The other day a friend asked me an interesting question. Can you mix acrylic paint with poster paint? They were looking to make a cheap acrylic alternative for some kids to play with by mixing some poster paint with a basic acrylic white.
I checked on it and the answer, unfortunately, is no. Acrylic paint is basically acrylic resin particles suspended in water with pigment, while poster paint is largely cornstarch, cellulose, or gum water. Their different compositions and drying times mean that together they’ll only be good for making a mess.
Don’t fret, however, as today I’ll tell you a little more about both poster and acrylic paint and I’ll also take a little time to tell you what acrylics CAN be mixed with so that in the end, you’ll know a little bit more about these fun painting mediums.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Are poster paint and acrylic paint the same?
Definitely not. You may have played with poster paint before and didn’t even know it. In the United States, it’s marketed as ‘Tempera paints’ and it’s fun stuff to work with because it dries fairly quickly and depending on whether you thin it out or thicken it up, you can make it look like oil paints or even like watercolors!
Compositionally, it’s a distemper paint that uses starches or glues as a binder. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, is basically small and plastic particles of acrylic resin, mixed with water, and suspended with pigment. When acrylic dries, it has a semi-plastic type form that is designed to withstand the ages while staying sharp on your canvas.
Both paints are fun, but they are made differently enough that they simply won’t mix together.
What is poster paint used for?
Poster paints are paints that are ideal for things like banners and signs or simply a little fun painting on paper. It’s important to note that last part. While you paint acrylic on just about anything, poster paint is suitable for painting on paper or poster-board.
That said, it’s a lot of fun. You’ve got an amazing assortment of colors that you can play with, it dries fast, and it’s water-soluble. That means if it gets in your clothes or the kid’s clothes you can wash it right out.
Try doing that with acrylic!
If you want to play with some, they are quite inexpensive, and you can get some fun effects by messing around with the mixtures (I prefer the standard paint form, but it also come in ‘marker’ form). Add a little bit of water into your paint (just a few drops at a time) and stir it up well, and BAM – you’ve got a watercolor look.
Alternately, make some makeshift artist palettes with some plastic plates, and try mixing some colors with PVA glue. When you paint it on your paper, it gives you a look rather like an oil painting.
Poster paint isn’t just for kids, folks. So get a little and have some fun with it! You can find a great Magicfly 30-piece starter set that includes standard colors along with glittery ones and even fluorescents here.
What can acrylic paint be mixed with?
Okay, so we’ve established that you can’t mix poster paint with acrylic paint. While that’s a bummer, it begs the question, what can acrylic paint be mixed with? Well… mostly acrylic mediums. It’s not going to mix well with oil paints, for instance, due to their vastly different drying times.
You wanted to know what you CAN do, however, and there’s definitely some cool applications that you can do with your acrylic paints. Latex house paints are a good example. These have a similar composition and it’s close enough that you can whip-up custom latex paint colors — all by adding your favorite acrylics.
Just be sure to write down your recipe so that you can match that color again if you want to freshen up the paint in a few years!
Another fun and little-known application for acrylic is colored cement. You heard me right!
All you have to do is add acrylic paint into your cement mix and you can produce colored cement. This means colored statues, walls… you name it! I know that some of you out there just got a few ideas, so I’ll just consider this section done and let you folks go out to get some cement mix.
It’s actually a satisfying way to spend a creative weekend!
Some final words
Today I’ve answered the question ‘can you mix acrylic paint with poster paint?’ and while you cannot mix these two, you can dilute or thicken up poster paint to get watercolor or oil effects and you mix your acrylic with things like latex paint or even cement to good effect. Together, though, these paints are simply incompatible for their very different compositions and drying times.
By the way, I’ve got a link for you that can show and tell you a little about mixing your acrylics with cement if the idea has got you a little excited. Just click this 3rd party link and you’ll have a nice step-by-step that can help you to get started.
Until next time, have a fun and creative weekend!