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Fine Art Substrates

"Substrate” simply means the base material onto which art will be printed, painted, or created on. Its Latin prefix sub-, “below”, refers to a layer under something else.

Let’s take a look at a few common substrates used with Fine Art.


Canvas is a closely woven, heavy cloth of cotton, hemp, or linen. Cotton canvas is the most common and least expensive canvas available in different weights and weaves. Linen is often considered to be superior to cotton due to strength, and lack of stretch. Linen canvas also offers mold and mildew resistance. Both are usually stretched over a wooden frame before the artist creates their masterpiece.

Within these two types, there are more specified canvases made for certain mediums and techniques. For example, more absorbent canvases work better with tempura paints, while there are others created solely for oil paints.

Fine Art Paper

Fine Art Paper is frequently made using 100% cotton rag, providing the ideal support for intense colors and contrasts. Cotton or alpha cellulose fibers are included in the paper, which is often treated to make it acid free and to have a neutral PH for archival purposes.

Fine Art Paper, like canvas, is manufactured specifically for a variety of mediums and techniques. For example, the paper for watercolor paints will often be thicker and more absorbent than the paper you would find in a sketchbook for drawing.

If the Fine Art Paper is for printing artwork onto, you’ll find a wide variety of finishes – glossy, satin and matte to name a few – and archival levels for the specific needs of a project.

If you have more questions about your artwork substrates, ask one of our knowledgeable consultants!

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