Tips on painting in hyperrealism using acrylics

Hyperrealist painters create paintings that resemble high-resolution photographs. A hyperrealist makes use of photographic images as a reference source, but the artist then creates a more definitive and detailed rendering of the original subject. The objects and scenes in hyperrealistic paintings are meticulously detailed to create the illusion of a new reality not seen in the original photo. Many of the paintings are made with an airbrush, using acrylics, oils or a combination of both. If you feel you're ready to try your hands at hyperrealism, chances are you are not a beginner. Still, there are some important tips to keep in mind when creating hyperrealistic pictures in acrylic.

Use High-Quality Art Supplies

Inexpensive acrylic paint will simply not suffice when it comes to creating hyperrealistic paintings. Since we are talking about a very precise and meticulous painting technique where the details, edges and colours must be razor-sharp, it is easy to see why you must invest in high-quality brushes and acrylic paints. Otherwise, your colours will not have the necessary splendour or the correct consistency, and you will not be able to master this technique.

Use Sufficient Amounts of Paint

Many beginners make the mistake of not applying enough paint on the fabric. This may stem from a fear of wasting paint, which is understandable considering the price of supplies. However, the hyperrealistic style of painting will often require adding several layers on top of each other, so if you want to use this technique, you must be ready to use a lot of paint. Luckily, acrylic paint is fast-drying: A canvas will take about a day to dry, instead of the weeks or months in the case of an oil painting. Therefore, it is a perfect medium for layering.

Work Quickly When Mixing Color

Acrylics are a fast-drying paint medium, so you need to work quickly when you're mixing colour. For hyperrealistic paintings it's a better idea to mix colour on your palette instead of on a dampened canvas. Always use a clean brush to mix and work on all of the mixed colour areas at once since it's unlikely you'll be able to mix that exact tone again. Also, it may not be a good idea to buy colours from different stores, as the shades may turn out to be different. If you know you're going to use a lot of one colour on a canvas, buy a few spare tubes of the same brand so you're not caught short.

Make Use of the Versatility of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints can be both transparent and opaque. For a colour-wash effect, simply add a small amount of water to the paint and apply thinly. For an opaque effect, mix a small amount of white paint into the coloured paint. Always remember to build up colour in layers. If you apply one thick layer, you won't be able to take any paint back away from the medium. The way to achieve the perfect texture and colour is to build up the colour slowly. You can also use acrylic as a glaze: Simply apply a whitened paint in a very thin layer over the desired area for a glazed effect.

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About the Author

Sophie Sarkozy began writing professionally in 2005. Her translations of science fiction short stories have been published in the prestigious Hungarian "Galaktika" magazine. Fluent in English and Hungarian, Sarkozy received her Master of Arts in English language and literature at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest.