Acrylic is a water–dispersed paint based on acrylic resin and pigment, and it is an ideal option for novice artists. Drawings with these paints are also suitable for amateurs and professionals. Paints are universal, they are bright, convenient to work with, not as capricious as watercolor or oil. Unlike them, acrylic perfectly combines with various materials, so there are no restrictions for fans of mixed media. If watercolor does not forgive mistakes, then shortcomings in acrylic painting are easy to correct. Thanks to the remarkable properties of acrylic, you will get a finished painting in just a few hours, you will not have to wait a month or longer for the work to dry, as it happens with oil painting.
Acrylic paints do not have a sharp unpleasant smell, it is not necessary to use solvents when drawing, so absolutely everyone can draw with them, including children, pregnant women and people with respiratory diseases. With them, you can create paintings in any direction. The process of drawing with acrylic is very fascinating, it allows the artist’s talent to be fully revealed. However, acrylic painting also has its own subtleties, without the knowledge of which it is impossible to do. In this article we will talk about the basic tools, materials and techniques of drawing for novice artists.
Materials and tools for drawing with acrylic paints
The success of creating a picture depends not so much on the skill of the artist, but on what and what he works on. Therefore, despite the fact that you can draw with acrylic on anything, novice painters should take the choice of the base and brushes very seriously.
The basis for drawing with acrylic
For a novice artist, the most suitable basis is a primed canvas on a stretcher. Canvas is a fabric woven from cotton or linen. In stores, you can find a canvas already stretched on a wooden frame (stretcher). Sizes and shapes are different, the main thing is that they fit your creative idea. Canvas without a stretcher is sold as an ordinary fabric, in square footage, a suitable piece is cut off from the canvas and stretched on a stretcher. The golden rule: it is best to start with small formats and move on to large-scale works, having honed skills and gained experience.
If you are just starting out, it is better to purchase a ready-primed and stretched canvas. The primer helps the paint stick more tightly to the base, so the paint layer will be of higher quality and durable.
If you have purchased an unpolished canvas or use a wooden board or plywood as a base, they must be covered with a primer. This is a special emulsion, which includes titanium dioxide, giving the base the necessary whiteness. It is applied in several layers and dried for 24 hours. After drying, the surface should be sanded with a medium-grained sandpaper to remove all irregularities. If you want to give the picture the right contrast, then you can apply a dark primer.
An excellent alternative to fabric canvas is paper on a solid cardboard base. It is inexpensive and completely imitates the texture of primed stretched canvas, that is, it is completely ready to work.
Another simple option for beginners is thick watercolor paper with a dense rough surface. If it is thin, then the sheet will go in waves from the paint, and the work will be spoiled.
Compared to canvas, paper is cheaper, sold in folders, ideal for student exercises.
White watercolor paper does not need pre-priming.
It is convenient to draw on it with acrylic paints diluted in water.
For more comfortable work and correct painting technique, the sheet should be glued to a wooden substrate. For textured paper, this is a prerequisite. Carefully remove the air bubbles with a wide spatula, let it dry – and the base is ready to work.
Speaking of the basis for acrylic painting, it is impossible not to mention the masking paper tape (crepe).
Firstly, with its help, you can fix the sheet on an easel-flapper or tablet without the slightest harm to work.
Secondly, he does not let the paper go in waves.
Thirdly, if you pre-paste the crepe on the sheet, and remove it at the end of the work, then the finished picture will be in a neat frame.
Fourth, by taping different sections of the base, you can achieve an interesting artistic effect.
Masking tape is indispensable in order to make clear boundaries between areas of different colors. Therefore, be sure to stock up on a reel or two.
Easel or tablet
If the basis for painting is inflexible – canvas on a stretcher, board or plywood, then it is most convenient to use an easel. The paper sheets are fixed on the tablet.
Artistic brushes and palette knife for acrylic
For acrylic painting, you will need a set of 5-8 brushes. Drawing with the same brush, it is impossible to use all the possibilities of acrylic paints, so you should have tools in your arsenal for various purposes and drawing techniques.
Large brushes are needed for lines and details.
For thick strokes and filling large areas, flat brushes are suitable.
Fans are indispensable for mixing colors and blurring the boundaries between different areas.
If you need to create clear thick strokes, it is better to take shortened flat brushes.
Flat beveled brushes are convenient to paint over corners and draw small details.
As for the pile material, the choice depends on the density of the acrylic paints with which you write.
Brushes made of column, sable, synthetics are suitable for diluted paints.
For thick acrylic, you need rigid brushes with a pile of sable wool, bristles, with synthetics in the composition or palette knives.
To fill large areas, it is better to use squirrel brushes.
The stiffness of the brushes is medium and high.
Brushes for acrylic painting should be strong and long, as they are significantly pressed against the base when drawing. Make sure that your kit has tools of different sizes: large and small round, as well as flat, this is the minimum. With large brushes they write the background and the main contours, with thin ones they draw small details.
The palette knife is a small steel blade. It is mainly used for mixing paints, removing non-dried surpluses and applying thick undiluted paints to the base, as well as for filling large areas. If you plan to draw with a palette knife, then purchase tools of different sizes.
Retarders and mediums for acrylic
Acrylic can also be diluted with cold clean water, but it is better if special mediums and drying retarders are at hand, which make it easier to work with paint.
The addition of a medium makes the acrylic elastic and viscous. It fits more evenly on the base and retains color saturation.
Retarders allow you to keep the acrylic in working condition for longer so that mistakes can be corrected.
Mediums and retarders are mixed into the paint strictly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you decide to dilute the acrylic with water, it is extremely important to observe the proportions precisely, since water greatly changes the properties of the paint. For the lower layers, acrylic is mixed with water in a ratio of 1:1. For a smooth secondary coating, a ratio of 1:2 is needed. To obtain a translucent layer during lamination, the optimal ratio of paint and water is 1:5. Keep in mind that only water gives this effect, and there are no diluents. The main thing is not to overdo it with water, if it is more than 20% of the paint volume, then the acrylic will not stick to the base.
Acrylic paints for beginners
In order to appreciate all the possibilities of acrylic paints, it is best to choose art paints, not student paints, because they contain more saturated pigments.
You should not immediately spend money on an expensive professional kit. To get started, you will need:
basic colors: black, brown, white, blue, yellow, red (one tube or jar);
5-6 colors according to your taste (also one piece).
This is quite enough for the first works. Mixing paints, you will get new interesting colors and shades.
Jars or tubes? For impasto technique, tubes are most convenient, since the paint in them is thick and viscous, what is needed for textured volumetric strokes. In jars, acrylic is more liquid in consistency, so it is convenient for them to work when painting over large areas.
Palette for mixing colors
In what proportions it is correct to mix paints in order to get a particular shade, a special table for mixing paints for oil painting will tell you (it is also suitable for acrylic). It is available on the Internet, it will save you a lot of nerves, time, not to mention materials.
For mixing, professional artists use:
disposable plates are the most popular and convenient option;
plastic palette – easy to clean, there are recesses for different colors. If you want to keep the palette white, then pre-wrap it with a colorless food film, then just take it off and throw it away.
Paints on plates and palettes should be laid out in small portions or regularly sprinkled with water from a spray gun so that the acrylic does not have time to dry out. Some artists, taking a break for rest, cover the palette with a film or tracing paper.
It is best to make a special palette for acrylic. The difficulty is that it has to stay wet, but not wet. Let’s open a little secret:
put a couple of paper towels on a plate;
place a tracing paper on top (necessarily of high quality, so that no villi form on its surface when wet);
moisten with water.
Loose paper will retain the desired moisture, and smooth tracing paper will give the paint exactly as much moisture as required.
Mixed paints can be stored in the refrigerator on a palette covered with a film. They will be fit for work for another 1-2 days.
Many artists advise to always mix the shade in a slightly larger amount than is required for the work. When the picture dries up and you see some errors, you will be able to correct them quickly and, most importantly, imperceptibly.
A container with a sprinkler is useful for creating water mist, which will prevent premature drying of the paint. Fill the spray bottle with clean cold water.
Apron and oilcloth
Acrylic is water-soluble only until it dries completely. It does not wash at all. That is why it is best to paint in clothes that are not very sorry, and always in an apron. The work surface must be covered with a protective film.
Water in a jar
Prepare several cans of clean cold water. They will be useful for washing and rinsing brushes, as well as for diluting paint.
How to work with acrylic paints
Acrylic dries very quickly, so you won’t have much time. Therefore, first make sure that the workplace is completely ready:
you are wearing an apron, the table is covered with a film;
cans of clean water;
brushes and palette knife;
paper scraps – they will remove excess paint;
a rag for brushes;
the light falls from the left (if you are right-handed).
Now you can start!
Apply a small amount of paint to the palette, literally 5 mm. Thus, lay out several colors around the perimeter with which you will work. Leave a distance of a couple of centimeters between them.
Take large brushes and draw the contours of the largest objects on the canvas. The lines should be clear. It is more convenient to do this with opaque matte paints.
Make a more detailed drawing with small brushes with a sharp tip, using transparent and translucent colors.
Every 10-15 minutes, be sure to spray the work with clean water from the spray gun so that the paints do not dry out before you finish the painting. It is necessary that the canvas is as if in a water haze of the smallest splashes.
Before switching to a new color, rinse the brush thoroughly from the paint. This can be done under cold running water or in two cans of water: in one you wash the brush, in the other you rinse. Be sure to blot a clean brush with a rag so that not a drop remains on the pile or on the handle. This is important because the moisture accumulated on the handle can fall on the work and spread out like a blob.
When everything is ready, leave the painting to dry for a day. After that, it can be covered with acrylic varnish and inserted into the frame.
Techniques of drawing with acrylic paints
There are many techniques of drawing with acrylic paints, let’s look at some of them.
Lessirovka is when translucent diluted paints are applied sequentially and thinly layer by layer, allowing the previous coating to dry. As a result, the image acquires depth and volume. The shades do not mix, so a very beautiful artistic effect is achieved. The colors are always applied not mixed, as they should be connected directly on the canvas. For example, to get a greenish tint, first a translucent yellow is applied, and then a translucent blue color.
With a dry technique, the brush is not pre-wetted in water, but immediately dials the paint with it and is applied in this way to the base. After each rinse, the brush should be wiped dry. This technique gives very clear transitions between different colors, the effect of texture, the natural unevenness of the surface of the object, for example, when depicting fruits, flowers, animals.
Imitation of watercolor
To create a beautiful watercolor effect, acrylic is strongly diluted with water. Put paint on the palette, add water, mix and apply to the canvas. The more water you add, the more transparent and delicate the shade will turn out. Sometimes a spray gun is used for this purpose: under the influence of settling water droplets, acrylic spreads over the surface, like watercolors.
Impasto technique is the application of undiluted paint on canvas with thick textured strokes. For this purpose, acrylic in tubes is better suited, it is more convenient to spread it with a palette knife. Thanks to this technique, the image acquires volume, a 3D effect is created.
A few more types of techniques:
The dotted dotted line technique is quite beautiful. To do this, take a bristle brush, type a little paint and hold it strictly vertically in relation to the canvas. With the tip of the brush, lightly and gently touch the base, move along the line so that the paint falls in dots. This technique is ideal for depicting animals, birds, imitating their fur and plumage, as well as for abstractions. You can not drive with a brush, one touch is one point, so that the drops do not mix.
The drawing technique is also very simple, but it allows you to create thick color spots. Dip a large brush into the water, type the paint. Hit the base of the pile with a strong click, as a result, the paint will fall on the canvas in the form of beautiful thick drops. This is an original technique for creating abstractions.
Mix acrylic with varnish or texture paste to change the appearance of the coating. The varnish gives it silkiness and smoothness, glossy shine. And texture pastes, on the contrary, make the colorful layer rough, muted in color.
A unique artistic effect is obtained if you apply acrylic with a corner of a foam sponge. Take some paint from the palette and press the sponge to the base. Through the holes, the previous layer or canvas will be visible, as if the picture consists of thousands of air bubbles! This technique is useful for depicting streams of water or sand. An interesting impression can be achieved by combining this method with layered application.
Acrylic paints are good primarily because they allow you to use different techniques in one work, combine them and invent your own. That’s it, thank you for your attention, we wish you creative success!