It becomes more and more obvious that most of our competitors do not actually use any varnish on their canvas prints. Some do offer varnishing but at an extra cost. This is actually quite shocking to me, knowing how important this part of the canvas photo printing process is. There is more information on the varnish in 'canvas printing process' section of our website. However, just a quick reminder why it is so important:
- varnish improves colour appearance, as it increases colour density, does a really nice job, especially on the darker colours,
- protects from UV - which stops canvas from yellowing and colours from fading,
- protect against humidity, allows for the canvas to be wiped with a damp cloth,
- it also prevents the canvas from scratching the ink off and chipping.
Remember that we use varnish on all our canvases - as we do care about the longevity of your canvas prints.
I have decided to write some more information on the subject of old photos restoration for printing on canvas. This is something that we do more and more and I feel it maybe of interesting for many people.
I love to work with old photos, there is something very special about them, either old negatives, slides or simply old photos. With the negatives it is like revealing hidden beauty, likewise slides - I have experienced very emotional moments once they have been scanned and presented to owners who didin't really remember what exactly was on them. Obviously scanner plays extremely important role in capturing the data. This is why we proudly use high tech Screen Cezanne Elite scanner which is doing just that - making sure that none of the details are lost. As photos do usually need quite a lot of work to be done before they can be printed on canvas it is important to have a good starting point. For a start we scan at 16bits - not very many scanners can do that. In simple terms 16 bit is allowing a lot more information - tonal range - to be captured. In 8 bit mode (most commonly used by domestic scanners) you can only capture half of the existing tonal information. This plays huge role when it comes to keeping the details sharp and also when the photo need to be magnified. This is almost always the case. Another important aspect is relosution. Canvas prints do allow to use lower resolution than when printing on paper. Yet once we increase, double, triple or even make the originals more than 10 times bigger resolution plays its role. Our scanner can scan up to 5300 dpi. This is true optical resolution. Scanning resolution has to be adjusted specifically to each job - there are no benefits to use too high resolution - quite contrary - the image will loose it's sharpness and lack detail. Surprisinlgy new domestic scanners are becoming better. There are differencies though which separate them from high end scanners. Apart from lack of 16bit capability there is also sensitivity in dark tones. This is where the difference is quite staggering. Home scanners will loose the differentiation even above 90% of black, simply showing anything between 90%-100% as 100% black. Now, if your photo has a lot of details above this 90% threshold - they will be simply lost. The key to a good looking canvas prints is a good contrast and full tonal range. This is why we have decided to offer all our customers free scanning service using our Screen Cezanne Elite scanner, with any order. Your originals will be returned to you together with your canvas prints. We can also send digital files of the scans. Please contact us if you require any more information on that.
Here is a quick list of most common problems with photo we receive. As many people actually take photo with the purpose of putting them on the canvas I think it may be useful read.
1. Blur - caused by the unsteady hand. Can we easily avoided - by using a tripod. If you haven't got a tripod think about something you can rest your camera against, like chair, wall or a table. Blur can be also reduced when the exposure time is decreased. Look for this option in your camera settings. Some people suggest to even hold your breath as you press the shutter button. Easy to try - and nothing to loose. Good practice s also to keep your camera in your both hands.
Similar problems may be caused by not focusing the camera on the subject. Make sure that you let your camera focus by pressing the button half way and waiting until it is ready before pressing it all the way down.
2. Under Exposure/Backlighting - the subject of the photo is too dark and is lacking the details. This happens a lot when photographed person is standing in front of the window, or when the sun is behind the person that you take photo of. The technical reason behind that is that the camera is measuring the amount of light in the scene and adjusts to the the brightest areas. There are no easy fixes for that, best is to avoid this if using an automatic camera. With some cameras you can change the exposure time and overexpose the photo which will help the subject.
3. Red eyes - although easily fixed, can be also avoided in many cases. It is caused by the flash light bounced off the eye retina. Try to avoid using flash - it is better to use natural sources of light if available. Always look for red eye reduction version of the flash in your camera. Ask the person that you photograph not to look directly into the camera.
4. Low resolution - with new cameras having more and more megapixels make sure to make the most of it. I personally always take photos with maximum quality settings my camera can give. Not only you will capture most details this way but also you can produce bigger canvas prints or other printouts later. Bigger files will take more space but I don't think this is an issue at this day and age when hard disk & camera memory cards grow at outstanding pace. Other reason for poor quality os also usage of digital zoom - this doesn't really do much more than cropping the photo for us, effectively magnifying existing pixels. Avoid using digital zoom at al costs. It is always better to get closer to your subject. Read our canvas resolution guide for more info.
5. Lack of focal point - avoid shooting a photo against busy background. When taking a photo think about what you'd like to see on you canvas prints - possibly make a test photo. Remember that to make a canvas prints with the image wrapped around the canvas frame we will need at least 2" of the photo extra around the subject. So plan your photo carefully. Sometimes we try to include too much in our photo, causing it be too clattered and less interesting. It may be better to take a few shots and combine them into a collage or a photo sequence.
6. Not reading your camera manual - this is the best initial source of information, which lists all of your camera options, which is neglected by many. New cameras have lots of extra features, manual settings which can greatly improve your photos. Good practice is also to take lots of them. Professional photographers take hundreds if not thousands of shots to choose a few that are exceptional.
Hope this helps,
Looking forward to receiving your great photos
It is very important that while your photoas are printing onto canvas the original colours captured by your digital camera are kept intact. What I mean by that is that the 'dark olive green' doesn't become just 'dark green' but the colours are actually printed as close to the original image as possible. There is both experience and right equipment needed in order to achieve that. We have invested heavily into our calibration system, and it is never ending job. Our spectrophotometer in also indespensible tool that allows to judge the media quality and its reproduction abilities. Based on the many tests done on different types on canvas available on the market we have decided to stick with Breathing Color. This is a logn established brand which not also guarantees canvas longevity, wide colour gamut but also each new canvas roll is very consistent for colour reproduction purposes. Experience in making profiles gained after years of working in reprographics and colour calibration field position our company at the top of canvas photo printing services. We have asked been asked this question many times - 'Do you use colour calibration for your canvas printing' - and we can proudly answer - 'Yes. We do.' We actually take it very seriously - I can't imagine printing without. It is produce unpredictable, random results. And yet there is many companies that don't bother - due to the fact that it does cost money and takes time to keep the workflow colour calibrated, and also experience and of course - will to do it.
For professional clients we provide our canvas profile. Please enquire and we will be pleased to send you the profile which then can be used in Adobe Photoshop for soft proofing.
Our services have been used by many professional photographers. We are very proud to be able to serve trade customers - it shows that our approach and fully colour calibrated worklfow is up to the highest standard they expect on their canvas prints. Most of our trade canvas printing customer have used some other companies in the past. Once they have tried our service - they have stayed with us since. This is very reassuring - but we do not sit back and relax - we are constantly searching for new developments with regards to the canvas photo printing. We are also keen to accept new trade canvas printing customers and fulfill their requirements. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries. We would happily work even with your preferred substrate - any inkjet printable media. With all new canvas material we will produce .icc colour profiles free of charge and also send them to you to enable soft proofing on your computer monitor. We would also gladly sent some test prints of your own images printed on canvas free of charge. This way you can judge the quality of our service without any cost to you. Please remember that all our canvas prints are varnished with museum grade varnish and come ready to hang. We do not charge extra for these extras as a lot of other companies do. Please contact us for more information and to order your sample canvas prints.
There are many views on what image resolution is actually best for canvas printing. Let's have a closer look at this issue. In general canvas prints are designed to be looked at from quite a distant position. If that is the case we can get away with very low resolution providing the viewing distance is substantial. Most of outdoor advertising is printed from images even as low as 50 dpi - as they are designed to be seen from 10 metres+ away. But when you actually look closer you can see dots making up the image quite clearly. At this stage we need to distinguish between original image resolution and printing resolution as they are two different things. In traditional printing image is always rasterized - it is converted into series of dots with varying size usually in four colours - cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These dots placed close to each other bounce off certain wavelenghts of light creating in this way different colours. The size of the dots is determined by lpi (lines per inch) and is directly responsible for the output resolution.
In canvas printing similar process takes place - printer internally calculates where to place the dot from one of the eight colour heads and the size of it is determined by the output resolution selected by the user. But this still isn't the most important aspect - as we have control over it and can always make sure that it is done right.
There is one resolution which we as a company printing your photo do not have influence on - it is the resolution at which you send us your photo - which is in most cases same as captured by your digital camera. I have already mentioned that on our blog Taking better photos for canvas prints. It is always most sensible to choose best resolution in your camera as it may be beneficial in the future. Of course better resolution means more space on the memory card but these are really coming down in prices so honestly speaking it shouldn't be an excuse :-).
The hard formula for the canvas printing is to have 100 dots per inch (dpi). So for 12"x16" canvas ideally we should have 1200x1600 pixels image. More on resolution also on our Canvas Resolution Guide page. Your image contains specific amount of pixels which predefines the right size when it comes to printing. It has been a rule of thumb that on average 100 dpi should be optimal value.
In our experience more flexible approach also works. As canvas prints are intended to be viewed at significant difference (not less than 0.5m) even smaller than 100dpi resolution is also fine. It also depends a lot on actual photo contents i.e. if a subject has lots of sharp details then enlarging it will cause loss of quality. Our new canvas prints ordering system is actually calculating effective resolution based on your selected canvas size as well as magnification level. It helps to assess very quickly what size will be appropriate for your photo. Our staff always checks your particular image even after order have been placed and we will always contact you if we think that selected size may not be appropriate.
Here is a example of impact on photo quality caused by enlarging the photo above its optimal resolution.
It is quite amazing to see that many of our competitiors still do not use or even discourage from use special type of varnish to protect your canvas prints. As you can imagine the only reason for that is purely cost and additional time required to apply the varnish. On other hand I would strongly advice not to have a canvas print which has not been varnished. There is more information on that in many places on our website - Canvas varnish. Just to summarize here are main advantages of using canvas varnish:
- it protects againt UV, mould, mechanical damages
- makes canvas print damp proof - they can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth,
- it extends their life and stops colours from fading
- it enhances colours and contrast of you canvas.
Also to find out all on this subject throughout the website please type 'canvas varnish' on the front page. This will find all entries containing advice on usage of varnish on canvas photo prints.
Please remember that not only we always use varnish on your canvas but also offer 4 different types - Gloss, Matt, Semigloss and Semimatt. In most cases gloss/semigloss finish is a practical option. Matt and semimatt version is often used where canvas is in direct sunlight on any other source on light - using matt varnish will minimize 'glare'. Also matt varnish is often used by professional customers where colour reproduction is absolutely crucial. Please bare in mind that glossy varnish does affect colours although in a positive way - they are becoming more vivid, and dark tones are becoming even darker.
By default we are using semigloss version of the varnish, if you'd like us to use any different please make this note in the comments box when you place your order.
Most images we receive for printing on canvas have .jpg extension. In fact our ordering system will only accept this type of files. There is no size limit set up on our side - it depends a lot on the actual speed of your internet connection. As most people have ADSL broadband connection - the letter 'A' stands for asymmetric as we can download with much greater speeds than upload (actually the difference is about 8 times). We have received files in excess of 40Mb via our website. However if you would like to create canvas prints from larger files or use other files extensions it is also not a problem. For all professional users and also if original image has been created in a different than .jpg format I would suggest not to change it to .jpg. Why? Very simple reason - jpg is actually a lossy compression, even at high/highest quality it still performs compression resulting in some image data being lost irreversibly. So if you take your photos in raw format please do not use jpg extension when saving your files out from Adobe Photoshop. Preferrable option will be either .tiff where either no compression can be chosen or LZW lossless compression or .psd file where again all image data is 100% kept. This is especially important when images are going to be enlarged in order to produce bigger canvas prints. So if you prefer to send us your file in a different than .jpg format I would suggest to create .jpg version and use it in our canvas photo prints ordering system, and once you are happy with the cropping and size just put a comment in the last step saying that you'd like to upload image in a different than .jpg type. We will then provide you with the details how to connnect to our ftp server - this will accept any type and size files. As ever - please don't hesitate to contact us in case of any question.
We have decided to give a try to a professional set of profiles created by Bill Atkinson. First one will be RGB 1728 target which as name suggests contains 1728 coour patches. It is created using 12x12x12 grid which contains a great colour variation and can provide wider gamut. This will allow better colour reproduction for our canvas prints. The differences in profiles will be posted here. Also if this will produce better results we would go for the biggest target - which contains amazing 4096 patches and will provide best results. Second step will also be to create profiles for varnished canvas which should improve soft proofing on screen.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions or queries on our colour calibration setup. Current profiles can be downloaded on the blog section - Soft Proofing for canvas prints.
09/08/10 Update - We have produced new profiles for our standard polycotton canvas. As they use 1728 patches there is an improvement and as planned we are now going to produce new profiles which utilize largest available amount of colour samples - a staggering 4096, thanks to Bill Atkinson. Download - Canvas profile based on 1728 patches. Please right click and select "Save as'. With this profile we have noticed increased contrast in reds and greens, and also slighlty increased gamut. New larger profile should produce even better results. Info will be posted here after we have printed and measured new target files.
11/08/10 Update - After having some communication with Bill Atkinson (!) we have decided that the best way is to use 1728 test chart that we have used before. We are now going to work on producing many targets printed and then measured and averaged in our colour calibration software. Results on this exercise should improve even better our current profiles.
From today we have introduced new service which allows to opt for a printed proof before proceeding with printed full scale canvas. It is a very good option when colour reproduction is crucial or you need to assess final quality of your photo on canvas. Other good reasons may also be if you require larger amounts of the same canvas - we recently did over 100 copies of the same image (!). With any larger orders (over £250) we offer this service for free. For smaller orders the cost is £8 and this is just to cover our costs with printing & sending the proofs. As a standard we will produce and send two A4 sheets - one will show the whole image scaled to fit - this will give general overview of how the colours from your image has been reproduced. Second page will contain a section from your image printed at your chosen size. This will be a perfect way of assessing if the resolution of your photo printed on canvas is satisfactory. If after seeing the proofs you would like to make some amends subsequent proofs will be sent free (up to a maximum of 3 proofs). I believe we will surely be able to co-operate to help you get the exact effect that you desire. As a standard proofs are printed on the same media you have selected for your canvas. There is also an option that we can produce the proofs on other media i.e. you have chosen Standard canvas but would also like to see the proof on Premium canvas. If that is the case just use the comment box available in the last step of ordering system, contact us via email or telephone.
Please don't hesitate co contact us if you require any additional information on canvas printing proofs.
When you decide to print your photos on canvas you will definitely want them to last. To create canvases that will have a long lifespan and will stay in your family for decades they need to be done in the right way. Firstly the canvas used must be of a decent quality - we have come across many distributors who contact us and offer their canvas media - and I have to say that sadly there is a lot of really poor stuff out there. Although it would be very cheaply priced tempting unexperienced printers to use them - the colour gamut and ink adherence will be very bad. And to make sure that we have the right media we do test them from time to time. Most of cheap canvas is made from 100% polyester - it is actually even hard to call it a canvas - it is very thin and artificial substance which lacks the feel, quality and printing characteristics of the proper canvas. I don't actually have anything against polyester itself - in fact all of the canvases we use do have polyester content - and this has been proven to have really good effect on the canvas media. It is adding stability against contraction and expansion to the standard canvas which reacts to humidity. There are uses for polyester canvases - a lot of cheap advertising is actually printed on polyester canvas using solvent inks - creating waterproof & outdoor ready products. So there are of course places where polyester canvas can be used. In my opinion though for the purpose of reproducing photos on canvas where we care more about quality and longevity polycotton canvas should be used. Please read more about our canvas printing process.
Many times our customers were asking for bespoke canvas prints sizes - as a response to add we are offering canvas prints in a wide selection of sizes. They start at 6" and in 2" increment go up to 72". There is a bigger step after 60" - next one up is 72". As our printers are currenlty 44" wide we can offer 40"x72" as a biggest canvas at this point. We are considering purchasing even wider printer which will be capable of printing up to 64". But with our current printers there are still other ways to create massive canvas - i.e. by using split panels. 3 panels of 40"x72" will produce a massive 120"x72" canvas. Split panel canvases do look even more interesting than single panel ones. We recommend using them if your images are taken with Digital SLR cameras or simply cameras with over 10MP. We also will soon be offering a ready made products using professionally taken photos. For procing idea on any size you require please refer to our canvas sizes & prices page.
With the current wide selection of sizes we are also offering two different thicknesses of canvas frames. This are 38mm and 18mm. All canvases are supplied with wedges to keep your canvas tight at all times.
Custom size canvas are even easier to create using our canvas ordering system. This will show you exactly how your image will be cropped - our idea was to give you the full control over that. This has proven to be very popular amongst the customers - we also like the fact that you always know what your canvas will look like.
Another option which can be selected by you is the finish of the canvas - we varnish all of the canvases - there is no reason why they should not have professional protection which will make them look great and last. We use semigloss varnish for canvas - but there are also other options available. We can supply your canvas varnished with 100% matt, semimatt, or gloss varnish. The matt version is almost unnoticeable - but will still provide great protection for your canvas from UV light, water and accidental scratches. Any requirements for specific varnish can be added in the comments box available at the end of ordering process.
Why do we varnish our canvas prints? I was quite shocked when reading suggestions that the companies that do varnish their canvases do it only to produce goods in bulk and because they store them for a long period of time there is a chance that they will get damaged and therefore the only reason to varnish is to prevent this from happening. This is truly unbelievable. Main reason for which this theory doesn't hold is that the canvas prints can not be produced in mass and bulk upfront - why? because we print customer's own photos and also usually it is just one copy of the image printed on canvas, not a mass amount of them.
It is interesting to see what kind of arguments our competitors would come up with just to hide the fact that varnish is an essential part of any canvas prints. Of course it adds protection against accidental damage and scratches that can happen during production, transport and also while they are hanged on your walls. I can't see any reason why this can be a bad?
But try reasons behind usage of canvas varnish are also:
- it protects canvas from UV therefore prolonging its life,
- it enriches the colours and adding more contrast,
- it acts as a moisture barrier - which allows to wipe it with a damp cloth if necessary,
- it produces professional look & finish desired by many customers.
So with this knowledge and the fact that we don't actually charge extra for using the varnish it makes it much easier to choose the printer of your canvas.
When reproducing images on canvas media there is a lot of freedom - choice of media, choice of printers, finish and frame options. I would like to concentrate today how to make sure we can get best canvas prints from your photos at the very early stages. Some of the options discussed may be available to the owners of DSLR cameras only, some will apply to any digital cameras. With DSLR's it is crucial to choose shooting your images in RAW firmat. This format is actually free from any colour gamut cuts that are imposed by any colour space. We see very often that even after RAW files have been processed they are actually given sRGB colour space - which isn't going to contain all colours captured. Similarily Adobe RGB 1998 can also clip some colours but is much wider. It is much better to use this space - our goal in mind is to keep as many colour tones as possible. That allows to keep all smooth gradients and wide gamut of colours. There are some colours that will suffer more from assigning sRGB profile than others, but generally it will improve most pictures and certainly will not cause any colour loss in comparison to sRGB. We do also use Pro Photo RGB space which has a masive gamut but it only makes sense to use it in conjunction with 16-bit processing and printing. We have printed some images for professional customers using 16-bit workflow with good results. The improvement is probably more visible on paper substrates rather than canvas printing as canvas media texture makes some fine details to be lost anyway. It doesn't make much of a difference when printing on canvas. And as the reason is canvas texture there is no point in using 16-bit workflows for canvas prints ever.
Getting back to the subject of camera settings - please make sure to always use best quality settings available - it will pay off in the future. Not only when you decide to print it on canvas but it also allows to zoom in to the photo - and maybe choose different cropping if necessary. Processing RAW files does takes a bit of practice - but also gives all the control to us - it basically captures the data as gathered by camera sensor. If you use jpg format - automated algorithims will remove most of the data and slash most of it only leaving very generic reprsentation of them. The worst part is that there is no going back - the data is lost forever. With the RAW we can make many different versions of the image and only save it with some loosles compresion options like .tiff or even .psd.
We have just launched new service - we are offering National Geographic images on canvas. These are offered in 5 categories: Landscapes, Nature, Underwater, Floral/Macro, and Places. The collection will be constantly expanding into new categories and images - they look stunning printed on canvas. The idea behind this project is very simple - many of us do have their own photos which can be used for canvas printing. But some don't. Also sometimes our pictures maybe of too low quality or possibly the light conditions where not perfect. If that is the case - you can find the image that will be suitable for you - on our website. National Geographic images offers a vast library of images from all places around the world (and beyond!) and surely everybody can find something for himself. We offer a small selection of images on our website - their quality is good enough to make large canvas prints, in some cases even a 60"x40'. Also - if you don't find the image that you have in mind - please let us know - as we can help to find some images that you may like. Just type in some description of your preferences and your email address and we will search through National Geographic library and send you some suggestions. We have access to their whole library and can surely help.
Canvas prints from National Geographic images are an excellent gift - this is an excellent solution if you don't posses your own photos at the right resolution or quality. They can make a massive impact on the interior of your home or office. The quality of the canvas prints is guaranteed -
To make choosing the right image from our website we have added support for searching through tags - it works in very simple way - just type in some words that describe your needs i.e. 'red', 'tree' and click 'search'. Our system will find the images that match your request.
There are also other collections to be added soon - so please come back soon for more original canvas art. We would also like to invite any photographers that would like to show and offer their photos for canvas reproduction. We offer excellent commission.
We are very excited by the new addition to our images collection which is - images from Hubble telescope on canvas. These are photos taken over the years by huble telescope which then have been worked on by The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). We are very proud to be able to offer them to our customers - they look astonishing and will be a great decoration to many living rooms, but also offices. Some of th eimages very large in size and allow to make massive canvas prints, which have a great visual impact. We also offer them in smaller sizes, which may be more suitable for others. Hubble telescope website provides more insight information on the whole project also explains in more detail how the images are taken, and how they get coloured (originally they are taken in grayscale). Printed on canvas hubble images will make a great gift for many people. Please see the whole gallery of the hubble images that we offer for printing.
We have just introduced new tool for uploading larger files and also files in any extensions. This is just to make it easier to upload images. Some customers that are sending many images at the time can now take advantage of this new system - it allows to upload large files in any format - i.e. compressed zip. The tool is very simple - just make sure to click send button at the end so we get the message with all your details. You can make any comments with regards to each file - i.e. special instructions for making canvas prints. Tool is available from trade tab and will be also soon incorporated into standard ordering system. Tool is now available - Custom order canvas
Latest Espon 9890 printers were launched in UK in January 2011. We always make sure to use latest technology in order to provide excelent products to our customers. Printers have arrived today and after initial calibration and test will be used for all new prints shortly. First differencies between our 'older' 9880 models are in size and weight but also - new printers are very quiet which is a nice change :)
We are also very excited to be joining Epson's Digigraphie program in the near future. It is the installation of the latest 9890 models which allows to create prints which can achieve highest quality and can be signed as a Digigraphie. There are simple rules that need to be followed to create Digigraphie:
- the use of selected Epson printers using Ultrachrome TM inks,
- using selected and certified media
- prints must be authenticated, numbered, signed by the artist and also embossed with relief stamp.
There are also moral obligations that all of the steps above are always fulfilled.
Digigraphie is in some ways similar to the idea of creating limited edition prints wre added value is certainty that they are created by well experienced printmakers using the right technology/materials.
We were contacted by Help For Heroes asking if we'd be able to help them with their decoration project at recently acquired Tedworth House. There was only one answer possible - YES, with pleasure and honour. Tedworth House is being renovated and once complete it will help with the recovery process of our wounded, sick and injured troops. Here is some more information - Tedworth House project.
There has been a tremendous amount of effort and work put into the work so far.
We are very proud to be able to help with an interior decor by producing canvas prints.
We have made 48 canvasses in total (so far) . They have been used in the future dining areas of the house.
We have received this message from Help For Heroes: