Blending acrylic paint can be tricky. It’s not like watercolor or oil where you just mix the colors together on your palette and then apply them to the paper. Acrylic paint needs a little more finesse, but it can be done! The key is in how you blend the paints with your tools. Read this article to learn about blending acrylics using brushes, sponges, and other tools to create beautiful paintings that are unique to only you!
Basics in Blending Acrylic Paint
Blending is a great way to make your painting look more realistic. Blending helps the colors flow together seamlessly. It also makes them appear less bold and faded, which can be helpful if you are doing quick paintings or sketches with acrylics that aren’t meant to stand out too much.
The basic steps for blending paint are simple: mix paints using water, apply the color mixture with a brush in long strokes until blended into one solid color, then let dry completely before applying the next layer of paint (if necessary). However, there are actually some tricks behind it all! Keep reading this article for expert-level advice about how to blend acrylic paint like an artist so you get beautiful results every time!
The Consistency of Your Paint Matters
The first step to blending acrylic paint is finding the right consistency. This can be tricky because you don’t want your paints too watery, but also not too thick and paste-like either. The best way to determine the correct thickness of your paint mixture without having already worked on a painting or drawing is by testing it out beforehand with paper towel scraps!
Paint three swatches onto separate pieces of scrap paper: one should be very thin like water (almost see-through), another in-between as if you dipped your brush directly into the bottle, and another as thick as toothpaste. When they dry, look at each one closely and choose which appears most opaque and closest to what that color would actually look like painted on canvas or paper.
Brush Size Matters
One mistake you might have made when painting is using the wrong size brush to blend your paint.
It’s common for beginners to assume that they should just use a large flat or filbert-style brush because this seems like it would work best, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! The correct type of tool you need will depend on how much space there is between colors in your artwork and whether or not many layers are needed to get an opaque finish (versus transparent).
Smaller brushes work best for smaller areas with less space between colors (like if you’re using three primary colors to blend, such as red, yellow, and blue). However, when it comes to large spaces like sky or watercolor backgrounds where there’s a lot of distance in the painting, larger brush sizes make blending easier too!
The most important thing is that your tool must have bristles that are taut enough so they still hold their shape even after being dipped into paint multiple times.
Amount of Paint on Your Brush Matters
If you’re using a soft watercolor brush, it’s best to load it up with just enough paint so that there is some on the very tip of each bristle and none below that. If you don’t use enough then your painting will look streaky; however if too much color accumulates in one spot, this can also cause streaks (especially when blending with other colors).
When using these types of tools be sure not to follow through all the way when making each line, otherwise, it will be too dark and you won’t have the chance to blend.
If your brush is loaded up with paint already (or if you can see that there’s a lot of pigment on its surface), then continue adding more color in small amounts until it looks blended enough for your liking. Since soft watercolor brushes are so flexible they’re great for blending large areas but also good at creating precise lines depending on how much pressure is applied–so play around!
Supplies You Need to Blend Acrylic Paint
You don’t need much to blend acrylic paint. Just a few essential supplies will help you get started.
You’ll need at least two colors that are fairly close in hue for this project. For best results, choose one color lighter than the other since it will likely show through more strongly when blended with a darker shade.
The best part about using interactive paints for beginners is that all of these problems can easily be fixed without making everything look patchy which happens sometimes with regular alkyd paints.
Slow Drying Acrylics
When using very bright or vibrant colors in your artwork, it’s important to avoid laying down too much paint at once since this will create a thick coating rather than making any significant changes when you try blending.
To combat the problem of pigments sinking into previously applied layers and showing up as patches that don’t match surrounding areas (such as with skin tones), use slow-drying acrylics which won’t run together so easily–these are also good for working on large paintings because there is more time between each layer for adjusting things before they dry!
Read more about the best acrylic paints of 2021 in our comparison article.
You can try blending with any type of brush, but for best results, choose soft natural bristles that are not too expensive or your blender marks may be visible in the final piece. Some other suggested tools include sponges, paper towels, cotton swabs…the options are endless!
Some Helpful Brush Shapes for Blending Acrylic Paint
There are several different types of bristled tools you can use to effectively blend acrylic paints together without leaving streaks behind. It’s all about finding what works best for your style of artwork and the space you’re working in.
- “Filbert” or angled flat brushes are great for blending but work best when there’s a sharp division between colors, such as if your painting features diagonal lines going from one corner to another (such as tree branches). This tool also gets into tiny corners very well!
- Rounded tipped bristle brushes help get into tight spaces without leaving any harsh edges behind since it has tapered bristles at both ends which gradually become smaller toward the center. The smooth flow of paint makes this brush ideal for blending large areas with soft shapes like water, clouds, hillsides…etc. However, these types of tools tend to leave streaks too so they should only be used sparingly and in conjunction with other tools.
- Fan brushes are amazing for all-around blending purposes because they have long bristles which gradually taper to a point, so it’s perfect for smudging paint without removing too much color at once or creating any harsh lines. The way the fibers fan out allows them to easily blend larger areas with soft shapes like grasses and hair (for example). These work best when using many different colors within one space since you don’t need to worry about accidentally picking up one shade while trying to blend another!
- Stiff bristle brushes can be used in every situation but aren’t quite as effective as other types listed above because their tapered tips come together very quickly before reaching the paper surface–this means there could potentially be tiny gaps between bristles which will leave white lines in your artwork. However, these tools are still helpful for blending and work best when you need to cover a large surface area with just one or two colors (like if you’re working on an abstract painting).
You can use any palette you like. Wet palettes are great because they allow the paint to stay moist for much longer than just regular mixing cups or plates. They also have wells which makes it easier to mix colors in and keep things organized and neat looking on your table/easel/wherever else you’d be painting!
You can also try using paper plates or Styrofoam cups.
It is important to have a way of adding water easily during this project so keep your brush or sponge nearby. You can use any container but an old dish soap bottle works great because it has a small opening for just enough water without spilling too much at one time.
1. Blending Wet Paint with Wet Paint
This is by far the easiest and most common way to blend acrylic paint without using too many tools.
One thing we should mention though–the more watery your paints are the worse off they’ll be if left alone for too long before blending them with others since there won’t be enough dry pigment particles to hold onto any color once it gets soaked up so make sure everything has a nice thick consistency going on before trying anything else here or nothing will stick properly!
- Start out with two different colors which have been thoroughly mixed ahead of time (just make sure they’re still wet for this, obviously). Hold your brush at an angle that matches the surface you’ll be working on (so it’s easier to get down into any areas where there are only small amounts of paint) and sweep across in one direction using little pressure until both colors start showing up evenly.
- Continue blending by repeating the same motion over and over while varying how much overlap occurs between each swipe–the more overlap that happens with each pass then the more blended everything will look! It may take a few tries before getting used to what motions work best or produce desired results so don’t get frustrated if things seem too streaky right away. This is normal when learning something new!
- If you notice some lines forming from the bristles of your brush then try switching to a different tool and see if that fixes things up.
- Continue working in this fashion until all streaks are gone or achieve desired results.
2. Trying the Wet-on-Dry Paint Method
This method is a lot more difficult to control but can produce some really cool effects if done correctly! Learning how to blend dry acrylic paint is also helpful because you don’t have to worry about your paint drying out too much before blending.
- Start with one color which has been thoroughly mixed ahead of time, just like usual (and it will need to be dry for this). Try smudging around the surface in different directions using little pressure until things start looking blended enough. You’ll want lots of overlap between each pass here so make sure there isn’t any white showing up at all along the edges where two colors meet since that means they aren’t intermingling properly yet and are still very separate from one another–the key here is seamless transitions!
- Keep working until all harsh lines are gone or achieve desired results.
- Now comes the fun part! Take your second wet color and try smudging it on top of everything else, making sure to overlap with where you already smudged around before so colors start mixing together properly instead of getting muddled up too much.
- Keep repeating this process over again but make sure there’s no white showing at any points since that will ruin whatever effects were created by blending things earlier! The more careful you are here then the better off you’ll be in terms of how smooth everything looks eventually.
- Start off by getting your brush nice and loaded up with one wet color, making sure it’s covering all of the bristles to avoid any light spots from showing up.
- Now do the same thing only this time using a different color so there are two different colors resting on top of each other! Try not to mix them together too much yet since you want some small differences between where everything overlaps if possible–just keep things relatively close for now while still leaving plenty of white showing through in certain areas.
- Continue doing this until desired results are achieved or lines begin appearing which should be avoided at all costs! This will definitely take more practice than just learning how to blend single layers but can produce really cool effects depending on the colors used so it’s definitely worth experimenting with!
- Keep repeating this process until desired results are achieved.
Blending Acrylic Paint Tips
- Try out different types of canvases to see which one works best for your needs–some are designed specifically with blending in mind while others may have a rougher or more uneven appearance that can be blended away effectively before starting on any actual paint strokes. This part just takes some experimentation until you find what’s right for your style!
- It’s best to use just two or three colors maximum per space. Using just three primary colors makes life easier since mixing secondary hues isn’t necessary, plus this reduces the amount of time spent fussing over details while painting.
- It’s important to go into every space with the right amount of pigment on your brush.
- Use a large variety of paintbrushes so there’s less worry about any lines appearing–this can also help speed up blending overall since it makes each swipe far easier than just having one brush with bristles that are too stiff!
Once everything is nice and blended together to your satisfaction, let it dry for a couple of hours before using the final product however you see fit without worrying about anything going wrong or painting mishaps ruining all of your hard work!
To learn more painting techniques read our How to Do Impasto Painting Guide.
Blending is a great way to add subtle texture/atmosphere changes into your paintings without having to worry about working with multiple brushes for different tasks or anything like that. It takes time and practice but is definitely worth figuring out how to complete successfully in order to produce amazing artwork.
Keep practicing with different techniques and enjoy the process of learning! There’s no one right way but most people will naturally favor certain methods over others depending on what they’re used to working with, so don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work perfectly at first since it may eventually become easier once you’ve gotten more practice.