Thursday, March 11, 2010

What are the standard canvas sizes?

In my other post: Why is it better to use standard canvas sizes? I talked about why it is better to use standard canvas sizes from buyer’s and seller’s (artists) point of view. I got a lot of feedback on this post; however it seems that it was missing a ‘key ingredient’. Many wanted to know what the exact sizes are. So here it is:

10/12/2014 -
People been asking for a visual illustration of the canvas sizes relations and proportions so I have added another post - Standard canvas sizes - graphs, ratings, proportions.

In general the most common sizes for paintings are the ones that follow ¾ formula; where the canvases width is 3/4th of the height. However, photography of art took a path on its own and uses slightly different formats. Also I do not like to use square canvas, so I cannot comment on the popularity of square canvas, and there might be a good reason for it, since I haven’t seen many (if at all) premade frames for square artwork.

Anything up to 4x6 inches is probably not going to be practical for most of the artwork. Also, some sizes can be available but I do not list the ones that get no stars at all on my scale.

So here are the rankings, from the smallest  (4 by 6) to the larges sizes (48 by 72) using the formula and noting the popularity and availability of premade supporting materials (such as frames) on the scale from one to five:

4 x 6 inches - * (very popular - for personal photos, but not really common in art)

5 x 7 inches - * (popular - for personal photos, but not really common in art)

8 x 10 inches - ** (popular - for personal, art prints and photography print, but not really common in art)

11 x 14 inches - **** (extremely popular - this is where we are getting into the Art sizes and there are a lot of stretched canvases available in this size, however this size is mostly used for prints, posters, photography, scathing, drawings etc.. and not commonly used for oil or acrylic paintings, thus 4 stars. There is large selection of frames available in every shape, color, material, etc… for this size.)

16 x 20 inches - **** (extremely popular – almost the same as 11x14, and the frames availability is really good, however this size is used less for drawing, scathing, etc.. but I have seen it used for paintings, so still 4 stars.)

18 x 24 inches - *** (used – not sure why it became popular with art paintings, but there is large supplies of canvas available but it can take a little research to find a good frame for it. Not used much besides for the paintings – I thinking this is the smallest size that has right proportions for an artist to start painting, and that is why it is mostly used for that. However, considering this is the first paintings only (or primarily) used size I’ll give it 3 stars.)

Keep in mind that small painting will not look good in a large room, and the monster frame added to it to make it appear larger can only go so far. So, now we are getting in to the sizes that are not used frequently for prints, posters, art photography, drawings, scathes etc…, but primarily used for paintings – mostly oil and acrylic. And the logic here is that painting with frame (or even without it) should be large enough so it will not get ‘lost’ in the room. Also, keep in mind that, where other artwork can be displayed in smaller rooms the paintings usually go into the largest room in the house.

The rating for large sizes is different. Obviously it will be harder to find premade canvases and frames for these sizes, but they are given a higher rating if at least some are available.

20 x 24 inches - ** (used – not very common but both canvas and frames are available, occasionally still used for posters, prints.)

22 x 34 inches - * (used – not very common but both canvas and frames are available, occasionally still used for posters, prints.)

24 x 36 inches - * (used – not very common but both canvas and frames are available, occasionally still used for posters, prints.)

30 x 40 inches - ***** (very popular – this is where paintings are getting large enough that it makes sense to use oil and create ‘professional’ artwork. Frames can be found for this size with a little research and luck.)

36 x 48 inches - ***** (very popular – this size is used a lot for the paintings, probably more so than the 30 by 40 inches, however premade frames are more difficult to find.)

Anything above this size is probably a thousands of dollars special orders, and do not expect to find any premade frames for these. One size worth noting is the 4 by 6 feet, 48 by 72 inches. I seen a good number of paintings in this size, but again something like this requires a lot of special handling – framing, shipping, even simply having enough room and paint to create it to begin with. The canvas will probably have to be custom stretched as well.

So, there you have it.
Don’t forget to check the tips below, and post your feedback in comments at the bottom.

A PLUS ONE is always appreciated: 


1. When looking for a frame keep in mind that it is not the frame size that you are looking for but how large of an artwork can fit inside.

2. Always check how deep the frame is. Some frames cannot handle stretched canvas because they are not deep enough, some cannot handle canvas board because they are too deep. (I, personally, stopped using canvas board as soon as stretched canvas became affordable.)

3. The smaller is the artwork the better it will look with wide border frame (within reason – 10 inch wide border on 11 by 14 inches print will probably not look so good.)

4. There are always exceptions, but I suggest keeping the frame border width to be 1/5th or less of the artwork’s width.

Oil Painting Downtown Chicago Cityscape


Mikhail Onanov



  1. Art reproductionsApril 19, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    that's great, I was searching this type of informative content for making best paintings.

  2. great, thank you for sharing, i can get on wit my painting better now

  3. This information is much appreciated because it is just what is needed to take my expressions to the next level, we are very thankful you posted this... Bless you Much... LOVE and LIGHT

  4. Thanks for the post!  Can you please post the scale for each of the sizes, i.e. 20x24 is 5x6 scale (0.83333333:1).  It would be great if there were a summary chart at the end too.  Thanks!
    We were trying to decide how to scale a sketch into a painting and this list gives us some ideas!

    1. I just recently added new post - hope this helps -

  5. You did not mention 24 x 36 which is a size I use quite often and love it. What are your thoughts on that size?

    1. I think there was a typo -I corrected it - so now 24 x 36 is listed as well.

  6. you've done a fantastic job of clarifying sizes for certain types of art! i create photo/mixed media works, and sometimes am challenged by finding a canvas that will fit my creation. (i tend to do things backwards). many thanks for taking the time to do this blog. i've bookmarked to return again.

    1. Thank You very much I'm trying to post articles that can help Artists to get handle on thingd that I struggled with myself at some point of time - its nice when people appreciate the effort.

  7. Hello I would like to have a canvas done for a gift to my daughter for her wedding picture...What size is good as they had amazing photographer in Cancun, Mexico
    thank you
    Libby Bode