Fine Art Paper is Fine Art Paper... right?

Fine Art Paper is Fine Art Paper… right?

And while it may be listed as “fine art paper”, that really is an umbrella term for hundreds of different types of fine art papers that fall under that category. But to break it down, Fine Art Paper falls into five different categories:

Surface Texture:

There are textured papers & smooth papers & then of course everything that falls in between. Surface texture can either complement your print by giving it depth or adversely create a distraction. Such as having too much texture in the sky or on the cheek of a baby.  Surface textures can really set the mood of a print. Papers like Hahnemühle William Turner have a lot of texture almost like a fine sandpaper.

If your original is created on a paper with a lot of tooth, a textured paper may be right for you. If your original was created on a smooth paper such as bristol, then you may want to have prints created on a smoother paper. But most importantly, when determining what paper to use, ask yourself how the paper will enhance or conflict with important aspects of your image.


D-Max or Density refers to how much black a paper can hold on its surface. The higher the d-max value, the deeper the black, & therefore the higher the contrast. Matte papers will have less d-max than satin, luster or glossy papers. That doesn’t mean your matte papers won’t have deep blacks and great contrast, but when compared to a glossy baryta paper you will see the difference.

Reflectivity or Finish:

There are matte papers & glossy papers & again everything that falls in between such as satin, pearl, luster, & extra glossy. Matte fine art papers (which can be either textured or smooth) have a more subtle artistic, painterly quality about them. APLIS Fine Art Printing carries a large selection of Matte Fine Art Papers. Baryta papers have the look and feel of traditional darkroom prints and come in gloss, satin and pearl.


Thickness of paper is specified by weight or gsm. We carry a 190gsm fine art paper, but generally most of our fine art papers are 300gsm to 320gsm with the highest being 350gsm (Hahnemühle Museum Etching.) To give you a reference, copy paper is around 80gsm.

Archival Standards:

There is a lot of talk about this subject. So at APLIS Fine Art Printing, we take in consideration what we know for sure makes a paper archival & by making sure the papers we carry either eliminate or contains a certain element that identifies them as archival.

  • 100% Cotton - All our matte fine art papers are 100% cotton including our Hahnemühle Photo Rag and Photo Pearl Baryta.

  • Acid Free - All our papers at APLIS Fine Art Printing are acid free with a pH value of 7.0 or greater. Papers that aren’t acid free will yellow, fade, and decay over time.

  • Lignin Free - Lignin is an organic substance that, in a nutshell,  is the bonding element which holds wood fibers together. Its presence can cause paper to change color & become brittle.

  • OBA Free - OBA's (optical brightening agents) are chemical  compounds that absorb light in the ultraviolet and violet region. In short, OBA's make a paper look brighter and more white. (Think office xerox paper. ) Papers with OBA's aren't permanent & can dull or fade over time.  It’s best to avoid them for fine art prints! All our Fine Art Papers are OBA free, including the Baryta & canvas.

So there you have it, a very brief breakdown on fine art papers. As always, if you have questions about a specific paper, give me a call! I love talking about paper! And remember paper is meant to bring out the best in your print. And with the large selection of paper we carry at APLIS Fine Art Printing, we are sure to find one that is perfect for you.

All the Best,