Printing photos to canvas: Tutorial 2

Mirror Wrap Tutorial

This article is the second in a series of tutorials which are designed to help photographers and designers set up their files for printing on canvas.

Canvas prints allow for more creative design options than flat prints because there are 5 sides to a canvas which can be considered when designing your file. These extra sides can be used for artist and studio branding, creative borders or can simply allow the image to continue around the side of the canvas frame.

In this edition, we’ll show you how we setup canvas prints with a mirror wrap.

Since the last tutorial, we’ve upgraded to Adobe Creative Cloud CS6. Some of the ways Photoshop handles canvas size and cropping have changed, but users of older versions should be able to follow along just fine.

This wrapping technique is similar to the full gallery wrap. It allows the image to continue around the frame, but instead of losing a part of the image with the wrap, we “mirror” the edges around, which usually appear just as seamless. This technique is helpful when a gallery wrap look is desired but important elements of the image are too close to the edge to have it get cropped by wrapping around the frame.

Again we’ll assume you’re setting up a 16″ x 20″ print. For other sizes, just adjust your dimensions accordingly.

Open your image in Photoshop. Because you’re going to add the borders later, you’ll want to crop your image initially to 16″ x 20″. Select the cropping tool (c), and set the width and height to 16″ x 20″. In Photoshop CS6, the crop tool is a little different. In the crop toolbar at the top of the window, click the drop down box and select W x H x Resolution. This will adjust the size of the image correctly when you crop where as just entering the dimensions on other settings will only adjust the image proportions. Draw out the crop box and crop your photo to your liking.

Photoshop CS6 Crop Tool Options

Cropping with Photoshop CS6After you make your selection, press return to confirm your crop. Once the image is cropped, I usually drag guides right to the edges of the image. This will help when making your selections that wrap around the side of the frame. It helps to make sure that snapping is enabled. This will make sure the guides are positioned exactly at the side of the image. To see if snapping is enabled, click VIEW in the main menu. At the bottom of the menu is where the snapping options are listed.

Now we’ll add the extra canvas dimensions to allow for wrapping. Select IMAGE>CANVAS SIZE from the main menu. You’ll need to add 4″ to the canvas – 2″ on every side to allow enough room for our 1.5″ frames and a little more to wrap around the back of the stretcher frame. Ensure that the Relative check box is checked. This will add the value to the existing size. Leaving it un-checked changes the size of the canvas to the value you enter.

Photoshop CS6 Canvas Size Options

On my image, there was enough leftover image on the top and bottom after my initial crop, so we’ll just need to reflect the left and right sides. Previous versions of Photoshop delete the pixels once you crop. On Photoshop CS6, the pixels remain in the image even after cropping, so you’re able to adjust canvas size or re-crop the photo without having to go back to the start.

Select the Rectangle Marquee Tool (M) and set the style to ‘Fixed Size’. Enter 2″ width and 100″ height. It doesn’t matter if the height you specify is larger than your image. Photoshop will just adjust the size to the size of your image. Because I use this same tool preset on many different sized images, leaving it to 100″ will ensure that the selection will fit almost any image I use it on.

Click anywhere on the image and the fixed sized selection will appear. You can also make a preset of this tool if you plan on using these settings often. Drag the selection to the inside of the right edge of the image.

Photoshop CS6 Marquee Tool Options

Photoshop CS6 Marquee toolPress command+j to copy what’s selected to a new layer. Free Transform this new layer (command+t). Grab the inside middle node and pull it all the way to the right side of the image. Press enter to accept the transformation. In CS6 I’ve been finding sometimes the selection is off by a pixel or 2. I make it a habit to zoom in and hide the guides to get a close look at where the image and the new edge meet to make sure that there’s no little gap in between. If there is, just press (v) to select your move tool and nudge the layer over.

Mirror style edge gap

You’ll want to merge the layers together (command+e). Repeat this process for the left side and top and bottom if necessary. Click the 2 arrow icon to swap the orientation of the marquee fixed width tool.

Once all sides are done, that’s it for the mirror wrap. Your image is ready to be printed on canvas at Spitting Images. You can upload and order your prints directly from Spitting Images right here.

Keep in mind that if your subject, and especially people, are too close to the edges, it might look strange if you see the person repeated on the side of the frame. In this case, you can try to “shop” the duplicated elements out or try a different wrapping technique. I’ll be following up this tutorial with another wrapping style called stretch. This can be a great alternative when neither a full gallery wrap or the mirror wrap options are suitable for the image you’re working on.

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