What Makes an Image Perfect for Printing on Canvas?

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What makes a photo just right for printing on canvas? Is it only cityscapes, mountain ranges and close-up portraits that suit the format? Which compositions make the best transition to photo wall art? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of turning that photo into a canvas print. 

What Shines on Your Desktop Might Not Fare So Well on Canvas

Thinking of getting one of your favourite photos printed on canvas? While the process of ordering a canvas print is as simple as it gets, there are a couple of things to consider beforehand. First of all, you need to think about whether the photo you’ve got in mind is the right choice for canvas printing. 

You’ll naturally want to choose an image that does justice to your exceptional talent and good taste, regardless of how it’s displayed! But a photo that looks amazing on your computer screen might not cast the same spell once it’s been printed on canvas. Likewise, some images come to life on canvas in a way they never could on your desktop. 

An image with scattered points of focus won’t always make the most successful transition from screen-sized digital photo to large-scale print. And if much of the “action” takes place near the image borders, there could be another problem: the printed canvas is wrapped around the edges of the wooden frame, so crucial details at the margins of your image could end up tucked away on the side of the frame.

You should think about choosing more classical compositions – try following the Fibonacci Spiral or Rule of Thirds, for example. You’re aiming for bold impact here, so relying on tried-and-tested compositional rules like these should help you get the effect you want. 

Texture photography is an example of a less conventional genre that lends itself well to the canvas format. Drone photography and blocks of text in bold, chunky fonts are two more – and it’s even become something of a trend to combine them into statement pieces halfway between aerial vistas and inspirational quote posters.

Capturing the Photo with the Canvas in Mind

There’s quite a difference between browsing your existing stock for an image to print and taking a photo with the specific intention of reproducing it on canvas. The latter approach lets you conceive your image with your future wall art in mind, so you can take and retake your shot until you’re completely satisfied. Assuming you choose this approach, what should your priorities be?

In fact the guidelines you should follow are much different from what you’d get in any basic photography tutorial. That is: unless you’re going for a classic still-life shot, your photo needs a certain vitality to make it appealing to the eye. 

This can be achieved by making use of the so-called "leading lines" in your image – lines which guide the viewer’s eye towards an important focal point, creating a sense of depth and dynamism. These lines are usually formed either by light and shade or by geometric patterns in the composition.

The lines should lead towards the image detail that’s intended as the main focal point or “attraction” of the shot – and this focal point should ideally be placed at one of the four points of intersection in the “Rule of Thirds” grid. 

In the case of a portrait, it’s equally important to have the dominant feature of the shot (say, the eye of the subject) located on one of the intersection points. As a general rule, you should avoid placing the subject right in the centre of the photo. 

Follow these principles and you’re well on the way to getting a shot you’re proud of. And when you have, obviously you’ll want to get a canvas print that does your photo justice. Up next, we explain how you can do this.

Printing Your Photo with MyPicture.com.au

Of course, you can tweak your photo with editing tools before uploading it. And once you have uploaded your image to MyPicture.com.au you’ll be able to take advantage of some more customization options, such as the monochrome function. 

You’ll also need to choose one of the five different edge designs. This is where it’s important to think about the visual sensibility of your photo – an edge design that complements the aesthetic of your image can make the difference between a good print and a truly great one. 

If your photo is a minimalist black-and-white capture featuring a lot of “negative space”, it should suit the Black or White edge designs – both of which see clean strips of colour printed all around the canvas on the sides of the frame.

Those a bit more adventurous in spirit might want to try a whole gallery wall of photos. Your gallery wall could feature a series of highlights from your latest trip abroad, or a single large-scale landscape image spread over several canvas prints. In either case the positioning of your prints is almost as important as your image choices.

Finally, one more word about composition. We do recommend following the guidelines laid out in this article, but ultimately any aesthetic choice has to be guided by subjective taste. There are countless examples of unconventional photos turning into fantastic canvas prints, so when in doubt always follow your gut. 

Have you already got a photo that ticks every box above? Great, then all that’s left to do is get it uploaded! Head to http://bit.ly/australianphotography-canvas and click Upload Photo. And in case you need even more motivation, readers of Australian Photography get up to 85% off all products! If you’ve ever wondered how your photos would look as wall art prints, this is the perfect time to find out. 

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