Art Terms Explained: Acrylic Painting


As artists, we come upon a large amount of terminology although looking into, reading through and speaking about our resources. In this instalment of the ‘Art Phrases Explained’ collection, we make clear the this means of specified commonly-used text, phrases and terms in the context of acrylic portray.


Acrylic Brushes

Brushes for acrylic portray arrive in unique concentrations of stiffness that enable distinctive amounts of management with different thicknesses of paint. Stiff brushes are company and springy. Identical to a palette knife, they are finest suited to textured and impasto techniques applying weighty body paint, as opposed to good element. They may possibly be built of hog bristle or synthetic fibres. Most oil and acrylic portray brushes could be deemed medium-texture brushes, that means they are rigid more than enough to go away an imprint in weighty bodied paints, but nevertheless smooth plenty of for mixing techniques. They give excellent control and a modest sizing brush functions perfectly for information. Comfortable-haired brushes are effectively-suited to mixing approaches. To reach regulate of your marks with a comfortable brush, you want to use extra fluid paints. Comfortable hair brushes consist of watercolour brushes, sable brushes (a form of pure-hair brush) and synthetic brushes.



Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is built of pigment suspended in a polymer resin. It is thinned and cleaned up with h2o and when the drinking water has evaporated it dries water-proof. When applied thickly it can resemble oil paint, when made use of in a fluid fashion it can resemble watercolour. But it also enables several tactics that are exceptional to it many thanks to its quickly-drying houses and since it can adhere to numerous surfaces. It is normally utilised in what is identified as Mixed Media Portray simply because the paint can be utilised as a collage glue.

It is offered in a range of formats from thick to really fluid (see viscosity). There are a large vary of mediums readily available to go along with the paint, to modify its attributes, so acrylic paint is quite multipurpose.

There is also a type of acrylic paint that is known as MSA Acrylic. It is not pretty common, but it is excellent to be knowledgeable of it to steer clear of confusion. Several pioneers of acrylic painting in the 1950s applied a solvent-based acrylic paint.


Acrylic Gouache

Acrylic gouache is opaque, matte acrylic paint. The opacity indicates it has exceptional coverage, the acrylic binder implies it is waterproof when dry, so you can overpaint with no smearing and the matte end gives a velvety area. Like classic acrylic, it also sticks to many surfaces with fantastic adhesion. It is identified as gouache for the reason that it has a identical glimpse and coverage to regular gouache, but it is different for the reason that it is water-resistant immediately after it is dry and standard gouache is not. The exception would be Lascaux Acrylic Gouache which is somewhat re-wettable. Acrylic gouache gives a flat, matt complete with minimal brush strokes, and is well-known for these factors with illustrators.


Acrylic gouache: soft body acrylic that dries matte

Acrylic gouache: tender human body acrylic that dries matt


Acrylic Ink

Acrylic Inks are created from super-great pigments suspended in an acrylic emulsion as slender as h2o. They are the most fluid of the acrylic paints, and can be quite rigorous in colour. Acrylic Inks dry to a smooth, flat floor with a satin sheen.


Acrylic Markers

Quickly-drying and vivid marker pens stuffed with acrylic paint. They are shiny, daring and excellent for combining drawing and mark-producing procedures with painting. They will adhere to most surfaces and present up brightly on colored backgrounds.


Acrylic Spray Paint

Acrylic Spray Paints are acrylic paint in a sprayable structure. They come in metal cans, and some of them have solvent (for these it is recommended to put on a fume mask or spray only in properly ventilated places). The reduced stress dealing with procedure supplied by some ranges of acrylic spray paints, allows you to command your apps of color additional diligently You can the two draw fine strains as well as broad strokes of color by making use of various tension when keeping down the button on the top of the can. There are also h2o-based mostly spray paints. These take for a longer time to dry than solvent-centered paints but can be utilized indoors safely.


Artist Quality

Artist Quality acrylic paints could use the identical pigments as expert paints, but in a lot more inexpensive proportions. This is ordinarily realized by increasing the amount of money of binder in every single colour. They are nevertheless of superior-high quality, and are suited to professional artists.



All paint is built from two key components: pigment and a binder which is a little something to hold the pigment and type a film when it dries. Acrylic paint is built applying an acrylic polymer for the binder that sorts a movie immediately after the drinking water has evaporated. Yet another term for binder is motor vehicle.



The thickness of acrylic is referred to as ‘body’. Acrylic paint has formats of diverse thicknesses. The entire body of the paint can be modified by including thick gels to make it thicker or water or thinner mediums to make it much 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

Suitable hand image, from leading to base: Golden Major System, Golden Open up Acrylic Medium Body, Liquitex Soft Entire body, Golden Fluid, Golden Superior Circulation, Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink, Turner Acrylic Gouache, Molotow Acrylic Marker pen, Montana Gold Spray Paint


Brush Cleaning soap

Brush cleaning soap is a type of cleanser that is especially formulated with natural oils to moisturise and cleanse brush hairs, so that your brushes hold their condition and hairs for for a longer period. Uncover out far more in our report How to Thoroughly clean Your Oil and Acrylic Brushes and How to Use Jackson’s Marseille Soap


Canvas Pads

Canvas sheets in the format of a sketchpad. The canvas can be torn off from the pad at the time the portray is total.


Canvas Panels

A portray area designed from a sheet of primed cotton glued on to a rigid board. Artists can put together their have canvas panels or buy them completely ready-manufactured.


Catalyst Tools

‘Catalyst tools’ are utensils for painting. They appear in two formats: silicone wedges or a silicone paddle on the stop of a stick. They are reduce with different groove designs to allow for you to drag them by the paint and build patterns of traces.



Acrylic paint dries in two stages: evaporation which is quick and curing which will take a couple of times to a couple months lengthier relying on the thickness of the paint layer. Curing is the time period where by all the other substances in the paint film depart. There are up to 14 elements in acrylic paint. Moreover the pigment, polymer resin and drinking water, they can consist of defoamers, anti-fungal brokers, solvents that assist stabilise the paint in the course of any freezing and thaw cycle, and more. The curing period is when the paint will become firmly adhered to the surface area, the gels turn into crystal clear and not cloudy, the paint turns into as hard as it will get, and the paint will not reabsorb water. Lots of artists are not aware of this 2nd element of the drying system and so they, for illustration, might varnish the painting as well before long and find that the painting becomes white and cloudy underneath the varnish mainly because the other unstable elements can’t leave and the paint film is continue to absorbent and the drinking water from the varnish has been absorbed by the paint..



‘Filbert’ refers to a form of flat brush that is rounded into an oval condition at the suggestion. It is a functional staple brush for both of those oil and acrylic painting. Other brush designs include things like spherical, flat, vivid, mottler, lover and much more. See a lot more in our write-up Comprehension Brush Designs Names, Hair and Programs


Procryl Synthetic Brush Fibre Close Up

Jackson’s Procryl Brushes – Available in: Mottler, Dazzling, Extensive Flat, Filbert and Pointed Round



The phrase stream refers to how cellular the paint is, and how simply it transfers from the brush to the paper or area. Mediums can be included to alter move.


Fluid Paints

Fluid paints are provided in a bottle and have a texture like double product. Although they are thinner than some of the other varieties of acrylic paint, this does not necessarily mean they have a lower pigment load, and nevertheless offer you high colour strength. Fluid paints circulation continually from a brush, minimizing noticeable brush strokes in a portray. They can be poured or dripped on to the floor for vivid puddles of color, or they can be made use of for a lot more exact tactics, these as glazing.


Gesso (Acrylic Gesso)

A form of acrylic primer, that replicates the attributes of ‘traditional gesso’, a mixture of French chalk or whiting and rabbit skin glue. Fine out additional in our short article Dimensions, Primer, Gesso and Ground Discussed



The application of a thin layer of translucent paint in excess of a previous layer to modify the colour rather, somewhat than covering above it absolutely.


Large Entire body Paints

Hefty Physique paints are acrylic paints with the thickest consistency. They’re the most common and have a buttery texture, producing them the closest to oil paints. Significant human body paints maintain their shape as they are squeezed from the tube, nonetheless, like all other acrylics, can be created more fluid by mixing with water. The damp paint can be squeezed out of these tubes onto your palette for mixing or even right on to the painting surface that you are doing the job on for thick, expressive marks (see impasto).


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

Weighty physique paint: medium – thick applications of paint/impasto techniques



A phrase to explain paint that has been utilized thickly, generally straight from the tube or with a medium additional to thicken it.


Interactive Acrylics

Generally, the moment dry, standard acrylic paints can not be re-wetted. Having said that ‘Interactive Acrylics’ present a solution to this. They are just like normal acrylic quick-drying artist high quality paints, even so, they comprise 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 even though nonetheless moist. A Rapid Medium/Fixer is made use of to seal the layer of paint once the portray is totally completed. This means the paint will no extended be re-wettable.



An additive that is combined with paint in buy to extend the color or change some of its houses these as regularity, texture, transparency or flow.


Mixed Media Painting

An acrylic painting method that utilizes paints, mediums, sample earning tools to insert impressions, and collaged things.


Normal Hair Brushes

Natural hair brushes are produced utilizing animal hair, these kinds of as sable or squirrel. The different would be synthetic brushes.


Open Paints

‘Open paints’ are built to dry extremely slowly and gradually, producing it easy to paint moist-into-wet and blend colour on the surface of your painting. They are meant to mimic oil paint as significantly as feasible, imagined they are usually smooth human body.


Palette Knife

A palette knife is a blunt software utilised for mixing or implementing paint, with a adaptable steel blade. Plastic palette knives are also offered. They can also be identified as a portray knife and can have a straight cope with or an offset ‘crank’ deal with.



A pigment is finely ground colour created possibly in a laboratory or from obviously colored rocks. When merged with the artificial resin binder it can make acrylic paint.



Pour Portray

This refers to a portray strategy working with fluid acrylic paints or inks, typically with the addition of a pouring medium, and pouring them directly onto the portray. The flowing benefits are summary, although there are a amount of approaches inside the procedure to harness and regulate the paint to obtain distinctive patterns and results. See our post Acrylic Pour Painting With Schmincke Pouring Medium and Inks for inspiration.



A ‘Primer’ is a surfacing content made use of to coat a floor to get it ready for paint software. It is a glue that sticks very well to your area, superior than your paint would. It acts as a middleman concerning the surface and the paint which is applied around the leading, so that your paint is perfectly adhered.


Qualified Quality

You may perhaps see ‘Professional Grade’ composed on the tubes of paints that are of the very best good quality. They have the best quality pigments and resins and the tubes will consist of the optimum ratio of pigment to binder to be certain the most effective doable general performance.


Prepared-produced Canvases

Canvas is a well known selection for an acrylic portray ground. All set-made canvases appear primed and stretched on to picket frames, so that the artist doesn’t have to have to stretch or key it by themselves.




Comfortable System Paints

Soft system paints are thinner than weighty overall body paints. They resemble yoghurt in consistency, and can quickly be mixed with mediums or be utilized on their personal with clean and responsive managing.


Remain Soaked Palettes

Acrylic paints dry swiftly, that means they can frequently dry on your palette just before you have concluded utilizing them for your painting. A ‘Stay Wet’ palette offers a alternative to this, and is composed of a tray which you pour water on and then location a special sheet more than the best. The humidity stops the paint from drying and thus enables you to operate with your paint for for a longer time.


Pupil Quality

Acrylic paints labelled as ‘student grade’ have the most affordable pigment to binder ratio. Fillers and mediums are utilized to lengthen the pigments and incorporate bulk, which signifies the university student equivalents of experienced colours are typically a lot more clear and the colors can appear less powerful. They are most appropriate for beginners as well as college students and gurus on a finances.


Synthetic Brushes

Artificial brushes are an inexpensive and difficult-sporting different to Pure Hair Brushes. They are manufactured employing artificial supplies, as opposed to animal hair.


Tear off palettes

A form of palette in the variety of specific sheets of waxy papers glued alongside one another into a pad. You mix your colors on the prime sheet, and can merely tear it absent and dispose of it later on. Tear off palettes take out the necessity to clean up a messy palette at the conclude of a portray session.



The measure of how significantly light-weight is capable to go as a result of an utilized paint and interact with the floor beneath. Clear paints surface more luminous on a white aid because they make it possible for a larger sized proportion of gentle to strike the area they are laying on. Opaque paints block this reflection from developing, and can be applied to include layers of color underneath. Acrylic paints will be more opaque when applied right from the tube. The transparency of them can be elevated with the addition of drinking water.



Varnish for acrylic paintings is a very clear coating utilized on best of a concluded portray, built to protect from scratches, give a tricky surface area because acrylic is soft and porous, and in some scenarios defense from the fading effects of UV light. Artist high quality varnish is constantly detachable. Varnish can be applied to alter the closing sheen of a portray by picking out matt, satin or gloss. Varnish for acrylic paintings will come in a couple of formats – for all of them you will need to make sure the painting is absolutely dry and treated, and that the surface area is free of dust. Spray varnish is rapid and simple to use but demands very good air flow and you need to have to choose care to get even protection. It is especially useful for very textured paintings where varnish used with a brush could pool in the minimal spots. Varnish can also occur in a bottle or a tin to be utilized with a brush. Acrylic varnish can be drinking water-primarily based or solvent-centered. MSA (Mineral Spirit Acrylic) varnish gives a harder layer than drinking water-primarily based acrylic varnish and demands to be cleaned/thinned with solvents, although it is continue to acrylic based.



The sum of thickness or fluidity a paint has – higher viscosity is a thick paint and small viscosity is a fluid paint. Occasionally termed regularity. Acrylic paint is made in a vary of thicknesses which can be grouped into four: heavy system, soft body, fluid, and ink. Just about every has the identical quantity of pigment, just distinct quantities of thickeners. See our Dairy Scale of Paint Viscosities.



Moist-on-wet is a portray strategy in which levels of damp paint are utilized to beforehand applied levels of paint that have not but dried and are however soaked. This can be utilized for mixing techniques and mixing colors straight on the area.



Even further Studying

Acrylic Portray for Newbies – What You Want to Get Commenced

Artwork Terms Explained: Watercolour Portray

Artwork Phrases Discussed: Oil Painting

All the things You Will need to Know About Acrylic Portray Paper




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