How To Make Your Own Acrylic Pour Painting: Beginner’s Guide!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably seen quite a few acrylic pour painting (or paint pouring, however you like to say it) images circulating the internet, from people showing off their lovely creations on Instagram, and DIY pour painting tutorials on youtube.
If not, we’re here to introduce you to the wonderful world of acrylic pour painting in all its glory – well not all its glory, but just enough for anyone to get started!

Painting can be a daunting task for many, and this rings especially true for those who don’t consider themselves very art-friendly. Well, fear not, because acrylic pour painting is the easiest way to make perfect paintings 100% of the time. No skill required, and best of all; it’s seriously fun!

We tried paint pouring for the first time and loved it, so we’ve created a mini-guide for those who might be interested in taking their first acrylic pour painting steps, too!

Without further ado, let’s get on with our paint pouring guide for beginners.

American crafts paint

What you’ll need:

  • An acrylic pouring paint kit, or pre-mixed acrylic paint for paint pouring.
    American Crafts have a good range of pre-mixed acrylic paint specifically designed for paint pouring. You can’t use regular acrylic paint without mixing in a medium as it won’t be suitable for pouring.
    I will do another guide later on for those who want to learn to mix their paints without buying the kits. But for now, we’re going to use pre-mixed paints.
    I have used the American Crafts Colour Paint Pour Kit in Mixed Metals
  • A blank canvas.
    If you’re unsure of the size of the canvas you’ll need for the amount of paint you have, check out this handy paint pouring calculator. Just enter in the amount of paint you have and it will tell you what size your canvas needs to be to cover it completely.
  • 1-3 plastic cups, depending on how big your painting is.
  • Some plastic sheeting or newspaper to cover the floor
  • Thick thumb tacks that can be hammered into the back of your canvas.
    This is to keep your painting off the ground to make it easier to move whilst doing the paint pour, and also to keep it off the floor whilst the paint dries. We didn’t have any tacks on hand so instead we used plastic styrofoam circles.
Circular canvas for painting

Acrylic Pour Painting Steps:

  • Lay down the plastic sheeting or newspaper where you intend to do your paint pour. This will prevent paint from getting over your flooring and making a mess. Acrylic paint is notoriously difficult to remove from any surface.
  • Flip your canvas upside down and insert thumbtacks along the underside of the canvas into the wooden frame, or if you’re using styrofoam/plastic props, set this down and place the canvas on top, checking to make sure it’s sturdy.
  • Next, you’ll want to figure out how many plastic cups you’ll be using. If unsure, try one or two to start with, depending on the size of your canvas.
    slowly pour the acrylic paint into the cups. Pour your first colour into the cup, and then pour in the next colour. Alternate as many times as you need, until all your acrylic paint has been added. The colour will sit on top of each other in some part and other parts it will sink in. The great thing about acrylic is that it won’t immediately mix together, so the more gentle you are with this part, the more separate the colours will be once you flip the cups onto your canvas.
Acrylic paint in a cup
pouring the colours into the cup
  • Now comes the fun! Quickly flip the cups over, onto your canvas one at a time, so the paint is trapped between the cup and the canvas. A vacuum seal will be created and the paint won’t start to pour out until you lift the cup off the canvas.
  • Slowly lift the cup and direct the flow of acrylic paint onto your canvas. At this point, it’s up to you how you want to do it. eventually, lift the cup off completely and let all the paint flow out.
Acrylic paint pour in action
Acrylic paint pour in action
  • lift up the canvas and tilt it from side to side so the paint moves around the canvas, covering the entire surface. You can leave white space on the canvas if you prefer. Otherwise, cover completely including the sides if you don’t intend to frame it. If you’re framing your canvas you won’t need to worry about the sides.
  • And that’s it! Your first paint pour is complete. Now you’ll need to leave your painting in a dry area away from direct sunlight for a few days to let your painting completely dry. Depending on the amount of paint you used and the current climate, it may take anywhere from one to 4 days to dry through completely.
Paint pour before using the hair dryer
At this point I poured a little extra paint onto the canvas to add an interesting effect.

Optional Step:

If you want to add ‘cells’ to your painting, you can use “Cell Magic” to your mixed paints before you flip them onto your canvas. Cells look much like you’d imagine them to, they are areas where the silicone creates a lacing, cell-like effect. Sort of what you’d expect to see when looking at cells under a microscope. This effect is quite beautiful and creates a unique effect. 

Using heat directly on top of the paint by the use of a hairdryer or blow torch will help the cells emerge. I would suggest watching a youtube instructional video on this before you attempt it. See my “Things that didn’t quite work” section below to hear about my failed cell attempt.

Cell Magic
Cell Magic
Wet Acrylic paint pour
Straight after the paint pour. Slightly curdled effect thanks to my failed cell attempt (see below)

Things that didn’t quite work

  • Cell magic didn’t work for me this time. I’m not sure if I put too much in or not enough. I went in with a second lot of paint and added more drops of cell magic to the mix, which may have made it too thick. No cells appeared in my painting this time.
  • The use of the hairdryer was a complete fail. It’s supposed’ to help move the paint around, and whilst it did do this, it also made the top layer of paint dry prematurely, resulting in a curdled effect. This may be because of the type of paint used as I’ve yet to see this happen to others. 
    Thankfully it dried beautifully and the textured effect is quite stunning.
Acrylic paint pour close up
Finished Paint Pouring Art

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How To Make Your Own Acrylic Pour Painting: Beginner’s Guide!