Metallic vs Matte vs Canvas Prints

March 24, 2013  •  38 Comments

This is a question I'm often asked, what's the difference between Matte and Metallic prints and how should I frame them? I'm also asked to compare prints vs canvas often as well. So I decided it was worth a blog post and I will try my best to answer both questions. 

I have done countless hours of research to find the top of the line suppliers for my clients, so you can rest assured that whichever way you decide to go will lead to the best quality product.

Matte Prints

Let's start with the most basic of prints, the Matte print. These prints are what I refer to as "standard prints", although there really is nothing standard about them. They are beautiful prints, and have extremely accurate color representations of what you see on your monitor. They are nice because they don't have a "shine" to them and therefore don't reflect a lot of light. They also don't show fingerprints like glossy and metallic prints do. Colors look nice, but not as nice as metallic colors. Making matte prints very nice for skin tones (portraits) and black and white shots such as this shot of Lone Peak in Big Sky, MT.


The nice thing about matte prints is how versatile they are. You could print any image on them and have a steller result. For framing you could frame them normally (pop them in a ready made frame from Michaels) or you could have them matted and framed professionally. They are of archival quality and resist fading for up to 100 years.


Metallic Prints

Now on to my personal favorite, metallic prints. Metallic prints are mind bendingly gorgeous for color and depth rich images. Instead of reflecting light, metallic prints seem to absorb light. Which is why I recommend putting metallic prints in a place where they will get some direct light (either near a window or a light). Metallic prints almost have  a 3D quality to them and accentuate every color in the image. For this reason, metallic is perfect for landscape photos. Water looks especially nice when printed on metallic. The only downside is you have to be careful when handling as it is easier to get fingerprints on the image (I'll tell you in a second how to prevent this). 

Below is an example of a 30x40" metallic print I did for Bobcat football alumni Steven Foster (Prints of Bobcat Stadium here)

Montana State Metallic PrintSteven Foster with his 30x40" metallic print

The biggest question I get concerning metallic is how do I frame it? And it's not quite as easy as pop in a frame and go. What I recommend is getting the "Foam Mountboard Add-On" in the cart, I sell it at cost which is $15. I recommend this because to frame metallic you should frame it without glass as glass takes away from the unique look of metallic prints. And to frame without glass the print needs to be rigid or else it will just fold through the frame, this is where the mountboard comes into play. I also recommend getting the "Lustre Coat Add-On" as it seals the print and makes it much tougher to get fingerprints on it. You won't see the lustre coat, but just know it's there and doing its job. 


Gallery Wrapped Canvas Prints

Last but not least is canvas, which is becoming more and more popular in the print world. It was long considered a lower quality alternative to prints, but not anymore. The supplier I use has stunning reproduction qualities and it almost looks like a print wrapped around a frame. It's not until you get very close to the canvas that you can see the beautiful texture of the canvas. I've used canvas for every type of print, from landscape to wildlife to portraits and it never ceases to amaze me. The canvas that I use is actually fairly solid and is pretty durable when compared to metallic and even matte prints. They are also coated in a UV protectant which keeps it from fading. 

One nice thing about canvas is that it shows up ready to hang. People often see that it is more expensive in the beginning, but don't factor in that you won't have to frame it. The above canvas of the Grand Prismatic is mine (prints here of the Grand Prismatic) and it is the centerpiece of my living room. Most of my house is filled with canvas as it's an inexpensive way to decorate that looks great. You can also do canvas groupings that really bring a livingroom to life (email me for specific price quotes on groupings, there is a discount for bulk orders). 

Credit to Fiona Johnson Photography


I hope you learned something from my blog, and if you still have questions don't hesitate to contact me here.


Andy A.


Peak Photography of Montana


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