Tooth in art refers to the grain of canvas or paper. In general, the more tooth, the more rough the texture is.

Tooth is what allows paint, pastel or whatever to bind to the surface.

Tooth and texture are not necessarily interchangeable. Texture is the feel, appearance or consistency of a surface or a substance. Tooth measures how well a medium binds to the surface.

For example, you could have a smooth and bumpy surface which has texture but no tooth. Or you could have a surface with even texture but a high level of tooth.

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Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

4 comments on “Tooth”

  1. Hi there,
    I was just wondering which type of canvas would be better for acrylic paints, tightly woven canvas or just the plain canvas? Also, is a Gesso layer required for acrylic painting on canvas?
    Thank You,

    • Hi Joan. I prefer a tightly woven canvas (tends to be smoother). The canvas needs to be primed with gesso, but most canvas you buy from art stores tends to be gesso’d already.




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