For the most part, buying canvas prints by putting your photo on canvas is a pretty straight forward job. You come onto a site like thecanvasworks.ie, select your product and size, upload your photo and checkout. Usually you can order a canvas print in a few minutes.
However, there are some common pitfalls or mistakes that many people make in the process of ordering their canvas prints, so I thought I’d put together an article that would outline what to do to avoid the five most common mistakes people make when putting a photo on canvas.
This list is the result of years of experience in printing photos on canvas. I set up The Canvas Works back in 2007 and have been helping customers produce great prints of their images ever since. It’s not an exhaustive list but I think if you can manage to avoid these pitfalls, you should come out with a super looking canvas print - or indeed a framed print or wood mount as these pitfalls apply to those products too.
1. Cropping Your Photo on Canvas Image too Tightly
I see this quite a bit on photo canvas print orders. It usually becomes a problem when the customer is ordering a print of people - say a wedding photo featuring the whole wedding party or a holiday shot with the family all lined up in a row across the photo.
The key point is you want to make sure there is enough space on the left and right side of the image to bleed the image over the sides - assuming you want to order a bleed finish (also known as a gallery wrap). Lots of customers crop right up to the people and don’t remember to leave enough space for the edge. It’s not so much of an issue when you prefer to keep a white edge on your canvas print but the bleed tends to be the finish of choice for most customers.
The other problem here is just aesthetics. Most images just look better if the crop is not too tight. Having some extra space around the people or whatever the subject matter is of your photo on canvas is generally a better approach than cropping right in. There are some exceptions but if you’re not too sure about how best to crop your image, I’d say err on the side of caution and don’t zoom in too much.
2. Using Whatsapp, Facebook or Screen Grab images for Canvas Prints
The second common mistake people make in the process of ordering a photo on canvas is using the wrong source image. In this world of social media and instant messaging, we’re grabbing files off facebook like never before. In fact, many of the modern smart phones make this even easier because the images automatically get saved on your camera roll.
I see this all the time - even where a customer has the full sized, high res image, they mistakenly use the low res social media version for their canvas print. Avoid this at all costs! It might look good on a screen but that whatsapp file or facebook post image won’t make for a great quality canvas print.
Ideally, you want to ensure you are using the original JPEG from the camera that took the image. If you’re getting the file e-mailed to you from a phone, make sure the person sends it to you at the full size - also known as actual size. We very often see compressed versions of files sent by e-mail and automatically resampled down to a 900k file.
I should add that even if you do use the wrong file size - don’t panic because we will not print it without talking to you about it. That’s one of the ways we differ from the really big players in the market - because we can pick up a phone and talk to you about your image quality, 9 times out of 10, we are able to assist the customer in sourcing the right quality file for their photo on canvas.
That’s also the reason we don’t use a resolution warning system on our canvas printing website. It’s a very blunt tool and tends to lead to a high rate of canvas print drop outs or abandoned carts. Our approach is to resolve the issue after the order is placed - it makes more commercial sense and it ensures the customer usually achieves their goal of ordering a great looking print.
3. Printing Mobile Phone Photos too Big
Okay, this is getting to become less of a common mistake - because actually mobile phone cameras are improving at an exponential rate. They are capable of taking some amazing looking images. However, there are limits to what you can capture with a mobile phone photo when compared to a real SLR camera.
We generally advise the mobile phone photos can pretty comfortably get to about 75x50cm these days. We’ve printed bigger and had great results - it just depends on what the subject matter of the photo is. But I’d say you’d want to avoid ordering one of our very large canvas prints - like 150x97 or 180x97cm if you intend on using a mobile phone photo.
Now, you can get around those limitations by ordering a collage of images or selecting one of our other specialist mobile phone suitable products like our Instagram prints. These products allow you to print up to 49 of your images on one single canvas or frame - so you can get scale without losing image quality.
4. Using too Many Photos in Collages
We’ve all heard the phrase less is more. Well, it’s never truer than when ordering a colalge on canvas or a collage framed print. So the fourth common pitfall to avoid when ordering your canvas prints is using too many images.
In our experience, the optimal number of files for a really lovely looking collage on canvas or a framed collage print is between 10 and 15 images. By using fewer images, you can ensure that one or two of the photos can actually be a good size and this always makes a collage print look better than a layout that is crammed with loads and loads of smaller images.
This collage above works so well at 40x30cm because there only 7 images and there's a mix of shapes.
Now, I understand that this goal of 10-15 photos for a collage can present people with a lot of logistical and practical problems. If you take the example of the wedding collage on canvas, some couples will feel that limiting the selection to 10-15 images to cover the bride and groom and both sets of families may not be enough. It’s a judgement call and of course, sometimes we can make more images work - especially where the overall canvas print size is big - like 120x60cm or 100x70cm and larger.
But if you can be selective and ruthless with your editing, try to get the selection down to between 10 and 15 images and you will have avoided one of the major canvas print pitfalls.
5. Selecting the Same Shape for Canvas Prints
I see this mistake in two contexts pretty regularly so wanted to flag it up here. The first context is the obvious one - many customers default to either a landscape shaped canvas print or a portrait shaped canvas print.
Now, that’s fine for some images and of course there will always be some photos that just need to be in those shapes. But, there’s a whole world out there of square shaped prints and best of all, panoramic shaped canvas prints.
Mix it up! A square crop or a panoramic crop can radically transform your finished canvas print. It’s original, creative and imaginative and most people respond very enthusiastically when they see a panoramic shaped canvas print on the wall. So don’t limit your options - think about those less common shapes when you are ordering and be brave - experiment with different crops and you will get a fresher, more creative look for your canvas prints.
Okay, you can't always go this big with panoramic prints but you get the idea!
The second context I want to touch on with shape selections is the shape of individual photos in a collage print. I very often see a selection of say 10 landscape shaped prints for a collage. I appreciate that this may not be obvious to everyone, but if you use 10 identically shaped images in a collage, it’s going to be much harder to get an attractive looking layout.
When I come across this situation with a customer order, I usually take it upon myself to crop several of the images to portrait, square or panoramic. That single step alone usually guarantees a much more interesting layout for the collage - instantly transforming it from a vanilla layout to an engaging and interesting design.
So the lesson here is again - mix things up with different shapes and you will get a much nicer collage on canvas print.
You’ve avoided all these 5 common canvas print mistakes - so what should you expect?
Assuming you have avoided these 5 canvas printing pitfalls, I think you should be very confident about having a canvas print you can be proud of. But the one thing you should always expect from your canvas print company is pro-active advice and suggestions - communication is essential.
At The Canvas Works, we try very hard to ensure we keep the communication lines open with our customers. It’s one of the ways we can be different from the faceless big players who very often don’t have any human contact with their customers.
So with that in mind, if you are still unsure about your image even after avoiding these common mistakes, just get in touch with your file and we can check it out and advise you on your next steps to ensure you will be proud as punch of your new canvas print.