How to Load Canvas Sheets in a Desktop Printer

by Nick Friend on February 8, 2012 · 44 comments

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Feeding canvas sheets into desktop printers can sometimes be tricky. With multiple tray loading options, which one works best? Are there any tricks to making sheet loading easier? Read on…

If you have a desktop printer, this article will help you understand not only how to utilize it’s loading capabilities, but also how to get the most out of each sheet that you print on. Did you know that how you load a sheet directly affects the printable area of that sheet? For this tutorial, we will be using the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 desktop printer. This tutorial will show you how to load sheets with ease AND expand your printing capabilities.

First, let’s understand the various loading methods with this printer:

Auto Sheet Feeder: Primarily used for photo paper or standard copy paper. Works best with thinner stock.

Front Manual Feed Slot: Loads thick media (1.2 – 1.5 mm). Works with canvas and fine art paper. This option does not allow a user to utilize the full size of sheet since it sets a .75″ margin. Border-less printing is not available with this loading method.

Rear Manual Feed Slot: Your best option for loading fine art paper and canvas. This option allows border-less printing and utilizes the entire printable area of each sheet.

Using the Rear Manual Feed Slot, you will be able to load canvas easily AND utilize the most of each sheet. However, sometimes a sheet of canvas on it’s own may be somewhat difficult to load properly.

Here is a comprehensive guide to loading canvas effectively, every time. In the following example, we are using 13” x 19” sheets of Lyve Canvas.

1. Grab your sheet of canvas.

2. Grab some plain copy paper (or similar paper). Cut 2 strips about 1″ wide to make 1” x 11” leader strips (from a standard 8.5″x11″ sheet of copy paper).

3. With your canvas sheet face down, place the strips along the leading edge of the sheet. The leader strip must be the same width as the sheet of paper, so in this case we’ve used 2 strips to cover the 13″ width of the canvas sheet.

4. Tape the leader strips to the back of the canvas sheet. Be sure that the leader strips are flush against the edge of the canvas sheet.

Note: If the paper leader is not straight OR flush against the sheet, the printer may not feed the sheet through, resulting in a paper feed error or skew error.

5. Feed the canvas into the Rear Manual Feed Slot, inserting the leader side first. The printer will automatically grab the leader and begin feeding the canvas sheet.

We are now ready to print our image. In this case, our image is 12″x18″ and we want it to print centered on a 13″x19″ sheet. In order for our print to come out properly (at the correct size and centered on our sheet), let’s open our file in Photoshop to adjust our image so we can achieve the maximum printable area on our sheet of canvas:

6. Open your image in Photoshop. Click on the Image pull-down menu and choose Canvas Size.

7. In the Height box, add 1” to the existing dimension. Our image will fit centered on a 13” x 19” sheet because we are adding 1 inch to the height (this accounts for the paper leader). Notice the arrows next to the word “Anchor”. These represent anchor points which allow you to add space to any side of your file. Click on the anchor that points straight down, which will add 1” on top of the image (and keep everything centered).

8. Go to File>Print. Set the appropriate Print Settings (Video tutorial HERE). Click on the “Print Settings” button (“Page Setup” if using a Photoshop version prior to CS5) to access the Epson print driver.

9. Under Paper Settings, set the Source to “Manual – Rear”. Next to Size, click on the “User Defined…” button.

10. Enter the Paper Size Name (13×20), and enter the Paper Width and Height. Click Save, then click OK.

You are now ready to print your image. The end result is a true 12″x18″ image print that’s centered on our sheet of canvas!

Do you have any questions regarding the steps above? Do you have your own loading method? Let’s hear them!

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  • Taiyo

    If i understand correctly, when adding the strips of paper to the canvas, they protrude 1″ beyond the end of the canvas, yes?

    • Artur Patkowski

      Hi Taiyo. Yes, the strips of paper are 1″ wide and they extend 1″ beyond the canvas.

  • R Bragan

    anyway of saving this as a video for future ref? Thanks Art, you are a great instructor. Rick Bragan

    • Artur Patkowski

      Thank you for your kind words Rick. We don’t have a video of the process, however I recommend bookmarking this post on your computer or printing it out for easy reference.

  • Stu Iverson

    I find it works to put a strip of tape on the bottom side of the leading edge of the canvas. This avoids the need to resize.

    • Artur Patkowski

       Thanks for the comment, Stu! Could you show us a photo and describe exactly what you mean?

  • Bob Ambinder

    After a year of using this machine, I finally learned how to insert the canvas media, Thanks loads, Art,  you are a great instuctor.

    • Artur Patkowski

       Thank you, Bob. Remember, if you have questions in the future, you can always give us a call.

  • Andrea Smith

    hmm… I have the 3800 Epson. I had trouble once upon a time, trying to tape on a leader strip. It came off inside the machine. Its interesting to hear here that it works, but I wonder if it is necessary. I found that I could just lay the canvas on top of a piece of some stiffer paper like cardstock thickness which is the same size as the piece of canvas, for the front loader. That seemed to work though I had trouble some times if I got something too thick for even the widest platen gap. (I also did find that you have to adjust the platen gap let’s say to the widest, on the printer itself, as the Mac epson printer driver does NOT override the printer menu for the platen gap function. I think that solved that problem, but then in order to be able to print the max width, I more recently would feed the canvas into the back slot. It can often say that it is skewed with either type of loading and stop the printing process. I have not printed in a while so I can’t remember what I did, but a tech at Epson did tell me a way to just stop the printer from giving that error by some adjustment on the printer on board menu. A tiny skew isn’t going to hurt anything in my world, so it was better to just stop that error. Then it printed just fine from the back without making me reload all the time for some invisible skew, and I didn’t have to use any extra leader paper or backing paper for the back slot. A note here though, is that I was using the canvas in the direction that the edge laid flat enough. If it curls against you and don’t use a leader edge, you have to watch it as it comes through the rollers and tap the edge down, so in that case maybe the leader edge would be easier.
    I bought the extended warranty for years, but then found out that one can always get free tech help at Epson for these big machines, even without the warranty. As a sometimes at home user, I have found the Epson 3800 a bear, but the techs at Epson are fabulous.

    • Artur Patkowski

      Thank you for your input, Andrea! I noticed that the 3880
      would not feed canvas, because it seems too thick for the printer. When using
      the Rear Loader, the paper leader solves the problem; the printer can grip the
      sheet easier. The above method worked 100% of the time as opposed to loading canvas by itself, which didn’t work most of the time. For the Front Loader, canvas worked well without the need for any backing or leader.

      • Andrea Smith

        Thanks I didn’t do that much printing from the back.. just a few one day with your Lyve canvas. I didn’t have any trouble with getting the canvas to go through, but maybe I lucked out that day. Or maybe the 3880 has problems the 3800 doesn’t have. At least I know a solution to use if the problem comes up. 

        • Artur Patkowski

           Exactly, Andrea, that was the reason for this article. Thanks again for your comments!

          • Andrea Smith

             Ah ha! Cool. What I need is an article on how to get my Mac to print the profiles properly with the 3800. Seems that Adobe (Photoshop for sure, and I think Lightroom too) and the Epson driver for mac don’t like each other, and Adobe says it’s Epson’s fault and Epson says it’s a problem with the Adobe programs. Many of us have problems with the profiles just not working and things printing way too dark. Multiple techs at Epson couldn’t solve it for me and they all report other people having the same problem with Mac photoshop, but as I left it with the last tech I talked to, it seemed possible that I could use iPhoto as it can actually bring up the paper profile for printing. I just didn’t do enough printing to find out what kind of job it did. Do you have any articles on that?

          • Artur Patkowski

            The problem should be solved by creating custom ICC profile for whatever media you’re using. That fixes most issues as far as prints coming out too dark or too light. If you need a custom ICC profile for any of our media, I’ll be happy to help, just let me know. Also make sure your monitor is properly calibrated. If it is not, then your prints may come out darker or lighter than what you see on your screen.

          • Andrea Smith

             you would think, but no profile works. I do have a profile from you. That’s the problem… its not that the profile is a bit off.. it’s more like it makes no difference. The prints are way , way dark.. not just a little too dark. Monitor isn’t the problem either. I have a friend who used my printer (on his computer and had the same problem. Now he uses a Canon with no problem. He says I should just sell the Epson and get a Canon. But I have an investment in the ink. Also the techs at Epson made test sheets with the printer they sent me (when making a printer exhange due to problems with it, under the warranty) and theirs prints were gorgeous. My prints from iphoto wihtout using a custom profile, and also from Gimp were ok.. at least not too dark.   Its something about Photoshop on a Mac. Many people said (the techs tell me) that they had this problem with CS4 and before, but that CS5 solved that problem for them, but for me it didn’t. Go figure. I have to test out how iPhoto does using the profile.

          • Andrea Smith

             I should mention also that I have had so many exchanges under the warranty… like almost a dozen.. and this has been the problem with all of the 3800 machines I have had. I spent hours with techs on it.. they just blame Adobe. I should just switch to PC but I don’t have Photoshop on my PC.

          • Artur Patkowski

             Yes, I understand, companies will sometimes do that. Please contact me, when you get a chance, I’d love to help you figure it out.

          • Andrea Smith

             thanks SO much for that offer. I will contact you when I get printing again assuming the same problem is going on. It’s so weird that you don’t have a problem and I do. I also have snow leopard. Why some people have this problem (as the Epson techs report to me.. and I have seen it online in some chats as well…) and some don’t … I sure don’t get that at all. It would be way better to print from Photoshop than have to import to another program , even if something like iPhoto does work. Thanks again.

          • Artur Patkowski

             No problem Andrea! We’ll get to the bottom of it. Thank you!

          • Artur Patkowski

             Yes, Andrea, that sounds like the best step to take. Printing from each program and comparing the results should shed some light on the problem and possibly point to a solution. I have a Mac running Snow Leopard 10.6.8. and Lion 10.7 (dual boot) and haven’t noticed any issues occurring with Photoshop.

  • Anonymous

    Art, I can load the canvas, but I’m having a problrem with the extra inch when I am doing a landscape photo.
     I  can’t seem to center an image. The space ois always in the wrong position or it prints over it. Help please.  

    • Artur Patkowski

      Hi Bob. I’ll describe the process in more detail here: once I
      have my image sized and ready, it was 18” x 12”. I added an extra inch of
      border around the image (Image > Canvas size) making it a 19” x 13” image. The
      next step was to rotate the image 90 degrees (Image > Image Rotation > 90°
      CW). After that was ready, I added the extra inch on top edge of the image.
      Hope that helps, let me know if you have any questions.

  • Anonymous

    Please forget the previous post. Got that straightened out. I would like to know how to disable the skew error that Andrea mentioned.


    • Artur Patkowski

      Hi Bob. To turn “Paper Size Check” off on the Epson 3880, on
      the printer press the Menu button, go to Printer Setup, then Paper Size Check,
      set it to Off.

  • Anonymous

    I am still very confused.  When do you put in measurements and call an image a landscape and when do you call it a portrait.  Here I see a landscape for which you have put in the measurements of a portrait.  By that I mean that the height is greater than the width.  That, to me is a portrait.

    Should a landscape always be measured this way when using the manual rear feed? 

    • Artur Patkowski

      Hi ebkw. Correct, the image is in landscape orientation. To print it, I rotated it 90° clockwise and added the extra inch to the top. I always set up my files this way for printing on sheets, so that there are no surprises and everything prints correctly.

  • Andrea Smith

    sorry my printer is packed away at the moment so I can’t figure it out right now.Try turning off the paper size check in the onboard menu…. tell me if that works.

    • Artur Patkowski

       That is done in the printer menu: Menu > Printer Setup > Paper Size Check > Off

  • Anonymous

    I think I got it, I think I got it.
    Thanks Art and Andrea


    • Artur Patkowski

       No problem, Bob. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Anonymous

    I have a large supply of “Brilliance” Canvas sheets, but I don’t see any profiles for it. I have been using Chromata profiles which are not bad, but I’m sure the Brilliance profile would be better.  How can I get that?

    • Artur Patkowski

       Hi Bob. Please give me a call when you get a chance 866-722-6567 x124

  • printer toners

    using your way looks very simple and easy because one of my colleague will use another way of obtaining canvas sheet in desktop printers. 
    anyhow will try your way and recommend it to my colleagues and friends. nice useful info. 

    • Artur Patkowski

       Glad you found the info useful printer toners! Thank you for the comment!


    can you use canon pixma pro 9000 markII for printing on canvas. If so advise me how I should go about

    • Artur Patkowski

      Hi S V NAGARAJAN! It looks like you should be able to print on canvas with your printer. The manual says it can only be used in the Front Tray and use the Canvas media type. If you need help setting up a print on our media, feel free to contact me directly and I’ll be happy to help.

  • Keewellman

    Hello Art,  I have managed to get my printer to print with the image centred.  I now add the 1″ to the top of the canvas for the added paper strip in Canvas Size and then add another 1″  so that there is an additional 1/2″ on both top and bottom.  I cut the canvas to include the second 1″.  Voila!  Centred!

    • Artur Patkowski

       That’s great! Thanks for the comment!

  • Myprettysisters

    Hello.  I just got this printer and I love the color I’m getting.  However, can you tell me where/how  I am supposed to load my 4×6 and 5×7 paper????   Thanks!

    • Artur Patkowski

       Hi Mary! You load those sizes into the Auto Sheet Feeder.

  • Konradsanders

    Hi. Thanks for the great tips! I want to make small canvas prints of my artwork… just wondering – would I be able to then wrap this canvas print onto a wooden frame (so that it is chunky and ready to hang)? If so, how could I go about doing this? Any advice is really appreciated!!

  • Fuzzybummer

    Thanks for these great tips

  • Imagecatcher

    Hi, Thanks for a great tip. I have been using this approach with several BC canvases on an Epson Pro 3880 and it works nearly 100% of the time. Today, I learned an important lesson for using this technique that you might want to include if you update your video in the future, or at least pass along to others using this technique. For leaders, I had been just cutting up old prints since the paper is nice and stiff without being too thick. I didn’t pay any attention to the images on the old prints or which side I used. This lead to a problem when the leader had dark areas from the old print and I taped it to the canvas with the image side up. Turns out the 3880 looks for the edge of whatever media you feed in from the rear slot, and it was actually sensing dark areas on my leaders as the outside edge of the canvas, even if it was somewhere in the middle of the canvas. Once the printer did this, it set up to print less than the full width of the canvas since it thought the media was narrower than it really was. I think this is a safety feature to prevent shooting ink in places where media is not present. Anyway, it took a lot of talking with the Epson Support folks to figure out what was happening. Once I started using clean white leader strips, the problem was solved.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent Tip!
    Thanks IC

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