How to Paint Fire with Acrylics

Updated March 23, 2017

Acrylic paints offer rich, vibrant colours that are well suited to painting natural landscapes and other elements. Fire is one of the many elements that you can capture in an acrylic painting with little difficulty. The rich colour tones of acrylic paint, as well some of the techniques used in the painting process, are ideal for creating fire scenes that are realistic and eye-catching. Here are some techniques to help you paint fire that will look as if it's burning your canvas.

Sketch the outline of your flames lightly with pencil. Apply the flame sketches everywhere you will want them in your painting. If there will be other elements in your painting, sketch those in first and then sketch in the flames around those elements. Be creative with the direction of the flames. Don't try to make everything uniform. Real flames should have a raging, out-of-control appearance.

Blend a mixture of red, orange and yellow acrylic paints and begin at the base of each flame, using light, even strokes in an upward motion to achieve the direction of the flame. The base of the flame should be lighter and the tips darker.

Darken your flames as you get closer to the tips of them. Mix a blend of deep red and orange and apply the brush strokes with more pressure than you did at the base of the flames. You can enhance the dark tips of your flames by wetting your brush with paint thinner and applying it over the base colouring, creating a washed-out look at the base of the flames.

Use a thin brush and a combination of black and brown acrylics to draw thin, sharp lines within the flames that follow the general direction of each individual flame. Add these lines sparingly to create and enhance depth in your fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • Brushes
  • Canvas
  • Paint thinner
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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.