How To Paint With Acrylic Paints

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Acrylic Painting is a very versatile and fast drying type of paint. There are numerous brushes, texture paints, colors, and techniques to make acrylic painting easier. It is important to remember that acrylic dries very quickly and maintaining proper care of your brushes will ensure higher quality paintings for a larger number of painting sessions.

Acrylic Paint:

There are two types of acrylic paints available. There are student quality paints and artist quality paints. The artist quality paint is more expensive, but has more color pigment. This allows the paint to be more vibrant. When starting to use paints, buying the primary colors is the least expensive way to begin. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Other colors that may be benefical to buy when beginning is white, black and brown. These six colors can be combined in various ways to make other basic colors. As an artist becomes more familiar with acrylic painting, other colors may be bought.

Brush Quality and Type:

When acrylic painting, the brush quality will help determine how well the end product is. Try to buy a natural hair acrylic brush whenever adding to your materials. This brush quality is more expensive and often people settle for a bristle brush. A nylon filament brush is a good quality and is softer than a bristle brush but coarser than a synthetic or natural hair brush.

The handle length of a brush also matters. Each brush type is available in short and long handled styles. The longer brush allows the artist to stand back from the piece while acylic painting. This allows the artist to see the progression of the artwork as it emerges. Holding the long handled brush towards the end of the handle also provides a looser style technique when painting, providing a different look and feel.

There are a variety of brushes to chose from when acrylic painting. Any brush can be used in a way that allows you to paint comfortably. However each brush does have a basic purpose. A round brush is used for touch ups and detail work. The round brush should be used for slightly thinner paints.

A long flat brush is used for thicker paints. Longer, straight brush strokes are completed when using this brush and provides straight edges.

Short flat brushes, also called brights, require shorter strokes, but provide straight edges. Short Flat brushes are used when wanting to leave well defined brush strokes in the acrylic painting.

Filbert brushes have a flat profile with a slightly rounded point. A Filbert brush leaves a tapered stroke. This brush softens the edges of the brush strokes with less harsh defined edges like that of the long and short flat brush.

The fan brush has a flat profile and spreads out like a fan. This brsh provides for a smooth transition between the acrylic paints. This brush is also good for making leaf clusters on pine and fir trees. And the fan brush also works well for fur textures.

The rigger brush makes very fine lines. This brush works best with thinned acrylics. The rigger brush comes in sizes 1 to 20, although all sizes are not uniformally the same measurement from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Acrylics come in a variety of densities. All densities may have water added to them to break them down to thinner acrylics. The thinnest acrylic is almost watercolor like in its texture and techniques. Various substances may be added to acrylics to make variations in texture. Some substances include sand, plaster, and grit. For thicker acrylics twigs, rocks, coal, and leaves may be pressed into the paints unti half dry. These items will leave designs in the acrylic and add some creativity to the painting. Other techniques for adding texture include strippling the primer on the canvas and using a bristle brush.


There is no one technique that is perfect for everyone. The basic techniques include painting in one direction and when the piece is dry lightly brushing in the other direction. Other techniques used for keeping the acrylics moist longer include wetting the paper with water before beginning. But this also increases the work time for the piece.

Other techniques include sketching the basic shapes of the painting onto the canvas or paper before beginning. Begin painting the background and shadows first, then add the middle ground and finish with the foreground.

Proper Brush Care:

Although the higher the quality of the brushes and acrylics used, the better the painting in general will be. Less expensive materials can be bought and with proper care they can also provide a quality painting.

In order to maintain the bristles on the brush, it is important to blot the brush after dipping in water. This helps prevent blotches on the paper or the canvas. It also helps prevent the bristles on the brush from clumping and ruining the brush.

After washing the brushes thoroughly after a painting session, it is proper care to wipe the brushes as though painting the paper towel. This helps dry all bristles and ensures all acrylic paint is out of the brush. If the paint dries in the brush it will ruin the brush.

The most important factor when acrylic painting is to be patient and learning to work with the medium. Remember to keep the materials clean and moist. If you properly take care your accessories, they will provide a lifetime of painting sessions.

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