Imagine this – you have a beautiful painting envisioned in your head, you sit down and start bringing your vision to life.
The only thing is, your painting is not turning out to be as smooth as you want it to be. Acrylic paints are not the only thing showing up on the canvas, brush strokes are making an appearance too.
You’ve tried going over the painted area again and again with water and thinner paints. You’ve changed brushes and you’ve tried smoothing it out with more paint but nothing is working. It can be so incredibly frustrating and may make you give up on an afternoon of painting.
So, how do you avoid brush strokes when you’re painting with acrylics? One of the best ways to avoid unwanted texture in your painting is to make sure you have a smooth surface to start with. Using paints with different consistencies or in thinner coats also help. Sometimes, using other tools or adding products to your paint is the way to go.
In this short but thorough guide, we’ll share ten tips to help you avoid brush strokes when you’re using your acrylic paints. We can’t guarantee all brush strokes will disappear, but if you use a handful of these, odds are really good that you’ll see a noticeable reduction in unwanted texture. So read on and happy painting!
Avoiding Brush Strokes When Using Acrylic Paints
Acrylic paints dry very quickly and therefore are susceptible to brush strokes. That’s just something you should know when using this medium.
However, there are some things you can do to minimize brush strokes in you work. For a more even, flat, and solid application of acrylic paints, here are some tips:
1. Smooth Surface
If you’re painting on a canvas, you should either be buying pre-gessoed canvases or you can buy gesso and apply it to your surface to ensure an even, smooth working surface. You can also further prime the surface with an extra layer of white paint. This will help you get an even finish on your paints.
2. Soft Brushes
Use brushes that are made from softer materials such as a synthetic squirrel tail brush. This will help you avoid strong brush strokes.
However, you should note that you will need to use thinner paints with softer brushes.
3. Opaque Paints
Even something as simple as choosing opaque colors can help to mask the look of softer brush strokes, allowing you to create the appearance of a smoother finish.
4. Fluid Acrylics
Some paints have a heavy body and tend to exaggerate the brush strokes in your painting.
To avoid this, use fluid acrylic paints. These thinner paints with an almost runny consistency tend to flow and settle themselves flat much better than the creamier acrylic paints.
5. Painting Technique
The way you move the paint on the canvas and the way you approach your surface with the paint also matters when you’re painting with acrylics. Practice making your brush strokes as soft as possible to help eliminate heavy brush strokes.
6. Multiple Thin Coats
Applying one thick coat increases the likelihood that your painting will have brush strokes. Instead, you should be adding paint to your surface in multiple thin coats allowing for a much smoother finish.
7. Flow Release/Wetting Agent
Sometimes paints will just not flow the way you want them to. For those times, you should consider buying a flow release or wetting agent.
This surfactant helps to reduce surface tension, allowing the paint to flow more easily – and thus minimizes the brush strokes.
8. Paint Extender and Leveler Gel
Paint extenders increase the drying time of your acrylic paint. This allows you some room to make sure you have no brush strokes. You have more time to adjust the surface this way.
This will be made easy if you also use a leveler gel, which helps the paint level itself out when it is applied.
9. Clean Brushes
One of the best things that you can do when starting a painting is to have clean brushes for each color that you’re going in with. Brushes that have paint leftover on them can add texture to your strokes, leaving you with an uneven surface.
10. Water Misting
Keeping water in a spray bottle handy can help you with creating a smooth finish. Just spray your canvas, front and back, to help it stay moist and it will help you apply the paint more smoothly.
Spraying your paints on the palette with water can also help make them a better consistency leading to fewer brush strokes, as well.
Can I Use Something Other Than Brushes to Apply Paint?
Sometimes you can get a smoother finish with a roller, foam brush, squeegee, or palette knives. These tools can help you avoid brushstrokes altogether.
However, you may be limiting yourself in terms of what shapes you can easily make and what details you can actually achieve with a different painting tool. This could be a blessing if you crave variety, or a curse if you need a “regular” brush to achieve certain effects or create specific fine details.
How Can I Smooth Out the Surface of My Painting?
To get rid of brushstrokes as well as to smooth your surface, you can gently sand it with waterproof sandpaper. Use water to keep it from getting truly scratched and you will have an even surface in no time.
How Much Flow Release Should I Add to My Paint?
The amount of flow release that you should be adding to your paint depends on the type of paint that you are using and the desired consistency you want. As a general rule of thumb, anywhere from 12-25% of your mixture should be whichever flow release you are using.
Painting with acrylics is a world of fun, but sometimes it can get frustrating with fast drying times and the brush strokes that can ruin the smoothness of a surface.
Hopefully, some of the tips here will help you get the smoother results you’re looking for. If not, remember, with enough practice and experience, you will be a pro with acrylics in no time!