How To Smooth Canvas Before Painting

As an artist, understanding the significance of a smooth canvas is crucial for the success of your artwork. However, beginners may struggle to grasp the importance of preparing the canvas before painting. Proper preparation not only improves the durability of your painting, but also creates an ideal surface for your brushes to work on. In this blog post, we will walk you through the easy process of prepping your canvas before beginning your painting.

What You’ll Need

  • Canvas
  • Gesso
  • A paintbrush or roller
  • Sandpaper (220-grit)

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Apply Gesso

The first step to smooth your canvas is to apply a layer of gesso. Gesso is a white paint mixture used as a base coat to protect the canvas fibres and to create a surface that the paint will adhere to more easily. Use a wide brush or roller to apply the gesso in even strokes.

2. Allow it to Dry

Once you’ve applied the gesso, wait for it to dry completely. The drying time may vary based on the thickness of your gesso layer and the humidity of your working environment. Usually, it takes about 20 minutes to an hour.

3. Sand the Canvas

After the gesso dries, it’s time to sand the canvas. Use 220-grit sandpaper to gently sand the surface. Make sure to sand in the same direction as the grain of the canvas to avoid making any unnecessary scratches.

4. Repeat the Process

For an ultra-smooth finish, you might want to repeat the gesso and sanding process. Two or three coats are usually sufficient for most paintings.

5. Clean the Canvas

Once you’re satisfied with the smoothness, clean your canvas to remove any dust from sanding. A damp cloth or a soft brush will do the job.

And voila! Your canvas is now prepped and smooth, ready for you to create your masterpiece.


Smoothing your canvas before painting is a crucial step that many beginner artists might overlook. However, it not only makes your painting process smoother but also enhances the durability of your artwork. So, next time before you start painting, don’t forget to prep your canvas following these simple steps.

Happy painting!