How to Use Acrylic Craft Paint on Canvas


Acrylic craft paint can be used as a medium for painting. One benefit of using craft paint instead of traditional artist's acrylic colors is that craft paints are readily available in metallic sheens. On the other hand, the paint is thin and generally less pigment-saturated than artist acrylics. You can increase the consistency of craft paint and use it for canvas art.

Things You'll Need

  • Canvas
  • Gesso
  • Foam brush
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Paint medium (optional)
  • Paintbrushes


  • Prime the canvas with gesso to smooth the surface and assist paint adherence. Dip the foam brush in the gesso, pressing it against the side of the container to remove any excess. The foam brush should be saturated with gesso, but not dripping. Allow the first coat to dry completely, then apply two successive coats. Allow the gesso to dry completely before sketching or painting.

  • Plan your painting. Once you know how you want it to look, sketch out your ideas on the canvas. Gesso is generally removal resistant to gentle erasures. Use a ruler as a straight edge for any hard lines.

  • Optionally, mix the craft paint with an acrylic paint medium, such as heavy structure gel or gloss heavy gel. Paint mediums are used to add body to paint and thicken consistency; they also have the added benefit of making the paint stretch farther. There is no recommended paint-to-medium ratio, but you typically use more medium than paint.

  • Apply the paint to canvas with oil or acrylic paintbrushes. If you mixed your paint with medium, it will have a thicker consistency and may take longer to dry, especially if you are using an impasto effect.

  • Use complementary colors to add highlights, shadows and detail to your painting. You may wish to allow some areas of paint to dry before adding more color and detail. The process of completing a painting can be spread out over as many sessions as you have the patience for.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rinse foam brushes and paintbrushes immediately after using and allow to dry with the brush pointing downward. Brushes can be ruined if paint dries on them. Acrylic craft paints come in a wide variety of colors and shades, largely due to the fact that they do not tend to mix well.

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  • Photo Credit Cynthia Reeser
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