There used to be a time when painting was the only available treatment for canvas surfaces. This is no longer the case. Now, you can create easy canvas prints at home with the right substrate and a good-quality inkjet printer.
Selecting the Right Canvas Materials
Not all canvas is the same. Rather, there are different types that work well for the various projects you have in mind.
- 800M matte canvas. This material impresses with superior durability because of its 2-over-1 Oxford weave. Besides that, the matte finish prevents glare from the sun or artificial lighting, which makes it a favorite of interior decorators. The durability also endears it to set designers and those who put together decorative murals.
- 600MT matte canvas. This is a fine arts aficionado’s favorite for imprinting. It is water-resistant, will not scuff, and does not flake. Best of all, it displays a slight texturing that adds certain depth to your prints.
- 17M gloss satin canvas. Since there is no need to varnish the product, you can feed it right through the printer itself. It has a bright-white color and a satiny finish. A mix of cotton and polyester prevents creases as you handle the material and imprint it.
How to Print on Canvas
You need an inkjet printer to get the best results. If you have a laser product, it will render beautiful products on paper, but it lacks the quality and definition that only inkjet technology delivers to a canvas.
Next, verify the printer’s ability to handle the canvas. As you can tell, the density of the sheets will be far higher than what the average sheet of paper brings to the table. Case in point is a 300gsm for paper versus the 350gsm of gloss satin canvas or 405gsm of the 800M matte product. Make a mistake here, and you will deal with a jammed printer.
Finally, remember that you can adjust the print quality of the inkjet machine. You will notice the difference between an optimized and a standard print when you look for vibrant color displays and black versus white contrast. Therefore, dial the inkjet print quality to high-resolution or photo-quality. Even if you are printing artwork versus a photo, you still benefit from the intricacies of the selection.
For some printer owners, there need to be workarounds. This is frequently the case when your machine is a little older. For example, you can guide the printer into optimized mode when selecting high-resolution paper as your media type in some situations.
What Do Inkjet Prints on Canvas Look Like?
These products have a gallery quality. They can be replicas of fine artworks or personal photos. You can use them for commercial artwork, theatrical backdrops, or simply for home décor. Similarly, they are excellent for the types of professional artwork that you might sell.
What is the Best Printer for Canvas Printing?
It gets confusing when you plan to print on canvas. For starters, there are different products currently on the market. Besides that, you have a number of printers to work with.
Understanding Your Canvas Options
Not all canvas is the same. Rather, manufacturers adapt the surfaces to meet the specialized needs and unique tastes of the artists who use the products.
- Lyve matte canvas. Matte surfaces are always excellent choices for the artist who prints replicas of paintings. You do not want light reflection to take away from the color play’s beauty. Similarly, you want to enjoy the full color gamut as well as deep Dmax tones.
- Silverada metallic canvas. What can you do with a canvas that sports a metallic finish? For starters, you can create black and white images that have a unique visual appeal. Besides that, they are ideal for color displays that pop.
- 800M canvas. This is a sturdy canvas that can stand some handling. Similarly, it is ideally suited for the use as a theatrical mural backdrop you might use in productions. That said, it is also a favorite of the commercial artist who receives a wall mural commission that does not involve vinyl wall coverings.
- 600MT canvas. Artists choose this canvas for the depth that slight texturing brings to the table. It consists of 50% cotton, which allows for the use in printers without fear of flaking or scuffing.
Matching the Right Printer to Your Canvas
Inkjet technology is the way to go. Although it is tempting to go for the precision that laser printing offers, it lacks the depth of the color or black and white presentation. Of course, once again, there are options. You do not have to limit yourself to just one type of inkjet model – or size.
- Roland. The Roland brand has been familiar to most artists. It keeps reinventing itself, which leads to the design of fantastic products that are suitable for the artist’s studio. As you might imagine, a large format product is the right choice. Go for the 1440×720 dpi scale that provides maximum coverage and depth. Besides that, there is the print speed to consider. If you run a canvas print business, the Soljet EJ-640 is a high-volume machine that processes 1,098 square feet of material an hour. The VersaExpress RF-640 is more docile with 521 square feet an hour.
- HP. Another brand that is familiar to artists is HP. The Designjet T120 large format printer is a good option when you like to print from the roll rather than sheets. It prints at 241.1 feet and hour, which makes it a slower model. However, it makes up in color depth for what it lacks in speed. By far the best application for this printer is black and white prints.
Why It Matters What Printer You Pair with Your Art Canvas
Even though it says, “inkjet” on the documentation, not each printer works for the artist’s studio. Consider, for example, the fact that the printer has to handle more substantial substrates. When this capability is lacking, you deal with problems such as stalls and uneven processing. Therefore, spend a little extra time shopping carefully for the best printer for canvas printing.
Which Side of Canvas Do You Print On?
How to print on canvas fabric is not as straightforward as you have been led to believe. For example, would you be able to pick up a sheet and determine which side of the canvas to print on? It is not as simple as it sounds. Here is what you need to know.
It Starts with the Selection of the Right Canvas
- Commercial quality artwork. 17M gloss satin canvas consists of 65% polyester and 35% cotton. It is easily stretchable, which makes it suitable for a host of professional applications. With a measurement of 350gsm, it may require you to select the specialized print setting on the machine.
- Replicas of historical works of art. 600MT matte canvas consist of a 50% cotton blend. You would typically use it for watercolor paper, which provides it with a slight texturing that looks excellent in a frame. It measures 300gsm, which works well with most model printers.
- Black and white prints. Silverada metallic canvas impresses with a unique finish that results in stunning finished presentations. Make sure its 380gsm fit through your printer’s feeder.
Pick the Right Side
Great, you think, how do I determine this? There is no hard and fast rule. The quick excursion to the different types of canvases underscores that each has its own qualities. Frequently, the canvas manufacturers will add a watermark on the side that does not get printed on.
When this is not the case, lightly run your fingertips over the canvas’ surface. Does it feel rough to the touch? If so, you are on the printable side if the canvas has a texture. When it does not have a texture, you should pick the bright or shiny side for printing. Since it is rare that both sides are exactly alike, these tips typically work.
How to Print on the Right Side of the Canvas
You have identified the right type of canvas for the task. Moreover, you have determined the side that you will print on, what happens next?
Start with locating the manual feed slot. It is unwise to try and use the standard tray even if you use canvas sheets that fit inside it. What sets apart the manual feed slot from the tray is the ease with which you can pick the side you want to print on. Besides that, you can attach a leader strip.
This is an instrumental step in ensuring that the canvas starts feeding through the inkjet printer evenly. Because canvas is made up of material other than paper, this strip mimics the paper’s edge when it starts going through the feeder tray. By the way, tape the strip to the back of the paper rather than its imprintable front.
Can You Print a Photo on Canvas?
It is possible to print a photo on canvas if you have the right hardware in place. For example, did you know that laser printers are singularly unsuited for the task? Here is what you need to know about printing photos on canvas.
Canvas Prints with Inkjet Printers
Printers that are suitable for canvas printing have to be able to deal with the more cumbersome substrate that the material presents. When you consider that some types of canvas have texture, it is clear that inkjet technology is the best option.
Since the average canvas weight exceeds 300gsm, look for a machine that can accommodate even thicker inserts. Find a model that supports manual feeder input. If you print multiple images from a roll, this is vital. Make a mistake here, and you spend a lot of your time measuring canvas and printing one by one copies.
Select the Right Canvas for the Job
Not every canvas works for every project. Rather, you have different options. Many artists favor a poly-cotton blend. It is much easier to work with than pure cotton canvas. If you insist on using cotton, pick the high-quality kind and run a few images on blended substrates first to get a good feel for the way the material handles.
For example, you might try a run with Belgian linen. It has a thickness of 425gsm, which calls for a rather beefy inkjet printer. That said, it provides you with gallery-style photo prints that are ideally suited for gallery wrap displays. Most importantly, it offers you the archival quality you are looking for when putting together high-quality photo prints.
If you are planning to print black and white photos, there are different options open to you as well. Sure, cotton and linen will work just fine. But for a special effect, you cannot go wrong with Silverada metallic canvas that measures just 380gsm. It creates a sheen that is difficult to replicate with other means. At the same time, it makes black and white photos shine – figuratively speaking.
Remember the Leader Stripe
Many newcomers to the craft try to guide their canvas through the manual feeder without any assistance. This is typically a fool’s bargain. Because printing a photo on canvas means only about an inch of clear space all the way around, precision is essential. This is not something that typically happens when you feed the canvas through the printer unaided.
Rather, you typically end up with a slightly favored edge that worsens as the printing continues. For smaller pieces, you can typically make up for the inconsistency. With larger ones, it becomes obvious that you missed the leader strip.
This piece attaches to the back of the canvas material and runs the length of the bottom. It mimics the edge of a piece of paper. Therefore, the machine will feed the canvas through evenly on both sides.
What Printers Can Print on Canvas?
Artists in the know will warn you away from laser printers and guide you toward inkjet products. As a general rule of thumb, Epson, HP, and Roland are the main contenders. However, even among these brands and their machines, there are differentiations.
Should You Invest in a Large-Format Printer?
There are few artists who will print photos on canvas that measure precisely 8.5-by-11 inches. Instead, they typically create larger images that are fit for framing. Although some standard desktop printers allow for various size adjustments, you will do best with a large-format machine.
What to Look for in a Canvas Printer
A printer that can print on canvas needs to be able to handle thicker substrates. Consider the different canvas styles that you might use.
- 800M matte. Measuring 405gsm, it is a poly-cotton blend that frequently comes in rolls measuring 64”x40’. You cut off the amount of substrate you want to use unless the machine lets you mount the roll directly for uninterrupted printing.
- Belgian linen. Considered by many the Rolls Royce of materials, it comes in with 425gsm, which makes it one of the more substantial canvas products you might feed through the machine. Therefore, it is essential that your printer can deal with this thickness.
- Chromata white canvas. Weighing in at 450gsm, it is one of the thickest canvas items you might be using. Artists who print photos on inkjet printers typically favor this material for its tremendous detail display.
- 17M gloss satin canvas. This product is on the slimmer end of things. It weighs in at 350gsm, which puts it close to the standard 300gsm figure that most printers can handle. Ensure that a machine that excels at the beefier substrates also does well with the daintier ones.
What Ink Does Your Machine Use?
If it uses water-based dyes, there is a good chance that your image will undergo some changes you will not appreciate. For your artwork, it pays to invest in pigment-based dyes that are waterproof. Most of these products do not fade with UV exposure, which is vital when you want your artwork to last past the turn of the decade or century.
Do Speed and Resolution Matter?
Some say that speed and resolution are personal preferences. Pointing to the fact that you typically look at artwork from a distance away, they justify their supposition. We disagree. You, as the artist, know what you are looking at. You can tell if the product looks overly pixilated at close range. Opt for a 1440×720 dpi resolution that you can dial down if you so desire.
Speed is a matter of personal preference. However, consider what your typical print volume looks like, and then decide if you want to have an output of 1,098 sqft/hr. or 521 sqft/hr. Since you pay for this extra feature, it makes sense to find a happy medium if necessary.