Do you love the look of canvas photos but not the price? Yeah, me too. There are some places online that will run a sale on them definitely making them more affordable, but when I wanted to do my own version of a gallery wall a few years back, I had to get creative.

There are a million tutorials for DIY canvas photos on Pinterest, you can find one that suits your purpose. For me? I opted to go with tip from a friend years ago mixed with a little common sense and trial and error. This is what I ended up with.

First off, choose your photo. for my gallery wall, I wanted a mix of current professional photos, snapshots, and photos that have been around for a little while. For this tutorial, though I used a landscape photo Mallory took of the mountains in Colorado on her spring break trip (pre-coronavirus). It’s a great picture, and she wanted it enlarged and made into a canvas for her room. She’s no stranger to this method, as she helped with my gallery wall years ago and has since made her own for her room, and her room at college with pics of her and her boyfriend and her with roommates and friends. Safe to say it’s easy and cheap enough for a college kid to do it! lol!

So the canvas. They come in so many sizes! You can get them for a great price every day at Hobby Lobby with their coupon (and occassionally on sale!). Walmart also has them for a great price, but when I wanted to do the gallery wall, we went to Michaels when they had their big sale and bought multi packs of various sizes for $10.00! we still have some left over in the craft closet! Choose your photo and what size you want it to be, and choose your canvas. To get photos printed, I always recommend Costco photo printing. It’s a good quality print, for a very good price. Shipping is fast and for this, I always choose their matte finish which they call lustre.

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This is my gallery wall as it stands today. The engagement photo, wedding photo, and photo of the 3 kids when they were little, were from a while back, so their size was of course predetermined. I chose a canvas for each and cut (if needed) the photo to fit. You’ll notice 2 of them have a border… we needed this because the height of the photo did not reach the edges of the canvas. Mallory’s picture we used in this tutorial only needed a border on the sides. She was fine with taking the photo all the height of the canvas instead of cutting it. So before we even began, she painted her canvas black so the border on the sides would match her accents in her room. I’ll stop being so long winded and just say – use your creativity, it’s your project, do it how you want!

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Make sure your photo is the size you want for the canvas. Trim and cut if you need to.

I use matte finish mod podge and a foam ‘brush’. It is white, but dries clear! Protect your surface with a tablecloth. We use an old vinyl table cloth for painting projects and projects like this. Start by spreading a layer (not too thick) of mod podge on the canvas and on the back of the photo. Don’t go too slow because the glue definitely gets tacky pretty quickly.  Place the photo where you want it on the canvas and (making sure there is no glue on your hands) smooth the photo to the canvas. Let it dry.

Begin to apply pod modge to the top of the photo & canvas.

  1. Do not use too much. This will cause those heavier spots to look faded and almost blurry when dry.
  2. Make all brush strokes go across the canvas horizontally.
  3. Try to take your brush strokes across the whole canvas if possible.

Once you have covered the surface, lightly and evenly with strokes in one direction, let it dry COMPLETELY. If you do not let it dry completely in between layers, glue does what glue does and you could end up with clumps and icky spots that will ruin the photo.

When this first layer is completely dry, you can start the second layer by using the same process as the first except going vertically in even strokes.

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Let it dry completely yet again and voila! You’ve just made your very own canvas photo!

Have a lovely day!

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