Acrylic Painting Techniques of Glazing

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Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paint

  • Palette or plastic container

  • Acrylic glazing gel medium

  • Palette knife

  • Paintbrushes

  • Canvas

Acrylic glazes are used to create rich, vibrant paintings.

Glazing is a painting term that refers to effectively "thinning" a transparent paint color with the use of a gel glossy or matte medium, then creating multiple layers of glaze. Glazing is possible with both oil and acrylic paints. Although acrylic paints are water-based, it is not recommended to simply use water to make the paint transparent; this creates a cloudy effect that is less smooth than a gel medium. The technique of glazing is useful when creating rich, luxurious paintings and adding finishing touches to a piece.

Mixing the Glaze

Step 1

Choose an acrylic paint color. When choosing a color to glaze with, avoid cadmiums and titanium white, which are opaque. Instead, use colors like alizaron crimson, hansa yellow or phythalocyanines. Use zinc white if adding a white glaze is desired.

Step 2

Squeeze some acrylic paint onto a palette or into a plastic container. Acrylic paint glazes can be stored in a plastic container with a lid, so often it is best to mix the glaze in a plastic container if it is to be used over a period of time. Begin with a small amount of paint; more can be added later once the glaze has been mixed.

Step 3

Add the acrylic glazing gel medium. Gel mediums come in matte or glossy and give the acrylic paint a richer dried appearance versus water. Depending on how transparent the glaze is to be, the amount of gel medium added will vary.

Step 4

Mix the paint and glaze together with a palette knife. Add more medium or more paint until the color is translucent. In general, the paint must be translucent once mixed with the gel medium to glaze properly.


Step 1

Paint onto a semi-complete painting or a blank canvas, depending on the glazing technique being used. One technique is creating an entire painting using solely glazing. This is accomplished by building up several layers in between drying. This is ideal for acrylics, since they have a quick drying time.

Step 2

Use the glaze to add subtle color blending to a piece. Do this by blending the glaze over a flat color to create a gradient, or fade, into the glaze color. For example, adding a rosy glow to human skin can be accomplished with a glaze.

Step 3

Lighten an area of a painting with the glaze. Blend a color of acrylic slightly lighter than the base color with the glaze medium, then apply it to the area. Use zinc white to lighten the color. Zinc white should be used somewhat sparingly, since it is semi-opaque.

Step 4

Make base colors richer with glazes. Do this by adding layers of glaze mixed with the original base color. This will give the color more depth and richness.