If you are serious about producing canvas prints for yourself, friends and relatives, or you are considering offering canvases as a cottage industry, you will need to get an appropriate printer for the task, and be sure that your source material is of the right quality for printing out in a large format.
Finding a suitable printer
You will need a large-scale printer suitable for formats such as canvases and posters, and you may find a bargain online.
Look at the printer's specifications to see what size prints it can output:
- A1 size, a standard size for canvas pieces, is 594 x 841mm
- A0 size is double that at 841 x 1189 mm
- A4 size is just 210 x 297 mm
Print speed is possibly a less important figure, unless you are planning on canvas printing being a very active business for you, and you need to seriously maximise how many prints you can produce a day.
The DPI (or dots per inch) figure is a measure of how detailed the printouts are—the higher this figure the better. But a printout can only ever be as good as the source image it is based on.
It is important to ensure that your images are in the right resolution, and at the right size, so that they will look good printed out at scale. Preparing any old image, such as you may find on the web, for large-scale printing, may not produce good results.
Simply resizing a smaller image in your photo editing software will not give a very good effect; typically you will need to resample the image. The process of resampling introduces new 'interpolated' pixels into an image, rather than 'spreading out' the existing pixels which will give a grainy effect when the image is expanded.
However, resampling in itself is still not an panacea for smaller, lower-resolution images. The best practice of all is to acquire digital source material of the maximum possible resolution (in dots per inch) and size, so that such digital restoration is kept to a minimum.
Framing your canvas print
Your canvas print will need be to be stretched to its full extent and adhered to a wooden frame in some fashion (staples or glue are two common methods) so it can be displayed. With a gallery-wrapped canvas, the canvas is wrapped around a deep wooden frame so that it is also visible from the sides of the frame, for that quasi-3D effect.
You may be familiar with this effect from seeing commercial canvas printouts mounted in homes. It is important to account for this in the digital domain, by ensuring that the printed image will be large enough to account for the wraparound, and that it has a 'bleed' area that is continuous with, but contains no important features of, the image.
The cost of print heads and inks for your large-scale printer can soon add up. Also, if anything goes wrong with your printer, it can prove expensive to put right, as you will need to call a qualified engineer out. Take such running costs into consideration when considering a home canvas-printing setup.
Consult local canvas printing companies to learn more about your options and to receive more assistance.