How To Make Good-Looking Canvases: A Guide

Have you ever found the perfect image for your condo, but when you place it down, it looks stretched and terrible?


Worry no further! With this simple guide, you’ll be on your way to making canvases that actually look good.

The first thing to note is that canvases, no matter what shape they are, require an image that has a 1:1 aspect ratio. If your image is already like that, great! It’ll probably look good just as it is. However, if the image does not have that aspect ratio, it’ll be stretched to that ratio when placed on the canvas (which is bad, of course).

For example, if you place this image on a canvas:

it’ll end up looking like this:

For square canvases, what you see is what you get, but for tall and wide canvases, the 1:1 image is sized to fill the canvas, and then is cropped.

The diagram below portrays what ends up happening when you place an image in a wide canvas; the white part is the canvas, and the red part is the cropped-out areas. It’s the same for tall canvases, just turn it 90 degrees.

The images placed on tall/wide canvases actually have their centers offset slightly (to the left for tall canvases, to the top for wide canvases), so the diagram isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s close enough.

Now that we know how exactly canvases work, let’s get to how to make your canvases look good.

#Method 1: The Border Method
###What you need:

  • An image to put on a canvas
  • A decent image editor (I’m using Photoshop, but you can use GIMP,, or something else)
  • Creativity (optional)

Step 1: Open up the image you want into an image editor, and edit the (image) canvas size.

If you’re using a tall image, set the width equal to the height so you get borders on the sides; if you’re using a wide image, set the height equal to the width so you get borders on the top and bottom. Unless you’re planning to put the image on a square canvas, make sure the anchor is centered so you won’t accidentally crop off parts of the image you want. If you are planning to put the image on a square canvas, just put the anchor wherever you think would look best, it doesn’t really matter even though that would probably be in the center.

Step 2: Set a background.

Great, you now have a 1:1 image, but it doesn’t mean it’ll look good; it just means it won’t be stretched. Add some sort of border, be it plain black/white or something fancy, to a layer underneath the original image, so there won’t be any transparent pixels (because canvases don’t support transparency of any kind, transparent pixels just end up looking weird most of the time). I like to make a copy of the original image, scale it up, add a blur, and then set it as the background, since it looks nice.

Step 3: Save it and throw it up on a canvas.

Boom, you’re done. Depending on the aspect ratio of your original image, the center of the image might be way off (due to that slight shift in center), so after testing it out, you may want to go back and shift the original image’s location to your liking. In this case, the shift in center is negligible, so it’s fine as it is.

#Method 2: The Crop Method
###What you need:

  • An image to put on a canvas
  • A decent image editor
  • Basic math skills (depending on what program you’re using)

Step 1: Crop your image.

Cropping your image into a square shape will always work, but it’ll probably end up cropping out a good portion of your image if you’re using a tall/wide image with a tall/wide canvas. So, to crop out the least amount of image as possible, crop your image in the following aspect ratios (roughly, doesn’t have to be exact):

For canvases/frames: 40:33 for wide, 33:40 for tall (they’re a bit taller/wider than 4:3, so using 4:3 would show borders)

For posters: 4:3 for wide, 3:4 for tall (they’re a bit shorter/skinnier than 4:3, but the borders won’t show so it’s close enough)

If you’re using Photoshop, you can create a rectangular path with W=40 and H=33 or W=4 and H=3 (depending on canvas type) scale/rotate it with the transform tool (make sure to hold shift while scaling), make the path a selection, and then crop it to make things a lot easier.

If you’re using a program that doesn’t have paths, you could either make an image with said resolution and scale it up to use as a cropping template or just use the math skills discussed earlier.

Step 2: Edit the (image) canvas size.

Like step 1 in the previous method, set the canvas size width equal to the height if it’s a tall image, and set the canvas size height equal to the width if it’s a wide image. Make sure the anchor is centered though, or else it’ll just look bad. You can add a background if you want, but the transparent pixels shouldn’t be visible on the canvas anyway.

Step 3: Save it and throw it up on a canvas.

And you’re done. If you approximated took “roughly” too liberally, you might have borders and might have to redo it, but for the most part, the image should fit perfectly on the canvas, even considering the shift in center.

And there you go, good-looking canvases that don’t have stretched images. Ez-pz.


Wow, wait are the odds? I literally just posted a question about this like 1 minute ago. I fucking love you.

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Thanks taking my drawing as example :3
I have my own technique too where I basically just crop the picture into a square but keeping as much as possible of the important part:

By example this 2160x1440

I copy the whole picture, change the resolution size then past the picture, then just move it around till it’s fitting just right in and then end up…

…To this 1440x1440

I set the shortest existing resolution side to all sides but keep what matters

, but your first methode is really neat too, I’ll concider it owo

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