February 24, 2024


Arts Fanatics

Art Terms Explained: Acrylic Painting


As artists, we come upon a extensive amount of terminology whilst looking into, reading through and speaking about our elements. In this instalment of the ‘Art Phrases Explained’ sequence, we explain the meaning of certain generally-employed words and phrases, phrases and conditions in the context of acrylic painting.


Acrylic Brushes

Brushes for acrylic portray arrive in distinctive ranges of stiffness that allow for different levels of manage with various thicknesses of paint. Rigid brushes are firm and springy. Comparable to a palette knife, they are ideal suited to textured and impasto approaches making use of large system paint, as opposed to wonderful element. They could be created of hog bristle or artificial fibres. Most oil and acrylic painting brushes could be thought of medium-texture brushes, which means they are stiff sufficient to depart an imprint in large bodied paints, but nevertheless soft ample for mixing approaches. They give very good management and a smaller dimensions brush is effective effectively for aspects. Delicate-haired brushes are perfectly-suited to mixing methods. To obtain handle of your marks with a delicate brush, you want to use far more fluid paints. Smooth hair brushes include watercolour brushes, sable brushes (a type of all-natural-hair brush) and synthetic brushes.



Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is created of pigment suspended in a polymer resin. It is thinned and cleaned up with h2o and when the drinking water has evaporated it dries water-proof. When utilised thickly it can resemble oil paint, when made use of in a fluid manner it can resemble watercolour. But it also lets quite a few techniques that are one of a kind to it many thanks to its rapid-drying properties and due to the fact it can adhere to numerous surfaces. It is typically used in what is called Mixed Media Portray because the paint can be utilised as a collage glue.

It is offered in a range of formats from thick to really fluid (see viscosity). There are a vast variety of mediums available to go together with the paint, to modify its attributes, so acrylic paint is really versatile.

There is also a form of acrylic paint that is named MSA Acrylic. It is not incredibly common, but it is great to be mindful of it to prevent confusion. Several pioneers of acrylic painting in the 1950s made use of a solvent-based acrylic paint.


Acrylic Gouache

Acrylic gouache is opaque, matte acrylic paint. The opacity indicates it has fantastic coverage, the acrylic binder usually means it is water resistant when dry, so you can overpaint without the need of smearing and the matte finish offers a velvety surface area. Like common acrylic, it also sticks to a lot of surfaces with terrific adhesion. It is identified as gouache due to the fact it has a identical search and coverage to traditional gouache, but it is various simply because it is waterproof right after it is dry and classic gouache is not. The exception would be Lascaux Acrylic Gouache which is considerably re-wettable. Acrylic gouache presents a flat, matt complete with small brush strokes, and is popular for these explanations with illustrators.


Acrylic gouache: soft body acrylic that dries matte

Acrylic gouache: delicate human body acrylic that dries matt


Acrylic Ink

Acrylic Inks are created from tremendous-good pigments suspended in an acrylic emulsion as skinny as water. They are the most fluid of the acrylic paints, and can be very rigorous in colour. Acrylic Inks dry to a clean, flat surface area with a satin sheen.


Acrylic Markers

Quick-drying and vivid marker pens filled with acrylic paint. They are brilliant, bold and excellent for combining drawing and mark-creating techniques with painting. They will adhere to most surfaces and show up brightly on colored backgrounds.


Acrylic Spray Paint

Acrylic Spray Paints are acrylic paint in a sprayable structure. They appear in metallic cans, and some of them comprise solvent (for these it is sensible to dress in a fume mask or spray only in effectively ventilated areas). The reduced force handling process presented by some ranges of acrylic spray paints, lets you to regulate your apps of color a lot more carefully You can each draw wonderful strains as nicely as broad strokes of color by implementing different stress whilst holding down the button on the top of the can. There are also water-primarily based spray paints. These choose longer to dry than solvent-primarily based paints but can be utilised indoors safely.


Artist Grade

Artist Grade acrylic paints may use the same pigments as qualified paints, but in much more cost-effective proportions. This is usually attained by growing the total of binder in each color. They are even now of substantial-quality, and are suited to expert artists.



All paint is created from two key substances: pigment and a binder which is some thing to hold the pigment and sort a movie when it dries. Acrylic paint is designed using an acrylic polymer for the binder that types a film right after the water has evaporated. Yet another term for binder is car or truck.



The thickness of acrylic is referred to as ‘body’. Acrylic paint has formats of various thicknesses. The overall body of the paint can be modified by incorporating thick gels to make it thicker or h2o or thinner mediums to make it additional fluid.


Right hand image, from top to bottom: Golden Heavy Body, Golden Open Acrylic Medium Body, Liquitex Soft Body, Golden Fluid, Golden High Flow, Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink, Turner Acrylic Gouache, Molotow Acrylic Marker pen, Montana Gold Spray Paint

Appropriate hand image, from prime to base: Golden Weighty Body, Golden Open Acrylic Medium Entire body, Liquitex Soft Physique, Golden Fluid, Golden Higher Flow, Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink, Turner Acrylic Gouache, Molotow Acrylic Marker pen, Montana Gold Spray Paint


Brush Cleaning soap

Brush soap is a variety of cleanser that is especially formulated with organic oils to moisturise and cleanse brush hairs, so that your brushes continue to keep their form and hairs for more time. Discover out more in our post How to Clean Your Oil and Acrylic Brushes and How to Use Jackson’s Marseille Soap


Canvas Pads

Canvas sheets in the structure of a sketchpad. The canvas can be torn off from the pad after the portray is full.


Canvas Panels

A portray surface area produced from a sheet of primed cotton glued on to a rigid board. Artists can put together their personal canvas panels or invest in them prepared-built.


Catalyst Resources

‘Catalyst tools’ are utensils for painting. They occur in two formats: silicone wedges or a silicone paddle on the finish of a adhere. They are minimize with different groove designs to permit you to drag them as a result of the paint and generate designs of lines.



Acrylic paint dries in two stages: evaporation which is quickly and curing which takes a couple days to a few months lengthier dependent on the thickness of the paint layer. Curing is the interval exactly where all the other elements in the paint movie depart. There are up to 14 components in acrylic paint. Other than the pigment, polymer resin and drinking water, they can contain defoamers, anti-fungal agents, solvents that aid stabilise the paint during any freezing and thaw cycle, and far more. The curing period is when the paint will become firmly adhered to the surface area, the gels become very clear and not cloudy, the paint gets to be as really hard as it will get, and the paint will not reabsorb drinking water. Quite a few artists are not knowledgeable of this next part of the drying process and so they, for example, could varnish the portray way too before long and find that the painting will become white and cloudy beneath the varnish mainly because the other risky ingredients simply cannot leave and the paint film is however absorbent and the drinking water from the varnish has been absorbed by the paint..



‘Filbert’ refers to a sort of flat brush that is rounded into an oval condition at the idea. It is a versatile staple brush for both equally oil and acrylic portray. Other brush styles include round, flat, vivid, mottler, enthusiast and far more. See extra in our posting Understanding Brush Designs Names, Hair and Programs


Procryl Synthetic Brush Fibre Close Up

Jackson’s Procryl Brushes – Obtainable in: Mottler, Vibrant, Lengthy Flat, Filbert and Pointed Round



The word stream refers to how cellular the paint is, and how easily it transfers from the brush to the paper or floor. Mediums can be additional to alter move.


Fluid Paints

Fluid paints are supplied in a bottle and have a texture like double product. While they are thinner than some of the other types of acrylic paint, this does not always signify they have a lower pigment load, and continue to offer you large color strength. Fluid paints flow continually from a brush, reducing visible brush strokes in a portray. They can be poured or dripped on to the floor for vivid puddles of colour, or they can be utilised for extra exact tactics, these kinds of as glazing.


Gesso (Acrylic Gesso)

A kind of acrylic primer, that replicates the traits of ‘traditional gesso’, a mixture of French chalk or whiting and rabbit skin glue. Wonderful out far more in our post Measurement, Primer, Gesso and Ground Described



The application of a thin layer of translucent paint over a previous layer to modify the colour rather, somewhat than masking above it fully.


Large Human body Paints

Heavy System paints are acrylic paints with the thickest consistency. They are the most preferred and have a buttery texture, earning them the closest to oil paints. Major human body paints hold their form as they are squeezed from the tube, nonetheless, like all other acrylics, can be designed much more fluid by mixing with water. The moist paint can be squeezed out of these tubes onto your palette for mixing or even right on to the painting surface that you are operating on for thick, expressive marks (see impasto).


Heavy body paint: medium - thick applications of paint / impasto techniques

Hefty body paint: medium – thick programs of paint/impasto techniques



A expression to describe paint that has been used thickly, typically straight from the tube or with a medium included to thicken it.


Interactive Acrylics

Ordinarily, at the time dry, common acrylic paints can not be re-wetted. Nonetheless ‘Interactive Acrylics’ provide a remedy to this. They are just like typical acrylic speedy-drying artist high quality paints, on the other hand, they include a unique ‘unlocking formula’. This is a liquid that re-wets dried interactive acrylic and slows drying if a couple drops are extra to the paint though nonetheless damp. A Speedy Medium/Fixer is applied to seal the layer of paint once the painting is fully completed. This suggests the paint will no extended be re-wettable.



An additive that is mixed with paint in buy to lengthen the colour or alter some of its homes this kind of as regularity, texture, transparency or movement.


Mixed Media Painting

An acrylic painting technique that takes advantage of paints, mediums, pattern creating tools to increase impressions, and collaged elements.


Organic Hair Brushes

Organic hair brushes are manufactured making use of animal hair, such as sable or squirrel. The substitute would be synthetic brushes.


Open up Paints

‘Open paints’ are made to dry quite little by little, earning it simple to paint damp-into-damp and blend color on the surface area of your painting. They are intended to mimic oil paint as considerably as feasible, assumed they are normally comfortable entire body.


Palette Knife

A palette knife is a blunt tool employed for mixing or implementing paint, with a flexible metal blade. Plastic palette knives are also readily available. They can also be referred to as a portray knife and can have a straight take care of or an offset ‘crank’ take care of.



A pigment is finely floor colour produced either in a laboratory or from the natural way coloured rocks. When merged with the synthetic resin binder it will make acrylic paint.



Pour Painting

This refers to a portray strategy employing fluid acrylic paints or inks, typically with the addition of a pouring medium, and pouring them specifically onto the portray. The flowing outcomes are summary, even though there are a range of approaches within the system to harness and regulate the paint to realize unique styles and effects. See our report Acrylic Pour Portray With Schmincke Pouring Medium and Inks for inspiration.



A ‘Primer’ is a surfacing materials made use of to coat a area to get it completely ready for paint software. It is a glue that sticks well to your floor, better than your paint would. It acts as a intermediary amongst the floor and the paint which is applied more than the leading, so that your paint is very well adhered.


Professional Grade

You may possibly see ‘Professional Grade’ written on the tubes of paints that are of the finest high quality. They have the greatest quality pigments and resins and the tubes will contain the the best possible ratio of pigment to binder to make sure the very best feasible performance.


Ready-built Canvases

Canvas is a preferred selection for an acrylic portray floor. Completely ready-created canvases appear primed and stretched onto picket frames, so that the artist does not have to have to stretch or key it themselves.




Tender Entire body Paints

Comfortable human body paints are thinner than hefty body paints. They resemble yoghurt in consistency, and can effortlessly be combined with mediums or be employed on their possess with easy and responsive dealing with.


Keep Soaked Palettes

Acrylic paints dry promptly, meaning they can typically dry on your palette prior to you have completed employing them for your painting. A ‘Stay Wet’ palette delivers a remedy to this, and is composed of a tray which you pour water on and then area a special sheet around the major. The dampness stops the paint from drying and hence enables you to get the job done with your paint for extended.


College student Quality

Acrylic paints labelled as ‘student grade’ have the least expensive pigment to binder ratio. Fillers and mediums are utilized to increase the pigments and insert bulk, which means the university student equivalents of experienced colours are usually much more clear and the colors can surface significantly less solid. They are most suited for novices as well as learners and professionals on a spending budget.


Synthetic Brushes

Artificial brushes are an very affordable and really hard-donning option to Pure Hair Brushes. They are built working with synthetic components, as opposed to animal hair.


Tear off palettes

A sort of palette in the kind of personal sheets of waxy papers glued together into a pad. You mix your colors on the leading sheet, and can just tear it absent and dispose of it afterwards. Tear off palettes clear away the requirement to clean up a messy palette at the finish of a portray session.



The measure of how a great deal gentle is ready to go via an used paint and interact with the area beneath. Clear paints seem much more luminous on a white aid since they permit a larger sized proportion of mild to strike the surface they’re laying on. Opaque paints block this reflection from transpiring, and can be applied to go over levels of color beneath. Acrylic paints will be much more opaque when applied right from the tube. The transparency of them can be elevated with the addition of drinking water.



Varnish for acrylic paintings is a very clear coating applied on leading of a concluded painting, designed to protect from scratches, give a difficult floor due to the fact acrylic is gentle and porous, and in some situations defense from the fading effects of UV gentle. Artist top quality varnish is constantly removable. Varnish can be applied to change the remaining sheen of a portray by picking out matt, satin or gloss. Varnish for acrylic paintings arrives in a couple formats – for all of them you need to assure the painting is completely dry and cured, and that the surface is free of charge of dust. Spray varnish is speedy and straightforward to use but calls for superior ventilation and you will need to just take care to get even protection. It is particularly useful for remarkably textured paintings wherever varnish utilized with a brush may possibly pool in the low spots. Varnish can also occur in a bottle or a tin to be used with a brush. Acrylic varnish can be drinking water-dependent or solvent-dependent. MSA (Mineral Spirit Acrylic) varnish provides a more durable layer than water-dependent acrylic varnish and requires to be cleaned/thinned with solvents, whilst it is even now acrylic centered.



The total of thickness or fluidity a paint has – higher viscosity is a thick paint and lower viscosity is a fluid paint. Occasionally identified as consistency. Acrylic paint is built in a array of thicknesses which can be grouped into 4: major system, soft physique, fluid, and ink. Every has the exact quantity of pigment, just various amounts of thickeners. See our Dairy Scale of Paint Viscosities.



Damp-on-wet is a portray system in which levels of wet paint are applied to formerly utilized levels of paint that have not yet dried and are nevertheless wet. This can be made use of for mixing strategies and mixing colors directly on the floor.



Even further Reading

Acrylic Portray for Beginners – What You Have to have to Get Started off

Artwork Phrases Spelled out: Watercolour Painting

Artwork Terms Explained: Oil Portray

Almost everything You Need to have to Know About Acrylic Painting Paper




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