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What is a triptych? And how to make one

Words by MyFUJIFILM

March 20, 2024

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What is a triptych? And how to make one
Why have one wall art print when you could have three? Make a statement with a stunning triptych — one image split across three canvases.

It’s a great way to display your favourite photos creatively, attracting attention wherever you decide to hang them. Triptychs allow you to put an artistic spin on your favourite photographs. 

Big, bold, and eye-catching, they can enhance the narrative of your landscapes and bring out the key elements of each section. Why not showcase that iconic sunset from your holiday? Or perhaps you have a much-loved group photo from your wedding. Display it with pride on a triptych printed on high-quality canvas.
What is a triptych? Meaning and origins
The word ‘triptych’ originates from the Greek ‘triptykhos’, which translates as ‘threefold’ or ‘three-layered’. While the triptych canvas is all the rage in the 21st century, the concept can be dated as far back as the middle ages. Triptychs were traditionally created in a box style, where the doors swung open at their hinges, opening out into a three-panelled piece of art. When closed, the triptych had two more panels, making a total of five pieces of art with one central theme.

It’s often said that three is a magic number. In fact, Greek philosopher Pythagerous declared this himself, stating that the number three represents a beginning, middle, and end. This philosophy can apply beautifully to a triptych. Each piece of the canvas tells part of a story. And, at the same time, the three canvases work collectively, creating a piece of artwork that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
What kind of images work best for triptych wall art?
The best kind of images for a triptych canvas are those that work as strong stand-alone images. When put together with their two counterparts, they become even stronger, making a great visual piece. Triptychs are almost like an illusion, with three distinct parts that blend together to create a full picture. 

Travel landscapes work particularly well as a triptych. So it’s a great idea to use your own photos of scenery or cityscapes that will create a nostalgic feeling every time you look at them. 

Another striking idea for your triptych wall art is an abstract design, such as the work of Francis Bacon’s famous ‘Triptych-August 1972’. If you fancy a bit of inspiration, this impressive piece is currently on display at the Tate Gallery in London. 

If you feel like mixing things up a bit, you can assemble your triptych wall art from three separate images that have a similar style or colour theme, creating something striking and slightly more abstract than your typical design. 

One of the most important things to consider is the resolution of your photos. Canvas prints are often large in size, so a low-quality image will be noticeable and ruin the effect of your triptych. With this in mind, make sure you’re uploading the original of your photo, rather than a compressed version from the internet or social media. 

Luckily, our canvas design tool will indicate whether the image quality is too low, allowing you to choose a photo that will look fantastic on canvas. 
Does a triptych always need to be on canvas?
While canvas is the most popular choice for a triptych, it isn’t the only option — three framed images side by side can still create a powerful effect. 

Canvas is the typical choice because the picture runs to the very edge of each piece. This allows the three sections to flow together well, inviting the eye to easily connect the three individual pieces. However, designs differed back in the day. Triptych wall art from hundreds of years ago often featured wooden frames separating each section. 

Is it your first time creating a triptych? We recommend going with canvas. Not only is it lightweight and easy to hang, but you can also enjoy the seamless way your images will work together.

Alternatively, if you’re drawn towards framed pieces you can check out our framed print options to bring your vision to life. 
Displaying your triptych
Once you’ve decided on your triptych image, it’s time to think about how you’d like to display your wall art. 
Where to hang your triptych canvas
A safe bet is to hang your triptych wall art at eye level (often referred to as ‘museum hanging’). Placing your canvases at this height will immediately draw attention to them, making them the centrepiece of any room. 

With that in mind, consider what furniture you might place below it and allow some breathing space between the top of the furniture and the bottom of the triptych so it has room to stand out.

One crucial display factor is to make sure your triptych canvases are hung completely straight. Using a spirit level when hanging your canvases will ensure all three pieces sit harmoniously in the room. There’s nothing worse than a wonky piece of artwork distracting your focus for all the wrong reasons!

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Layout inspiration
When designing the layout of your triptych wall art, it’s a great idea to create a mood board of the kind of style you’d like to achieve. Triptychs tend to be landscape, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you’ve got a strong portrait image that will divide seamlessly into three sections that you can hang above each other, go for it!

It’s also worth creating a ‘mock-up’ of your canvas designs before, to see how the image split works on each canvas. You can do this with any good design software, allowing you to divide the image exactly into three equal parts, ready to be printed. 

In terms of design, the same photo taken seconds or minutes apart can make a really interesting triptych. If you’re yet to take your photos, why not set out to capture a beautiful sunrise or sunset in three different stages? Take the picture from exactly the same spot for consistency. Alternatively, silhouettes can work well — whether that’s a tree in your favourite woodland or a self-portrait. 
What’s the best spacing for a triptych?
Spacing is a key part of any triptych. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to leave two to three inches between each canvas. This allows enough space to showcase each individual section, whilst being close enough together for the image to blend.

Remember to create equal distances between your canvases or photos by measuring carefully, ensuring that you don’t lose the overall effect you’re going for. 

It’s also important to consider the room in which you’ll be hanging your triptych. How will your canvases work with any existing photos or artwork you have on the wall? Avoid hanging your triptych on a wall that already has a lot going on—this will give a cluttered feel and deny your canvases the opportunity to shine. 

One final consideration is displaying your triptych canvases at different heights. There are no rules against having a layered look by staggering the heights of the canvas on the wall. Just make sure your design lines up accordingly, and away you go.
Beautiful canvas wall art from MyFUJIFILM
Start creating your triptych wall art now by browsing our canvas options. Our Thin Canvas Prints work excellently as part of a triptych due to their slimline measurements, assembled on a quality pinewood frame for a sharp finish. For those seeking a next-level result, our Premium High Quality Canvas Prints are printed using water-based inks for an impactful and vibrant look.