How to Gradient Acrylic Paint

Written by suzanne smith dickinson
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How to Gradient Acrylic Paint
Creating a gradient with acrylic paint adds texture and depth to any painting. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Acrylic paints can be some of the most versatile and easy to use for artists and crafters. They can be used on a variety of surfaces and combined with different mediums and additives for multidimensional effects. Painting a gradient is a form of blending, taking a specific colour from its darkest shade to its lightest and is one of the effects you can create with acrylic paint.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • White acrylic paint
  • Any colour acrylic paint
  • Canvas paper
  • Palette
  • Acrylic paintbrush
  • Cup of water
  • Dry rag

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    Creating a Gradient

  1. 1

    Squeeze a quarter-size dab of your acrylic colour and another of your white on your palette. Take up some of the white paint on your brush and paint a wide line across the canvas paper.

  2. 2

    Dab the brush used for the white paint still into the colour acrylic. Use just a small amount, and mix it into your white dab. Paint another wide line using the new colour next to the white line, overlapping the two lines.

  3. 3

    Pick up a little more of the acrylic colour and add it to your new colour. Paint another line, again overlapping. Continue to do this until you paint wide line that is the full colour, without using any white. This will be your last line.

  4. 4

    Clean your brush thoroughly with the water and dry the bristles with the dry rag, or use a new dry brush. Starting from the white stripe, stroke the brush down in a continuous strokes across all the lines. Continue until the lines are fully blended and you cannot see where each darker stripe of colour was added. The colours should blend from white to solid colour without any space between the lines painted.

Tips and warnings

  • Acrylics dry quickly, so you may want to add a slow-dry additive to the paint to allow the blending.
  • Add black to the colour instead of white to create a gradient that blends from the colour into black.
  • Always paint in a ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes.
  • Wear a paint smock to protect clothes from paint stains.

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