Color Washing Technique for Acrylic Paints

Color Washing Technique for Acrylic Paints

This technique is very often confused with glazing, and in many ways it is the same, so it is easy to understand why color washing and gazing is considered to be more or less the same by many painters. The technique is mostly used when painting with watercolors, but it does work just as well with acrylic painting.

The basics of color washing is the same as in glazing, you start out by diluting your paint to a very thin state, often a 10 to 1 water-paint ratio. However in glazing you can use different types of thinners to dilute your paint and when glazing you are looking to get an even color on the coating.

However, in color washing, you only use water to thin the acrylic paint, and you strive to add a layer of paint that varies in thickness and hue, most parts of the wash will be more or less thin and translucent, while some parts might stand out and form contours by themselves.

I often use color washing when painting grey or blue skies and sunsets, as this technique often gives these types of scenarios a more natural look.

Another acrylic painting technique I like to use and which is a part of color washing, is to add a very thick film of water/paint on the canvas and make the paint wash run across the canvas either by blowing the paint or simply by tilting the canvas. In the video on this page you will see an instruction on how this technique works.

Washing is not only used in acrylic painting, but is also widely used for painting living room walls etc. The randomness and the wide range of shade and colors really make whatever you paint come to life. When painting walls you might want to use a sponge or something similar to make the effect.

For acrylic painting, it would be best using round brushes as they are both softer and can hold more water and paint better than stiff brushes. When I do pop-art paintings, I often like to add larger drops or small pools of color washing onto the canvas and simply blow the mixture around the canvas. But doing this with 5-9 different colors and blowing the paint around in a way that creates some sort of image, then the outcome will often be very powerful in its colors as many shapes and hues the painting holds. To check out the best acrylic paints, go to Review Gurus. 

Acrylic paints come in a range of consistencies and textures that offers you the versatility to choose whatever style of painting you prefer, anything from the transparency and delicacy of watercolors through to the thick flowing textures of oils.

Acrylic paints come in both tubes and jars. The tube paint “heavy body acrylic paint” has a thick consistency and can be used directly from the tube or thinned down with water, whereas the paint in the jars “thin body acrylic paint” has already been diluted to a flowing consistency. If you are working on very large surfaces or want to paint in a watercolor-style then using the acrylics in jars would be the best choice.

In addition to consistency, acrylic paints also come in different grades, both student-grade and artist-grade acrylic paints.

The cheaper student-grade paints contain less color pigment and are not as colorfast as the top quality pigments contained in the artist grade paints. The cheap paints will usually have either ‘student’ or ‘hue’ on the label.

The artist grade paints are much stronger in color, have better coverage, are easier to mix and will last a lot longer than the student-grade paints.

Even if you are a total beginner it is worth the extra investment to add at least some artist-grade paints to your palette.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of colors available when you go to buy your paints. Most of the colors are just variations of what you can create yourself using just the basic primary colors.

Start out with a just a basic palette of colors (4-7 primary colors plus white), then once you gain some experience and your confidence grows, you can gradually add other colors.

For a seven color palette plus white, you will need: cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, vermillion, burnt umber, burnt sienna and titanium white. This is a very basic palette and you may find it won’t mix all the color combinations you may want, but is a place to start.

There are also several beginner acrylic paint sets on the market that are of good artist quality and contain more than enough colors to get off with a good start. If you become serious about painting with acrylics then you might find it easier to buy your paints online as often your local store won’t carry the full range of colors. Some paints contain poisonous pigments such as cadmium, so just remember not to put paint brushes in your mouth and keep them away from children and pets.

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