crylic Pouring is a fascinating fluid painting technique with liquid acrylic paints. Although you don’t need any previous knowledge or talent in painting, it can be difficult, especially in the beginning, to achieve the desired result. We will show you step by step, with an Acrylic Pouring guide, how to make your first Pouring paintings yourself.
- 1 What is Acrylic Pouring?
- 2 Using the Best Pouring Medium is Essential
- 3 You also need these Acrylic Pouring Materials
- 4 Acrylic Pouring Techniques at a Glance
- 5 Tips and Tricks for Successful Pour Paintings
- 6 How to Acrylic Pour?
- 7 Acrylic Pouring Calculator
- 8 The most Common Mistakes when Paint Pouring
- 9 How to get Cells in your Pour Paintings
- 10 How can you Prevent Cracks in your Acrylic Pouring Art when Drying?
What is Acrylic Pouring?
In the Acrylic Pouring technique, acrylic paint is made pourable with the help of a pouring medium and then applied to the canvas. The whole thing requires no talent for painting or drawing. You let the colors on the canvas flow into each other and create unique patterns and color effects. There are also a large number of different techniques to obtain different patterns and cells. We will introduce you to these below. But for the technique to work, the acrylic paints must be thinned. Very characteristic for the Acrylic Pouring are the many small and large cells, which are formed during the actual acrylic pouring and make your paintings unmistakable. How this works we will explain to you in detail below.
Using the Best Pouring Medium is Essential
In Acrylic Pouring, a so-called pouring medium is mixed with paint to support the flow and mixing of the paint. It helps to keep the colours separate so that they do not combine into a slushy colour when mixed. It also extends the drying time of the paint mixture and helps to avoid cracks. There are different types and brands of casting media on the market. Each one can visually influence your acrylic pour art in a different way and has different characteristics.
Best professional Pouring Medium:
Alternative Pouring Medium
- Is often used as an alternative Pouring Medium
- Safe, non-toxic, and quick-drying formula
- Perfect for crafts, repairs, projects and Acrylic Pouring
You also need these Acrylic Pouring Materials
You can start with the acrylic flow technique even with relatively little Acrylic Paint Pouring. With the following list of materials for your start in Acrylic Pouring we give you an overview of the materials you need.
Our recommendations for acrylic paint sets, optimally your start into the Acrylic Pouring:
Suitable Silicone Oils for perfect cell formation:
Other materials required:
Acrylic Pouring Techniques at a Glance
There are a variety of different techniques how the pourable paint can be applied to the painting ground. We will introduce you to the most important techniques here and explain briefly how they work.
The easiest technique is the simple Pour. This looks like that one colour after the other is poured on a surface next to each other. Sometimes the aim is to bring the colours onto the surface one by one and to keep them separate next to each other. It is also possible to swirl one colour after the other with a toothpick or other object.
- Mix your paint with your preferred pouring medium so that the consistency of the paint is like a warm, liquid honey. The mixture should flow freely, but not drip or be too liquid or thick.
- Once you have mixed your paint properly, take one colour at a time and pour it onto a surface of your choice as desired.
- Move the painting surface to let the paint flow back and forth and mix at the edges. Don’t use too much and too viscous paint, otherwise cracks may appear during drying.
Dirty Pour Technique
A so-called dirty pour describes a pouring technique in which different colours are mixed separately with pouring medium. Then these colours are piled up in a single cup. This cup is then poured onto the canvas in a thin stream. The result can be achieved by moving the cup. You can also add silicone oil to preserve the characteristic cells.
Flip Cup Technique
A Flip Cup Pour refers to the cup, which is full of colour and is put on the canvas in a sweeping movement. This is probably the most popular technique of all.
- Proceed as in Dirty Pour: Mix each color separately with the Pouring Medium
- Add one or two drops of silicone oil to each colour except white
- Layer the individual colours in a cup. Pour some white between each colour to get exciting effects
- Take the cup and put it upside down on the canvas or painting ground
- Now lift the cup carefully and move it slightly on the screen
- Tilt the painting ground in all directions to distribute the paint
- With a torch you can now create even more cells
Puddle Pour Technique
With the Puddle Pour you can pour each colour one after the other on the stretcher frame. You use one base colour and pour all other colours one after the other. Then you can spread the colours by moving the canvas.
The Swipe technique is an exciting and also very popular pouring technique. The principle is that several colours are poured onto a canvas and then one colour (usually white) is drawn over the chromatic colours. The silicone oil then pushes the underlying colour back up and creates beautiful and numerous cells.
- Mix your paint and media to the desired consistency in separate cups.
- Once your paint is mixed and poured onto the canvas, preferably in strips or sheets, use a flat, thin tool such as a spatula and stroke gently from one end of the canvas to the other. Do not apply too much pressure on the canvas, otherwise you will scrape off the paint or mix the colours too much, which can cause muddy tones.
- White or black is a very good colour, which you apply to the rest of the canvas. With a torch you let the cells pop up
The string technique requires a piece of string, which is dipped in paint to create feather-like structures or flowers.
- Mix your colours with medium. The flat background colour must be mixed a little bit more fluently for the technique to work optimally. Otherwise the colours would sink from the string in the background.
- Pour the background color over your canvas or surface. Spread it evenly.
- Now dip a string or chain into the mixed paint
- To create a flower, take your string and place it on the canvas with curved turns, with one of the ends pointing in your direction and protruding over the canvas. Gently pull the string or chain towards you without lifting it from the canvas and let it unwind as you pull.
- If you have done everything right, you have now successfully performed your first String Pour. This technique is for advanced Pourers and requires some practice.
Tree Ring Technique
The Tree Ring technique got its name because the pattern reminds of a tree trunk with the annual rings. It is a Dirty Pour, but it is used specifically.
- Mix all colours separately with Pouring Medium in individual cups.
- Pour a part of the first colour in the middle of the canvas
- Then pour some of your next color into the middle of the first color blob
- Repeat this as often as possible to get beautiful colored rings
- Move the canvas slightly so that the paint is spread over the whole canvas
- That’s about it. Cells are usually not wanted in this technique
- You can also cast several Tree Rings next to each other
Air Swipe Technique / Dutch Pour
The Dutch Pour technique is an application where you spread the colours poured on a background colour with a hairdryer or with the help of a straw. This pouring technique is perfect if you like to work with negative colour space. However, the paint must be a little more fluid than usual. The name Dutch Pour is given to this technique because it was invented by a Dutch artist.
The balloon technique is, as the name suggests, a pouring technique in which puddles of paint are applied to the poured-up painting with the help of an inflated small balloon. The basis can be a dirty pour or a normal pour.
- Mix a base colour of your choice (black or white) with the medium of your choice and pour a thin layer over your canvas
- Now take some more paint and pour small puddles of paint
- Now blow up a small balloon and press this balloon into the applied puddles. This creates really nice eye-catchers in your paintings. Try, with different pressure and light circular movements, which result you like most.
This technique is unmistakable and unique. You can use it to create controlled even cells in your pour by applying silicone oil to your pouring only afterwards. You can even create great cell patterns.
- It is best to use the Swipe technique as the basic technique.
- Then you can generate the cells with a comb or toothpick.
- To do this, first dip the comb or toothpick in silicone oil and then several times in your entire Swipe-Pouring in a regular arrangement and at regular intervals.
- Often, this will create very special cells with a point in the middle.
- Depending on the application, this effect reminds you of a lizard skin, hence the name.
This is strictly speaking a variation of the string technique. With a special technique you can create such beautiful and lively feathers.
- To create a feather, take your string and place it taut on your canvas.
- Then you hold the end of the string and pull it in your direction at a flat angle to the canvas. Repeat this and pull the string in the opposite direction for the other side of the feather.
- Then, using a skewer, carefully draw the centre or style of the feather by simply pulling it through the paint.
The so-called Ghost Pour is actually a variation of the Swipe technique.
- Spread a rather thin background color (usually white or black) over the entire canvas
- Then apply several colours evenly in a horizontal line in the middle
- after that, the bright colours are wiped over the canvas in several strokes from the middle outwards in regular intervals downwards and upwards with the help of kitchen paper, a spatula or a playing card. In order for the “ghost effect” to be shown to its best advantage, this technique usually uses a canvas in a longitudinal format.
- For an even more beautiful effect, you can add a few drops of silicone oil to some of the colours.
Combined with black light and fluorescent acrylic colors, you can create your very own look.
Tips and Tricks for Successful Pour Paintings
- Optimum colour consistency is the secret of the acrylic casting technique. It is therefore worthwhile not to use the cheapest acrylic paints and colour additives in order to be able to pour the most successful paintings.
- Canvases are ideal for acrylic pouring. If you want to use cheap canvases as painting ground, you can also pre-coat the surface with one or two layers of gesso. This makes the canvas more stable and prevents it from sagging – especially with large canvas formats.
- The easiest way to remove air bubbles is to use a torch. Simply run over it briefly and the air bubbles will pop up
How to Acrylic Pour?
- If you pre-treat the canvas with Gesso, wait until the surface is really dry. To prevent the back of your canvas from being covered with unsightly paint stains, you can mask it with painter’s tape. You should remove the tape while it is still slightly damp so that it can still be removed.
- Have all your Acrylic Pouring material ready so that you have everything at hand during the actual work. Protect your workplace with a plastic foil or cardboard. The liquid color mixture will run where you don’t want it to run. You should also protect the floor, because paint stains are unintentionally created in the most impossible places in the heat of the pouring process.
- The work surface must be absolutely straight so that the mixture cannot run off the canvas.
- Now that you have everything ready, you can start with the actual preparation tasks. Mix the colors with the Pouring Medium. Take a few cups, add the paint and then the Pouring Medium.
- Stir for 1 to 2 minutes until the whole thing is a homogeneous mixture.
- By stirring you have stirred in air bubbles, which will rise to the surface after a while. So you should wait a little longer until the colours are poured.
- When you have mixed all the colours, you can add a few drops of silicone oil and mix in gently, depending on the desired effect and the technique used.
Images: jennifer_crowder_artist / shutterstock.com
Now you are ready for the actual paint pouring:
- Pour the colors on the canvas. Then take the canvas in your hands and tilt it in all directions until the mixture of colours has spread and no more white canvas is visible. The sides of the canvas should also be covered with paint. Here you can also help a little with your fingers.
- Then put the canvas down again, ideally on four small sticks or similar spacers, so that the canvas does not lie on the work table and can thus stick while drying.
- If you want to have cells in your pour art, you can now run a torch over the painting and the silicone oil will pop on the surface and cells of different sizes will appear.
- Now let the pour painting dry. This can take several days, depending on the thickness of the layer, the pouring medium and the ambient temperature and humidity. Make sure that you let the painting dry protected from animals and children, otherwise you will find unwanted imprints in the painting itself and the surrounding area.
- Depending on the Pouring Medium, the pour paintingis now either matt, slightly shiny or has a different degree of gloss. You can now apply a final varnish to the Acrylic Pouring painting to achieve a uniform gloss level.
Congratulations, you have created your first Acrylic Pouring painting with it – and probably many more will follow.
Acrylic Pouring Calculator
Calculating the required amount of pouring liquid is not so easy – in addition to the actual area, you must also include the sides of your canvas or painting ground in the calculation. To make the calculation easier for you, you will find here an Acrylic Pouring Calculator to calculate the required amount of Pouring Medium and Paint for your Pourings.
The most Common Mistakes when Paint Pouring
Here are the most common mistakes of pouring beginners that you should avoid:
- Impatience: Your first paintings will not yet become the greatest masterpieces. Take your time and experiment. Use small canvases to save material and learn from your mistakes.
- Combine colors wildly: Mixing and pouring different colors rashly without knowledge of color theory is also a common mistake. This way only “muddy” spots of colour are created. Knowledge of basic colour theory is therefore important.
- Too hesitant: After you have completed your research, dare to start paint pour art.
- Suboptimal consistency of the mixture. Many beginners mix their first colour mixtures either much too fluid or not fluid enough. If the paint is too fluid, the result is often melted cells, which then completely lose their shape when drying and the paint runs off the canvas too much. If the mixture is too viscous, cell formation is more difficult. Only through practice and trial and error can you get closer to the perfect mixture step by step.
- Too many air bubbles in the painting surface: It’s worth letting the mixture stand for several hours before starting to pour. That way the air bubbles can escape and you won’t have them on your artwork where you can hardly or not at all get them out.
How to get Cells in your Pour Paintings
Cells in the acrylic flow technique form primarily when there is a difference in density between the acrylic paints. There are several tricks to promote cell formation in an acrylic pouring paintings, but the number of cells and their size are largely determined by the difference in density of the colors. This is because different color pigments have different densities. The main techniques to achieve the cells in acrylic casting are:
- Different density of the acrylic colours / pigments
- Silicone additive
- Conveying the cells by means of torch
Different Density of Colour Pigments
The basis for reaching cells in your pour paintings is that you work with different colour tones with different densities. So make sure you pay attention to this when you combine colours. Each colour has a specific weight. White paint in particular is characterised by a very high density due to the colour pigments used.
This means, for example: If you layer the denser colour on the surface (e.g. white) and the less dense colour (e.g. red) on the ground of your canvas, the denser colour pushes down and the colour with the lower density rises upwards in the form of cells. The dense colour thus forms the net structure or the outline. In our example the cells would be red with a white border. This phenomenon is also known as “broken net structure” or “layer”. In simple terms, this is how the cells in your pour art are created.
Pour Art – Support Cell Formation with Silicone
By adding silicone oil you can strengthen the cell formation in the acrylic flow technique. The basic principle is that silicone or oil and water do not mix. The water-based acrylic paints or pouring media separate themselves from the silicone oil when it is mixed. This chemical reaction leads to more and possibly larger cells in your acrylic pouring painting.
But it is important not to mix in just any silicone oil. Because silicone oils or sprays always have different chemical compositions and properties and not all of them work equally well for acrylic painting. Some silicone oils produce many small washed-out cells, others large, clearly defined cells, and still others, in the worst case, perhaps none at all. The goal of most pouring acrylic artists is to create as many clearly differentiated, different and interesting cell patterns as possible. But with which silicone containing product do you get the most cells or the largest, most interesting and sharply delineated cells?
Low Viscosity Silicone Oil
- For large cells you should use a silicone oil with low viscosity
- Stronger colour gradients are created and the colours flow faster
High Viscosity Silicone Oil
- If you prefer smaller, but many cells, then you can choose a high viscosity silicone oil
- The colours flow more slowly and the cells are usually more clearly delineated. In addition, with these oils the colour separation is often clearer and the colours mix less
How much Silicone should I add to my Mixture?
Usually 2 to 3 drops are sufficient, which you add to any mixture of paint (except white) and pouring medium. Add the silicone oil to your well mixed mixture and stir it only briefly. You should not mix the silicone too long or too strongly, otherwise a successful cell effect is gone, because the cells get smaller and smaller. In order to find your optimal and individual mixture of acrylic paints, pouring medium and silicone oil, there is no way around experimenting. Finding the right formula is the most important thing when it comes to pouring with acrylic.
Here is a very good starting recipe for the start:
- 1 part acrylic paint
- 1.5 parts of the watering medium of your choice
- 2 to 3 drops of silicone in the colours in which the cells should appear
Tip: If you want to create as large cells as possible, you should not stir the silicone too much into the color mixtures. The more you stir, the more the oil cells are divided, so the smaller your cells will be later on in your paintings.
Generating Cells using Heat
If you want to create even more, larger or more controlled cells, the additional use of a heat gun or butane torch is highly recommended. The heat will bring the cells more to the surface of your paint layer, making them more visible and last but not least enlarging them. By swinging a torch over the mixture after turning the color cup over (e.g. for the FlipCup), you can get the best out of the cell formation. If you then, after spreading the mixture over the canvas, torch it again for a short time, additional small cells are created, which can give your paintings the final touch and make it even more interesting. If you would like to use a torch to create additional cells, you should not torch too long and too close to the same spot. Only pan SHORTLY over the areas where you want to “bring out” cells. Otherwise the paint will get too hot and bumps and dents will appear or, in the worst case, your artwork will start to burn. As an alternative to the torch burner, you can also use a hot-air blow-dryer, a cream-brulee burner or a lighter.
Tip: Less is often more: Because too intensive torching can sometimes produce almost too many cells, so that a pouring appears restless or overloaded, or large cells that have already formed are optically destroyed again. Be careful, the heat effect of the burner will continue to have an effect for a while!
How can you Prevent Cracks in your Acrylic Pouring Art when Drying?
When your Acrylic Pouring Paintings dry, cracks may appear under certain circumstances. Cracking usually occurs when the top layer of the coating dries much faster than the underlying, still wet layer. If this is the case, the top layer forms a kind of skin. If this skin hardens too quickly and the lower layer is still relatively wet, the top layer breaks and cracks appear. To avoid these unwanted textures in your Acrylic Pouring artwork, you should take the following tips to heart:
Do not use too much Water
If you add too much water to your mixture, this can weaken the binder in the acrylic paint and the medium. It loses some of its adhesive properties, which increases the probability of cracking. To avoid this, we recommend that you never use more than 50% water in your mixture.
Chose the Correct Pouring Medium
Professional and high-quality pouring media largely prevent the formation of cracks, because they were specially manufactured and designed for this purpose. The use of inferior casting media or unsuitable PVA adhesives as an alternative medium is more likely to lead to cracking. A good side effect is that with a high quality casting medium you often have to add much less or no water at all, which as already mentioned also reduces cracking.
Pay Attention to Room Climate
Temperature fluctuations, very high or very low temperatures and too high or too low humidity can also increase the likelihood of cracks in your Pouring Painting. In addition, your paintings should not be exposed to any draughts during the drying process, as these also have a negative effect on the drying process.
Do not Paint or Varnish too Early
You should not paint or varnish your paintings until your artwork is 100% completely dry. To be on the safe side, you should wait at least 2 weeks before finishing. The longer the better.
Avoid too many Layers of Paint
Sometimes it can happen that an unsuccessful pouring is overpourred again after drying or even several times if necessary. However, you should avoid many layers of paint on the canvas, as this will definitely lead to cracks in the paintings at some point. Two layers of paint on the canvas may suffer in most cases. Using a canvas more than twice is not necessarily advisable, especially for large paintings. Alternatively, you can wipe the still liquid paint off the canvas right away when you notice that the pouring hasn’t become anything. Then you can of course use the stretcher several times. If the paint has already dried, you should use a fresh painting ground once again – it would be a pity for a well done pouring! 🙂