DIY Photo Canvas Tutorial

Photo canvas prints make the perfect room decor. Whether it's your living room, kitchen, dining room, playroom, kids rooms or nursery they add a personal touch! 

BUT.... they can be a tad pricey!! I've been dying to get some canvas prints done for a certain blank wall space in my living room. I priced out various websites and sales that I found... but I needed big ones. an 8x10 just wasn't going to cut it for the h-u-g-e space I had to fill. 

So, what's a girl to do!?!? Scour bloggy-land to find a solution. I found a tutorial here  on Tip Junkie {love that blog} by The Sassy Pepper. It was right up my ally! I adapted it a little bit to what I wanted, but in theory the principle is the same. 

First up... gather your supplies.

I had my photos printed at Costco. They are 11x14 prints and cost a whopping $3 {plus tax} -- and they were done in about an hour! Gotta love Costco!! I used a photo shop program to change my photos to black and white, but you can change color photos to sepia tone or black and white on Costco's website when you select your pictures. 

I saw in my latest Joann's ad that their artist canvas was on sale for 50% off!! Wahoo!! I did have to go to two different stores to get my canvas, but it was totally worth it. I found 11x14 canvas in a 2-pack for $12. With the 50% off sale they were only $6 each pack so it was about $3 per canvas.

I know most hobby stores sell artist canvas and they generally have 40% off or greater coupons going. So, if your canvas isn't on sale, just use one of your coupons!!

Mod Podge and Sponge Brushes:
I love Mod Podge. If you have never used it before, this is absolutely a great reason to go out and buy some! I use it all the time!!!!

Just get the regular matte bottle of mod podge -- found in the glue section of your craft store. Then head over to the paint supply section and grab at least 2 of those black sponge brushes -- they are about $0.30 each. When they go on sale I will sometimes stock up because sometimes it's just not worth it to clean them out after a project.

For this project I chose a medium sized brush... mine were about 2" wide. {But they come in all sizes so choose the one that you think will work best for you.}

Acrylic Paint:
This one is easy! If you are a crafter you probably have at least 10+ bottles of this stuff just laying around your craft space. I chose to use black paint since my photos were black and white. Feel free to choose a color that coordinates with your photo -- or choose a color to make your photos POP! 

Staple Gun and Staples

Okay, now that you have all of your supplies it's time to get to work! 

Start by trimming your photos. I had 11x14 photos and 11x14 canvas, BUT they weren't exactly the same size... go figure!  So, I trimmed about 1/8-1/4" off my photos on two sides so that they would sit just inside the edges of my canvas -- I could see just a smidgen of the canvas around my photo when I laid it on top.

Then it's time to start painting your canvas. Be sure to protect your workspace!! You can do this in many different ways. 

I used a fairly dry sponge to apply my black paint. I only used a thin layer so that it had an aged look to it. I also found it easiest to start by painting the 4 edges of my canvas first so that I could hold it by the top and underside as I painted. 

Once I finished all 4 sides I moved to the top. Since you will only see the very edge of the top of your canvas I only needed to paint in about an inch or so... not the entire top side of the canvas. 

I lightly applies my paint to the top to keep with the aged look. 

 Here is how all 4 of my canvas' looked once they had been painted...

.. and here's a close up of how the corners looked. Let the paint dry completely. Time for this will depend on how thick you put your paint on.

At this point you can rinse out your sponge brush.

Then grab one of your photos, a dry canvas, your Mod Podge and a clean dry sponge brush. 

This step is hard to photograph because I am painted white Mod Podge on a white canvas.... but you will want to coat the top side of your canvas with a medium amount of Mod Podge. 

Then place your photo on top of that. Use a paper towel to help smooth out your picture on top so that there are no air bubbles. Since I had my large photos printed at Costco, they were on pretty sturdy photo paper... which didn't really allow for bubbles in my paper to form... lucky me!! 

Here is how mine looked after placing my photo on top and smoothing it out. 

To make sure that the photo sticks to the entire canvas {not just on the edges} turn your canvas upside down on a flat surface. Then find some heavy books. If you can find a decent weight book that will fit inside the back of your canvas that is perfect! Then you can place heavier books on top to really hold it down! 

Once your photos are dry -- only took about 30 minutes or so since Mod Podge dries quick -- remove the books and bring your photo canvas back to your work space. 

Before applying your Mod Podge, grab some wax paper {or freezer paper if you don't have any wax paper} and tear off a piece large enough for your canvas to fit on. Now it's time to put on your first top coat! 

After trying both ways, I decided it was easiest to start laying a thick layer of Mod Podge on the edges first before the top. It made handling the canvas a lot easier. 

Once I had coated my sides, I started working on the top. You will want to put a generous coat of Mod Podge over the top of your photo and the small canvas border around your photo to help it to stick really well. After applying my Mod Podge, I used my sponge brush and gently stroked all the way across my photo canvas to make sure the coat was even. When it dries you will be able to see the texture of the lines from the sponge brush... but it WILL DRY CLEAR!!!

This coat takes about 30 minutes to dry as well... but again it will depend on how thick of a coat you put on. 

Once it's dry, cover with a second coat on the top and the sides. 

Then set it back on your wax paper to dry completely! I actually let mine dry over night just to be sure they were TOTALLY dry. 

With all of the black, white, and gray from the photos and the paint I used I needed a little POP of color. I raided my ribbon stash and found this 3/4" wide aqua grosgrain ribbon. It was PERFECT! I held the ribbon on to the back of one of my canvases to make sure I had the right length... then cut... and cut, and cut, and cut until I had four ribbon pieces of equal length. One for each of my 4 canvases. 

To be precise... because I wanted them to all look the same... I used a rule and measured in from the edge of my canvas 3" and drew a pencil line. This is where the OUTSIDE EDGE of my ribbon was going to sit. 

This is the lovely staple gun pattern I used to attach my ribbon. Pur-dy ain't it!!?? I lined the edge of my ribbon with the pencil line I drew -- you can see it {kind of} inside that pink circle. The bottom edge of my ribbon was lined up with the bottom of my canvas frame. It just made it easier to make sure all of my ribbons were the same finished length on each of my canvases. Then repeat with the other side of your ribbon making sure that you ribbon lays the way that you want it to hang -- no twists. 

Once you get all of your ribbons attached it's time to hang up your photo canvas. 

The original post used smaller canvases and a variation on the technique. Then she attached ribbons to all of her canvases to create ONE wall hanging. 

I chose to leave mine separate so that new ones could be exchanged for old ones I I wanted... or I could move them around and adjust the layout of them if I needed to. 

I also tried to leave some room to add 2 more once baby #3 is born... wouldn't want her feeling left out! 

Here are the side views of two of my canvases so you can see how they look finished and hung. 

I arranged mine in a simple square pattern. I love that it really fills up that naked wall space that I had! 

Now that you know the technique, you can really make any size canvas you want. Want to decorate a bathroom!?! Why not use a calendar page or other print that you like... you don't HAVE TO use a photo. 

You can make a couple and give them as gifts! 

Where are you going to put yours?!?! 



  1. That turned out wonderfully :) Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial! I hope you'll come link up at my link party going on now!

    Hope to see you there!

  2. So wonderful!!!!!!! I've been waiting on this since you posted last... Thank you so much. BTW your little ones are so cute!!

  3. This is an awesome project, going to pin it so that I can remember to do it. Thanks for sharing

  4. I want to hug you right now. I mean, that is assuming I can follow all these wonderful directions and all...but I have been wanting to do this FOREVER, and as you said, it is so expensive! I CAN'T WAIT TO START! Is it bad to want early bedtime for mommy arts and crafts time?! ;)

  5. It didn't dry up clear for me .... I don't know why, but maybe I will try again some other time.

    1. It could be the type of mod podge you used. Some dry with a matte finish others with a glossy finish. If you want it to dry with no brush strokes you need to be very careful about how much you brush on and double check for the brush strokes before it dries. Hope that helps! :)


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