How to Paint Boats in Acrylic

Updated March 23, 2017

Acrylic paint gives artists certain advantages. It dries fast, is easy to work with and may be painted over relatively quickly. Artists may paint seascapes and harbour scenes with boats from a live point of view before the scene changes. Painting a boat takes just a few steps and some basic equipment.

Find a boat to be your subject. Use a real boat or photographs.

Sketch the basic shape of the boat on canvas in pencil.

Outline the sketch with black paint. Let the paint dry. This seals the graphite in so it won't smudge later on. If you are working in with a lighter palette use a lighter colour of paint to seal the graphite.

Paint in the basic shape of the boat. Use a slightly darker shade of paint to fill in shadowed areas.

Block in the rest of the painting.

Paint in the next layer of detailing for the boat. Add windows, a mast, anchors, and railing.

Shade the boat to create a realistic three-dimensional look. Use slightly darker shades of the base colours to create shadow and slightly lighter shades to highlight. Incorporate small accents of other colour into the painting to create depth.

Add another layer of detail to the rest of the painting.

Add the final touches to the boat. Paint in the mast lines. Add small highlights and sharpen the painting to its finished appearance.

Add finishing details to the rest of the painting.


Acrylic dries quickly. Work fast if you want to blend paints on the canvas.

Things You'll Need

  • Boat picture
  • Canvas
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Brushes
  • Palette
  • Paper towel
  • Water
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