How to DIY Photos on Canvas

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Mod Podge Canvas
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Since I had professional newborn photos taken of my son, I wanted to display them around our home, but the price tag of large photo to print was expensive and frames for 16” x 20” photos were also expensive, so I came up with the idea to make my own DIY photos on canvas.  I thought I would share the tutorial with you all, in case you were looking for an inexpensive way to create beautiful photo art for your home.

Photo on Canvas Tutorial

Supplies you will need
{have it printed in matte for best appearance}
Mod Podge {Matte}
Black Acrylic Paint
Paint Brushes
Foam Brush
Photo Application
Step 1: Pre-cut your photo on each side 1/8 of an inch. This will ensure that the edge of the photo doesn’t overlap the canvas and also creates a nice edge once you apply the paint in a later step.
Step 2:  Apply a thin layer of mod podge onto the back of the photo and also to the canvas.  The photo is thick, so don’t worry about the Mod Podge ruining your photo.
Step 3: Lay your photo down onto the canvas and smooth out using a soft cloth towel to ensure there are no bubbles or gaps.
Paint Application
Step 1: Using black acrylic paint and paint brush, paint around the edges of the canvas and outer trim of photo {make sure not to get paint onto photo}. Apply 2-3 coats.
Step 2: Using a foam brush, apply paint in a “dry brush” technique. This means get just enough paint onto the foam brush but make sure it feels rather dry and then lightly apply the paint around the outer edges of the photo. You want it to have a vintage feel. In the corners of the photo you can create triangles like I did.
Final Touches
After paint has fully dried, begin applying a thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of the photo. Try to keep sheen and application consistent. Let Mod Podge fully dry and you will have yourself your very own DIY Photo on Canvas art!
How this project is budget friendly….
Cost Breakdown:
Canvas $5.99 for 16” x 20” 2 pk at Hobby Lobby
Photo printed from Walgreens in 16” x 20” size $11.99
Black acrylic paint already on hand $0
Paint brushes already on hand $0
Foam brushes already on hand $0
Mod Podge in Matte already on hand $0 {But around $4.99 if buying new}
DIY Total cost: $14.98 for one 16” x 20” Photo on Canvas
Retail price: About $65 for this size
Friends, let me tell you….this was an amazing savings to have beautiful art of my son in our home!! The cost would be even less expensive if you were making an
8” x 10” photo on canvas…roughly $3.99 for 2pk of canvas at Hobby Lobby and only $2.99 for this size to be printed at Walgreens or Costco.
Mod Podge Canvas
I know it is getting close to Christmas, but this would be a wonderful Christmas gift!! However, this would also make a beautiful gift for anyone, any time of the year!
So, who will you create your DIY Photo on Canvas for?

Do you need some beautiful canvas art in your home?

Good luck!

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  1. Anonymous says

    I am a new first time Grandma and this idea is amazing and looks quite easy. I can’t wait to try this and do a wall of my new grandson :)

  2. says

    These are so sweet! I love how you added a little black to the corners! Awesome!

    Thanks for linking up to Tell it to Me Tuesday!
    Creatively Living

  3. says

    wonderful tutorial
    and the baby is so adorable …oh my how they grow up so fast
    I have four sons and my youngest is now 13 years old.

    this is a great thrifty idea


  4. Anonymous says

    Wonderful project idea! I’ve been pricing out canvas pictures on shutterfly and just can’t seem to fathom paying 95 dollars for a 16×20 canvas. I have an 8 by 10 in the drying process right now hopefully it turns out lovely!

  5. Anonymous says

    Thank You for this!! I plan on making a few of these today for my son’s nursery :) I just wanted to let anyone with a costco membership or a friend or family member who has one, a 16×20 print is $5.99, so much cheaper than walgreens. Happy crafting everyone!

  6. Anonymous says

    they are beautiful, thanks for sharing. you might be interested in this blog:
    they use texture cream over the photo to add a “canvas” look.

    it is a store located in Utah, called The Wood Connection, (I spend way too much money there!) they make unfinished wood decor that the customer buys, then can finish at home.

    i like your idea of putting it on canvas, less bulky than wood.

  7. Melissa says

    Great article! Thanks for the tips! Have you ever considered ordering your canvas prints? I’ve ordered from canvas press before and they do a great job!

  8. Mallory B says

    Did you have a watermark on your photo?? I’d like to make enlargement of some of my newborn photos but don’t want to pay the cost to the photographer. The watermark on mine is tactful and really doesn’t look bad at all. but wondered if walgreens would allow me to…Any thoughts?

  9. Jenna says

    This is a WONDERFUL project! I have officially tried one and it seemed easy enough. Until the Mod Podge overlay on the photo. I was initially worried it would ruin the photo (it didn’t!) but when it dried clear it was “streaky”. You could tell where I’d used the foam brush to apply it. I used a foam brush expecting it would be less noticeable than a paint brush but the streaks are quite bad in the light. =/ Any suggestions? You can comment back here & I’ll check back or you can email me at is have a moment. Thank you!

    • Anonymous says

      Hiya, I used a foam brush and could see lots of streaks in the light so tried a roller for gloss paint and they have turned out brilliant.

    • says

      If you enlarge her first photo in the tutorial you can see that it is MATTE Mod Podge. Just for future reference for anyone else who might be wondering.

  10. says

    I pinned this a while ago and I just got around to making two of these tonight. They are amazing! I used color photos of my daughter in a robin’s egg blue dress, one of just her and one with my husband, and I painted my edges a blue that matched her dress in the photos. They are absolutely precious and I can’t wait to see them up on the wall. I’m sure I will do more of these at some point. Probably for gifts because they look great and are super cheap.

  11. says

    I pinned this a while ago but finally got around to making two of these tonight. They are beautiful! I used two color photos of my little girl in a robin’s egg blue dress and painted the edges in a blue that matches her dress. I can’t wait to get these up on my wall. I will certainly be making more of these, probably as Christmas gifts. Absolutely precious and so cheap.

  12. Anonymous says

    Have you tried painting the edges of the canvas first? Seems like it would make more sense than having to carefully paint around the photo? Just wondering? Great Project

  13. says

    This is a wonderful tutorial. Quick question; does the photo have to be matte finish? Is that thicker than a lustre photo from another source like Costco-5.99 for a 16×20 photo. I’m just curious if it is dependent on the matte finish to adhere to the canvas. Is it a thicker print or is the finish just not glossy?

    Thank you for your response!

    • says

      Thank you! Although I do recommend the photos be a matte/lustre finish, using a gloss finish is ok too. I have done this technique with both finishes and they turn out wonderfully. Lustre is technially a finish that looks “more professional” when printed and I really do recommend it. I don’t think Costco charges more to get your photos printed in lustre, so you might as well :) Good luck! ~Jennifer

  14. Anonymous says

    Love Love Love this idea!.. Thank you so much for sharing the step by step instructions. I posted this Pinterest:-)

  15. says

    Yours came out great! I tried this today, but had problems with the paint leaving brush strokes. Suggestions for that? Thanks!

    • says

      Hey there! First off, thank you! Secondly, I would recommend that you thin down your mod podge a bit. Also, using a wider brush for application will help you to use less brush strokes and when you mod podge is thinner it will go on easier and be easier to work with in general. Hope these tips help. ~Jennifer

  16. Anonymous says

    I just finished my first photo with this. I wish I could show you how great it turned out. We have a cattle ranch and took photos of gathering and branding. This technique of “aging” is perfect for the western photos. So happy with this! Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Brooke! I had the pictures printed on photo paper from Costco and they were done in “lustre” but this finish is also called matte at other photo stores. If you are printing from home, you can use photo paper or even try it on normal paper and see how this works. ~Jennifer

  17. Anonymous says

    I am in the middle of this and have gotten acrylic paint on my photo!! What do I do? will this smear when I apply the mod podge?

    • says

      Hi there! It depends where you got acrylic paint on the photo at….is it near the edges or in the middle? You will want to try and remove the paint very carefully if it it towards the middle of your photo and noticeable, otherwise if the paint is near the edge go ahead and leave it because you will “distress” the edges with paint anyways. If the paint dries, the mod podge shouldn’t smear it upon final application coat over your photo. Good luck and please let me know how they turn out!

  18. Trish Wells says

    Love this – did this for my Mom for Mother’s Day; have an amazing photo of my grandmother that I did & it looks professional. I didn’t do the black around the edges, but I still think it looks great. Hoping my Mom will like it – this is the first Mother’s Day without her Mom. :)
    Thanks again! Can’t wait to do another one!

    • says

      Oh Trish, that sounds so beautiful! I’m glad you were able to take this tutorial and turn it into something special for your Mom. Did she love it?
      xo, Jennifer

  19. says

    Great insight and tutorial. One thing our company loves is printing one photo across multiple canvases. Its a bit more challenging to DIY but the look is totally worth it.

  20. LL (@LLsoInLOVE) says

    Hi! I have been wanting to do this for months now and had all the supplies. I had some 5×7 photos that I wanted to test it out on before trying an 11×13 and an 20×30 (it is a very cool photo I took going over a bridge). Anyway…the other day I painted my canvases FIRST with black paint…then today I did the Mod Podge with the 5×7 photos. Omigosh, I am in LOVE with this!!! I did the 5x7s on 8×10 canvases so there is quite a border, but it looks great!

    Thank you SO very much for this!!

    • says

      Hey Nikki, I would see if you can order mod pudge online, most craft sales sale it that way and will ship. It really is necessary for this project. Good luck!


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