough canvas photos
- Make an inexpensive frame with 1/2 inch lumber and wrap the photo around completely to create a canvas-less canvas print
- Get a black canvas or paint the sides of the canvas black with acrylic paint to make a black-rimmed print.
What You Need:
- 1 stretched canvas in the size of your choice
- 1 photo print in either the same size or 2 inches larger (see above)
- Mod Podge
- 1 Foam Brush
- A huck towel or piece of rough textured material
- Trim the white edge from the photo if there is one (there is often a 1/4 inch white frame on printed photos from most places)
- Make sure that print matches the size of the canvas correctly.
- Paint mod podge on the entire top surface of the canvas and carefully place the photo on the canvas. I used a towel to carefully smooth out the photo and make sure it was touching the entire surface of the canvas.
- Wait a few minutes to let it dry.
- Paint the sides and entire surface of the photo with a thin and even layer of mod podge. It looks like it will ruin the photo- don’t worry… it won’t! You’ll want it to look mostly opaque at this point.
- While this layer of mod podge is still wet, carefully place the huck towel over the canvas and press down. Peel it off carefully without rubbing or pulling it side to side. This creates the texture of the canvas on top of the photo.
- Let dry completely.
- Voila! Homemade canvas print for under $10!
Note: you can also do this project with a favorite inspirational quote, rather than a photo
Do you have any favorite DIY art projects like this? Ever tried one similar? Share below!
Discussion (25 Comments)
Hi, Thanks for this tutorial. I tried it but I kept getting streaks left behind on my photo after spreading the mod podge with the foam brush. Where I started brushing down the streaks were white then as I spread it down the streaks stood but started fading off. Any suggestions to prevent this? Thanks in advance !
Katie - Wellness Mama
They should disappear once it dries. This is why you blot with the huck towel or cloth to give it a canvas texture instead of streaks
Wonderful post. I have a suggestion for making this canvas print project even more economical. When I shop at thrift stores, I look for painted canvases which are usually really cheap. I then paint them with GESSO to cover the painted canvas. It can then be used for any purpose for which you would use a blank canvas…painting….decoupage…etc. You can find GESSO at any art supply store and it is inexpensive.
Choosing not to hire a professional photographer because a family member can take the pictures is fine for most of the time, but once in a while you will want the expertise that a professional photographer can offer. Just like some times everyone will gather as a family for a nice dinner at someone’s home, but sometimes you may want to splurge and go to a really nice restaurant. Just because you have a really good set of cookware, it does not make you a professional chef.
Sometimes it is worth it to hire a professional.
Are the prints in glossy or matte form?
Hi Katie, this is unrelated, but I wanna ask – what type of bathroom towel do you use? Unbleached, organic?
Warning: I just made a couple 8×10 frames using the directions supplied. The huck towel left lint on the picture so I had to work hard to remove all the lint (blue) from blue huck towel on white background picture. It probably would work ok if the picture had a blue sky background, but it did not. I was trying to frame a quote.
This is a cool project. A friend of mine did this and I thought it was so cute, I did a variation of it with my kids. I got them all blank canvases and let them create and Mod Podge collages on them. They turned out darling and they each have one in their room now.
Would this work with the thin canvas?
I love this and want to try it. Does the picture have to be printed on photo paper? Also, can the huck towel be reused or is it one use only.
Wow, I’m so gonna try this out. I was thinking of ordering canvas like these, it never crossed my mind to make one myself. Thank you.
Now all I need to do is find a A3 printer and a store that sell ModPudge in my country.
Holly Molly!!! Its like you read my mind, I was headed to Costco today to buy for 39.99 & up, one canvas print photo for birthday present. I’m so excited to give this a try not only for gifts but for myself. One Q: what type of printer do you have is it a photo printer or all in one? I have HP office jet pro 8600, I’ve done some photos on it but its primary used for printing text & images. I’m on your site daily and love it. Thanks never know I could do this at home thought I would have need some pro commercial photo machine. lol
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