How to Paint on Deer Hides

Many Native American tribes painted geometrical designs on animal hide.
Many Native American tribes painted geometrical designs on animal hide. (Image: an indian mask image by Pix by Marti from

Painting on deer hide is similar to painting on canvas, but tougher tools are required to get through the texture of the hide. To create vibrant, lasting color, you will need a sharp tool to draw and hard bristle brushes to paint your images. Hide paintings can be turned into murals, clothing, furniture coverings and art pieces. No matter what you intend to create, painting hide is a slow process. Etching with a knife and painting with hard bristle brushes requires a firm and steady hand that can only be perfected with practice.

Things You'll Need

  • Stretching board
  • Clamps
  • Sharp pointed tool, such as flint or a knife
  • Acrylic paint
  • Color palette
  • Tough bristle brushes

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Stretch the hide across a stretching board. Attach the hide to the board at each corner with clamps.

Outline your design with your knife or other sharp tool. Treat this tool like a pencil.

Place your acrylic paints on your color palette. Mix them if you desire.

Dip your tough bristle brush in the desired color and begin painting. Clean your brush in water before switching to another color or use separate brushes for each color.

Leave the hide stretched on the stretching board overnight. The paint will dry permanently to the hide.


  • "Acrylic Painting"; Barron's; 2010
  • "Plains Indians"; Susie Brooks; 2009
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