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I think there is very little that looks nicer or more impressive than a fine art or photography piece printed on canvas.
The obvious quality of the work and the materials, the way the images stand up with real three-dimensional life, the accuracy, gradation and interaction of colors, the “real art” look and feel – the best canvas prints are truly beautiful things.
At the same time, I think there is very little that looks worse than a poor quality canvas print, which can so often look flat, faded and out of focus all at once.
So, let’s answer some basic questions:
Of course, pretty much every artist has enough pride in their work that they would never want their pieces to appear poor and uninspiring, and any artist, when they see their work really stand out with a great canvas print, feels their pride, and their excitement, swell, and even feels that their original vision has been more accurately and effectively captured.
So no artist would willingly choose a bad printer to do canvas prints with, but many end up with one anyway because they believe they can’t afford better.
And this is a real shame, because they can easily afford better – they just need to know which models of printers currently available make the best canvas prints in every price range.
If you’ve seen really nice canvas prints, you probably aren’t even asking that question. They make your artwork look really great, special and beautiful, whether it is digital art, scanned art, photography or anything else.
Really, though, many commercial or fine artists don’t really need a canvas printer, and more than a few artists don’t even know that such a printer, or such an option, even exists.
But many other artist use their printers to print onto canvas every day, and have learned the many advantages and uses of this technique. The make fine canvas prints to:
And even if you aren’t sure you really need a good printer for canvas, all of the printers I have included in this article – Best Printers for Canvas in 2021 – are also some of the best printers currently available for artists in general – and some of the very best values as well.
So, you can have all the advantages of a great all around art printer, and a great value to boot, and at the same time you will also have all the advantages of canvas printing. You might even feel new inspiration and find all new possibilities opening up in your art.
Just as you can get high quality canvas printing from even an inexpensive printer – if it is the right printer, that is – all of the models I’m recommending for canvas printing are such good quality that they do pretty much all kinds of printing better than the competition, and so are also wonderful general use art printers as well.
So even if you never intend to do canvas printing, and are just looking for the best general art printer currently available in your price range, you would be very well served by any of the printers on this list. And you will also always have the option of making the most beautiful canvases any time you want!
I’m so glad you asked!
In this article featuring the best printers for printing onto canvas in 2021, I will include the seven best models I know, and list them from least to most expensive.
If you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider a smaller desktop printer, and even the least expensive printer on our list will do a great job.
As you move up the list (or is it down the list?) you will get better print quality and longer lasting prints. And even if you are on a budget, this might be an important consideration. Good canvas prints just breathe quality, and the better they look, and the longer they last, the closer they are to that rarified realm of fine artwork.
Indeed, the top four printers on our list are capable of full archival quality and even giclee level printing, and allow you to create absolutely top level fine art prints.
Finally, the bigger, more expensive and larger printers on our list will offer, of course, more flexibility and the possibility of larger, more impactful prints. They are also generally more durable, often designed for high volume commercial work – but even the least expensive printers I recommend are as well known for their reliability as for their print quality.
Whichever printer you choose from this article – Top 6 Best Canvas Printers in 2021 – An In-Depth Buyer’s Guide – you can’t go wrong. You will end up with a great printer for canvas, for any other art printing and for general use.
After the reviews, at the end of the article I will offer some basic tips and techniques for making the best canvas prints possible. I hope you enjoy my buyer’s guide, and enjoy even more the beautiful new canvas prints you are going to make!
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BEST BUDGET CANVAS PRINTER
GREAT VALUE CANVAS PRINTER
BUDGET PROFESSIONAL CANVAS PRINTER
ENTRY LEVEL PROFESSIONAL CANVAS PRINTER
PROFESSIONAL WIDE FORMATE
PROFESSIONAL LARGE CANVAS PRINTER
PROFESSIONAL LARGE CANVAS PRINTER
The least expensive printer in our list of best printers for canvas printing in 2021, the Canon IP8720 offers amazingly good quality, speed and overall performance for a very low price.
The Canon IP-8720 can make borderless prints up to 9 x 13 inches, and prints beautifully on all media you might want to use, with vivid colors and amazing resolution that especially pop on canvas. While it will not print the larger sizes, like the more expensive printers below, you will be surprised at how nice the print quality is for the size and for the money.
The IP8720 printer allows for a whole range of wireless and wired connectivity, and is exceptionally easy to use. A fine choice for a small canvas printer, a beginner’s art printer, or as a backup and companion to a more serious printer, this Canon is also great for general printing use, and overall the finest entry level printer I know.
The Epson Expression HD XP-1500 is the best choice I have found for an inexpensive canvas printer which will do larger prints.
The XP-1500 can print on paper, canvas or other media up to 19 x 13 inches, with very high resolution, and its full 6 color cartridge system ensures excellent color accuracy and gradation.
The Epson XP1500 is also a nice printer to have in a studio – it’s easy to use, doesn’t make much noise, and is quite small considering the size of prints it makes. And it offers a full range of wired and wireless connectivity options.
But what really makes the XP-1500 stand out is the beautiful print quality – really gorgeous prints on canvas or any other material.
If you want to make really great larger prints on canvas or any other media, and you are on a budget, the Epson Expression HD XP-15000 Color Wide Format Printer is the perfect choice.
The lowest priced canvas printer on our list with a full array of 8 printer inks, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 offers a significant value, with noticeably improved color fidelity, shading and transitions between colors and hues, and depth and realism in color images. And, while I haven’t verified this myself (!), Canon claims the colors will stay true up to 300 years!
With the right canvas, these superb colors really come to life, and feel natural and accurate even at their most vivid. There is a sense of space, balance and flow in composition which somehow less expensive printers don’t always get, and the detail seems much finer and more complete than the specifications may suggest.
While more expensive than the two printers above, the Pixma Pro-100 is the lowest priced printer I know that make prints – on canvas or high quality art or photo paper – that might truly be called fine art prints, and that are suitable for selling to even discerning customers or displaying in galleries.
You will still get higher quality from some of the higher end printers, listed below in our buyer’s guide of the best art printers for printing on canvas, but the Canon Pixma-Pro is a truly great performer for the money, and one of the best values on the market today,
We would hope that when we nearly double the price tag we should get a significantly better printer, and with the Epson SureColor P400 Wide Format Archival Color Printer that is certainly the case.
The P400, from the Epson SureColor line so beloved by professional artists and photographers, is the first printer on our list of best art printers for canvas printing which offers archival quality pigment based inks, and with an 8 ink system and full 5760 x 1440 resolution, it is also the lowest priced printer capable of true giclee printing (widely considered to be the finest quality of art printing available from an ink jet printer, and true fine art presentation quality).
It should probably not go without saying that the quality and beauty of canvas prints this printer is capable of is absolutely astounding, and markedly better than the admittedly excellent results you will get from any of the less expensive models on our 2021 buyer’s guide for canvas art printers.
Extremely solid and well built, the Epson SureColor P400 is a true professional quality printer, suitable for heavy use, and yet is affordable enough that a wide range of commercial and fine artists can afford to have one in their home and office.
Despite its considerable weight and solidity and the fact that it can make up to 13 x 129 (!) inch panoramic prints, the P400 has a relatively small footprint, fitting easily on most desks or work tables. And, despite its exceptionally high quality, this Epson printer is remarkably easy to use and maintain.
A comparatively expensive unit, the Epson SureColor P400 wide format printer is actually a veritable steal, offering true archival and giclee printing, superb colors, detail and overall print quality and real material quality and reliability. And the canvases it produces are simply stunning!
There are a lot of choices in professional wide format ink jet printers between the Epson SureColor P400 and the same company’s SureColor P800, and while some, by Epson and other manufacturers, print well on canvas, have nice colors and great resolution, none that I’ve found offer the value of the P400, and none offer markedly better performance.
In fact, it could be said that the P800 doesn’t even offer markedly better performance than his little brother, the P400 – except for its superb optimized black and white printing. And if you are looking for the best black and white printer available, without spending many thousands of dollars more, this may well be the best “budget” professional B&W printer on the market today.
The P800, like the P400, also offers archival quality and giclee printing, and the same 8 color system for astounding color fidelity, quality, saturation and energy – really, really beautiful colors on canvas and archival paper, and still breathtaking on any media you might be using.
The main difference between the two printers, then, besides improved black and white printing (which is still really great on the less expensive P400) is the fact that the Epson SureColor P800 can use up to 17 inch wide paper, canvas or other stock, allowing for even larger and more spectacular prints and considerably more flexibility.
The Epson P800 also shares with its less expensive line-mate the same superb material and construction quality, and is fully up to the task of even heavy commercial use, while still being extremely easy to use and maintain.
Capable of producing really big and impactful canvases, as well as larger archival and giclee quality prints, the Epson SureColor P800 is one of the most popular, best reviewed and highly recommended professional printers available today, flexible, reliable, and with print quality many more expensive commercial printers can’t always even match.
Now we’re getting into the big guns!
I will review the two largest printers on our survey of best art printers for printing on canvas here together, since there is no significant difference between the ProGraf 2100 and the ProGraf 4100 except for size – the 2100 printing up to 24 inches in width (and effectively unlimited length), and the 4100 up to 44 inches in width.
And, to be clear, the extraordinarily large prints you can make with these printers means that (unlike any of the printers mentioned above which are meant for a desk or table top) the Canon ProGraf 2100 and the Canon ProGraf 4100 are big floor standing units, more like you would find in a professional print shop.
In fact, these are extremely popular printers for such commercial shops, since both the 2100 and the 4100 offer print quality and build quality similar to much more expensive professional printers. And they seem to be extremely highly rated by professional printers, who strongly recommend the ProGraf printers and praise their print quality and reliability.
So, for almost 3,000 dollars, and right at 4,000 dollars, these Canon ProGraf printers are, compared to other commercial printers, quite low priced, offering an incredibly good value for anybody who wants big canvases, or the largest, most powerful prints on any media.
Needless to say, the 11 colors and the pigment based ink, along with the very high resolution for larger printers, will offer the very best – and longest lasting – print quality you can hope for – truly superb looking canvas and paper prints, and true giclee and archival quality.
The Canon ProGraf 2100 and 4100 printers also have the very latest software and hardware technology to ensure perfect and perfectly consistent paper alignment, color registration, speed and resolution, as well as 3 GB onboard RAM, a 500 GB Hard Drive and a USB port for direct, computer-free printing.
Canon ProGraf printers are, however, a different level of commitment in many ways. Floor standing printers like these are more complex and critical to set up, including full calibration, they have higher running costs and obviously take up a bit of floor space in your studio. That said, the set-up itself is fairly straight forward, and extremely well explained, and the running costs should easily be offset with the income such a commercial printer will generate.
Regardless of all that, though, if you really want to make full sized canvas prints of the very highest quality, or any other large prints like posters, banners, large archival photograph or art prints, or if you are going to be doing a fairly large volume of any type of printing, you absolutely should get the best printer you can afford.
And, at a fraction of the cost of other floor standing large format commercial printers, but with print quality, performance, material quality and reliability very close to (and sometimes superior to) the much more expensive full commercial units, the Canon ProGraf 2100 and the Canon ProGraf 4100 are easily the best choice I know for affordably getting into professional quality large format canvas printing, or any type of demanding, high volume or high standard commercial work.
It is easy to see why professional artists, photographers and commercial print shops love them so much and recommend them so strongly!
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After all of that, we still haven’t addressed what is perhaps a primary question in your mind:
How do I Print onto Canvas, anyway?
While I don’t intend to give a detailed set of instructions for exactly how to print onto canvas, and anyway it is much easier than you might imagine, there are a few important things to remember – things which can make things easier, the process work better and the prints look much nicer, but which are not always mentioned in manuals or tutorials.
1. Use the right kind of canvas for your printer
An excellent budget canvas for desktop printers is the PPD Inkjet 100% cotton canvas:
And for better quality, if at a higher price, Inkpress Stretchable Artists Printing Canvas is hard to beat:
For rolled canvas for the Canon ProGraf floor-standing printers, I recommend ColorStore premium polyester matt canvas:
2. Use the manual feed rather than the paper tray
Even if the canvas you are using seems to fit into the auto-feed paper tray, it will not feed properly, and should always be fed manually.
3. Use a leader strip for sheet canvas
While this isn’t necessary for roll canvas, if you are using a desktop printer and a single sheet of canvas, it is essential to attach a thin strip of paper to the edge of the paper, which is the same width as the canvas.
The strip should be maybe a half inch or less in length, and should be taped perfectly straight to the back of the canvas – the non-printing side! – to assure the canvas feeds correctly and the printing is square and straight.
4. Always use the highest settings for color and resolution
While some say that resolution is not that important, since canvas prints are meant to be looked at from a distance, we know that’s not really true.
When you get close to a low resolution print, especially a larger one, you can easily see pixilation, and honestly it looks terrible. These are, or can easily be, gallery quality prints, and should look as beautiful on close inspection as they do from across the room.
5. Print on the Right Side of the Canvas
Or should I say the “correct” side? This is very important, and most printer canvas will have a watermark printed on the non-printing side so you can easily tell, and feed the paper correctly.
If not, it is easy enough to find the correct side – just run your fingers along the surface, and if there is a texture, that is the printing side.
6. Be Patient!
The best quality full color canvas prints in high resolution take time to print, but they are well worth the wait!
7. Choose your Editions
If you intend to sell canvas art prints or fine photo prints, on the internet or in a gallery, you should first figure out what size of edition each print will be limited to.
A single print edition of an artwork will always demand the most money – especially if the art is particularly beautiful, compelling or unique. But you must stick to this, and so you are effectively prohibiting yourself from making future prints.
A limited edition of say 20, 100 or 1,000 prints will mean that each individual print still has that air of exclusivity, rarity and value, but you won’t be able to ask nearly as much for each print. Still, you may make more money in the long run, selling multiple copies of each print. Again, you must be disciplined and stick to the edition number, printing no additional copies.
An open (unlimited) edition will not have the same allure or sense of authenticity as a limited edition, and so each print may sell for significantly less. However, you can print as many as you want, now and in the future, and if the art, and the print quality, are good enough, such a print can still command a fairly high price. Remember, canvas prints are absolutely beautiful and high quality things, and customers know and appreciate this!
To me this is a no-brainer. If you are a working commercial artist, a fine artist, an ardent amateur or even just starting out, you will need a good quality art printer.
If you can get a great art printer in your price range, one that makes beautiful prints, is easy to use and reliable, it is an easy choice.
But if that same printer, in addition to doing all other things really well, is also specially designed and built to work well with canvas, it is an even better value, and offers all kinds of amazing new possibilities.
Because, as I said right from the start, canvas prints are something truly special, attractive and high quality in a way that no other art print I know of can match – just imagine how good your art will look!
Thanks so much for reading this article – Best Canvas Printers in 2021 – An In-Depth Buyer’s Guide – and please check my blog – Art Side of Life – for more buyer’s guides, articles, online courses and many other resources – the perfect site for any artist!