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What is Acrylic Paints?

Acrylic paint is a fast drying paint that contains pigment suspended in acrylic polymer oil and plasticizers, silicone oils, defoamers or stabilizers. Acrylic paints are usually water-based but can be water-resistant once dried. The final acrylic painting may look like a watercolor, gouache or oil painting depending on how much paint has been diluted or modified with acrylic gels or mediums. It can also have unique characteristics that are not possible with other media.

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History of Acrylic paints

Acrylic painters can alter the appearance, hardness and flexibility of paint surfaces by using acrylic mediums or simply adding water. Acrylic mediums are also used by oil and watercolor painters. Acrylics are able to bond to many surfaces and can be modified to alter their binding properties. Acrylics can be used to cover paper, canvas and other materials. However, they can cause problems when used on engineered woods like medium-density fiberboard due to their porous nature. It is important that you seal the surface with a suitable sealer in these situations. Acrylics can also be applied in thin layers, or washes, to achieve watercolor-like effects. You can also use them to make thick layers of paint. Gel and molding paste can be used to create paintings with relief elements. Acrylic paints can also be used for hobbies like trains, cars and houses, as well as DIY projects and human models. Acrylic paint is used to create facial features for dolls and other details on other models. Acrylic paint can be easily washed off skin and paintbrushes with water. Oil paints require the use a hydrocarbon.

Grating is a technique where acrylics are used most often. This surrealist technique was first used when this type of paint was introduced. Acrylics can be easily scraped or peeled from any surface.

Acrylic Paints Painting techniques

Main article: Acrylic painting techniques

Acrylic paints can be thinned using water or acrylic medium, and used as wash in the same way as watercolor paints. However, unlike watercolor, washes cannot be rehydrated once dried. Acrylics are not able to be colored with gum arabic-based watercolors. The paint is applied in layers and sometimes with acrylic medium or water to let layers below show through. Acrylic medium gives paint a more glossy and rich appearance. Water, on the other hand, makes paint look more like watercolor.

A silhouetted person looks down at an art piece on the ground. The UV light is illuminating paintings on the wall behind the person.

Fluorescent acrylic paints that are lit by ultraviolet light. Paintings by Beo Beyond

There are many acrylic paints available with matte or gloss finishes. However, the most popular is the satin (semimatte) sheen. Some brands offer a variety of finishes (e.g. Some brands offer a range of finishes (e.g., heavy-body paints from Golden and Liquitex; Politec acrylics come fully matte. Like oils, pigment amount and shape can have an impact on the paint’s sheen. To dullen the paint’s finish, you can add matte agents during manufacturing. Artists can use topcoats or varnishes to change or unify sheen if they wish.

Acrylic paint, once dry, is usually not able to be removed from a solid surface. It is not possible to resolubilize the paint with water or mild solvents. However, isopropyl alcohol may be able to lift off some of the fresh paint films. Paint films can be removed with acetone and toluene, but these solvents are not very effective at lifting stains and are not selective. A solvent can be used to remove paint layers, such as acrylic gesso and et cetera. Acrylic paint can be removed from the skin using warm soapy water and oils. Acrylic paint can also be removed from non-porous surfaces like miniatures and models with certain cleaning products, such as Dettol which contains chloroxylenol 4.8%v/w).

To prevent Support Induced Discoloration (SID), an acrylic sizing should first be applied to the canvas before painting with acrylic paints. Acrylic paint can cause discoloration to a canvas, particularly in translucent glazed areas or translucent gelled ones. SID cannot be stopped by gesso alone. Before applying gesso, a sizing must first be done.

Acrylic’s viscosity can be reduced using appropriate extenders that preserve the integrity of the paint layer. You can use retarders to delay drying and increase workability, or flow releases to improve color-blending abilities.

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