How To Blend Acrylic Paint: A Beginners Guide

Colour blending is a technique where two different colours are mixed together slightly to create a new colour or a transition colour. Proper blending is one of the basic foundations of a beautiful painting. It is a skill required for an artist to learn and is something that can be mastered with practice. 

Art schools normally start their introduction to painting with the blending techniques, here with Paint Juicy, you don’t have to pay extra to know the basics.

In this how-to, we will be teaching you how to blend acrylic paint! It may look difficult at first but we’ll make sure that at the end of this tutorial you’ll find blending acrylic to be really easy.

We will be teaching you 3 basic techniques on how to blend acrylic paints, you can use these techniques for creating backgrounds, adding depth to your subject, and much more! 

Before teaching you the techniques, first, we’ll give you some tips to prevent your paints from drying too fast –

  • Use a Fine Mist Spray - By spraying your palette with paint every now and then, the paint won't dry too fast.     
  • “Stay Wet Palettes” - there are palettes available for purchase that have sponges underneath that will keep your paint moist.
  • Use a Slow Dry Medium - slow dry mediums are available in art stores, they are mixed into your paints and it will slow down the drying time of your acrylics! 
  • Open Acrylics - open acrylics are paints that already have slow dry medium pre-mixed into the acrylics, these are a bit pricier though.

To start, here are the materials you will be needing for this technique practice:

  • Surface to paint on (watercolour paper thick gsm)
  •  3/4" Flat Wash Brush
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Water in a cup
  • Palette

Now let’s move on to our 3 techniques on how to blend acrylic paint!

Technique 1: Horizontal Wet-On-Wet Blending

Oftentimes, Horizontal Wet–On-Wet Blending is done to create backgrounds and to fill in larger areas of a canvas. It can be used to create a sky background like sunsets or Night skies!

We will be demonstrating this technique by using the colours Mars Black, Phthalo Blue, Cerulean Blue, and White!

First, add your paints to your palette, then take some of the Mars Black and paint on your paper with a left and right motion. Try to make sure that when you add the colour that it isn't too much or too little. Without washing your brush in the water, dip your brush in the Phthalo Blue paint, add this with the similar motions under the first colour you added. After that, with soft strokes, slowly paint upwards to your first colour and try to blend them together. You may have to paint over it multiple times so it will blend together really well! Rinse your brush and tale some Cerulean Blue and do the same thing you did with the second colour. Rinse your brush and do this again with the Titanium white. And there you have it! You can use this technique to create a Night sky! 

We suggest you try this with other colours too, just to see what colours blend really nicely with each other! 

Technique 2: Circular Wet-On-Wet blending

This technique can also be used for backgrounds as well! It’s almost the same technique as the first one but instead of blending in a side-to-side motion, you’re creating a more “circular” movement with your brush. You may choose whichever you may like whether you want the inner part to be darker or lighter, but in our demonstration, we’ll show you how to do a light-to-dark circular blend. 

Take your brush, and begin by painting a small or medium-sized circle in the middle or anywhere on your paper. Choose your next colour, for this demonstration we will be using a red colour. Without cleaning your brush, mix a small bit of red paint with the white to create a light pink colour, then apply this newly mixed colour around the white circle in a circular motion. Dab on a small bit of white once more and paint it to the area where the pink and white meet to blend over and create a seamless transition! For the next layer, add more red to your mixed paint and repeat the steps you did for the lighter pink! Finally, use the plain red colour to paint your last transition colour! If you want to add more colour that’s totally up to you, make sure you blend in-between transition colours to create that seamless look.

And that’s how you do the Circular Wet-On-Wet blending technique!

Technique 3: Double Load Wet-On-Wet

Unlike the other two techniques, the double load is not to create gradients, but to create more abstract or textured paintings. Double load, just like its name, is when you pick up 2 colours with the same brush at the same time. 

This is how you use this technique: first dip more than half of your brush on your main colour, then do a small dot of your second colour on the very tip of your brush. On your paper, do up and down strokes! Go over the whole area of your paper, and if you run out you may dip the same amount of paint on your brush and repeat the steps as much as you like until you’re satisfied! 

If you plan on doing this technique, you may want to experiment with the way you stroke your brush. It can be done up and down, horizontal, or even in a criss-cross stroke! It really is up to you to see what you like when using this technique!

And that’s it! We hope this tutorial helped you in discovering different blending techniques, plus our tips and tricks! Always remember to unleash your creativity, and practice as much as you like (because practice makes perfect!), to become a better artist! If you’d like to see more similar tutorials, check out our How-To page to see more fun and easy-to-follow guides!