Step-By-Step Guide To Acrylic Painting

Step-by-step guide to acrylic painting, a comprehensive guide for aspiring artists, unravels the secrets of this versatile medium. With its vibrant colors and quick-drying nature, acrylic painting empowers you to create stunning artworks, from landscapes to abstract masterpieces.

Delve into the basics of acrylic painting, discover the essential materials, and learn how to prepare your canvas for artistic endeavors. Explore color theory and mixing techniques to create harmonious hues, and master basic painting techniques to bring your vision to life.


Acrylic painting lake landscape easy beginners calm
Acrylic painting lake landscape easy beginners calm

Acrylic painting is a versatile and accessible art form that offers numerous advantages to artists of all levels. Acrylic paints are water-based, fast-drying, and highly pigmented, making them an excellent choice for creating vibrant and dynamic artworks.

The process of creating an acrylic painting involves several key steps, including preparing the surface, sketching the composition, applying paint, and adding details and finishing touches. By understanding these steps and experimenting with different techniques, you can create stunning acrylic paintings that express your creativity and artistic vision.

Benefits of Using Acrylics

  • Fast Drying:Acrylics dry quickly, allowing you to work efficiently and layer colors without waiting long periods.
  • Water-Based:Acrylics are water-based, making them easy to clean up and use with a variety of tools, including brushes, sponges, and palette knives.
  • Vibrant Colors:Acrylics contain high levels of pigment, resulting in intense and vivid colors that maintain their brilliance over time.
  • Versatile:Acrylics can be used on various surfaces, including canvas, paper, wood, and even metal, providing artists with endless possibilities for experimentation.
  • Affordable:Acrylics are relatively affordable compared to other painting mediums, making them accessible to artists of all financial backgrounds.


Step-by-step guide to acrylic painting
Step-by-step guide to acrylic painting

Acrylic painting requires a specific set of materials to achieve its unique effects. Understanding the purpose and characteristics of each material is essential for successful acrylic painting.

The following list provides a comprehensive overview of the essential materials and their descriptions:

Acrylic Paints

  • Water-based paints:Acrylic paints are water-based, making them easy to clean and work with. They dry quickly, allowing for quick layering and blending.
  • Pigments:Acrylic paints contain pigments that provide the color and opacity. The quality of the pigments affects the vibrancy and longevity of the paint.
  • Binders:Binders hold the pigments together and give the paint its consistency. Acrylic binders are typically made from acrylic resins, which provide durability and flexibility.


  • Natural hair brushes:Natural hair brushes, such as those made from sable or hog bristles, are highly absorbent and hold more paint, allowing for smooth and even strokes.
  • Synthetic brushes:Synthetic brushes are durable and versatile, making them suitable for various painting techniques. They are less absorbent than natural hair brushes, providing more control.
  • Brush shapes:Different brush shapes, such as round, flat, and filbert, serve specific purposes. Round brushes are suitable for details and fine lines, while flat brushes are ideal for covering larger areas.


  • Stretched canvas:Stretched canvas is a pre-stretched canvas mounted on a wooden frame, providing a ready-to-use surface for painting.
  • Canvas texture:The texture of the canvas, such as fine, medium, or coarse, affects the paint application and the final appearance of the painting.
  • Canvas priming:Priming the canvas with gesso creates a smooth and absorbent surface, ensuring better paint adhesion and preventing the absorption of paint into the canvas fibers.

Other Materials

  • Palette:A palette is a surface used to mix and hold paints, allowing for easy access and color blending.
  • Water container:A water container is essential for cleaning brushes, diluting paints, and creating washes.
  • Mediums:Mediums are additives that can be mixed with acrylic paints to modify their properties, such as extending drying time, increasing transparency, or adding texture.

Choosing the right materials for different types of paintings depends on the desired effects and techniques. For example, smooth and detailed paintings require high-quality brushes and a fine-textured canvas, while textured and abstract paintings may benefit from coarser brushes and a canvas with a more pronounced texture.

Preparing Your Canvas

Before you can start painting, you need to prepare your canvas. This involves stretching it and priming it. Stretching the canvas will tighten the fabric and make it less likely to wrinkle or tear. Priming the canvas will create a smooth surface for you to paint on and will help the paint to adhere to the canvas.

There are different types of canvases available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common type of canvas is cotton canvas. Cotton canvas is durable and relatively inexpensive, but it can be difficult to stretch and prime. Linen canvas is a more expensive option, but it is stronger and more durable than cotton canvas.

Linen canvas is also easier to stretch and prime.

Stretching a Canvas

To stretch a canvas, you will need a canvas stretcher, a hammer, and some tacks. The canvas stretcher is a frame made of wood or metal that will hold the canvas in place. The hammer is used to drive the tacks into the canvas stretcher.

The tacks are used to secure the canvas to the canvas stretcher.

  1. Place the canvas stretcher on a flat surface.
  2. Place the canvas on the canvas stretcher, making sure that the edges of the canvas are aligned with the edges of the canvas stretcher.
  3. Use the hammer to drive the tacks into the canvas stretcher, starting at the corners and working your way around the edges.
  4. Once the canvas is tacked in place, use your hands to tighten the canvas by pulling on the edges.
  5. Continue tightening the canvas until it is taut.

Priming a Canvas

To prime a canvas, you will need a primer and a brush. The primer is a white or clear liquid that is applied to the canvas to create a smooth surface for you to paint on. The brush is used to apply the primer to the canvas.

  1. Apply a thin layer of primer to the canvas using a brush.
  2. Allow the primer to dry completely.
  3. Once the primer is dry, you can start painting.

Choosing and Mixing Colors: Step-by-step Guide To Acrylic Painting

Sunset acrylic painting easy tutorial colorful step
Sunset acrylic painting easy tutorial colorful step

Acrylic paints come in a wide range of colors and viscosities. They can be transparent, opaque, or semi-opaque, and can be thinned with water or acrylic medium. When choosing colors, consider the desired effect and the overall color scheme of your painting.To

mix colors, use a palette or a mixing tray. Start by adding small amounts of each color to your palette and gradually adjust the proportions until you achieve the desired hue. You can also use a color wheel to help you create harmonious color schemes.

Delving into the intricacies of acrylic painting can be an enriching experience, offering a versatile medium for artistic expression. For those seeking to capture the beauty of nature on canvas, the techniques employed in landscape painting can elevate their artistry to new heights.

From the nuanced brushstrokes that evoke distant mountains to the vibrant hues that bring skies to life, Landscape painting techniques for beginners provide a comprehensive guide to mastering this captivating genre, complementing the essential foundation provided by a step-by-step guide to acrylic painting.

Experiment with different combinations and techniques to create unique and expressive colors.

Tips for Creating Harmonious Color Schemes

Use analogous colors

Colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green, create a harmonious and cohesive look.

Use complementary colors

Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, create a high-contrast and visually striking effect.

Use a neutral color palette

A neutral color palette, such as black, white, and gray, can be used to create a sophisticated and understated look.

Use a limited color palette

Using a limited number of colors can help you create a cohesive and focused painting.

Experiment with different color combinations and techniques to find what works best for your individual style and the desired effect of your painting.

Basic Painting Techniques

Technique mixing greenorc
Technique mixing greenorc

Acrylic painting offers a versatile range of techniques that allow artists to create diverse effects. Mastering these techniques empowers painters to express their creativity and achieve the desired visual impact in their artwork.


Brushstrokes play a crucial role in shaping the texture, depth, and movement within a painting. Varying the pressure, angle, and direction of the brush can create a wide range of effects, from delicate lines to bold, expressive strokes.

  • Thin, delicate strokes:Using a fine brush with light pressure creates subtle lines and details, ideal for capturing intricate features or creating a sense of airiness.
  • Medium-width strokes:Applying moderate pressure with a medium-sized brush allows for more defined lines and shapes, often used for outlining objects or creating texture.
  • Bold, expressive strokes:Employing a large brush with firm pressure produces thick, visible brushstrokes that convey energy and movement, often used for creating focal points or emphasizing specific areas.


Blending involves transitioning smoothly between colors or tones, creating gradual shifts and soft edges. This technique can enhance depth, create atmospheric effects, or soften transitions between objects.

  • Wet-on-wet blending:Applying wet paint onto wet paint allows for seamless blending, resulting in smooth, gradient transitions. This technique is often used for creating skies, water, or ethereal effects.
  • Glazing:Involves applying thin, transparent layers of paint over each other, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. This technique creates depth and luminosity, often used for building up colors or creating subtle effects.

Glazing, Step-by-step guide to acrylic painting

Glazing involves applying thin, transparent layers of paint over each other, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. This technique creates depth and luminosity, often used for building up colors or creating subtle effects.

  • Thin, transparent glazes:Applying very thin layers of paint allows for subtle color shifts and creates a sense of depth and atmosphere. This technique is often used for creating skies, water, or distant objects.
  • Thick, opaque glazes:Using thicker layers of paint produces more pronounced color changes and can be used for creating dramatic effects or highlighting specific areas.

Composition and Design

Composition and design are fundamental principles that guide the arrangement and organization of elements in a painting to create a visually appealing and meaningful artwork. In acrylic painting, understanding these principles can help artists create balanced, harmonious, and dynamic compositions that captivate the viewer’s attention.


Balance refers to the distribution of visual weight within a painting. It ensures that the composition feels stable and pleasing to the eye. There are two main types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical.

  • Symmetrical balance: Occurs when the elements are evenly distributed on both sides of a central axis, creating a sense of formality and order.
  • Asymmetrical balance: Occurs when the elements are not evenly distributed, creating a more dynamic and visually interesting composition.

Focal Point

The focal point is the area of the painting that draws the viewer’s attention first. It can be a single object, a group of objects, or an area of contrasting color or texture. Creating a clear focal point helps guide the viewer’s eye through the painting and establishes a hierarchy of visual importance.

Line, Shape, and Color

Line, shape, and color are essential elements that contribute to the composition and design of a painting. Lines can create movement, shape, and depth. Shapes can define objects, create contrast, and establish relationships between elements. Color can evoke emotions, create harmony or contrast, and draw attention to certain areas of the painting.

Unity and Harmony

Unity and harmony are achieved when all the elements of a painting work together to create a cohesive and pleasing composition. This can be achieved through the use of color harmonies, repetition of shapes or lines, and a consistent style and tone throughout the painting.

Finishing Touches

Once your acrylic painting is complete, it’s important to give it a finishing touch to protect and enhance its appearance. There are various types of finishes available, each with its own unique effects.

Types of Finishes

  • Gloss:Provides a shiny, reflective surface that intensifies colors and creates a dramatic effect.
  • Satin:Offers a semi-gloss finish with a subtle sheen, providing a balance between gloss and matte.
  • Matte:Produces a flat, non-reflective surface that reduces glare and emphasizes the texture of the paint.
  • Varnish:A clear, protective coating that adds durability, protects against UV rays, and enhances the colors of the painting.

Applying a Varnish or Sealant

To apply a varnish or sealant, follow these steps:

  1. Allow the painting to dry completely for several days or weeks.
  2. Choose a varnish or sealant specifically designed for acrylic paintings.
  3. Apply a thin, even coat using a soft brush or roller.
  4. Allow the first coat to dry before applying additional coats if desired.
  5. Once the varnish is dry, your painting will be protected and its appearance enhanced.


Step-by-step guide to acrylic painting
Step-by-step guide to acrylic painting

Acrylic painting, like any other art form, can present challenges. Identifying and addressing common problems can enhance your painting experience and lead to more satisfying results.

Mistakes and imperfections are inherent in the creative process. By understanding the causes of these issues and implementing appropriate solutions, you can transform them into opportunities for learning and artistic growth.

Common Problems and Solutions

  • Paint Drying Too Quickly:Acrylics are known for their fast drying time, which can be both an advantage and a challenge. To extend the working time, add a few drops of water or acrylic retarder to the paint.
  • Paint Cracking:This can occur when the paint is applied too thickly or when the canvas is not properly primed. To prevent cracking, apply thin layers of paint and allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. Use a gesso primer to create a stable surface for the paint.

  • Paint Peeling:This is often caused by poor adhesion between the paint and the canvas. To ensure proper adhesion, clean the canvas thoroughly before painting and apply a thin layer of gesso. Use high-quality acrylic paints and avoid overworking the paint.
  • Brush Strokes Visible:To minimize the appearance of brush strokes, use a soft brush and apply thin, even layers of paint. Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. Experiment with different brush sizes and techniques to create various textures and effects.

  • Colors Not Mixing Properly:Acrylics dry quickly, which can make it difficult to blend colors. To achieve smooth color transitions, mix the colors on a palette before applying them to the canvas. Use a wet brush or blending medium to create gradual transitions between hues.

Inspiration and Resources

Paintings beginners peinture acrylique paisajes artisticaly acrylics acryl flores google tutorials acrylmalerei gemälde staffeleien daisy tableaux einfache blumen nancymedina abstracto
Paintings beginners peinture acrylique paisajes artisticaly acrylics acryl flores google tutorials acrylmalerei gemälde staffeleien daisy tableaux einfache blumen nancymedina abstracto

Acrylic painting offers endless possibilities for creative expression. To ignite your inspiration, explore renowned artworks by masters like Gerhard Richter, Helen Frankenthaler, and David Hockney. Study their techniques, color choices, and compositions to gain insights into the boundless possibilities of this medium.

Online Communities and Forums

Connect with fellow artists and exchange ideas in vibrant online communities dedicated to acrylic painting. Platforms like DeviantArt,, and Reddit’s /r/AcrylicPainting offer a wealth of resources, tutorials, and a supportive environment where you can share your work and seek feedback.

These communities foster a sense of belonging and provide valuable opportunities for growth and inspiration.

Educational Resources

Enhance your acrylic painting skills with comprehensive online courses, workshops, and tutorials. Renowned institutions like the Royal Academy of Arts and Udemy offer structured programs that guide you through the fundamentals and advanced techniques. Seek out books by esteemed authors like John Pike, Max Turner, and L.A.

Ganim for in-depth knowledge and practical tips. These resources empower you to refine your craft and explore new artistic horizons.

Essential FAQs

What are the benefits of using acrylic paints?

Acrylic paints offer quick drying time, versatility, and durability, making them suitable for various surfaces and techniques.

How do I choose the right canvas for my acrylic painting?

Consider the size, texture, and type of canvas to suit your painting style and desired outcome.

What are some basic painting techniques for beginners?

Master brushstrokes, blending, and glazing to create different effects and textures in your paintings.

How can I protect my finished acrylic painting?

Apply a varnish or sealant to preserve the colors and protect the painting from environmental factors.

Where can I find inspiration and resources for acrylic painting?

Explore online communities, art books, and workshops to connect with other artists and enhance your skills.