We’re so excited to share this DIY tutorial from Blue Label member Rachael Grace Photography. These mini photo canvases are easy to execute, and could be produced in bulk at a DIY crafting party with your bridesmaids + friends as sweet wedding favors! Read on for Rachael’s tips on how to make these little beauties:

DIY photo canvas wall art

Do you know the feeling when your creative bug comes to visit? You just want to get your hands dirty and create something from scratch. But we all have those half finished creative projects laying around, that we didn’t quite have time to finish. Today I want to share an easy creative project that looks like it took ages, but really it’s just an hour. I’m in love with these little guys, so simple and beautiful.

diy canvas photo tutorialdiy canvas photo tutorial

diy canvas photo tutorial

What you’ll need:
– A canvas (start with a 5×5 size. The small sizes are much easier and more forgiving to start out on)
– Gel Medium (I use Liquitex, but any brand will do)
– A brush
– Furniture Polish
– A Xerox copy of your photo (remember it will be mirrored once it’s on the canvas)

For this project I choose a 6×6 canvas and a 5×5 Holga film camera photo. I wanted a white border around the image, but definitely not necessary.

diy tutorial canvas photo

Step 1: Spread a layer of gel medium on the canvas. Be careful to spread it thin enough and as smooth as possible. If there are thick areas you’ll end up rubbing the photo off along with the paper. Not cool! Place the photo print side down. Don’t do what I did the first time and put the photo up… :) Smooth out the image and remove any air bubbles. You want the whole image securely sticking to the canvas. Let it dry overnight.

Step 2: Use a spray bottle or sponge to soak the canvas. Once the paper has soaked up the water you can rub gently on the paper. I’ve used paper towels and sponges, but on small canvases it works best to just use your finger. The important thing to remember is to rub gently. The ink will rub off too, so go slow.

diy canvas photo tutorialdiy canvas photo tutorial

Step 3: Once you’ve removed the majority of the paper I like to use a rough sponge to rough up the edges. Can’t have it too clean! Then let the canvas dry out for bit.

diy tutorial canvas photo

Step 4: You’ll notice that once it’s dry the photo still looks cloudy with paper residue. The easiest way to rid the canvas of fog is furniture polish! The oily kind that’s just for real wood furniture works best. Pour a little on a cloth and rub it into the canvas. It clears it right up! It took me trying about 10 different products to figure that out!

And that’s all there is to it! A small canvas like this one only takes about an hour of time sans the waiting for it to dry. It’s the perfect way to add some vintage to your photos! And so many ways you can add your own flare to it so experiment on your own! The larger the canvas the less room there is for error, but the WOW factor is totally worth it!

63 comments

Comments (58):

  • Karen Antush on December 16, 2017

    QUESTION: Do you think I could use Modge Podge over the polish to seal in the brightness? The effect can be cloudy but I was able to brighten it back up with patience & polish. I loved this technique, only messed up one out of 4 but printing another color copy to do over is easy. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1a665516a991a59762063f8491ce55d1105e65f61e556a609b7f469861f1f202.jpg Plan on doing 6x6 month by month baby pics for 1 year old birthday wall art.
  • Flgroe Studios on October 6, 2017

    There's just something about print!
  • Ivy Solomon on February 25, 2017

    it looks cool to do
  • Jainam on February 3, 2016

    @Miz There is another online canvas printing store where you can find cheap canvas prints named Canvas Champ. I hope it will suitable to you for pricing. Also This DIY Piece of canvas is just awesome - one should try this!
  • Julie on December 31, 2015

    Can you use mod podge matte?
  • Lynn on October 23, 2015

    Absolutely works beautifully!! Oh my goodness, I didn't think it would work so well. I used Liquitex Professional Matte Gel Medium, bought it at Joann in the painting section. Thanks for this great DIY!!
  • Abbey on August 22, 2015

    Wow, I just tried this and it looks amazing! Can't wait to try a big canvas ????
  • Claudia, Brazil on April 29, 2015

    Hello, I'm from Brazil, What kind of Gel do you use for this? Is that we use on hair?
  • Penny on December 13, 2014

    I tried this and it worked out great - until I sealed it with a final coat of luiqidex. Big bubble-looking spots appeared that were not noticable until then :( Too much glue in the initial step?? I didn't notice any other comments about this.. Next time I will try olive oil. Needs patience, but looks great!!
  • may Freebody. on November 10, 2014

    Get to it girl.
  • Catapano Photography on October 31, 2014

    Love the way they turned out. I can provide the same effect via Photoshop in order to then print the photo to the extents of the canvas, giving it the wrapped feel. Such a great way to preserve the memory of such a special day.
  • Chandler on September 8, 2014

    Great tutorial and fun project so far. So I've done all of this and it transferred great, and I spent a good while rubbing off the paper lol (I started off with an 8x10 canvas.) after I rubbed and rubbed, I let it dry, and I had the white film over my canvas. I got some furniture polish and gently rubbed it all over the canvas. It seemed to help a little, but the white film still showed up. The polish I used is Old English. Can you or anyone reading this that has tried this project let me know what the brand or some more info on what kind of furniture Polish worked for you? :) thanks and I'm so excited to see how this turns out!
  • Lorraine on August 16, 2014

    What and where do I get the gel Medium from
  • Pauline Siscoe on August 15, 2014

    I am going to try this as soon as I get the canvas
  • Miz on June 20, 2014

    I am looking for cheap Canvas Printing Company in Australia. I have used few company already for canvas prints. I found stella is best one for Cheap Canvas Print
  • Katie Grembowski on May 2, 2014

    Thanks for sharing, I look forward to trying this!
  • Doris E. on April 27, 2014

    Can hardly wait to do this! Thank you for sharing!
  • Sasha on April 9, 2014

    This is a great idea! Love the rough edges idea.
  • Lynn Butterworth on March 25, 2014

    What a fantastic idea, I'm going to try this and make some for my family, what a lovely present to keep, great find.
  • elizabeth on March 12, 2014

    hi, does this work with a laser or inkjet print rather than xerox?
  • jessicaannjones.com on February 17, 2014

    Hello, This is a very good blog about canvas art.... Thanks for sharing..
  • Mary on February 7, 2014

    Mine turned out very nice, after trial and error with the first 2 that I made. You were so right about rubbing softly with your fingers. My first 1 I made I didn't let it dry overnight, big mistake. Thanks for the furniture polish trick, it worked perfect. Thank you again for such a fun canvas art project. Mary
  • Roger on August 29, 2013

    Great concept of little beauties shared by you, love this, hope to make one for me with my friends.
  • Robin on August 18, 2013

    So I can't just use a print from a regular inkjet right?
  • alana on July 8, 2013

    This is fantastic. It worked perfectly. I just printed out the photos on my inkjet printer on regular white paper, did exactly what you said, and used a wet sponge. The paper came right off. I'm gonna try it on a big canvas now. So exciting!
  • Photos to Canvas on July 5, 2013

    Great idea, i thought it would be much more difficult. Have you tried printing a single photo across multiple canvases?
  • Karen on June 30, 2013

    This may sound will but is it the onto you put down or the photocopy? I'm a bit stuck why the photocopy is needed
  • Marla K. Brumbaugh on June 11, 2013

    Great idea! The options - using your technique as a basis - are just endless! I am overwhelmed with projects I'd love to try. Thank you SO much!!
  • Keista on March 9, 2013

    I did this on two different canvases the last couple of days. The first one wasn't very good because I didn't put enough gel underneath the paper image but the second one was pretty. I covered the canvas with enough gel to stick the photo copied image (on home printer paper, not photo paper) face down. Put enough as though you are glueing something down normally but not so much that it oozes heavily from the sides. You must make sure though that you get out any ripples or bubbles and make it smooth. I put a heavy-ish book on top of it and let it dry overnight. The next morning I soaked a clean sponge with water and squeezed out some and put it on top to wet the paper pretty good. The print ink should be stuck on there enough that how much water isn't so much a big deal as to how much rubbing you do. I used my finger and a paper towel which helped with the problem of accidentally transferring the darker ink colors across the rest of the picture. Just pay attention and have patience as you go along to the "furry" looking parts which will need a little more coaxing to get off. When I thought I couldn't rub anymore without messing it up, I used some olive oil on a cotton ball to help with the hazy spots and lightly wiped any remaining with a paper towel. Then I ended up mixing glitter with my modge podge (it was for a friends tween daughter's present) and putting a few coats on it, spread out a couple hours. I WILL DO THOS AGAIN!!!! Thank you soooo much for this awesome idea. Oh, the possibilities are endlesssssss!!! Btw, what's the technique on printing a mirror image for picture with words so they don't end up backwards? My printer doesn't seem to do that. :/ Kinko's, maybe? :)
  • Shelly Strider on December 12, 2012

    I LOVE this idea. I tried this using regular copy paper. It didn't work. Should I be using photo paper? HELP! Please??? I'd love to be able to give these as gifts.
  • June Bug on December 10, 2012

    I did this as it said. I took a photo down to the UPS store and copied it, blew it up a little and copied it. I glued it down with the gel matte, you actually need a little more than a very thin layer or it won't stick down. I did a very very thin layer at first and the photo wouldn't stick. I let it dry over night and then wet the canvas. One layer of the paper pealed right off, leaving a cloudy version of the photo on the canvas. I then used my fingers to rub off more, but it rubs off a lot of the picture. I found if you wait til the paper remnants are closer to dry than wet, they rub off without rubbing off as much of the picture, but it's very time consuming and kind of a mess. The remaining picture is still very cloudy when dry because of the thin layer of paper. I haven't any furniture polish but I will try the olive oil as someone else suggested, maybe even a layer of the gel matte on top. I did notice Micheal's craft store has a canvas polish, that might work too.
  • Anabelle Bugatti on December 10, 2012

    I did this as it said. I took a photo down to the UPS store and copied it, blew it up a little and copied it. I glued it down with the gel matte, you actually need a little more than a very thin layer or it won't stick down. I did a very very thin layer at first and the photo wouldn't stick. I let it dry over night and then wet the canvas. One layer of the paper pealed right off, leaving a cloudy version of the photo on the canvas. I then used my fingers to rub off more, but it rubs off a lot of the picture. I found if you wait til the paper remnants are closer to dry than wet, they rub off without rubbing off as much of the picture, but it's very time consuming and kind of a mess. The remaining picture is still very cloudy when dry because of the thin layer of paper. I haven't any furniture polish but I will try the olive oil as someone else suggested, maybe even a layer of the gel matte on top. I did notice Micheal's craft store has a canvas polish, that might work too.
  • Ketchup och Senap on December 7, 2012

    Thanks for this tutorial! I made this today and the result was incredible. Since I didn't have furniture polish, I used a few drops of olive oil on a cotton ball instead and it worked just as well. Oh and I also used just plain white glue to stick the photo onto the canvass then diluted about a tablespoon of the same glue for the final coat at the end.
  • Anabelle Bugatti on November 30, 2012

    Does the photograph have to be in photo print paper? Or just an actual paper copy? If it's on photo paper, why not just use a print from target's 1 hour photo? Will that work?
  • kate on November 30, 2012

    Hi I tried this and Im not sure if Iv used the right type of photo. I used just a normal glossy one that you get printed off from the professional places like jessops etc. is that wrong?
  • cheryl somers on November 25, 2012

    I did it! It actually worked just like it says! Thank you
  • Danielle on November 23, 2012

    can you use a photo instead a xeroxed copy?
  • Danielle on November 23, 2012

    can you use a photo instead a xeroxed copy? Does it have the same effects???
  • mariela on November 20, 2012

    hello I'm from Argentina I could say is kind of gel using decoupage glue or glue is transparent thanks!
  • Ann Divelbiss on November 12, 2012

    corinna from piddix shared you/this post..i'm so glad she did!!! lovely blog and great ideas!
  • Hawaii Wedding Planner on October 24, 2012

    I am obsessed with this DIY. I have shared it numerous times with friends and potential clients. Always love finding new ways to display photos- they are so important. Love love!!
  • Alicia on October 11, 2012

    What a wonderful idea!! Any chance I could use Mod Podge in place of a gel medium for this project?
  • Judi on September 27, 2012

    Hello. Help. After the face down photo dried. I wet it down but the photo rubbed off too. Should I be using a up graded paper? I had cheapie paper from the market. How long to soak before rubbing? Thanks
  • Jane on September 17, 2012

    Love this way of showing art. I have tried this before and in another tutorial they said to paint over again with the Gel Medium. But I also get patchy cloudy areas - I will try with the furniture polish and when that is drying, paint over with the Gel Medium. I really want to get this right for my photography sales. Thanks so much Jane
  • Nikki on September 9, 2012

    Do you think this would work on tiles or does it need the rough surface? Would be amazing coasters!!
  • Allison on September 2, 2012

    I love this! I was so excited to try it. It looks so beautiful on the site!! Sadly, the colors in my copies bled a lot and the images ate pretty unrecognizable. They definitely don't look as nice. Any advice would be appreciated!
  • Jessica on August 29, 2012

    I love this, this is going on my MUST-DO project list!! Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try it! ~ Jessica
  • jb on August 27, 2012

    Hello, : ) We think your idea is great and I have tried it and I have run into a problem. After I took the paper of and used the oil furniture polish what i had and it looked great, till it dried and then it looked cloudy again. Can you give me any ideas to correct it? What brand of furniture polish did you use? I would appreciate your suggestion. Thank you and God bless, JB
  • Melissa on July 6, 2012

    Love this! Was wondering if you've noticed any yellowing after using the furniture polish. I've been trying to find a way to remove that fog as well and came across another tutorial that used clear sealer spray. Now I've seen your furniture polish suggestion and wondered which would be better!
  • elspeth on June 22, 2012

    I tried this because I loved the idea. I bought liquitex, put a thin layer on a small canvas, and put a xeroxed copy of a pic on overnight. I've just sprayed the paper with water (maybe too much??) It was pretty soaked... but my picture didn't transfer. The paper maybe wasn't glued enough(?) The whole picture wants to peal off and the inky is so watery it just looks like blotches of light ink colors on the canvas. Anyone have any advice, I've love a successful product :)
  • Kat on June 8, 2012

    This would look really nice on wood blocks if you do children's photography too.
  • Mint Photography on June 7, 2012

    This is a great idea, I have been producing image transfers on watercolour paper for my clients, love the canvas idea!
  • Mrs Average Bride on June 7, 2012

    In love with this idea!
  • Kim Bullock Photography on June 6, 2012

    I love it! My clients are always asking for new unique ways to display photos and this is perfect. Thanks for sharing
  • acacia on June 6, 2012

    you can also achieve a similar effect with pure acetone and an image from a xerox machine or laser printer: http://onemore.eviekemp.com/2011/05/how-to-acetone-transfer.html you can even use a blender marker: http://content.photojojo.com/buy-this/blender-pen-image-transfers/
  • Stacy on June 6, 2012

    I love this! Best DIY project I've seen (I'm biased though, since it's photography related). Definitely going to bookmark. :)
  • dustjacket on June 6, 2012

    What a great idea...mmm I smiled when you first did it face up, that's something I would do ;) xxx
  • Caryn Canatella on June 6, 2012

    I love making this! This process also works on wood!

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