Art Terms Explained: Acrylic Painting

As artists, we come across a vast sum of terminology though exploring, reading through and chatting about our elements. In this instalment of the ‘Art Conditions Explained’ sequence, we describe the indicating of specific normally-utilised words, phrases and terms in the context of acrylic painting.


Acrylic Brushes

Brushes for acrylic portray arrive in unique amounts of stiffness that make it possible for diverse ranges of handle with distinct thicknesses of paint. Stiff brushes are company and springy. Very similar to a palette knife, they are ideal suited to textured and impasto tactics applying large overall body paint, as opposed to wonderful depth. They may well be designed of hog bristle or synthetic fibres. Most oil and acrylic portray brushes could be thought of medium-texture brushes, meaning they are stiff sufficient to depart an imprint in weighty bodied paints, but however tender adequate for blending tactics. They give fantastic regulate and a smaller size brush will work perfectly for specifics. Smooth-haired brushes are nicely-suited to blending approaches. To accomplish command of your marks with a delicate brush, you want to use a lot more fluid paints. Gentle hair brushes contain watercolour brushes, sable brushes (a variety of all-natural-hair brush) and artificial brushes.



Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is made of pigment suspended in a polymer resin. It is thinned and cleaned up with h2o and when the water has evaporated it dries water-proof. When made use of thickly it can resemble oil paint, when applied in a fluid manner it can resemble watercolour. But it also lets numerous strategies that are exclusive to it many thanks to its fast-drying homes and due to the fact it can adhere to many surfaces. It is usually made use of in what is called Blended Media Painting mainly because the paint can be utilised as a collage glue.

It is out there in a range of formats from thick to quite fluid (see viscosity). There are a huge variety of mediums readily available to go alongside with the paint, to modify its attributes, so acrylic paint is pretty multipurpose.

There is also a kind of acrylic paint that is called MSA Acrylic. It is not quite widespread, but it is good to be mindful of it to stay clear of confusion. Lots of pioneers of acrylic portray in the 1950s made use of a solvent-based acrylic paint.


Acrylic Gouache

Acrylic gouache is opaque, matte acrylic paint. The opacity signifies it has superb coverage, the acrylic binder implies it is water-proof when dry, so you can overpaint devoid of smearing and the matte finish provides a velvety surface area. Like regular acrylic, it also sticks to many surfaces with wonderful adhesion. It is called gouache since it has a identical appear and coverage to traditional gouache, but it is unique mainly because it is water-proof right after it is dry and regular gouache is not. The exception would be Lascaux Acrylic Gouache which is fairly re-wettable. Acrylic gouache provides a flat, matt end with nominal brush strokes, and is common for these factors with illustrators.


Acrylic gouache: soft body acrylic that dries matte

Acrylic gouache: soft entire body acrylic that dries matt


Acrylic Ink

Acrylic Inks are built from tremendous-good pigments suspended in an acrylic emulsion as thin as water. They are the most fluid of the acrylic paints, and can be pretty powerful in color. Acrylic Inks dry to a easy, flat surface area with a satin sheen.


Acrylic Markers

Rapidly-drying and lively marker pens stuffed with acrylic paint. They are dazzling, bold and good for combining drawing and mark-earning strategies with portray. They will adhere to most surfaces and demonstrate up brightly on colored backgrounds.


Acrylic Spray Paint

Acrylic Spray Paints are acrylic paint in a sprayable format. They appear in steel cans, and some of them have solvent (for these it is advisable to dress in a fume mask or spray only in nicely ventilated areas). The small strain managing procedure presented by some ranges of acrylic spray paints, lets you to command your apps of color more diligently You can both of those attract great traces as effectively as wide strokes of colour by implementing various force while keeping down the button on the top rated of the can. There are also drinking water-primarily based spray paints. These acquire extended to dry than solvent-dependent paints but can be used indoors securely.


Artist Quality

Artist Quality acrylic paints may well use the identical pigments as professional paints, but in far more economical proportions. This is usually achieved by growing the amount of money of binder in each colour. They are nevertheless of large-excellent, and are suited to experienced artists.



All paint is manufactured from two main ingredients: pigment and a binder which is anything to keep the pigment and kind a movie when it dries. Acrylic paint is produced applying an acrylic polymer for the binder that varieties a movie immediately after the water has evaporated. A different term for binder is motor vehicle.


Entire body

The thickness of acrylic is referred to as ‘body’. Acrylic paint has formats of different thicknesses. The system of the paint can be modified by including thick gels to make it thicker or h2o or thinner mediums to make it far more 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 impression, from prime to base: Golden Heavy Human body, Golden Open Acrylic Medium Physique, Liquitex Gentle Overall body, Golden Fluid, Golden Large Move, Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink, Turner Acrylic Gouache, Molotow Acrylic Marker pen, Montana Gold Spray Paint


Brush Cleaning soap

Brush soap is a style of cleanser that is specifically formulated with pure oils to moisturise and cleanse brush hairs, so that your brushes retain their shape and hairs for more time. Uncover out more in our article How to Clear 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 painting is finish.


Canvas Panels

A painting surface area manufactured from a sheet of primed cotton glued onto a rigid board. Artists can put together their own canvas panels or invest in them all set-built.


Catalyst Applications

‘Catalyst tools’ are utensils for portray. They come in two formats: silicone wedges or a silicone paddle on the finish of a adhere. They are minimize with unique groove shapes to let you to drag them by the paint and generate designs of lines.



Acrylic paint dries in two stages: evaporation which is fast and curing which normally takes a several days to a couple of months for a longer time relying on the thickness of the paint layer. Curing is the interval wherever all the other substances in the paint movie go away. There are up to 14 ingredients in acrylic paint. Apart from the pigment, polymer resin and drinking water, they can consist of defoamers, anti-fungal brokers, solvents that assistance stabilise the paint in the course of any freezing and thaw cycle, and much more. The curing time period is when the paint turns into firmly adhered to the floor, the gels become clear and not cloudy, the paint becomes as really hard as it will get, and the paint will not reabsorb drinking water. Numerous artists are not conscious of this second portion of the drying approach and so they, for instance, might varnish the portray way too quickly and discover that the painting results in being white and cloudy underneath the varnish since the other risky elements just can’t leave and the paint movie is even now absorbent and the drinking water from the varnish has been absorbed by the paint..



‘Filbert’ refers to a kind of flat brush that is rounded into an oval condition at the tip. It is a versatile staple brush for both oil and acrylic painting. Other brush styles consist of spherical, flat, bright, mottler, admirer and much more. See far more in our posting Understanding Brush Styles Names, Hair and Programs


Procryl Synthetic Brush Fibre Close Up

Jackson’s Procryl Brushes – Readily available in: Mottler, Dazzling, Very long Flat, Filbert and Pointed Spherical



The word movement refers to how cell the paint is, and how effortlessly it transfers from the brush to the paper or surface area. Mediums can be additional to change circulation.


Fluid Paints

Fluid paints are provided in a bottle and have a texture like double cream. Though they are thinner than some of the other forms of acrylic paint, this does not automatically suggest they have a decrease pigment load, and continue to give large colour strength. Fluid paints movement continuously from a brush, cutting down noticeable brush strokes in a painting. They can be poured or dripped on to the surface area for vivid puddles of color, or they can be used for much more precise strategies, these types of as glazing.


Gesso (Acrylic Gesso)

A type of acrylic primer, that replicates the features of ‘traditional gesso’, a combination of French chalk or whiting and rabbit skin glue. High-quality out much more in our short article Size, Primer, Gesso and Floor Explained



The software of a thin layer of translucent paint about a former layer to modify the color somewhat, instead than masking in excess of it completely.


Hefty Physique Paints

Hefty System paints are acrylic paints with the thickest regularity. They are the most well-liked and have a buttery texture, building them the closest to oil paints. Significant overall body paints maintain their shape as they are squeezed from the tube, on the other hand, like all other acrylics, can be made a lot more fluid by mixing with water. The soaked paint can be squeezed out of these tubes on to your palette for mixing or even directly onto the painting surface area that you are working on for thick, expressive marks (see impasto).


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

Significant overall body paint: medium – thick programs of paint/impasto tactics



A expression to describe paint that has been applied thickly, normally straight from the tube or with a medium added to thicken it.


Interactive Acrylics

Usually, once dry, regular acrylic paints can not be re-wetted. However ‘Interactive Acrylics’ offer you a answer to this. They are just like typical acrylic speedy-drying artist excellent paints, nonetheless, they include a distinctive ‘unlocking formula’. This is a liquid that re-wets dried interactive acrylic and slows drying if a few drops are extra to the paint while nonetheless soaked. A Fast Medium/Fixer is made use of to seal the layer of paint as soon as the painting is entirely finished. This indicates the paint will no longer be re-wettable.



An additive that is combined with paint in get to extend the color or alter some of its qualities such as regularity, texture, transparency or move.


Combined Media Painting

An acrylic painting procedure that makes use of paints, mediums, pattern generating resources to insert impressions, and collaged aspects.


Normal Hair Brushes

Organic hair brushes are manufactured using animal hair, these as sable or squirrel. The substitute would be synthetic brushes.


Open Paints

‘Open paints’ are built to dry pretty little by little, building it quick to paint soaked-into-soaked and mix colour on the area of your portray. They are intended to mimic oil paint as substantially as doable, assumed they are commonly smooth entire body.


Palette Knife

A palette knife is a blunt software made use of for mixing or implementing paint, with a adaptable metal blade. Plastic palette knives are also obtainable. They can also be known as a portray knife and can have a straight manage or an offset ‘crank’ cope with.



A pigment is finely floor color created both in a laboratory or from in a natural way coloured rocks. When combined with the synthetic resin binder it can make acrylic paint.



Pour Painting

This refers to a portray strategy making use of fluid acrylic paints or inks, usually with the addition of a pouring medium, and pouring them specifically onto the painting. The flowing success are abstract, though there are a variety of techniques in the system to harness and management the paint to achieve distinct styles and outcomes. See our posting Acrylic Pour Portray With Schmincke Pouring Medium and Inks for inspiration.



A ‘Primer’ is a surfacing product used to coat a surface area to get it ready for paint application. It is a glue that sticks effectively to your floor, improved than your paint would. It functions as a intermediary concerning the area and the paint which is used in excess of the major, so that your paint is nicely adhered.


Experienced Quality

You could see ‘Professional Grade’ written on the tubes of paints that are of the greatest quality. They have the greatest quality pigments and resins and the tubes will contain the ideal ratio of pigment to binder to make sure the best attainable efficiency.


All set-manufactured Canvases

Canvas is a popular choice for an acrylic painting floor. All set-created canvases come primed and stretched on to wood frames, so that the artist doesn’t need to extend or prime it on their own.




Soft Overall body Paints

Soft body paints are thinner than weighty entire body paints. They resemble yoghurt in regularity, and can effortlessly be mixed with mediums or be utilised on their very own with clean and responsive managing.


Keep Wet Palettes

Acrylic paints dry swiftly, meaning they can typically dry on your palette prior to you have finished working with them for your painting. A ‘Stay Wet’ palette features a solution to this, and is made up of a tray which you pour water on and then put a unique sheet above the best. The dampness stops the paint from drying and consequently makes it possible for you to function with your paint for for a longer period.


Scholar 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 increase bulk, which signifies the student equivalents of expert colors are frequently far more transparent and the colors can show up significantly less potent. They are most suitable for newbies as properly as learners and industry experts on a price range.


Synthetic Brushes

Artificial brushes are an very affordable and hard-donning option to All-natural Hair Brushes. They are made utilizing artificial materials, as opposed to animal hair.


Tear off palettes

A type of palette in the form of specific sheets of waxy papers glued together into a pad. You blend your colors on the top sheet, and can just tear it absent and dispose of it afterwards. Tear off palettes take away the necessity to clean up up a messy palette at the close of a painting session.



The evaluate of how considerably light is in a position to move through an used paint and interact with the area beneath. Transparent paints surface more luminous on a white assistance mainly because they let a more substantial proportion of light to hit the surface they are laying on. Opaque paints block this reflection from transpiring, and can be utilised to deal with levels of color beneath. Acrylic paints will be more opaque when utilized immediately from the tube. The transparency of them can be greater with the addition of water.



Varnish for acrylic paintings is a clear coating applied on major of a finished portray, made to protect from scratches, give a challenging surface for the reason that acrylic is delicate and porous, and in some instances defense from the fading results of UV light. Artist high-quality varnish is normally detachable. Varnish can be utilized to alter the last sheen of a painting by deciding on matt, satin or gloss. Varnish for acrylic paintings arrives in a several formats – for all of them you need to make sure the painting is fully dry and healed, and that the floor is no cost of dust. Spray varnish is swift and uncomplicated to use but demands excellent air flow and you need to get treatment to get even coverage. It is primarily useful for very textured paintings where by varnish utilized with a brush may possibly pool in the minimal spots. Varnish can also come in a bottle or a tin to be applied with a brush. Acrylic varnish can be h2o-centered or solvent-primarily based. MSA (Mineral Spirit Acrylic) varnish presents a tougher layer than drinking water-dependent acrylic varnish and requires to be cleaned/thinned with solvents, although it is nonetheless acrylic based.



The sum of thickness or fluidity a paint has – higher viscosity is a thick paint and reduced viscosity is a fluid paint. In some cases identified as consistency. Acrylic paint is designed in a range of thicknesses which can be grouped into 4: weighty entire body, delicate human body, fluid, and ink. Every has the similar total of pigment, just different quantities of thickeners. See our Dairy Scale of Paint Viscosities.



Wet-on-moist is a painting procedure in which layers of moist paint are used to previously used levels of paint that have not still dried and are however wet. This can be utilized for mixing approaches and mixing colours straight on the surface.



Further more Looking at

Acrylic Portray for Newbies – What You Have to have to Get Began

Artwork Conditions Explained: Watercolour Portray

Artwork Phrases Defined: Oil Painting

Anything You Need to Know About Acrylic Painting Paper