Page 1

Getting Started with Acrylic Pouring A beginners’ quick-start guide to success Welcome to the addictive and absorbing hobby of acrylic pouring, painting and swiping. I’m so delighted you’ve joined all of us fellow painting addicts. You may be brand new and yet to make your first painting, or maybe have created a few and are looking for more information to expand your skills. Either way this quick-start guide is for you. It’s not intended to be a teach you everything fully comprehensive guide to everything you will ever want to know about acrylic pouring. Much of that has to come from your own practice, experiments and experience, but if you are looking to create your first cells, I’m hoping I have a recipe that is going to work for you.

Where to get more information and your questions answered You are sure to have more questions as you develop your skills and try new techniques. Join in the chat, the swaps, the challenges and the Q&A in the Facebook Group. Read the articles on the Acrylic Pouring blog Sign up to the email list on Acrylic Pouring to get a weekly email with new articles. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and hit the little ‘bell’ icon to be notified of new videos. Get your painting supplies in the Acrylic Pouring Store (US only)

Let’s get started!

Safety considerations

Before going any further, let’s go through ‘the small print’. In this guide, you will come across my own experiences and experiments with acrylic paints, additives, mediums and techniques. I am not a scientist nor any kind of safety expert – just a regular painter for fun just like you. I’ve read the safety precautions and information on paint and additives and satisfied myself about their usage and what risks there might be. However, I urge you to use your own common sense, do your own research and carry out your own risk assessment in using any of the materials, products and techniques covered in this guide. You can be sure that when a company was developing craft acrylic paints for home use, no one said let’s see what will happen if we heat them with a chef’s torch. Or let’s see what will happen if we spray a silicone lubricant into these paints. It was not considered part of the standard usage of those products when they were developed, and they have not been tested for use in this way. Therefore, no safety information is available. Please take your own safety precautions especially with regard to using paints and additives in a well-ventilated area. If you plan to use a torch, always make sure to have fire safety equipment on hand such as a large damp towel, fire blanket or even a fire extinguisher. Take care not to burn yourself, your painting, your table, or your house down! Keep silicone sprays away from children. Don’t allow them to use the torch. Always make sure they are painting under adult supervision. You know, common sense rules should apply for their safety. Please, I’m not kidding about this stuff. Only use those products and techniques you feel comfortable with. If the fumes from any of these products make you feel unwell, or you get a rash on your skin, trouble breathing, headaches etc, please discontinue and seek medical advice. Thank you.

A note about the links in this ebook External links - You may get a pop up box if you click on any of the links in this eBook, asking if you want to continue to a site outside of the book. You can safely click yes, and be redirected to an external site with recommended products, videos, extra reading or more information.

Product links - Links to products are provided for the Acrylic Pouring Store, which checks out via for the US readers. An international link is also provided. This takes you to and to the Getting Started international page. It has behind the scenes coding that tries to send you to a product on your own local Amazon where one exists. However, it does have its limitations and will only send you to your local site where it finds the same product. If the same product is not found locally, you will be redirected to the US Amazon so you can at least see the product being recommended in more detail. You may see each product several times on the Kit page, and if one link does not redirect for you, one of the others might. I’m sorry its not possible to provide personalised links to all countries. If you are in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy or Spain, you can use the international links. There are no direct materials links for other countries. Please do come and chat in the Facebook chat group if you need recommendations for where products can be found for other countries.

Acrylic pouring terms and definitions

Abstract – art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures. Acetate – a clear sheet of flexible plastic often used to swipe one color over another to create cells in the paint. Archival quality – Refers to materials that meet certain criteria for permanence such as lignin-free, pH neutral, alkaline-buffered, stable in light, etc. Artist quality – the best quality (and highest priced) paints you can buy. Professional quality paint, with high pigment concentrations and no fillers. Prices range based on the cost of acquiring the pigments themselves, with the natural earth-derived mineral pigments being the most expensive ASTM – The American Society for Testing and Materials. An independent standard for certain paint qualities, adopted by most manufacturers. Binder – this is the substance that ‘binds’ a dry pigment together. For acrylic paints, Acrylic Polymer is the binder. Bleeding – describes the action of one color running into another. Canvas – cloth used over a stretcher frame or glued onto a cardboard to paint on. Can also be used as the term for the complete unit of the canvas fabric and the wooden frame. Canvas board / canvas panel – a heavy cardboard with a cotton or linen canvas glued to one side, with the edges folded over to the back. Sometimes also called a canvas panel. Canvas weight – this refers to how thick the canvas is, usually labelled in ounces, 8oz, 10oz, 12oz. Cells – a goal of many acrylic pour painters, to create movement in their paint layers where the paint on top separates and allows colors underneath to show through, usually in round or organic shapes.

Color wheel – a circle with different colored sectors used to show the relationship between colors. Complimentary Color – The color that is directly across from a color on the color wheel. Complimentary colors make each other seem more saturated and bright when placed side by side. They can also be mixed together in various amounts to unsaturate each other. (e.g. red and green, purple and yellow, orange and blue). Consistency – the thickness or thinness of paint, basically how the paint ‘feels’ on the brush or canvas. Dimethicone – a skin-safe form of silicone oil, often added to acrylic pour paintings to assist in the creation of cells. Dip / dipping – a form of acrylic pour or flow painting where the surface is dipped into the mixed paint to create interesting designs and cells. This is often used as a way of creating art from paint that spilled over the edges of other paintings, to avoid waste. Dirty pour – a technique where all colors are added to a cup or container at the same time and then poured together to create an acrylic pouring paint effect. A flip cup (see below) is also a form of dirty pour. Easel – a wooden or metal stand for holding a canvas, a panel or a drawing-board. Flip cup – a form of dirty pour (see above). All colors are added to a cup or container, the canvas or surface is placed painting side down onto the cup and then the two together are turned upside down without the paint escaping. The cup is lifted allowing the paint to escape and flow across the canvas. Funnel pour – paint colors are added to a funnel with the end blocked. Once all paints are added, the end of the funnel is released and the paints flow onto the canvas as the funnel is moved to create the design. Gel medium – a semi-solid material that you can mix in with your acrylics to drastically change the texture, consistency and can make your paint go a lot further. Gesso – Used to prime the surface of the canvas and seal it so you can paint on it. It is a combination of chalk (Calcium Carbonate) and an acrylic polymer medium latex. Gesso increases the tooth of the surface, giving the paint something to grab onto and stick. Usually white in color, as Titanium White is included in the mixture. (This is why all stretched, primed canvases are usually pure white). Gloss medium – medium that you can mix in with your acrylic paints to add shine to the paint or use to varnish the surface. Intensity – The purity and brightness of a color. Also called saturation. Interference paint – when viewed from different angles the paint appears differently. Painted over a dark color you can see one color, paint the same color over a light background and you see the complimentary color. Add a very small amount of black to Interference colors to produce deeper, richer, opalescent effects. Lightfast – Resistant to fading or other changes due to light. Matte – flat, nonglossy; having a dull surface appearance. Variant spelling – matt.

Medium – the method in which an artist works; oil-painting, gouache, pastel, pen and ink, etching, collage, sculpture, etc., are all media for his expression. Mixed media – one or more medium used in the same picture. Opaque – a pigment that doesn’t allow light through, as opposed to “Transparent” which is the opposite, and does let light through. Palette – the surface that you mix colors onto, this can vary from wooden palettes to glass, to tear-off paper palette. Acrylics, due to their fast drying nature, benefit from a stay-wet palette. Can also be used to describe the range of colors you are working with, i.e. I’m working with a palette of earth tones in my next work. Permanence – The ability of the paint to retain its original colors through time. Most acrylic paint colors have high permanence except for wild synthetic colors like neons. Pigment – the raw material that all paints are made from. Natural or synthetic materials are finely ground and mixed with a liquid binder into a paste to make paint. Pouring medium – an additive to your acrylic paint, designed to (usually) keep the paint wet and workable longer, and promote it to better flow and move. It may or may not ‘thin’ the paint depending on the product used. Examples might be the Liquitex Pouring Medium, Floetrol, GAC 800 or PVA Glue. Puddle pour – a technique where acrylic paints are layered on top of each other in several ‘puddles’ before the canvas is tipped to create interesting designs in the flowing paints. Silicone oil – an oil product added to the paint to encourage the formation of cells. Often heat will be applied with a chef’s torch to create additional cells once the design has been created. Stretcher Bar – the wooden frames that raw canvas is stretched around. Swipe / swiping – the process of dragging acrylic colors across each other to mix them and encourage the formation of cells. Torching – where heat is quickly flashed across the surface of a painting while the paint is still wet. This is often carried out using a chef’s torch and serves two purposes. It will pop any air bubbles in the paint and encourage the formation of cells. Transparent – The color is slightly see-through, allowing light to penetrate it. When applied over other layers, some of the layers underneath will show through and will be visually mixed by our eyes with the transparent layer on top. (E.g. laying transparent yellow over a blue layer will visually read as green to us). This is the opposite of an opaque color. Varnish – generally, a more or less transparent film-forming liquid that dries into a solid film. Yupo paper – an alternative to traditional art papers. It’s a synthetic paper, machine-made in the USA of 100% polypropylene. It is waterproof, stain-resistant, and extremely strong and durable.

Tools and equipment you will need You can get started with a minimum of equipment and just ‘give it a try’ however you might be disappointed with the results, and you will have wasted valuable paints and canvases, and not learned much in the process. It’s better to invest a little money in your new hobby and get the right equipment at the start, to get the best results. But that being said, if your budget doesn’t stretch to all these supplies, you can still enjoy fluid acrylic painting just using paint and water.

I recommend these supplies as a minimum: Something to paint on You can get started with small canvases for practice. The most popular sizes tend to be 8 x 10 inches or 10 x 10 inches. You can save money by getting canvas boards rather than stretched canvases but I don’t recommend them. They have a tendency to warp and bend while the paint is drying and your painting can move while they dry, breaking up any cells and spoiling your design. Better to invest in an economy canvas pack. If you are practicing and create a painting you don’t like, then you can wipe and scrape off most of the paint residue and then wash and dry the canvas so you can use it again. If you have dried a painting and then decide you don’t like it, you should ideally leave the canvas a month to fully cure, then give it a coat of gesso, before attempting to re-pour over it. Reusing canvases can sometimes create cracking in the new painting if the paint of the original layer softens, so keep your fingers crossed, but it is certainly worth trying. I recommend these sort of canvases to get you started (Click the links to find the recommended products):

USA – Economy canvas packs International – via Kit to your local amazon where available

Mixing your paints OK so you have your basic supplies ready. First thing you need to do is mix some paints. We won’t get too technical here, but it’s important that your paints all have a similar ‘flow’ to them, so if you added a dab of paint of each color on a card and tilted it, all paints should run down the card at a similar speed. You don’t want to have some paints thick and not moving, some all thin and runny and some that are somewhere in the middle. If your paints are too thick, you will struggle to get cells because the paints will be too thick and heavy to interact well and you won’t get one paint able to move up through another color to get those multi-colored cells you might be looking for. On the other hand, if your paints are too thin and runny, when you mix them in a cup or tilt them on the canvas, they will all run into each other, the colors will mix and you will get a muddy dark result which is not pleasant. I know, I did plenty like this when I first started. Describing in words the right consistency is difficult. I have heard it described as: • • • •

Pancake syrup Melted ice cream Pouring cream Melted butter

Let’s see if we can mix up some of these craft paints and get them to about the right consistency for a pour. Because we are working in small measurements here, I am going to work in weight by grams as they are the most accurate. Small variations really aren’t going to make a huge difference, but if you added double the water for example or half the paint, you would of course expect to get different results. This recipe is scalable so if you want twice as much paint you simply double all of the numbers. However when mixing large amounts, add water with caution as things tend to change when you scale up a lot, such as when you cook 4 large potatoes in a microwave. It doesn’t always take 4 times the cooking time as a single potato.

How much paint do I need? When you start out, it’s better to mix a little more than you need because it will mean you don’t need to tip your canvas as much to get full coverage, and this can help keep any cells. This handy resin calculator should give you an idea of how much paint – but remember this is for resin so is only a guide. Include the sides of your canvas in the calculation and include an extra 20-25% or so to allow for the paint that flows over the sides. I’ll be interested in your feedback if you use this – did it work out for you?

Setting a level surface Whatever way you chose to paint, and whatever surface you use, it’s important to level the surface. You might create a gorgeous painting, but these paints are designed to move and flow – if your surface isn’t level you can come back an hour later and find half your painting dripped off the side!

CLICK HERE TO PLAY THE VIDEO Invest in a set of levels to make sure your paint is going to remain where you want it! Get mini levels here - USA



What sort of painting technique do you want to use? Now you have your equipment and materials on hand and your paints mixed, it’s time to paint! We will cover 4 basic ways to create a poured painting: • • • •

A regular pour A dirty pour A flip cup A swipe

What is a ‘regular’ acrylic pour? For your first time pouring, you might just feel most comfortable laying paints out on your canvas in dots, rows, stripes or blocks and tilting your canvas to move the paints around, overlap them, mix them, and create an interesting composition that you like. Get used to the feel of the paint coming from the cup, practice pouring fast or slow, thin or thick lines of paint. Get used to the way the paint moves on the canvas, how fast, how much to tilt, and so on. It’s a good simple introduction and an important learning step as you move on to other techniques.

It can also produce some really striking results. I recently did this regular pour using stripes of paint added in rows across the canvas and then tilted to make them move and soften. I also added in lots of metallic and glitter paints and created something that really sparkles – but as you can see, this doesn’t typically produce cells.

How long does it take the paint to dry? How long your painting takes to fully dry depends on a number of factors.

How thick was the paint? If your paint was spread thinner on your painting surface then it will dry quicker than if a thicker layer of paint was left.

What surface are you using? A canvas allows air to flow on all sides and will dry quicker than a wooden panel which may be slightly porous, which in turn will dry quicker than something like a ceramic tile.

How big is the painting? A smaller painting will dry quicker than a larger painting. Drying takes place from the outside in, so a larger painting takes longer to dry all the way through to the middle than a smaller one.

What do you mean by ‘dry’? o Do you mean dry enough to move? In that case your painting should be OK to move in about 24 hours if it’s an average size. o Dry enough to hold it – depends on the factors above. Minimum 48 hours to be sure. o Dry enough to safely touch it in the middle? Depends again – maybe 2-4 days. o Dry enough to varnish – again depending on the factors above – I suggest leaving it at least 7 days. I leave my ceramic tiles at least 10 days before I varnish them. o Dry enough to fully cure all the way through – 30 days +

When your painting is dry, it will usually look uniform all over, with no areas appearing thicker or glossier than others. If in doubt – don’t touch it! Your paints will dry on the surface before they dry all the way through. Don’t put your finger in there to see if it is dry- if you are in any doubt then it most likely is not dry all the way through. Better to be patient and leave it a bit longer than to ruin it with a big finger print in the middle. If you want to see what happens when you try to varnish before it’s dry all the way through – I really spoiled this one that I loved ☹

Thank you for reading this preview. The full book contains videos and links, and lots more tips and info. Get your copy at

Getting started with acrylic pouring preview  

Everything the beginner needs to know to get success in the totally fascinating and addictive style of painting known as acrylic pouring. P...

Getting started with acrylic pouring preview  

Everything the beginner needs to know to get success in the totally fascinating and addictive style of painting known as acrylic pouring. P...