DIY Photo Canvas That Looks Exactly Like The Real Thing

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I did it!

DIY photo canvas that looks just like the real thing

A few weeks ago I shared my DIY photo canvas failure – it basically looked like a photo stuck to the front of a canvas.  And done poorly at that!  Well, I was determined to do it over and get it right this time.  I read many of the DIY photo canvas tutorials already out there, but I found two factors that kept most of them from looking like the real thing.

  1. The photos were simply glued to the front of the canvas; they didn’t wrap around the canvas which is one of the most awesome parts.
  2. The photos did not have that authentic canvas texture.

These two things really kept most of the DIY versions I saw from looking like the real thing.  The photo canvases you can buy look amazing – like genuine works of art.  They just happen to be way out of my budget.  Even when you find an awesome deal, once you factor in shipping they cost a ton.  And of course who wants to get just one?  Which means the money adds up even more.

I am super excited to tell you I figured out how to make a DIY photo canvas that is both wrapped and textured like the real thing for only ten bucks each!

*Update:  Since creating these first DIY photo canvases, I have created several more in much larger sizes.  You can see further tips for creating a DIY photo canvas in any size here.

DIY photo canvas materials


You will need:

    • A Poster Print of your photo – make sure to get a poster print, not a photo enlargement.  If given the choice between matte and glossy finish, choose matte.  Your photo needs to be at least two inches longer and two inches wider than your canvas.
    • A canvas.  You can get a blank canvas from the craft supply store or reuse an old painted canvas you no longer want.
    • Matte Mode Podge
    • A Foam Brush
    • Duct Tape
    • Scrap of canvas fabric
    • Optional – a brayer  (This is a helpful little roller for smoothing things you mod-podge).

making a DIY photo canvas

With your foam brush, spread a layer of Mod-podge all over the front of your canvas.  Center your photo on top of the canvas and press it to the canvas with your fingers (or if you have one with the brayer.  It turns out this little tool comes in handy way more often than I would have thought – especially for anything involving mod podge. If you think you might want your own brayer, you can use this affiliate link to get your own from Amazon).

Turn the canvas over and press along the underside of the canvas to make sure the photo is adhered.  Let the mod podge dry thoroughly and then use your fingers to wrap your photo around the edges of the canvas.  Sharpen the creases with your fingers.

DIY wrapped photo canvas

With your foam brush, brush mod podge onto one of the canvas sides.  Fold the photo up and duct tape it to the back of the canvas one side at a time.  When you come to the corners, simply fold the corner in similar to if you were wrapping a present.  You now have your wrapped photo canvas.  Phase one complete!

DIY Wrapped Photo Canvas- Phase One

Now if you choose, you can stop right here.  It actually looks pretty cool just like this and I almost stopped at this point myself.  My canvas was looking really good and I was afraid of messing it up.  But, since my goal for the year is to not be afraid of failure, I decided to go for it and add texture.

Adding canvas texture to a DIY photo canvas

To add real canvas texture to your photo canvas: use your foam brush to brush a thin layer of mod podge onto the front of your canvas.  As quickly as possible, press your fabric onto the top of your canvas.  Either smooth it with your brayer or your fingers for a few seconds and then remove the fabric.  I used a scrap of canvas fabric; drop cloth would also work well.  Just know, that once your fabric has been in the mod podge, you won’t be able to use it for anything else.  Once you remove the fabric, if there are any little fuzzies or threads on your photo canvas, carefully remove them with tweezers. I found it to be easiest to allow the front of the photo to dry and then do each of the sides separately.

Once the mod podge has fully dried, if you aren’t really happy with how it looks, you can simply brush on another thin layer of mod podge and repeat the process.  I am a total perfectionist so I ended up redoing this part about three times.  The first two times, I missed a few areas when pressing the fabric.

DIY Photo Canvas with Real Canvas Texture

And now you have a just-like-the-real-thing, fool-your-own-mama knock-off wrapped photo canvas!


DIY photo canvas


DIY wrapped photo canvas - just like the real thing


And if you aren’t sure if you want to go for the texture or not, here is a comparison of two canvases.  One that has already been textured and one that hasn’t.


DIY photo canvas with and without texture

I made these canvases for a particular spot so I used 11 x 14 poster prints and 9 x 12 canvases. I can’t wait to make a really huge canvas using this method.  And if you are really looking to get some bang for your buck, you can save by reusing the canvas from an old painting you no longer want (like I did on my first failed attempt at this).  And be sure to look for deals on your poster prints – online photo printing stores often run sales up to 50% off.

I am so excited I was able to turn my failure into a resounding success!  So who is ready to give this a try?  Be sure to check out my failure too for lots of tips on what not to do and this update for answers to frequently asked questions and more tips for making your own large scale DIY photo canvas.


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    • Sterling Price says

      This looks GREAT!! I love the wrap around… another way to get the textured effect is simply place a blank canvas upside down on it after painting the thin layer of mode podge! :) The fabric kind of scares me.

    • Carrie says

      Thanks Kim, Good question. I guess the final cost varies depending on if you have to buy mod podge and a brush. I already had those on hand. I got two canvases at Michaels when they were buy one get one free so they were around $4 each. My photo poster prints were 55% off so they were around 4.50 each counting shipping. So my actual cost was $9 each (if you throw in a little money for the Mod Podge used). If you bought the supplies at regular price, this would definitely be more expensive! Looking online, the absolute cheapest 9 x 12 photo canvases I saw were $16 each, but shipping was an additional $13, making the total $29. And the savings would be even more with a larger size.

  1. says

    hi carrie,

    that really looks like professionally done ♥ i really love the texture that you gave it, although if i were to do it i would probably be scared to use a fabric on the picture with mod podge! but girl that really looks stunning!

    i have a question though, where did you get your poster print?
    found you at the SITSgirls, huggies♥
    rea recently posted…The DIY’ers Party TimeMy Profile

    • Carrie says

      Thanks! I was a little afraid that adding the texture would mess the whole thing up but it ended up working beautifully. I got my poster print from Snapfish. In the past I have also gotten them from Shutterfly and even Walgreens online photo center. I always look for sales!

  2. says

    Carrie these look great. I will definitely be doing this soon. I tried to do a photo transfer with medium and I consider it a total bust. I much prefer using the modpodge! Thanks for the inspiration and the tutorial! Have a great week! Shaunna
    Shaunna @Tempting Thyme recently posted…Cheesy Beer DipMy Profile

  3. jenn says

    Hi there! I love this and have been searrching everywhere for a tutorial that actually looks like the real thing. But.. I cannot find where on Shutterfly to get poster prints…All their posters are collages. :( Help!

  4. says

    This is an amazing tutorial. I’m really glad I seen this and will def. be using this in a couple of weeks when starting our gallery wall of photo canvas’. THANK YOU! :)

    And, beautiful pictures too! *thumbs up*

  5. Juls says

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I used your directions for my project yesterday and the texture part at the end absolutely made the look!

  6. LaJune Stinson says

    What size piece of fabric did you use for the texture? Does it have to be a certain kind of fabric. Does getting the pic as a poster make it easier to to fold around the sides. I’ve been looking for the right tutorial to help get my gallery wall going and I have definately found it because they look like you had them done professionally. You go girl!!

    • Carrie says

      LaJune, glad you enjoyed my tutorial! And, yes, they really do look professional in person. I used a piece of fabric that was as big as my canvas but you could also use a smaller scap and just do one section at a time. The fabric needs to have a canvas like texture – you can use a small piece of canvas fabric, outdoor fabric, or even most dropcloths. Alternatively, if you have an extra stretched canvas, you can also press that onto it to do the texture. And the poster definitely helps make the folding easier. Poster prints are much thinner than regular photos. Hope that helps!

  7. Jess says

    Thank you so much for sharing this project, I found it yesterday and have already bought pics and canvases for it!! (I’m very impatiently waiting for them to arrive!!) Hoping to make Christmas gifts out of them!! One question- if you use the canvas/ drop cloth to make the texture on top can you use it more than once? Thanks again so much, the way you make these includes everything i want them to be

    • Carrie says

      Awesome Jess! I hope they turn out awesome! I found that I could reuse the canvas/fabric more than once as long as it was still damp. (It gets damp from being pressed into the mod podge). Once it fully dried, it was hard to reuse it because the mod podge made it stiff.

  8. says

    I have tried this several times using all the same supplies and every time my poster bubbles and there are creases all over. Every canvas I’ve done I have had to throw away. What am I doing wrong?!?

    • Carrie says

      Kelly, Oh no! I hate to hear that. I had no bubbling problems when I tried this but another commenter reported the same thing. I am going to have to do this project again and try to figure out what is going wrong.

  9. Crystal says

    Hi Carrie,

    Love your instructions on canvas photos! I am starting to make these and love your ideas on wrapping the photos. I made the ones where you paint the edge of the canvas too :( – not the quality I like! So am making one with wrapped edges from a poster print too, They look just as good as the one you purchase and pay 3x the price!
    Thanks for your great tips!

    ~~Canvas by Crystal ~~

  10. Ahmad Moore says

    Fabric works great for added texture!!! Tried another canvas on top and ruined my project!!! Good job and thanks for the tips!

    • Carrie says

      Thanks Ahmad. I’m sorry your project got ruined but I swear by the fabric tip – it really works! Thanks for leaving feedback!

  11. Lindsey says

    I just made a photo canvas per your instructions and it turned out beautifully! So impressive, looks just like the real thing! Thanks so much for the great tutorial!

    • Carrie says

      My canvases are fairly small – I used 11 x 14 posters and 9 x 12 canvases. But you can use any size as long as your photos are a few inches larger than your canvas (to give you some extra to wrap around the edges).

  12. Hannah says

    Thank you so much for your tutorial! I just finished a 20×30 canvas, it’s look awesome! I’m so happy w/ the finished project. I used the foam brush only for 1st layer, but didn’t like it. So I tried the canvas fabric on 2nd layer & love it! Btw, didn’t have a brayer.. So I used rolling pin (hahaa).. works great! :-)

    Thanks again!!

    • Carrie says

      Hannah, so glad it turned out great for you too! And love the rolling pin in place of a brayer – smart thinking!

  13. Cathleen says

    I could not figure out what bugged me so much about all the diy canvas tutorials I’ve seen…THE WRAPAROUND. Big DUH moment, thank you. This really looks awesome. Glad I put off my project until I saw this post. Even if I am late to the party!

    • Carrie says

      Thanks Cathleen – I know it is a small thing but I think the wrapping makes such a big difference!

  14. says

    I justhink picked up my poster prints from walgreens but they seem to be the same as photo paper. Would I be able to tell a huge difference between the poster print and an enlargement? Maybe they made a mistake?

    • Carrie says

      Chelsey, The difference between photo enlargements and poster prints is subtle. The poster prints are on thinner paper – they are able to be rolled up like a poster. Also, the poster prints are not as glossy as photos on photo paper. If your poster prints are large, I would bet they are on poster paper – I don’t think they have photo paper that large. Good luck with your canvases!

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