How to give a canvas-printed look to your images

How to give a canvas-printed look to your images

I’ve received several emails from our readers asking me to explain the method used to give a canvas-printed look to some of WeGraphics set preview images. You can see an example of this effect in action on Watercolor Splodges and Drops brushes and Angry Animal Face vectors previews. So today I’m glad to share with you some nice techniques about textures, and how they can be used in Photoshop to transform a digital work into a printed stylish image.


Click here for a larger preview
preview 1


Step 1

The starting point is a polished image from your portfolio, where to apply the canvas effect. The basic image I’m going to use is the result of some resources from our arsenal mixed together. There’s no sense in making a tutorial on this, since the beautiful result depends exclusively by beauty of the resources. For those curious, at the end of the tutorial is the list of the packs used.

After have played with some vectors and brushes, here is my starting point:

Canvas print effect can be applied to any image, but with different results depending by many factors. It’s clear that an image with low saturation, soft colors and watercolor brushes will give you a better result than a space scene with light effects.

You may have noticed some hand-drawn scribbles over the image. They have been created using a Wacom tablet. It’s a detail that can be avoided, but I like the effect! If you have a tablet, grab a 5px rounded brush, open brushes window (Window>Brushes) and set “spacing” to 1% and check “Shape Dynamics” with “Pen Pressure” as control option. Then start creating some scribbles where you prefer.

Step 2

To create the canvas print effects we need a couple of textures. Fortunately, we don’t need textures difficult to find. Go searching for a nice book cover. You will notice that lots of books in your library have a cover similar to this:

This texture is perfect to create the desired print effect. Since I wanted to achieve a little bit dirty result, with some scratches and noise effects, we need a second texture. Always in your library go searching for a smooth old book cover. Something like this:

Once found two textures similar to these, scan them at 300 dpi. In case you haven’t book covers like these, or you are too lazy to move your bottom out from the armchair, here you can download the textures with a simple click ;-)

Step 3

Open book5 texture in Photoshop and go Image>Adjustment>Desaturate (or press shift+ctrl+U).

Step 4

Press ctrl+I to invert colors. Then press ctrl+L to open levels window and increase contrasts as shown in the screenshot below:

The texture is now ready to be used. Drag it into your portfolio image canvas. Now press ctrl+T to activate the transform tool, and rotate and re-size the texture to match canvas dimensions:

Set the layer blending mode to screen. In this way you will prevent only white grunge effects, and all black areas will disappear:

Step 5

White grunge scratches look a little bit blurred. It is due to texture re-size, that has caused lose of image quality. Let’s sharpen it by going to Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen. Apply the same filter 2/3 times, depending by your image size (I’m working with an A4 canvas). Below is an example of how the image looks after I’ve applied the sharpen filter:

Step 6

Open book6 image in Photoshop. Grab the clone tool, press alt and click in the center of the canvas. Then paint over the text to replace it with the pixels you’ve previously selected.

Step 7

As we’ve made with book5.jpg, press shift+ctrl+U to desaturate the image and paste it into your main Photohsop canvas. Again re-size and rotate it.

Step 8

This time set the layer blending mode to multiply (the effect is the opposite of “screen”). Apply a couple of times the sharpen filter to enhance all texture details. Now take a closer look at the image: in the lighter areas you can notice a strong and beautiful canvas-printed effect. But if you observe dark areas, the effect is not visible. This is due to blending options: once you’ve set blend mode to multiply, you’ve prevented black areas of the texture, and obviously these areas are not visible on dark areas of the image (black on black).

Step 9

To fix this problem duplicate the book6 layer by selecting it in the layers window and pressing ctrl+J. Press ctrl+I to invert the image colors and set blending mode to screen. Reduce layer opacity if necessary (in my case 30%). In this way, after inverted image colors, we prevent white areas that are now visible on dark objects of the image:


And here is the final result! Hope you’ve enjoyed this micro-tutorial. If you have other suggestions and you want to see more tutorials like this, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

preview 1

Our packs used in the composition:


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(+add yours)
  1. Nice one! I love especially the last part that makes visible the texture in black areas too.
    However I Would diminish a little the layer visibility to make it look more natural and real!

    • Hi Michela,
      Yes the effect is very strong, a low opacity looks more realistic. The fact is that screenshot aren’t in real size, so I wanted to make the effect more evident. A subtle effect is difficult to see while re-sizing the images.

      Thanks for stopping by

  2. Very professional work. I’ve learn that subtle textures always works great.

    Most beginner underestimate this technique.

    • Yeah,
      Subtle textures is a must in my design. Love to see you appreciated this technique mate

  3. liam mckay

    Very nice explanation and resources – and what a final result! I love this sort of thing, keep it up.

  4. wedad from Libya

    nice work

  5. Jenny

    Sebastiano – I dont know how I stumbled upon your website but I just love it. It’s given me more inspriration than I have had in years. Plus, it’s nice to see such a cute face with the smarts.


    • Thanks for your kind words Jenny :-)

    • I don't know much about these books but all the hype and proomtions around it have me quite intrigued. That is quite a different look for Elizabeth Banks.

    • If I communicated I could thank you enough for this, I’d be lying.

    • Imus is just a drop in the bucket as far as this goes. I think the main group that we should go after that shows the most disrespect for woman is our own young black men and the music industry. I think the main reason alot of white people think they can say the things they say is because they look at how we treat our women. We need to start within before we can get a true stop to the Imus’ of the world or we will be reactive instead or proactive.

  6. Damian Porter

    Just joined and I must say it is well worth the price of admission. This tutorial is simple and to the point, very nice indeed. Thanks for your hard work and commitment to your readers.

  7. Grate tutorial thanks for sharing.

  8. thanks for the tip… maybe i can do-it-on-my-own-now routine… keep em guys..

    printed on canvas

  9. Just love your subtle use of textures! Have picked up a few techniques from your site. Thanks for sharing :))

  10. Very, very cool effect. Wonderfully instructive tute– thank you!

  11. Rumen

    Thank you!!!

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