Acrylic painting is the thickest form of paint compared to oil paints and watercolours. It does not matter whether you are a beginner who has decided to take painting passionately, or a professional who is starting to experiment with a new medium, the challenges to learning acrylic paint will be there, inevitably. So if you are looking to learn some new tips and hacks to acrylic painting, you are exactly at the right place. In this article, we give you a crisp and comprehensive guide to learn acrylic painting the right way. The good part about acrylic paints is that it dries off quickly so you do not have to wait for one layer to dry so that you can add more layers to it. They are thicker and brighter than watercolour and are less expensive as well. You can paint it on any surface you want – from glass to plastic, to wood even.
Types Of Paint
Before we get into the details of it, here’s what you need to know about paints in general: Ideally all paints are broadly divided into two categories: Water-based paint and Oil-based paint.
- Water-based Paint
Majority of the paints are water-based, which is either latex or acrylic. Here are some of their basic features:
- Low levels of toxic emissions
- Quick drying
- Elastic and flexible finish resistant to cracking
- Stable colour over time, without yellowing
- Oil-based Paint
Oil-based paints remain popular for their glossy finish and here are their basic features:
- Attractive gloss
- Smooth finish
- Hard, durable finish
While oil-based paint need you to use harsh chemicals like paint thinner, a small amount of water is sufficient to clean water-based paint. However, water-based paint such as acrylic paints is not as durable as oil-based paint and are not as shiny and glossy either. They mostly have a matte effect, until you use a glossy spray on top of it or add glazing medium to the paint to give it the right amount of shine. Here are some best custom oil paints.
Layers For Acrylic Paint
- Primer (Base)
Before you let your canvas breathe a fresh life, it is important to know the base that covers and protects it. Any canvas that is going to get strokes of acrylic paint, to look good and last long, the right base coats are essential. A primer is not essentially a paint but it is the first base that is important to protect the material beneath and provide a good base for further coats. Primers can either be oil or water-based, so when you’re painting, you should use the type that matches the paint you will further use. For instance, for water-based paint, water-based primer is required.
- First Acrylic Coat
Beneath the finish coat, a specially formulated paint is used to build up opacity. If you use a pale finish acrylic coat, make sure to use a pale first coat. If you’re using a dark finish acrylic coat, make sure to be using a dark first coat. Water-based paints such as acrylic are usually applied in as many coats as required to provide an even coverage, as compared to oil-based paints.
- Finish Acrylic Coat
Once the base acrylic coat is evenly applied or the previous paint surface has dried, you’re ready to apply the decorative finish, which means the outermost layer, also called the finish acrylic coat.
Things To Consider About Acrylic Paint
One of the most important things that artists need to have when they paint is perspective. Whether you are planning to make a three dimensional painting on a two dimensional surface or taking it only for practise, you need to have good enough idea about things like height, width, breadth and how much space you want to give for a certain element in the painting. For example, if you are doing a portrait painting then consider elements like background, focal points, vanishing points and how you want to make use of the white space in it. The main element of the painting should take most of the space on your canvas but that does not also mean that it overshadows everything else. You need to find the right balance which will only come from having a good perspective for it that will again come from good practise, over time.
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As we mentioned above, acrylic paint can be used on almost all kinds of surfaces as long as they don’t contain wax or oil. This is why you need to be sure about the surface you decide to apply acrylic paint over. Once that is decided, get some good brushes – the kinds which have soft bristles and whose hair don’t fall off easily. Also see how comfortable you are in holding it and how is its grip before buying them. The last one here is the palette – palettes comes in plastic as well as wood but wooden palettes tend to dry off acrylic paint faster than the plastic ones. However, it is all about your preference!
Medium is the component you add to either thin down the paint or make it thicker. Mediums such as glaze, gessos and dispersant. All of them have different usage in regard to acrylic paint.
- Glazing Medium: Adding too much water to your acrylic paint can lead to the paint not sticking properly on the canvas. This is why a lot of people add glazing medium to their acrylic paint as it prevents the acrylic from changing their colour, dries off quickly and makes the paint thin to a considerable extent. On top of this, they also add a milky touch to the paint, making them look slightly shiny.
- Gessos: Gessos is mostly used as a primer and is not really a medium. It is like the base to a painting. The main idea behind adding gessos is to make the acrylic paint all the more thicker.
- Dispersant: If you are looking to add some staining effect to a paint, try using a dispersant medium to it to break the flow of the paint on canvas.
Unlike watercolour, acrylic paints dry off quickly which is why it is important that you maintain consistency in your painting session.
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You cannot do one composition of the painting and then take a break for hours while still having large mud of paint on the palette. To avoid this what you can do is, cover up the larger compositions first and then go into specific details.
Acrylic painting is the easiest of all kinds of paints to start with if you are a beginner. We hope this guide comes handy for you to start with your acrylic paint sessions. Do share your thoughts on it in the comment section below. Happy Painting!