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How do I dilute acrylic paints?

Artists who enjoy painting often use acrylic paints for a variety of different painting techniques. Acrylic paints are suitable for painting on paper and adding paint to other surfaces as well. While you can apply acrylic paints to surfaces without adding anything to the paints, you can also dilute acrylic paints before you apply them. If you dilute acrylic paint with water, the result will be a thinner paint with a lighter colour that resembles watercolour. If you dilute acrylic paint with a special paint medium, the result will be a thinner paint without a colour change.

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  1. Place a small amount of acrylic paint onto the paint palette.

  2. Add a few drops of water to the paint on the paint palette. Start with only one or two drops. Add more water, only if necessary.

  3. Stir the acrylic paint and water with a craft stick to incorporate the two materials completely. As you add water to the acrylic paint, you make it both thinner in consistency and lighter in colour.

  4. Add more water if you are not satisfied with the consistency and colour of the acrylic paint. Continue adding more water (one or two drops at a time) until the paint has the consistency and colour you desire. Adding enough water to acrylic paint will eventually make it similar in consistency to watercolour paint.

  5. Use the paintbrush to apply the diluted acrylic paint to the surface you are painting.

  6. Place some acrylic paint onto the paint palette.

  7. Add paint medium to the acrylic paint. Start with a small amount of medium. Add more as you need it.

  8. Stir the acrylic paint and the medium together with a craft stick to mix the two ingredients. The medium will thin the acrylic paint and make it a runnier consistency, but it will not change the colour of the paint in the same way as water.

  9. Add more medium if you want the acrylic paint thinner. You can add as much medium as you wish without concern about the adherence of the acrylic paint to your surface.

  10. Apply the acrylic paint to the surface with a paintbrush when you are satisfied with the consistency of the paint.

  11. Warning

    Do not add more than 50 per cent water to acrylic paint when you dilute with water. The acrylic paint will not adhere properly when more than half the paint is water. It is safe to add any amount of medium to acrylic paint, because the medium will not affect the adhering of the paint in the same way as water.

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Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint palette
  • Water
  • Craft sticks (for stirring)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint medium

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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