Acrylic Painting Tips For Beginners: 8 Tips To Paint Like A Pro

A woman holding a big acrylic brush against a canvas with the text saying PortraitFlip, Acrylic Painting tip for beginner

Acrylic painting tips for beginners are a must for anyone looking to get into painting; and for one to get into paintings, one should master acrylics first.

Only then can they venture into other mediums like oil and watercolors.

Oils have a stigma of being more prestigious than acrylics, just because they were used by the masters.

Do not be fooled by this!

Acrylics are beautiful and the most versatile paints to work with.

And many artists today solely use acrylic colors.

Whether used opaquely or diluted with water, acrylics have a very distinct charm.

Due to their versatility, they are widely used among professionals and amateurs alike.

Yes, it does take time to get a hang of painting with acrylics but after plenty of trial and error — Tada!!!

The next Andy Warhol is born.

With a lot of research and guidance from artists who have worked with acrylic paints, I’ve put together this comprehensive blog.

From a brief explainer to full-blown tips — this will be your complete guide of acrylic painting tips for beginners.

Here I will answer your most important questions and give you 8 tips about acrylic painting basics that will get you painting like a pro in no time.

It will help you from beginning to end where your first masterpiece awaits you.

So let me give you a quick tour of all the painting tips with acrylic colors.

1. Acrylic Painting Supplies

A woman sitting on the floor with acrylic painting supplies around her and she is painting on an empty canvas with a brush as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners.

In acrylic painting tips for beginners, the foremost tip is to gather your acrylic painting supplies.

There are some basic acrylic painting supplies that a painter must have but for a beginner like you, some extra supplies are needed.

The basic supplies for a professional artist are acrylic paints, paintbrushes, and acrylic painting canvas.

But you need much more supplies than those since you’ve never used acrylics before.

Read along to know what supplies you need.

Bookmark this, as these are the important tools you need as a beginner acrylic artist.

A. Acrylic Paints For Beginners

different shades of acrylic paints to be used as beginners.

It’s a no-brainer that for Acrylic Painting you need Acrylic Paints.

But to paint with this mesmerizing medium you should know what it is.

So, what are Acrylic Paints?

Acrylic paints are versatile water-based paints that were introduced to the market in the 1940s.

These paints dry very quickly and tend to become darker as they dry.

They come in two grades — student and artist.

I advise you to use the student-quality paints as they are less expensive and great for practicing.

As you feel more confident with them you can switch to artist-quality paints.

Shades of Acrylic Paints For Beginners.

There is a vast selection of colors in the acrylic colors. But a beginner must have a good basic palette of acrylic colors.

With these basic colors for acrylic painting, you should be able to mix up any color you want.

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Crimson

B. Acrylic Paintbrushes

A person holding the different types of acrylic paint brushes in his hand.

Find acrylic paint brushes for your painting that feel good to you.

They are going to help you create your masterpieces. They don’t have to be expensive for you to enjoy the experience.

In your local store, grab one of those plastic packs. Run your finger through the hair, feel them against your fingers, brush it on your palm.

That’s your brush, your magic wand!

Choosing between natural and synthetic — I’d say choose synthetic as they are firmer and will be easier to use with the student quality paint.

You can switch to natural or hog hair when you reach the artist level.

  • Flat Brush
  • Round Brush
  • Wash Brush
  • Angled Brush
  • Liner Brush
  • Fan Brush

These are the best acrylic painting brushes for painting you should pick up from the store:

C. Acrylic Painting Canvas

different types of canvases to be used by a beginner trying to paint with acrylic paints.

Do not start on a generic paper.


Start your painting journey on a canvas board if a stretched canvas is too bulky for you.

Acrylic painting canvas boards and panels are thinner and easy to store.

If you want to start with an even cheaper surface — canvas textured papers.

I can’t ask you to go any cheaper than this.

Buy an acrylic-approved primed canvas or make sure they are primed for you.

Read on to know why it is so necessary to prime a canvas.

D. Acrylic Painting Palette

dirty acrylic painting palettes with different colors of acrylic paints.

Any palette with a non-stick surface is great for mixing acrylic paints.

Whether you use a purpose-made palette with a flat surface or a large color palette, a large working area is perfect for mixing large patches of color.

If you intend to dilute the water you should use a palette with wells.

It prevents the lower viscosity paint from mixing with the other colors.

If not, then a flat surface palette is perfect to mix your paints.

E. Rag/ Paper Towel

ones of the acrylic painting tips for beginners is to clean the brushes with tissue papers or a cotton rag.

Any cotton rag or paper towel will do the job for you.

Why cotton rag?

It absorbs the water quickly from the brush.

The rag can also be used to soak up water when you have to wash the canvas.

F. Cup / Jar of Water

two jars of dirty water with brushes in them used to clean acrylic painting brushes.

Keep in mind that two cups of water are always better than one.

If you want your paint to be as pure as possible — two is the way to go.

You should use one to clean your brush and the other to add water/ thin your paint with.

It’s also a healthy habit to repurpose old jars in your house.

G. Varnish for Acrylic

a hand applying clear varnish with a paint brush on a painted canvas.

Varnish is the final touch you give to your painting as it is the tool you use to preserve your painting for years to come.

Varnishes come in three types: Matte, Glossy, and Satin.

Choosing the best varnish is completely on you and what would suit your painting.

Pro Tip: You can even add glitter to your varnish to give an amazing glittery finish

2. Find a Reference (Ideas For Acrylic Painting For Beginners)

a girl trying to copy a framed painting on her canvas with acrylic paints

If you are sitting with a blank canvas in front of you and don’t know what to paint — find a reference.

The internet is filled with ideas for acrylic painting for beginners.

Find pictures that appeal to you and can be used as a reference to paint something on your canvas.

Choose one to be your roadmap to paint with acrylic painting as a beginner.

It’s okay.

To understand and learn something you need inspiration.

Furthermore, since the reference picture will be just one scene, you can easily whet your skills.

It also helps you to become familiar with your medium as well as produce a beautiful painting.

Not that you couldn’t do it on your own.

To feel the paint glide on the canvas of your choice. To feel the paintbrush act as your companion in the process. That’s your goal.

Or go all out, paint with your fingers, don’t follow any rules, that end product would be your very own abstract acrylic painting.

The basic need for reference is to know how you want to use your acrylic colors.

This was one of the most important acrylic painting tips for beginners.

3. Prepare The Canvas For Acrylic Painting

supplies used for priming a canvas that is going to be painted with acrylic paints.

Usually, a store-bought canvas is already primed with gesso.

If you want your surface to have a different texture you can prime it on your own.

If you have an acrylic painting canvas but it is not primed, I will show you how.

So how to prepare a canvas for acrylic painting?

What you need:

  • A.  Sponge
  • B.  Water
  • C.  Acrylic Gesso
  • D.  Flat Brush

How to prime an acrylic painting canvas with gesso:

#Step 1 – Wet the entire canvas with water and a sponge.

#Step 2 – Stir the gesso in its jar to smoothen it.

Pro tip: Use the handle end of an old brush that you don’t use anymore to stir the gesso

#Step 3 – In a plastic cup pour enough gesso only for the canvas, as it’s not ideal to pour the extra back in the jar.

Pro tip: Close the lid of the gesso quickly as it tends to dry out rapidly when exposed to air.

#Step 4 – Add 20% water, stir well, and dilute it enough. The dilution helps the gesso to penetrate the fibers of the canvas and spread easily.

Pro tip: Acrylic gesso is usually white, but you can add a little paint in to give it a tint.

#Step 5 – Clean the spills quickly as the gesso dries in no time. Keep a paper towel in handy.

#Step 6 – With a 1 or a 2-inch flat brush even the gesso out on the canvas. You can do the horizontal or strokes.

a hand priming a canvas with a white primer by a paint brush on an unprimed canvas.

Pro tip: Use a 6-inch sponge roller to get the work done faster and smoother.

#Step 7 – Let it dry thoroughly overnight or for an hour if you are impatient. Softly touch the surface to check to see if the gesso is completely dry.

various types of canvases shown in the image that are showing effects of before and after priming.

Can I apply acrylic to an unprimed canvas?

As long as the substrate is not oily or greasy, acrylic paint can be applied to a wide range of materials and supports with little or no surface preparation.

This is why acrylic paint cannot be used over oil paint (although you can apply oil on top of acrylic).

As a result, you could paint with acrylics straight on unprimed canvas, but the absorbent surface would suck up a lot of expensive paint, thus sealing and priming with gesso before painting is a smart idea.

4. Color Mixing Techniques

acrylic paints, palette knife, and an acrylic paint brush.

Mixing color is one of the most important aspects of painting.

Why do you think artists in the tutorial videos spend more time mixing colors than painting with them?

There are hardly any people there that use paint directly from the tube.

Using paint from the tube makes it look hard and flat.

Consider adding a drop of white or a lighter version of your color to the paint to increase the color complexity.

patches of acrylic paints shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners.
the patches show that adding a bit of white to the red paint increases the red color's complexity

Believe me, some colors just do not have pigments in them.

To solve this problem, add a touch of white. And you are set for life.

After this trick, you will never not add white to every color. I do it.

No no no! Adding black to darken a color is a big no-no. It is frowned upon.

In paintings, you always want to try to make your colors look natural.

Add a speckle of dark blue or brown to your color, which will give you a more vibrant outcome.

patches of acrylic paints shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners.
the patches show that adding a bit of brown to the yellow paint gives us a more vibrant outcome.

Red mixed with white will give you skin tone.

Got you there! Don’t you dare follow these taboos of the painting world.

Mixing the primary colors blue, yellow, and red, will give you the perfect skin color.

If the skin tone is lighter add more yellow to the mixture and if it’s dark add blue.

patches of acrylic paints shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners.
the patches show that mixing together the primary color red, yellow, and blue will give you the outcome of a skin tone.

Want to become the next famous portrait painter like Picasso?

Green is your answer.  To your skin tone color add the tiniest bit of green to give the color depth.

No, you aren’t going to end up painting an alien.

But you have to study the entire skin tone genre in detail to understand how it works.

Black is not going to add depth to your blue color. Red is. Just a touch. A spot. That’s all.

patches of acrylic paints shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners.
the patches show that adding a touch of red to to blue will give you a darker shade of blue.

If you add too much you are going to end up with purple. That’s not the goal.

Our goal is to deepen the color.

Since the shades of acrylic paints for beginners are limited, you are going to end up making shades from two or more colors.

The trick is to make a very basic version of your shade.

Eg: to make yellow ochre, start mixing yellow and a touch of blue, then refine it by mixing a bit of red or blue.

Add the color speck by speck to refine the shade that you want.

Pro tip: Make the light shade of your color you make by mixing more colors, always.

Make a family of the colors you are going to paint.

Eg: say you’ve created the perfect green shade for your apple with yellow and blue. Mix more color shades with more blue in it or more red.

Shadows and highlights. The natural progression of colors you will have with this family of colors is going to blow your mind.

If you have leftover colors, you can store colors for a longer time in old film canisters.

I would usually wrap them individually in butter paper, but then again, I would use them up the next day itself.

5. Acrylic Painting Techniques

a palette that had dried acrylic paint and clean paint brushes on it.

Now comes the fun part. You are all set with your acrylic painting supplies, your canvas is primed, and brushed ready.

But how do you get started?

I will give you some acrylic painting techniques for beginners that will help you start your journey.

These are some very helpful acrylic painting tips for beginners so read carefully and let me know which technique you loved the most.

The comment section is down below.

A. Dry Brush

dry brush technique shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners in the form of a dry brush being glided on a patch of paint.

When undiluted and thick paint is applied to the canvas a texture is born on its own.

A current of color is formed on the canvas with uneven lines.

Paintings need the texture to emphasize them even more so.

These ripples or lines will be uneven but boy oh boy will they create a movement to the painting.

B. Stippling

stippling technique shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners in the form of a dots being glided on a canvas.

Also known as pointillism, is often used as a technique in drawing, and can also be used in paintings to form paintings from dots.

Georges Seurat is the perfect example of this technique.

Using dots to create an image that shows texture and a fascinating painting with a subtle color difference.

C. Palette Knife

dry brush technique shown as one of the acrylic painting tips for beginners in the form of a dry brush being glided on a patch of paint.

Using palette knives for painting is the quick way to make your painting pretentious.

When the first time you hold a knife, it may seem daunting but even beginners like you can ace it.

Simply pick a good amount of paint and lay it on the canvas.

Pretend you are icing a cake or spreading butter on toast, but artfully.

Remember, there is nothing like excess icing or butter.

D. Dabbing

a woman applying acrylic paint with a sponge on a canvas as a technique for acrylic paints for beginners.

This is by far the most texturing technique in a painting.

A sponge or even a crumpled tissue dabbed with light and fast pressure does the job perfectly.

This technique is so apt to mix accents of color because the flow of merging the colors looks really natural.

You can add a lot of movement to your painting especially to trees and bushes.

E. Detailing

a person doing the detailing work on a canvas with a fine pointed brush.

A fine pointed brush and paint are all you need to add details to your painting.

It is quite an intricate and tedious process, but worth every stretch.

The brush is meant to retain its point form which can be attained by dipping it in water moderately.

Hold it like you would a pencil or pen, and detail the life out of your painting.


F. Splattering

a brush dipped in paint and a splatter pattern on the background canvas.

Beautiful chaos is the eventual outcome of this technique.

It is all about expression, color, and acceptance of the chaotic nature of life.

Jackson Pollock is the father of splatter painting.

Just pick up a wet brush, dip in the color that speaks to you, and start flicking/splattering on your canvas.

This technique can be used to create abstract landscapes or add textures to your paintings.

G. Wash

acrylic wash on a canvas.

Remember when I said that acrylic colors are the kings of versatility, I meant it.

They can be diluted in water which emulates the watercolor technique.

Only this acrylic wash is going to set for life.

Mixing dry brush and wash techniques will help you make a variety of textures on a single canvas.

Techniques To Build A Painting — These techniques can be the groundwork for you as a future artist.

These techniques will develop as your skills will develop and will intensify as you progress.

H. Patchwork

a patchwork technique shown on a canvas as a scenery image.

This is an amazing technique for beginners.

Draw an image with separate space, outline each space with different colors and fill the patches.

You can paint each patch with a single color or tone.

Imagine it to be something like your very own paint by numbers.

It would look good with monochromatic color shades or a variety of colors too.

I. Layering

layering technique applied to painting a lemon on a green background.

Layering is nothing but painting its layers.

First the wash, then add more refining details to complete your painting.

This technique is often used to give an object a 3D effect like a portrait or any other subject.

J. Underpainting

underpainting done in the shade of green.

This technique is basically the skeleton of your painting.

It is a sketch of your painting but with a contrasting color of your color palette.

Underpaintings can be hidden with opaque colors directly being painted over them, but my advice?

Let a hint of it shine through to add a dimensional effect to your painting.

K. Glazing

the glaze technique in acrylic painting is shown with 3 different colored flowers.

A glaze is basically a thin layer of translucent paint that allows some color underneath to be seen.

It is a secret ingredient that brings photorealist paintings to life.

You can add some matte medium to your color to paint luminous scenes.

You can build layers by this technique to create a complex and rich color.

5. Acrylic Painting Tips to Remember

A guy thinking hard with a paint brush against his face and an empty color palette in his hand. The image also has a text saying acrylic painting tips to remember.

With all these acrylic painting tips for beginners, I am pretty sure you have got it covered.

With these additional painting tips, you will be able to add finesse to your painting.

A. Don’t Be Skimpy With Paint

It is really okay to use more paint and apply a thick layer.

You may think that by using less or thinned paint you will save money but it will only ruin your piece in the long run.

Thinned paint will make you use more color, create more layers, and muck the painting up.

B. Work Fast

By now you should have an idea that acrylic paints have a fast-drying time.

If you don’t have the patience to wait for your layers to dry then obviously this is your medium.

If not then you have to develop a quick painting habit.

With time we have come up with techniques to extend the paint’s drying off time.

An easy way is to use plastic spray bottles to mist the paint and it is also a cheap option.

C. Use Contrast Shades

Use contrast shades to make your paintings look visually appealing and interesting.

And also, to add a more realistic look.

You can use warm colors like reds, yellows, and oranges next to cool colors like blues, purples, and greens.

D. Acrylics Lets You Paint Over Mistakes

You know what the best part about painting with acrylics is the fact that if

If you’ve made a mistake, no worries. You won’t have to wait long for the paint to dry to easily paint over your mistakes.

E. Step Away Periodically

Try to step away from your painting at least 2 to 3 steps back every time you finish painting some patch.

It helps you gain some perspective of what you are painting since it is easy to lose sometimes.

It is very important to do so and take in the overall feeling of your painting.

By just doing this simple step you will see, how the colors in your painting complement one another as well as give you the chance to adjust the angles and objects.

7. Final Touches (Varnish)

a brush that has varnish dripping from it is shown in the image.

One important tip I want to add to the acrylic painting tips for beginners is to take photos of every step.

Also, take the final one before the varnish because it can be a pain in the sitzfleisch.

It is possible but for obvious reasons it needs patience and acrylic painters don’t have any.

Coming back to varnishing your painting — let your painting dry completely before you start this process.

If there is any wet paint under the varnish layer it will mix with the varnish and you will streak on paint throughout your painting.

Clean your painting so thoroughly that there is no speck of dust on it.

Remember to always use a separate container and brush for your varnish.

Rinse your container and brush with water and follow the instructions on the varnish bottle.

Empty enough varnish to cover the entire painting surface. Don’t be skimpy.

Lay your painting down on a flat surface where it will not be bothered by cats or children.

It is a possibility that excess varnish will drip down from the sides so try to lay down heaps of paper or cardboard underneath the painting.

It is even more clever to prop the painting on a height.

With a brush apply the varnish to the painting with even strokes.

To check if the varnish has covered your entire painting. Shine your phone light at an angle to check if all the parts are shiny.

Wait for the varnish to dry for at least 5 -6 hours before applying a second layer in a similar way.

Another reminder is to sign and date the painting that you have made from scratch.

8. Cleaning Up

a dirty table is shown with colors and canvases before being cleaned.

After you finish painting it is very necessary to clean the area you painted in.

Pro tip: I would leave the wastewater to evaporate and then use the leftover paint chips to add textures to my paintings.

Not only is this helping you save the environment but also you are wasting zilch material.

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Palette?

That is the beauty of acrylic paints, they dry up and can never be diluted again.

Leftover paint on the color palette can be left as is, as it will not mix with the new color.

How to clean acrylic paint brushes?

As for your brushes, clean them with soap and water immediately when you are done painting.

It is the basics of acrylic painting that the base of the bristles holds the most paint so clean it briskly but with care.

After rinsing, dry and lay them down or you can even store them standing up.

Don’t ever stand them up with their bristles facing down, ever.

Well, that was the end of the basics of acrylic painting. If you know you can master the medium, I have succeeded.

If not and you don’t want to go through all the hassle get an acrylic painting made by PortraitFlip to save you time, money, and energy.

Still not sure if painting with acrylics is your style? Learn more about the different styles and techniques of painting.

That’s all she said…

Salut Readers,

Thank you for coming this far. It really does mean a lot.

I hope I was able to share some of my wisdom of painting with acrylic colors with you.

If I did really help, I would love to know about it, in the comments section below.

Don’t hesitate to share this article with someone who needs these acrylic painting tips for beginners.

Please subscribe to our YouTube and follow us on Instagram.

Au Revoir!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you wet the brush before using acrylic paint?
Acrylic paints dry very quickly if not moistened often. You shouldn’t just use water before using acrylic paints but you should also wet your brushes during the entire process of painting. If you don’t like wet handles place your brushes in a shallow container between colors.
How do I get better at acrylic painting?
Practice makes a man perfect. Similarly, try to paint as often as possible with acrylic paints to understand them better and also find your techniques and styles. Even though you begin as an amateur you can always upgrade your colors, brushes and canvases to get a better outcome.
Should I wet my canvas before painting?
The fact that wetting a canvas before painting is only applicable when the background needs a wash of color. A canvas that is often used to paint with acrylic paints is primed and if you want to give the background a wash of a medium tone, it does not not spread evenly since acrylic paints dry quickly. The wetting of a canvas is not a tradition but completely based on requirement.
What is acrylic paint used for?
Acrylics are the most versatile paints among all the mediums. They are soluble in water and can be used on many different surfaces besides canvas like wood, fabrics, metals, and ceramics. They are used on ordinary objects to give them a creative touch.
Is acrylic paint permanent?
Yes, acrylic paints are permanent. they are water based and dry very quickly. They don’t need any added solvents to make them permanent and can be applied to a variety of surfaces. when acrylic paints dry, they become hard and are flexible. Although their texture is smooth, it can be modified with different mediums, pastes, and gels.


2 thoughts on “Acrylic Painting Tips For Beginners: 8 Tips To Paint Like A Pro

  1. Gary Albright says:

    I’m a 75 yr. old burnout hippie that delved in abstract painting back in those days, but now all of sudden I want to learn good ways of painting with acrylics. You got me going already, just can’t afford lessons on a fixed income. Got my easel and table set up with supplies and ready. Don’t know if wife likes that idea? Oh well.

    • Sana Inamdar says:

      Hi Gary,
      I am so glad you want to get back to painting. Acrylics are simply the best medium to step back into the painting game. If you even have the bare minimum supplies from the blog here like paints, brushes, a rag, and a canvas, a beautiful painting of a bouquet of roses for the lovely Mrs. will go a long way. Youtube will be of great help. Always search for step-by-step tutorials.

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