Last Updated on May 8, 2023 by asifa
Diluting acrylic paints how to do it. One of the first questions a beginner asks himself after approaching acrylic painting is, “How can I dilute my acrylic colors?
Understanding how to dilute your colors correctly is necessary to express yourself in the best way on the canvas and develop your technique and creativity. And one of the solutions you can use is that easy, you hardly think about it!
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How to dilute acrylic paints
A minor premise: most of the materials used for acrylic painting – and therefore tubes of paint, brushes, mediums, sheets, canvases, and so on – are familiar to any painter. However, this does not mean that you can approach acrylic colors the same way you usually use watercolors or oil colors and landscape drawing.
Giving yourself to acrylic painting without knowing in depth the peculiar characteristics of these paints means leaving crippled: the more you learn about the world of acrylic, the more you will be able to make the most of its undeniable strengths, trying different and surprising techniques from time to time.
In this post, dedicated to those who want to approach the world of acrylic painting without making trivial mistakes, we will talk about the dilution of these particular colors. Do you already know how, when, and with what to dilute acrylic paints for best results?
The basis of acrylic paint
To understand how to dilute acrylic colors, it is of primary importance to know and understand their composition. Unfortunately, various novice painters know absolutely nothing about the design of the paints used, which can only seriously compromise the quality of their works.
Painting is also a question of ‘chemistry’: it is no coincidence that painters have produced their colors for centuries and centuries. Isinglass, egg, calcium sulfate, zinc oxide, cadmium sulfide, iron oxide, coal, mercury. Artists used a vast amount of different substances to create the perfect tempera in their ancient workshops.
On the other hand, acrylic colors are a purely modern invention, and therefore their composition is also current. So here, you can no longer find glues of animals, nor egg whites, but pigments of the acrylic type. That’s not all: just like watercolors and tempera colors, acrylic colors are also aqueous synthetic based. However, unlike the others, the latter present a majority presence of binding agents, determining their characteristic, elastic and malleable structure.
Is it mandatory to dilute acrylic colors?
Acrylic colors have spread thanks to the great freedom of use quickly: they can be used anywhere and on virtually any support. In line with this spirit, we should certainly not be surprised that it is not mandatory to dilute acrylic colors.
Indeed, in many cases, if you are looking for excellent and opaque colors, acrylic colors are perfect as they are, without the addition of water or medium. On what occasions, therefore, is it recommended to dilute acrylic paints before using them? It depends on the sensitivity and needs of each painter.
Those who want to have wet or even very wet paint will dilute their colors with a variable dose of water. Those who want to give themselves to a watercolor painting with acrylic colors will use even more water. Have you never heard of watercolor with acrylics? Then, of course, you must know that these colors can excellently imitate watercolors, giving greater intensity to the final result. But we will discuss this extra credit!
Dilute acrylics with water? Of course, you can!
From what has been said above, it is therefore clear that acrylic colors cannot dilute with the same substances used for oil colors: the base of these paints is, in fact, totally different. It would be crazy, therefore, to pretend to dilute acrylic colors with an oil-based organic solvent or perhaps with turpentine.
As anticipated at the beginning of the article, it is impossible to use acrylic colors as if they were oil colors (and vice versa). Given the aqueous base, the primary and most immediate way to dilute acrylic paints is water: what could be simpler, more available, and cheaper?
However, it must say that acrylics can also dilute with unique mediums, which change the final effect of the color or its use from time to time.
How much water to use to dilute acrylic colors?
Fortunately, there is no rule regarding the amount of water to be used to dilute acrylic colors. As mentioned above, a different amount of water used corresponds to a result and another use. In addition, the percentage of water used to cut the acrylics is influenced by several variables, such as the quality of the paint or the substrate on which you will paint.
When you decide to dilute acrylics with water, you need to be very careful. The abundant use of water can excessively modify the properties of acrylic. In addition, the binder present in the formula would also dilute. This process could lead the color itself to have a suboptimal rendering, creating unwanted effects.
When diluting acrylic colors with water, it is essential not to overdo it, possibly working in crescendo until you find the perfect dilution. In order not to take risks and above all not to ruin the distinctive properties of acrylic colors, we strongly recommend the use of unique mediums, which contain binder within their formula. Let’s find out together!