Canvas Printing Choices That Can Make or Break Your Print

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Canvas is a substrate that photographers (and plenty of other artists) have been using forever to display their artwork.

But if you’re like me, you’re a little uninformed about all the choices you have when it comes to getting your images printed on canvas.

Obviously, there’s different sizing and mounting options to suit your needs.

But beyond that, there’s a myriad of choices you can make that can turn your photos into something truly breathtaking.

The next time you want to print your images on canvas, give these options a good, hard look.

The Finish

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Canvas is canvas, right?


Depending on the printer, you can choose from all sorts of finishes that give your canvas a totally different look.

At CanvasHQ, for example, you can choose between matte, semi-gloss, and glossy finishes.

So what’s the difference?

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A matte canvas has virtually no glare. That makes it a perfect choice for images that have tons of contrast, complex color combinations, or a lot of dark colors. Matte is also ideal for portraits.

A semi-gloss finish gives your canvas print the look of an oil painting.

That is, it’s got just enough reflection, but not so much that it causes a glare. If your image has a lot of rich colors, you might consider a semi-gloss finish.

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If you want a canvas print that appears to have more depth, go with a glossy finish.

A glossy finish gives you that added depth by enhancing the tonal characteristics of the photo. This is great for all kinds of photos, including landscapes and art reproductions.

You can even get a canvas with an iridescent finish, which gives your images a gorgeous pearlescent luster that reflects the light that was captured by your lens. Images with water are especially good for this type of finish, as are images of a city skyline. The lights really pop!

Learn More:

  • Get more details and see examples of matte, semi-gloss, glossy, and iridescent canvas finishes
  • Need inspiration? Check out these canvas art ideas

The Frame Depth

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You might not think of the depth of the frame behind your canvas print as being an important factor in how your image looks…

However, it’s actually one of the most important features regarding how your image looks on the wall.

A thin mount frame is 3/4-inches deep. This is a good depth for smaller canvases, like an 11×14.

It’s also the go-to depth for canvases that will be put into a frame later down the road.

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But if you want to give your canvas a little more visual heft, go for a 1.5-inch frame depth.

This is the standard depth nowadays and really helps your images to pop on the wall, but without feeling too bulky or chunky.

One thing to remember is that with a 1.5-inch frame depth, if you choose to have the image wrap around the frame, you’ll lose twice as much of the image as you would with a 3/4-inch frame.

As a result, the best images for this frame depth are those in which the subject and other primary details of the shot aren’t near the edges of the photo.


If you want something that’s got maximum visual impact, you might opt for a two-inch frame.

At this depth, the canvas has an unmistakable presence on the wall, almost like a shadow box!

This frame depth might not be ideally suited for smaller canvases, but if you have a big statement piece, a two-inch frame depth is the way to go.

Learn More:

  • Compare frame depth choices
  • 5 Tips for Getting the Perfect Canvas Print

Border Color

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In many cases, people choose to have the image itself wrap around the edges of the frame, as seen above.

But as noted earlier, if your image has important details near the edges of the shot, this might not be the best option.

Fortunately, you can choose from a variety of other border colors that will give your canvas an appealing look.

The mirror wrap option is for situations as described above – you’re afraid of losing detail around the edges of the canvas.

The mirror detail is achieved by copying the sides of the photo and flipping that part of the shot around the side of the canvas. That way those important details stay in full view!

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Of course, you can also elect to have a simple, solid color serve as the border.

Many people choose black for its timeless look or white because it gives the canvas the appearance of floating in front of the wall.

Some printers, like CanvasHQ, offer just about every color under the sun as well. Heck, they’ll even try to match the border color to a color in the photo if you want!

Learn More:

  • Compare canvas border colors

Putting It All Together

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Who knew that there were so many options when it came to canvas prints?!

It’s not just a matter of deciding what images you want to immortalize on a long-lasting, durable, and beautiful canvas…

Instead, putting your canvas print together also means thinking about the little details that have a huge impact on how your images look.

As noted above, the finish, the frame depth, and the border color all impact the visual appeal of your shots.

When ordering a canvas print, think purposefully about how you choose these features so that your photos look the best they can.

And if you aren’t sure what options to select, be sure to consult with the experts at CanvasHQ!

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