In Hand-Painted Canvas, Canvases may be stitch-painted, meaning each thread intersection is painstakingly painted so that the stitcher has no doubts about what color is meant to be used at that intersection. Alternately, they may be hand-painted, meaning that the canvas is painted by hand but the stitcher will have to use their judgment about what colors to use if a thread intersection is not clearly painted. In North America this is the most popular form of needlepoint canvas. Printed Canvas is when the design is printed by silk screening or computer onto the needlepoint canvas. Designs are typically less involved due to the limited color palette of this printing method. The results of printed canvas vary extensively. Printed canvas can also be bought separately in kits or often comes with the kit.
Charted Canvas designs are typically printed in two ways: either in grid form with each thread intersection being represented with a symbol that shows what color is meant to be stitched on that intersection or as a line drawing where the stitcher is to trace the design onto his canvas and then fill in those areas with the colors listed. Leaflets usually include one to two designs and are usually printed by the individual designer. Free-Form Needlepoint designs are created by the stitcher. They may be based around a favorite photograph, stitch, thread color, etc. The stitcher just starts stitching! Many interesting pieces are created this way. While traditionally needlepoint has been done to create a solid fabric, more modern needlepoint incorporates open canvas, techniques which allow some of the unstitched, or lightly stitched canvas to show through.