Buying a digital image stretched on a canvas, from the outside in, looks like a simple choice. You go into the retailer, picture framer or photographer, hand over your SD card or link your phone up to a kiosk. Select your image and size, fiddle with it a little, finish and pay. Then, depending on where you go, wait from 1 hour to 2 weeks for it to come back. But do you know if you've got a quality stretched canvas that will stand the rigors of the ever changing humidity in your home or have you just bought something that will only last a short time before flopping around like a wet noodle
Part 1 - Image Resolution - Quality images make quality canvas prints.
The first thing you should consider is that size matters. With stretched canvas this is not necessarily a personal preference, like in other walks of life, in the canvas stretching world it makes a massive difference to the overall quality and longevity of your finished canvas. You're going to find that that seemingly lovely picture of your Aunty Flossy's cat uploaded to Facebook doesn't look quite as lovely downloaded and stretched on a 12" x 16" Canvas
Why? I'm not going to go into too much detail, however a digitally printed image is made out of a framework(grid) of pixels. These pixels are very small dots that can be any colour. A cameras resolution is determined by how many pixels your picture will have. For example a 3 megapixel camera will have 2048x1536 (height and width) pixels. In the case of Facebook the original image can be compressed so much so that, although it looks ok on the screen of your computer, the amount of pixels you get when you copy the image and print it out on a large canvas looks a mess of blocky and blurred colours (pixelation). For printed canvas the more pixels you have the better quality/clarity and the bigger the picture you can go up to. For example a 10mp camera has 3872 x 2592 pixels. With this camera you could generally go up to larger sizes like a 40" x 48" without much loss on your image.
BIG is better
File size can also be a good indication of the quality of an image. Even for a smaller canvas of say 8" x 10" you'll need a file size of at least 600kb. To find out the size of your image, right click on it and select "properties". The general tab on this will give you your file size (which should be over 600kb to print something on canvas) and the summary tab will give you information on the pixels width and height. As a very general rule of thumb an 8 megapixel camera (an iPhone 5s has an 8mp camera) should see you OK for most sized canvas on the high street. Go lower than this and you may find that some of the larger sizes wont print as good as you thought.
Now there are some savvy retailers out there that will have some specific software that can "blow up" your image to a larger size. There's a great bit of software from OnOne Products that can do this, however there is still a degree to what size that the image can be enlarged to before you start to lose your image clarity.
What every good retailer should know.
A retailer that understands image resolution should be able to give you some indication of what size image you should go up to or at least red flag something that's just not going to be good enough. If the retailer does not understand this be wary of buying from them. To save yourself time and disappointment, make sure you've got big enough image for the canvas you want.
Part 2 of this guide coming soon - Canvas Selection
The next part of the guide I discuss what you should look out for when selecting the type of canvas to have your images stretched on.
Quality timber makes a quality frame
The profile of the moulding is unique in the marketplace and designed by the Wunderbars team. It gives a "floating frame" effect, but angled inward to draw your eye to the image whilst giving you a feel of quality. Its also practical for what we wanted to achieve with the product. The slope allows a stretched Wunderbars canvas frame (or other traditional stretcher bars) to easily be slotted into the frame and to "self centre", a very new and one of a kind method of Framing a Canvas print.
The groove in the rear of the frame is dual purpose. When used with a Wunderbars stretched canvas it allows clips to be inserted to hold the canvas in place in the frame. The clips are not screwed and are designed to allow the canvas to "breathe". This means that the canvas can contract and expand to the rooms environment. Ensuring that it doesn't go slack in the frame, which is a fundamental problem of traditional methods of framing canvas images. The clips also allow for easy access to the rear of the canvas and taking the canvas out of the frame and replacing it with a new image.
There's no need for any tools. Everything you need to frame a canvas print is included in the box. What's more is that the box comes ready for you to put your finished canvas back in and sell to your customer. The patent applied design and method of the frame and the insert makes speed, quality and cost the best around.
You can get the Switch Too right now from Fujifilm UK and its distributors. The frames themselves come in a superb and quality natural Red Oak finish, a glossy white Obeche wood finish and a matt black Obeche finish in 11 standard sizes ranging from 8x10, all the way up to 20x30.
Prices start at £9.95 + VAT (at time of writing) for an 8x10 red Oak frame. You can also bag yourself a bargain. At time of writing Fujifilm UK are offering an introductory offer of 20% off Switch Too, by using the voucher code Switch220 on their webshop. See the Fujifilm Webshop for further details
1. Super fast stretching
By our reckoning Wunderbars is anywhere between two and three times as quick to stretch than traditional stretcher bars. Squaring and putting the bars together is a breeze, you just, well, slot them together. The actual stretch is so simple all you need is a staple gun, so there's no wasted time in getting the canvas taught with a set of pliers. The whole process of stretching the canvas has been developed to make the best and quickest use of the product. Over twelve frames, you can save up to an hour in time letting you get on with selling you images, not stretching your images.
2. No tools required
3. Constant tension
Pretty fundamental to a stretched canvas is that it stays stretched for the longest time possible. Humidity plays a massive roll in this. The wood and the canvas will contract and expand to the humidity of the room in which its hung. Quite often the wedges need to be re-hammered or water sprayed on the canvas to get it back to its original tightness. If its a cut and pin stretcher bar, apart from spraying it with water, its not going to re-stretch. With Wunderbars this does not happen. Saggy canvas's are a thing of the past. The corner blocks in Wunderbars are spring loaded, which means that the pressure is on the canvas ALL of the time. Your canvas will contact and expand to the environment its hung.
4. No experience necessary
Never stretched canvas before? Try using traditional stretcher bars. You'll wish that you'd never started. Stretching with traditional stretcher bars takes experience and practice. With Wunderbars you can learn how to stretch with little or no tuition.
5. Fully reversible
Made a mistake? No problem. Unpick the staples, remove the canvas and reload the corner blocks. To reload the blocks simply get a small vice or push down on the desk and stick the pin back in. Wunderbars conforms to the guidelines that are required by the Fine Art Trade Guild.
So in summary. Its fast meaning you have time to make money elsewhere. There's no tools, so there's no maintenance or extra outlay, which saves you money. Its under constant tension, so you don't get any slack canvas's returned for re-stretching, which enhances the reputation of your service. Repeat custom, means repeat money. There's no experience necessary meaning you don't have to employ someone with a vast set of skills, just to stretch canvas, saving money. It's reversible. Don't make a mistake and throw your work away, just do it again.........did we mention Wunderbars can save you money?
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Tim Jones is one of the three owners of Wunderbars Limited. He's a little bit (very) obsessed with canvas stretching.