How to Dry Paint Quickly

Watching paint dry is a funny way to describe the ultimate boredom, but crafters know that it can seem to take forever for pigments to dry when you’re waiting to move to the next step of the project. With a few tricks that help the paint dry faster, you won’t feel like you’ve waited a decade or two.

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Working With Watercolor

In general, watercolor paints dry fairly quickly in comparison to other types of paint, but drying it more quickly can help prevent streaking and bleed lines in large blocks of solid color. Start by using less water in your brush when you apply the paint. Then, use a hair dryer set on the cool setting to gently blow the paint dry. Don't hold the hair dryer too close to the painting, otherwise it can spread wet watercolor where you don't want it.

Applying Acrylics

Although it seems a little counter-intuitive, diluting acrylic paint by about 10 percent actually helps the paint dry faster. Using a foam brush and applying the paint as a series of washes or multiple thin layers also helps them dry more quickly. A hair dryer or heat gun work well with these paints as well. Hold the dryer about 18 to 24 inches above the surface and slowly move closer, keeping the dryer moving constantly. Again, use a cooler setting to prevent buckling the paint.

Speeding Up Oil Paints

One of the positive characteristics of oil paint is its slow drying time, which allows the artist to make changes before the paint completely sets. But sometimes you still want to speed the drying process up a bit, especially when you work in a humid environment.

Paint in a room with a dehydrator and a fan and apply the paint in thin layers or washes. Add linseed oil or another drying medium to hasten the process. Another way to speed things up is to paint the background or underpainting with acrylic paint washes.

Oil Paint Drying Mediums

Drying mediums can speed an oil painting along -- which essentially takes a month or two to completely dry before varnishing. Stick to the thick-over-thin rule when oil painting, adding successive thicker layers over thinner washes.

  • Use turpentine to thin oil paints and hasten drying
  • Alkyd mediums speed drying along
  • Select a cobalt medium to dry oil paints quicker

When you choose a flat surface -- like a board or wood instead of a textured canvas, oil paints tend to dry out quicker. You can also choose fast-drying oil paints that take less time to dry than conventional paints.

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