How to Create Gradient With Acrylic Paint

Written by elyse james
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How to Create Gradient With Acrylic Paint
Use the gradient technique to paint skies or other scenes that transition from dark to light. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

When an artist refers to a gradient, he or she is describing a painting technique in which the artist blends several colours together so that it appears as though the colours on the canvas are shifting gradually from one to the other. Creating a gradient with slightly liquid paint such as acrylic is easier because the paint does not dry quickly, thereby allowing the artist to blend it into the next colour. When choosing the colours to create a gradient, select options that are connected on the colour wheel in order to give your piece an even gradation.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Acrylic paints
  • Palette
  • Canvas or sealed paper
  • Foam brushes (one for each colour)
  • Make-up sponge

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  1. 1

    Paint the upper right corner of you canvas with the lightest colour using your foam brush.

  2. 2

    Paint a strip of your medium colour that is about 1 1/2-inches wide. The strip should run diagonally from the top left to the bottom right corner of the page or canvas. The white space between the lightest colour and the medium colour is where the blending will occur.

  3. 3

    Use a new foam brush and blend the medium coloured paint towards the lighter section. Use a circular motion to blend in the two colours. Make sure that no space remains between the two coloured strips.

  4. 4

    Blend more of the medium colour into the new mid-tone you just created; this will increase the gradient look. Use another brush to add more paint from the light colour into the first blended strip. You can use the clean side of the brush you used to apply the light colour.

  5. 5

    Use a make-up sponge to blend in all four layers of colour so that they transition evenly.

  6. 6

    Apply the darkest colour from the palette with a new brush. The darkest colour is applied opposite the corner where the lightest colour was applied.

  7. 7

    Repeat the blending process to blend the darkest colour with the medium strip you painted in the third step. By now your entire page or canvas should be completely covered in a gradient.

Tips and warnings

  • For a larger canvas, use more than three shades of colour to complete your gradient. Space the strips of colour evenly across the page, with white spaces in between for blending.

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