When I saw DIY projects on transferring photo to canvas, I thought “oh I have to do this.”  I tried a few of the methods that I found, but was never happy with the outcome.  In one of the methods, the photo was pretty much just mod podged to the top of the canvas.  The other method left a white residue from the photo paper all over your picture.  Additionally, both methods resulted in the photo basically laying on TOP of the canvas, giving the look of a photo just glued on.  I wanted the picture to be directly on the canvas, giving it that textured look, almost like a painting.  After some trial an error, my husband and I discovered a technique that seems to work best, using transfer paper and an iron!

DIY Photo to Canvas Tutorial

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Step 1:  print out your picture on the Iron-on transfer paper.  Make sure you flip the image horizontally in a photo editing program such as Photoshop BEFORE you print it out, as when you iron on the picture it will reverse it.  We tried a few different transfer papers and we found that this one worked the best.  Avery Iron-on Transfer Paper.  Keep in mind that if your canvas is larger than 8.5″ x 11″ (standard paper size),  then you will need to print out an additional section and “stitch” them together. We will be going over that later, as in the example our canvas is more than 11″ in width.

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Step 2: remove the staples from the back of the canvas, by using a screw driver.  (the staples can be difficult to remove, we found the best way to remove them is to go underneath the canvas in-between the wood.)  Then use needle nose pliers to pull out the staple.

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Step 3: once all the staples are out, remove the canvas from the wood.  Using your hot iron, iron the back of the canvas to remove any kinks and make it flat.

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Step 4: place your image face down on to the front of the canvas.

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Step 5: in step 1,  I had mentioned that if your canvas is larger than 8.5″ x 11″ you will need to print out the rest of your image on another sheet of paper and then “stitch” them together.  By “stitch,” I mean use clear tape and tape the two together.  Then using your really hot iron (have your iron on the highest setting) iron the image on to the canvas.  You will want to do this for about 5 min or so.

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Step 6: slowly start pulling off the transfer paper by starting at one of the corners.  Make sure to not pull up.  While you are pulling off the transfer paper, if you notice that some of the image is still on the paper and not on the canvas just lay it back down and iron it again.

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Step 6: using your staple gun, staple the canvas back to the wood.

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Step 7: spray with Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer.  Wallah!  You are done!  Now you can sit back, relax, enjoy your favorite beverage and admire your finished product!

Here is our finished product.  As you can see, my husband being the artist that he is, painted over the seam from the 2 “stitched” together pictures, and also added some brush strokes with acrylic paint to give it a more painting like feel.  If you want to do that, paint first and then spray the image with the Mod Podge.

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We did a whole layout of these in our basement family room.  We decided to go with a vacation theme.  We took images from some of our favorite vacation destinations and composited them into one larger design. We also did a cool effect where they are black and white with Pops of color. I am also going to update this post soon with a link to my husbands blog, where he will have a video tutorial of how to achieve the effect in Photoshop. Enjoy!

What do you think?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

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34 thoughts on “DIY Photo to Canvas Tutorial

    1. https://www.hatchandhaven.com Post author

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and pin it! Glad you like it.


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  2. Felicia

    I love this technique. I too have tried a couple of the other ways and also wasn’t completely satisfied. I will be pinning this to try. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing.


    1. https://www.hatchandhaven.com Post author

      Thank you, Felicia! I think you will be really satisfied with this technique.


  3. Shirley Wood

    What a great tutorial! I couldn’t decide if I wanted to Pin to my Photo Tips board or my DIY board, I did both! This idea would make nice Christmas gifts. Thanks for sharing!


    1. https://www.hatchandhaven.com Post author

      Thank you, Stacey! Yeah I was the same way, always wanting to buy photo canvases but didn’t want to spend so much money. I was so thrilled when this technique turned out just how I wanted it…the print was actually on the canvas!


  4. Anna

    You smart cookie! I’ve seen this tutorial around a few times, and never clicked on it and checked it out because I assumed it would be just like all of the others I’ve seen….but I’m pleasantly surprised! I would have never thought to take the fabric off of the canvas. Great idea! I’m so glad I found this one 🙂


    1. https://www.hatchandhaven.com Post author

      Anna, I am so glad that you finally clicked on it 🙂 I am really happy with this technique and I am sure you will to if and when you decide to try it. Thank you!


  5. Natalie

    What a great tutorial! I would have never thought to do this. I love the way the print wraps around the sides. It looks so much more natural that way. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Jamie Willardsen

    This is awesome. I am definitely going to try it. Thanks for the easy step-by-step instructions!


  7. Leslie

    How cool! I’m pinning this. I’ve never seen anything like this little print. I’m stopping by from the blog hop & I’m a new follower. Happy Wednesday.


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  9. Adette

    This is by far the best I’ve seen! I’m just wondering, if I print this on a canvass bag , can it be washed without peeling off the print? Thanks!


    1. https://www.hatchandhaven.com Post author

      Good question Adette. Since the paper that is used is made for printing on t-shirts, I am sure it would be fine. I would probably just turn the bag inside out while washing it and wash on delicate cycle. That is a great idea to put a print on a canvas bag!


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  12. Sanda stewart

    I love your photo to canvas iron on tutorial. Does the image peel off canvas over time though? Thank you.


  13. Megan

    Thank you for sharing! Iv ordered Canvas backpacks for our destination wedding and I am going to try this on those! Seems like it should work fine! Should I still use the Mod spray? I saw they also carry a product called Mod for Fabric. Would that be better for my project?

    Also, After the wedding I will def make canvas photos what a great idea!! Michaels sells empty wood frames and flat canvas so that will save me the step of removing the staples and ironing out the canvas.

    Thanks again! Wonderful tips 🙂


    1. Tara Post author

      Thank you for stopping by Megan! Yes, I would definitely use the Mod spray. I think the spray for fabric would be perfect! Hope you have a fabulous destination wedding!


  14. Annie

    Hi Tara–I have an extremely large canvas that I painted and would like to iron-on a quote. Do you think that this technique would work on it? Stitching others pieces on doesn’t seem like it would make sense. Thanks!


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