Tuesday, 22 November 2011

How I'm dealing with wrapped canvases

Gallery wrap

Zazzle's recent additions included wrapped canvases Yaay! As you may be aware, I'm a fine art photographer (no, I don't find some fine art and photograph it, I produce photographs that fall into the fine art genre).

As far as I'm concerned, there's a particular challenge to implementing them correctly. You see, when I weigh up a scene and decide on a composition, I'm really interested in the relationship between the various elements in the image and where they sit between the edges / borders / frame.

With canvas printing, the term "gallery wrap" has come to mean that parts of the image are wrapped around the edges (the "stretchers"). Have a look at this fairly standard photo of pink hydrangeas on a gallery-wrap:
The loss of image to the wrap isn't so important in shots like these...
- but what about the moving signature?!!

Size can be important

If you click it and change the size to a 24x24 inch (it starts as a 16x16) - watch what happens to the signature I've placed in the bottom right hand corner. Change the frame (stretcher) thickness, and watch what happens to the amount of image lost to the sides.Change the size to 12x12 inch and again see what happens to the to the signature and the amount lost to the sides.

If you don't use a signature and the composition of image, like this one, doesn't suffer when it's size is changed or a thicker frame used, then life is easy. You just create your product, leave it so it's size etc. can be customised and that's it.

Otherwise you have to take some extra steps...

When image proportions are important

So back to me and my fine art, where one of the vital aspects is the distance from the edges that I place the various compositional elements (often for "breathing space", sometimes because I don't want any distractions to be placed at the edge of the picture, allowing the viewers eyes to "escape" from the image more easily).

So what I do is make sure that the full extent of the image is displayed when viewed from the front - and that means using blank sides. So I set the background colour to one of the major colours in the image (see the Firefox eye dropper add-on from http://www.colorzilla.com for a great tool to help you do this) and reduce the size of the image so that it overlaps the edges a little.

Bottom left corner showing the background colour
Note that an artefact has appeared here, the greyish line along the bottom image edge - this won't (shouldn't?!) appear in the finished product.

So far so good, but I've still got an issue if I allow a potential customer to customize it. Here's the same product (the one above was made at 36x24inches) where, acting as a customer, I've set it to 24x16, and look what's happened - the image has crept even further around the frame (more on the side than on the bottom). No good.

On a size smaller than designed, the image wraps further round the edge
Have a look at this one face-on and you'll see I've lost the breathing space between the building and the left hand edge. Compare it to the face on view of the first to see what I mean.

So, what's the final magic step to fix all this?

..erm, I'm afraid there isn't one. You either limit the customer choice by setting it for sale at this size and thickness only (available when you post for sale or edit afterwards) or you chance the customer messing up.

But what if the customer wants a smaller one? Not everyone has space on their wall for a 36x24 canvas! But you don't want the potential for them to mess up!

You're not really going to like this solution. I don't!

What I do is lock this one down, so it is available only at this size and thickness only. Actually I go one step further and restrict to "this size and these options only". Then I make a large one (60x40 inches) and a small one (24x16) and adjust the image size in each so that it just rounds the corner of the wrap - as described above

The I set them both to "Direct only". This way, they don't clutter up my store and only those who have the link can get to them.

Once they are made, in each description text, I include a link to each of the other two and keep only the medium sized one available in my store. I haven't yet done it to the one above but you can see what I mean on this one:

Knot A Rope Knot
By the way, if you're switched on, you might see in this title a nod in the direction of Magritte and his work Ceci n'est pas une pipe

Do you know a better solution?

Well that's my work-around until Zazzle redesigns the whole canvas / poster sizing thingy. It's cumbersome and a right royal pain - have you got a better idea?

You know the drill - leave a comment...

Right, I've found a nice brick wall that I'm going to go and bang my head against - it'll make a nice change! Then I'm going to count the hairs on the palm of my hand again - I'm sure the number keeps changing!!