Acrylic Painting for Beginners Step by Step Guide

Acrylic Painting for Beginners Step by Step Guide

Learning a new craft is fun and exciting. As an acrylic painting beginner, you will need to constantly make time and practice learning new things properly.

There are bound to be errors or mistakes in between, but eventually, you will grow to become a professional. Most successful artists started as newbies and gradually developed their skills to become pros.

Acrylic art is beautiful and very rewarding. 

You will appreciate what you have created with your hands, and with the proper guidance, you can display your work feeling confident.

We have compiled a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to work with acrylic paint as a beginner seamlessly. Follow this guide, and you will be on your journey to becoming a successful artist.

acrylic painting for beginners step by step

What Is Acrylic Paint? 

Before you learn how to use acrylic paint, we will discuss its characteristics and what makes it stand out from other painting materials. Acrylic paints are water-soluble, and the primary ingredient is a polymer material. Nevertheless, acrylic may be water-soluble and easily washed off with water.

However, when the acrylic material dries up, it becomes water-resistant. One of the benefits of working with acrylic as an artist is its ability to dry quickly. This is what makes it better than other paint options.

The drying time is one of the factors to consider when buying good-quality acrylic paint. Also, another unique quality of acrylic paint is its ability to have a darker hue when it dries. The paint does not spread like watercolor or gouache. 

Acrylic is also one of the affordable paint types you can get, and it has proven over time to deliver excellent results. If you are considering getting acrylic paint, we recommend you purchase from the best brands.

Although many manufacturers claim to make high-quality acrylic paint, a few brands like Golden, Liquitex, Winsor & Newton that artists trust. 

what is acrylic paint

Advantages of Acrylic Painting

There are many advantages of using acrylic paint, and this is why it has remained a favorite among artists today. Although other paint options have their perks, acrylic remains the most common painting material used. Here are some of the benefits of working with acrylic paint.

1. Acrylic Paint is Fast-Drying

Like we mentioned earlier, acrylic dries very fast compared to other paint mediums. It is not a contestable fact, and it is the reason this paint is favored over others. Especially when you compare acrylic with oil paints that can take an entire day before it is properly dry, you can work with acrylic without waiting for the paint to dry. Furthermore, when you paint one layer with acrylic paint, you can apply the next quickly.

2. Can Be Painted On Any Surface

Another reason that makes this paint stand out is its flexibility. You can apply acrylic paint to different types of surfaces. The only exception is applying acrylic on materials that are glossy or oily. However, it would work well for wood, clothes, and even paper. Some stores even sell specially made acrylic papers designed to hold acrylic paint. You can as well use this paint on watercolor paper. The benefit of acrylic is that it has more flexibility when you consider applying paint over surfaces.

3. Acrylic is toxic-free and durable

Acrylic paint is one of the safest paints to use. This water-soluble paint isn’t toxic compared to other paint media. When acrylic paint dries up, it stays perfectly in place and won’t go off. If you are looking for a durable application, you can trust acrylic paint not to fade off easily. Acrylic is the best option for craft and safe for kids to use. It is toxic-free, and even when kids touch it, it won’t irritate their skin. Whether you intend to use it for craft or other purposes, you won’t have any problem working with acrylic paint.

4. Can be diluted with water or mediums

You can get the consistency you need when working with acrylic. It is easy to thin acrylic with water. But for professional effects, it is recommended you use painting mediums to thin acrylic. You can easily make acrylic paint more fluid by adding water because of its water-soluble properties.

5. Can easily be mixed with other paint media

As mentioned earlier, acrylic paint is flexible, and it is also versatile. You can apply acrylic paint with other mediums. If you intend to slow down the drying acrylic, you can mix it with a retard. Also, the benefit of painting with acrylic is that you can apply oil paints over it even after it is dried. However, the same won’t be the case if you use acrylic paint over oil paint. 

There are many benefits of using acrylic paint. These are just a few of them, and we are sure they will be the right option for your next project. Acrylic paint is used by both beginners and professionals in craft making. 

Advantages of Acrylic Painting

Preparation Before Acrylic Painting

One of the things you should know as a beginner is the materials you will need for your painting. Before you begin working with acrylic, you need to have your supplies ready and available. In fact, without these materials, you can’t begin with acrylic paint. Professionals suggest having materials like your palette, brushes, palette knife, and the canvas you are working with. Here are some of the materials you need to prepare before you begin painting.

1. Acrylic Paints

It would be best if you had your paint ready to begin work. Like we already mentioned, some of the best brands include Liquitex, Golden, Winsor & Newton. These are just a few of the reliable brands. You can get the acrylic paint set that comes in either a 24-piece or 36-piece set, so you have a variety of colors to work with. We recommend you get the Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Paint which comes in a set of 20, and you can work with as many colors as you need.

Acrylic paint can also be purchased in large tubes for specific colors. If you are working with a particular color more often, you can get a larger tube. The white and black colors are in this option because it is often used for blending and base work.

2. Acrylic Paint Brushes

There is a large selection of acrylic paint brushes sold today. Each brush type serves different purposes, so the safest option will be to go for a brush set. You can get good quality brushes for your painting, and like the paints, there are also reliable brands. We suggest brands like Grumbacher and Winsor Newton.

3. Canvas & Easel

The next item you need to prepare for your painting job is your painting surface. You can get acrylic-approved canvas boards that are already primed. However, you can do the priming yourself before painting on the canvas. Primed canvas boards usually come in white color, and you can find a label stating, “triple primed gesso.”

Although it is not mandatory to get an easel, it also adds to your painting experience. You can get a comfortable tabletop easel that won’t take up space in your home. 

Basic Skills of Acrylic Painting for Beginners

Now that all your materials are ready for work, you can create beautiful crafts with your acrylic paint. However, we will take you through the acrylic painting basics. It would help if you learned the different techniques for beginners in acrylic painting. This way, you can easily create a variety of styles when working with your paint. These skills are easy to learn, and once you master them, painting won’t be difficult.

1. Dry brushing

Acrylic paints usually have strong pigmented tones, and that is why it is recommended that you dilute with water to get the right consistency. If you apply acrylic directly on the canvas or paper without toning it down, the results will be very strong. Using the dry brushing technique will give you the effect of an uneven brush. You can make use of water to make the edges smooth and also soften the dark touches. It is a simple technique and can easily be learned.

2. Adding Water

One of the perks of working with acrylic paint is that you can also use it like watercolor. Adding enough water to the paint will result in a translucent coat, just like watercolor on paper. However, you should not confuse your acrylic paint with watercolor because you can still dilute it with water on paper even after it has dried. On the other hand, acrylic paint will stay on the canvas or paper forever when it is completely dry. You can’t erase when a mistake is made, and you also can’t change the tones on your painting surface.

3. Stippling

This method involves applying layers of small paint dots to get depth in the image and add to the texture. It is used when you need to create a forest in autumn using coppery tones.

4. Flicking

To get this stroke right, you need a large brush. We suggest you use the Liquitex Professional Freestyle Large Scale Brush for flickering. It is a good quality brush and has a comfortable handle. You should see it a bit and then flick paint on your surface. This technique is used to create a splattering effect on artwork. It is used for creating abstract pieces with a variety of tones.

5. Dabbing

Dabbing can be done to add accents or movement in cinematic art. This painting technique involves applying paint using the corner of a sponge or with a piece of paper towel.

6. Detailing

This technique is used to get a detailed strike like strands of a feather or eye details. The artist will need a small delicate brush to get the right precision, and white acrylic paint is the preferred choice to create lights or reflections on the art. You can use dark colors like black or gray to create shadow details.  

Skills of Acrylic Painting

How to Paint on Canvas with Acrylics Step by Step?

Generally, canvas refers to a heavy-woven fabric and one made for marquee tents or used on sails. However, for an artist, the canvas is usually stretched on a wooden frame. It may be purchased in the art supplies store, online, or you could craft one yourself. It is a fantastic surface for acrylic paint and other paint media. Many artists prefer to use canvas because it is sturdy, feels light, and is very affordable. It is also durable when you treat your canvas with gesso.

If you are new to painting on canvas, we will show you how to do it conveniently on a canvas surface. This acrylic painting for beginners on canvas step-by-step guide will make painting easy for you.

Step 1: Prime Your Canvas

You can prime or stretch your canvas easily. However, most people prefer to opt for the pre-stretched canvas sold in art supply stores. When you buy your canvas, make sure you unwrap it before you begin painting. The wrap is usually made from plastic and is not the actual canvas itself. 

If you are priming the canvas yourself, you need to get gesso for it. Gesso usually comes in different varieties, which can be used for either acrylic or oil paint. The gesso protects the canvas fibers so that the work surface comes out in an archival manner. The gesso makes the surface of the canvas a bit soft so that you use less paint to get your desired result and protect your painting brushes.

Step 2: Create Your Tonal Background

Apart from using the gesso to soften the surface of the canvas, you can also apply an all-over tone to set the mood of your work surface. Most times, painting on the white surface of the canvas won’t set the right mood if you are targeting a particular image. For instance, if you intend to set the tone of stormy weather, the white background of the canvas won’t echo that tone. You need to give the canvas a light bluish-gray background to create that stormy mood you want to start working with.

Step 3: Setup Your Painting Supplies

You need a comfortable position to work if you don’t want any mistakes. Most artists have a tabletop easel where they can place their canvas at a slight angle to work. However, it all depends on you if you prefer to work on a flat surface instead. You also need to get your other art supplies close by where you can reach them easily. Make sure you have your workspace set up with all your supplies, including your acrylic paint brushes, palette, palette knives, water, and any other material you will need. Acrylic painting usually requires fast-paced work because it is fast drying, and it is good to have everything close for a more comfortable experience.

Step 4: Choose The Right Paint Brushes

Like we mentioned earlier, there are a variety of brushes, and each of them serves different purposes. Some brushes are good for creating certain strikes, while others have their uses. Acrylic paint brushes usually come with longer handles and stiff bristles compared to watercolor brushes. This makes them a better choice for working on canvas. You need to learn about each type of brush and how to apply them before you begin painting.

Step 5: Create Underpainting On Canvas

Although canvas is used with opaque paints, you can try underpainting. This method involves creating an outline with a conflicting color to get depth in your workpiece. Most times, it won’t be visible in the finished work, but you can still get the effect.

Step 6: Adjust or Blend Colors Properly

Acrylic paint usually comes out slightly darker than it looks when painting after it dries. You need to adjust the paint, so it comes out the way you desire it. You can test the paint on a piece of paper, and when it dries, you know what color it presents or if you need to adjust it.

Step 7: Try Painting with a Medium

You can experiment on your canvas using a medium mixed with your acrylic paint. Usually, this will produce very impressive results and tones. Then you can mix your acrylic paint to get a high-gloss or matte finish.

Step 8: Allow Your Canvas Dry

Since acrylic paint is fast drying, it usually won’t need a lot of time to dry. Also, the drying time will depend on the medium you mix with the acrylic, which usually slows the drying process. After you are done with painting, make sure you keep your canvas in a safe spot to dry. Even if it is a small canvas, the slightest touch can tamper with your finished work if the paint is still wet. The best place to keep your finished work is on a non-stick surface to protect your paintwork.

Easy Acrylic Paintings Idea for Beginners: How to Paint Flowers?

There are many ideas for acrylic painting as a beginner. One idea we will recommend you try is painting flowers. It is easy, and if done right, you will be impressed with your work. Follow this guide to paint beautiful flowers with your acrylic paint.

Step 1: Get Your Paint Supplies Ready

Just like you already learned with painting on canvas, you also need your art supplies at hand to paint your flowers. You will need your brush set and acrylic paint set. Flowers are colorful, and you can always play with your colors. Your brush set should include brushes of different sizes and shapes.

Step 2: Choose Your Flower Inspiration

You can paint many types of flowers, but you need to choose which type of flower you want to create before you begin. You can get inspiration from your garden or choose a flower picture to inspire you.

Step 3: Make A Simple Sketch

You need to make a sketch or an outline of the image you intend to produce. Use your HB pencil to draw on acrylic paper. If you have not perfected your drawing skills, you can also trace the image of the flower you intend to paint.

Step 4: Layers and Tones

One of the benefits of using acrylic paint is that it is easy to make layering tones. You can use it to create light and dark areas on your painting surface. This will give the image you are creating some depth. For instance, if you are painting magnolia flowers, you can use the white color for the petals and colors like grey or blue for the dark areas. Some artists prefer to use cobalt blue and ultramarine blue to create dark spots for petals. After it is dry, you can dilute white paint to soften the petals. One important thing to note is when diluting the white paint with water, ensure you use clean water to prevent the result from looking discolored.

Step 5: Background Painting Flowers

Using a background can also add depth to your flower painting. If you are painting a magnolia flower, you can complement it with a black and phathlo blue background. When you apply the blend directly on the acrylic paper, use a round brush to outline dark-colored leaves. This will highlight the white colors you used on the magnolia petals.

Step 6: Add Details

You need to add some finishing touches to the painting so your art can come to life. For magnolia flowers, you can add some touch of green veins to the leaves to give a realistic look. You also need a touch of orange and mid-yellow color at the flower center. A round brush can be used for this and also get the realistic green veins.

 Step 7: Allow Your Work Dry

Let your paintings dry properly.
As a beginner, you should also know that there is always room for error when using acrylic paint. If you make a mistake, you can always fix it, but only after the painting is arid.
You can apply acrylic paint on the painted surface, but only if the initial paint is appropriately dried.

acrylic Painting Flowers


7 Simple Tips For Beginning With Acrylic Painting

With all you have learned about painting with acrylic, here are some quick tips to help you as a beginner.

1. Make Decisive Strokes

With acrylic paint, drying is almost instant, which means you have to work fast and be decisive. It would be best if you decided what colors or strokes you intend to make quickly to avoid mistakes. Even though mistakes can be salvaged, you can’t clean off the initial paint and would have to paint over your mistake.

2. Mixing Colors Are Just As Important

If you watch how professional artists mix acrylic, you will notice it takes time to get the desired results. Mixing is an important part of acrylic painting, so make sure you have the right color before you apply your brush on the canvas.

3. Acrylic Paint Is Slightly Darker When It Dries

One of the common mistakes newbies make with acrylic is thinking they have the right color until the painting dries. Some colors will appear darker after the acrylic dries up. It is safer to try the color on a piece of paper to see the result before applying it to your canvas.

4. Use Only Quality Art Materials

One thing an artist should never do is compromise on quality. The quality of your art piece is defined by the quality of materials you work with. If you use low-quality materials, you end up with poorly finished work, and eventually, your painting with deteriorate. When buying artist supplies lookout for the label “Artist Quality,” this way, you don’t end up with the student quality art supplies.

5. Care For Your Painting Materials

Your brushes can quickly get damaged or deteriorate when you don’t clean them properly. Ensure you have your brushes adequately cleaned, dried, and stored correctly after use. It is always good to have a bowl of water close by to clean the brushes after each color application. It is easy to clean off acrylic from the brush while it is still wet.

6. Stain Your Canvas

It would be best to stain your canvas by giving it a background tone before you begin painting. Painting directly on a white background won’t set the right mood. You should also avoid straining too much to avoid presenting a very strong or vibrant mood.

7. Upsize Your Brush

You should not limit your brush collection too small sizes only. Although small brushes are suitable for delicate strokes, larger brushes give better coverage. You can easily cover your canvas when you have large brushes. 


Beginners can only get better at working with acrylic with regular practice. Besides, painting is fun, and you can develop this skill to create beautiful art pieces. There are millions of beginner easy acrylic paintings to start with, and in no time, you will become a professional artist.

2 thoughts on “Acrylic Painting for Beginners Step by Step Guide”

  1. I`m 75 and just started to paint (never thought I would do this ) CAN`T GET ENOUGH OF IT.
    now trying Acrylic paint different types but I like this better than watercolor, so I need all the help I can get, I found this most informative and enjoyable at my age if I make mistakes so what, start again, never be good at it but love the freedom I get on my subjects.
    Many thanks for any help I can get.
    Chris J

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