How to Make an Acrylic Painting Look Smoothed

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A common complaint amongst acrylic painters is getting a smooth finish on the canvas because of the quick drying time.
A common complaint amongst acrylic painters is getting a smooth finish on the canvas because of the quick drying time. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Acrylic paintings can look very similar to oil paints when they're finished, but achieving the same quality of smooth, blended paint with acrylic can be a challenge. Acrylic paint may look very similar to oil paint, but it handles very differently. Oil paint can take days or weeks to be even supericially dry, but acrylic paint may dry in a matter of minutes. This means that in order to blend and smooth acrylic paint, the artist must take specific steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Paintbrushes (including soft bristle brushes)
  • Canvas
  • Jar of water

Build up paint in layers. Start with a layer of paint that has been thinned with water. Add thicker layers of paint on top of the thin layer of paint. Do not let the paint dry before moving to the next step.

Smooth the edges between different colors of paint with a dry, soft brush.

Add more paint that has been thinned with water. Smooth down the edges of that application of paint with a clean wet or dry brush.

Continue to add layers of paint and smooth with a soft bristle brush.

Tips & Warnings

  • To keep the canvas wet during the painting process, try spraying a mist of water over the canvas at regular intervals.
  • Acrylic retarder, available in art and craft stores, will also slow the drying time of paint.

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