Gallery Wraps & Canvas Side Treatments


This content was written by ChromaZone Ink Canvas Prints, Melbourne FL.

The Gallery Wrap Canvas Side Treatments are as Important As the Front!

We get it. Framing is expensive so many artists, photographers and print labs have turned to “gallery wrapped” canvases for their giclée printing. Gallery wraps describe the process of extending the image on the front of a stretched canvas so that it will wrap around all 4 sides of the canvas.  This eliminates the need for a frame, and offers a contemporary look without the cost of framing. Because a gallery wrapped canvas is not just another flat print in a frame or a mat, the sides become part of the art. “Gallery wrapped” art has three dimensions that need to be considered when creating your masterpiece: the two-dimensional surface and the 4 sides that support that surface.  At ChromaZone Ink Canvas Prints, we can advise on the thickness of stretcher bars to use and the best way to address those sides of your giclée on canvas.  We explain the different types of gallery wrap canvas side treatments below. You can learn more by contacting us at 321-312-4800 | 800-501-2901.

Previews on Our Website

It just so happens you can see a three dimensional preview during the order process at ChromaZone Ink Canvas Printing. With our ordering preview tool, you can actually see the gallery wrap canvas side treatment and choose the best possible option before you order. The three options you can choose from during the order process are Image Overflow Wrap, Mirrored Wrap and Colored Image Wrap. There are two other types of image techniques used for the sides of stretched canvas called “Blurred Wrap” and “Stretched Wrap”. Being they are the less common options than what is traditionally used we do not offer them as a preview during the order process.

What Are My Options?

Should I use a mirrored side? Overflow my surface image?  Or would a plain solid color border be the best choice?  These are important questions to ask yourself when you are designing your canvas print. Several factors come into play in regard to the type of image, size of the final canvas and the depth of the stretcher bar profile to choose. In this post we will discuss the best possible options to consider when choosing how to address what gallery wrap canvas side treatment to use for your stretched artwork.

The “Overflow” Image Wrap

This gallery wrap canvas side treatment is when your image continues or “overflows” beyond the face of the canvas and wraps around the sides of the stretcher frame. Many images work fine with this approach but some don’t. If you have a tightly cropped image and you choose this edge option, you may lose parts of your important subject matter that will wrap around the sides.  One example could be a portrait where the subject has their arms folded in the composition.  When tightly cropped, part of the person’s elbow might bend around the side of the canvas.  Not only would this look funny from the side, but if not equally cropped on the other side, could through the entire composition off balance. The smaller the canvas size the greater percentage of your image will be lost wrapping the stretcher frame. Some experienced photographers intentionally shoot more “loosely” (more background included) in order to compensate for this. The result is they have more area surrounding the subject to fill the sides of the canvas without losing the important subject matter.

The “Mirrored” Wrap

A mirrored wrap is one of the more common wraps used when you want to take a sampling of what is in the main composition and have it reproduced on the sides. Different from an overflow wrap in that we digitally clone the outer 1-3” on all four sides of the surface image and flip them over to create a seamless transition that covers the sides. This technique works well with images that are abstract or made up of mostly trees, landscapes and anything organic. Images that do not work well with an mirrored wrap are tightly cropped images containing people or animals. The mirrored process ends up duplicating body parts that make the image unrealistic.  If we go back to the portrait example above, you would still have an elbow on the side of the canvas, but now it is facing the other direction and would make the viewer wonder if there was another image on the back side.  This type of gallery wrap canvas side treatment should be used with caution!

The “Blurred” Wrap

This option is quite common with discount giclée printing and is used most often when the image wrap or mirrored wrap clones or duplicates unwanted parts of the image that won’t look natural on the side. This technique is then used to blur the image on the sides of the canvas. It creates a soft more abstract edge while maintaining the color of the motif. At ChromaZone Ink Canvas Printing, we actually prefer to retouch or digitally remove the unnatural looking parts as opposed to blurring them, which is why the blurring option is not offered in our product selections.  We feel that blurring the sides of an otherwise sharply focused image does not enhance the overall motif.  Unless there is some abstract intent by the artist, we do not recommend this gallery wrap canvas side treatment.

The “Stretched Edge” Wrap

This technique is seen quite often and we do not recommend it. Much like the Blurred Wrap, the part of the image you want unrecognizable is selected and stretched thus distorting the image. This often looks unimpressive.

The “Colored Border” Wrap

When none of the above gallery wrap canvas side treatment options are satisfactory, the solid colored wrap is usually a safe choice. The most common color choices are black or white.  Often, however, artists & photographers get creative and choose a color that dominates the image and use that color for the sides. At ChromaZone Ink Canvas Printing you can choose from millions of colors during the order process and see exactly how your giclée on canvas will look with the color you choose in our preview tool. Finally, if you are going to display your giclée canvas in a conventional frame there is no need to address the sides. The sides will be hidden behind the frame, but you should use the shallowest depth of stretcher bar possible.

Stretcher Bar Depths

One of the biggest considerations for the gallery wrap canvas side treatment is the thickness of the stretcher bar.  Stretcher bars come in many different depths that range from less than a half of an inch deep to three inches deep. When considering conventional framing you would most likely choose a stretcher bar depth of ⅝” to ¾” deep. If you’re a perfectionist and do not care for the gap of space that is often seen between the back of the frame and the wall when your canvas is thicker than your frame, we have a “Canvas on Hardboard” solution for you too!, check our FAQs!

The most common size depths used for displaying stretched canvases without an outside frame are 1” to 1 ½” depths. Remember when considering the depth of the stretcher bar you would like to use that the deeper the profile the more image loss you will have if you want an “Image Overflow Wrap”. A 2 ½” deep stretcher bar frame can use up a lot of your image when it wraps around the sides, so remember to compensate for that with more background if you are the photographer.

Floater Frames

Floater frames are a type of frame where the stretched canvas is mounted flush or recessed inside a deep profile frame and is offset on all sides giving it the appearance of “Floating” in the center of the frame. There are hundreds of profile choices available but the most popular profile used is a satin or gloss black, three step profile that will accommodate stretcher bars up to 2” deep. This finishing option adds value and dimension to any image. The most commonly used stretcher bar depths used in floater frames are 1” and 1 1/2”.  There are times when an oversized bar is used and the stretched canvas face is raised above the top of the floater frame slightly.

At ChromaZone Ink Canvas Printing we use American grown and milled pine and poplar wood from sustainable sources for stretching all of our gicées on canvas. The moulding is finger spliced and kiln dried for a more stable and straight stretcher bar that will not warp over time. ChromaZone Ink Canvas prints would love to be your giclée printing company, call us at 321-312-4800 | 800-501-2901.

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