Preparing to Print Photos on Canvas - A Photographer’s Guide

As a photographer, one of the easiest ways to make extra money is to sell canvas prints of your images to your clients.. It is essential that you know exactly how to prepare an image for print on canvas, otherwise your great-looking image will look ruined.

It’s All About the Export

When printing to canvas, it is essential that you get your image size and PPI (pixels per inch) spot on, otherwise you will end up with a poor looking, soft print. All cameras output files at different sizes depending on the number of pixels on the sensor. The Canon 5D MKIII, a common choice for professional photographers, can output an image file up to a maximum of 5760 x 3840 pixels. An image of this size would have over 3.5 times more pixels than a standard full HD TV, a resolution slightly higher then a Ultra HD TV (4k). It is therefore important that you take full advantage of this when exporting your photos from your editing software, otherwise you lose detail and quality on the final print.

This is especially important when you are printing on a large canvas, otherwise you will finish up with a pixelated and soft image. Your PPI should be set to 300 and you should ensure your image is not being resized on export. If both of these things are considered then you will be exporting a full resolution file of your image and will get the best quality possible on your print. For any files larger than 5MB, be sure to get in touch with Custom Canvas first so that they can link you to their dropbox account.

Resolution comparison

Your Monitor Matters Too

Another essential element when preparing your shots for print is ensuring they have been properly colour corrected. Most consumer computer monitors require full colour calibration otherwise your monitor could be tinted a certain colour, or too dark or bright, causing you to edit inaccurately. This could then lead to an over or underexposed print, or a print that is poorly colour corrected. For advice on how to calibrate your screen correctly see this guide for Windows or this guide if you are using a mac. Don’t forget that printing onto glossy photographic paper inherently gives a different colour balance than printing onto a matte woven material such as canvas. It’s also essential that you remember to set the right colour space when editing. A printer prints in CMYK so set your editing software to CMYK before you start your edit. (For more about colour space, check out this article)

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Mirrored Sides v Solid Sides v Image Wrap

When you print photos on canvas, it is important that you consider how you want the image to wrap around the frame of the canvas during the mounting process. As you can see from the image above, there are three different options to choose from for the sides of your canvas: you can either mirror your image, print a solid colour side or wrap your image. With the majority of my photography I always aim to get the composition correct in camera, which means that I always opt for a Mirrored or Solid Side over wrapping the image (which changes the composition).

Wrapping the image can sometimes have a huge effect on the composition of your print, but, in other cases, can have little impact. Custom Canvas’s design tool only allows you to design the front of your canvas and the default for the sides is mirrored sides. Therefore you need to get in touch beforehand if you want anything other then mirrored sides.

Custom Canvas offer both wrapped prints and solid side prints, depending on the look you are after. Their FAQs page regarding ordering and cropping canvases provides a great place to start if you have any questions regarding your prints, and the experts are available through the contact form should you have any more enquiries.

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