Lightening up your paints is simple, right? Just add a little white and there you go! That’s not the only way to do it, though, and today I’ll tell you how to lighten acrylic painting without simply adding white to it. While you can lighten paint with the addition of water, acrylic is already 45 to 55% water so this is not ideal. Try adding a paint thinner instead to lighten up your color and you can get some good lightening without overwatering your paint and reducing its chances of sticking properly.
Today I’ll talk with you a little about lightening up acrylic paint, painting lights on top of darks, and whether or not your paint is going to simply lighten up a little on its own when it dries.
Let’s take a little ‘walk into the light’ together and talk some acrylic shop!
How do you lighten a paint that is too dark?
Aside from water, adding white, and paint thinner, there’s another little trick that you can use to lighten up your paints and all it requires is a tiny dab of duckling-color – that’s right, we’re going to use a dab of yellow to lighten up your paints.
Don’t believe me? Well, give this a try and you can see for yourself. Get the paint tube of the color that you want to lighten and squeeze out a small water-drop sized glob of paint onto your palette. Close to that, squeeze out a little yellow of about the same size and dip the tip of your brush into that yellow.
Swirl your brush into the original color and you see the power of ‘yellow’s kiss’. Rather than making your original color look like mustard, the yellow will typically lighten up your original color appreciably, all without the hassle of watering it down or stinky old paint thinner.
Keep this new trick to yourself or share it friends, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that you are going to be using it in the future. Enjoy!
Can you paint light over dark acrylic?
Yes, you can, but it takes a little preparation, especially if you are going to be painting over a power-color like red. If you want to paint light over dark, however, then this is how it’s done.
Primer. Two coats.
If the area that you are painting over is completely dry (and this is a must) then use a little spray primer to prepare the area that you want to paint over. Give it one coat, let it dry, then give it a second coat. At this point, you’ve got a fighting chance as successful applying that light paint to add details, highlights, or whatever you else that you have in mind with a much lower chance of the colors bleeding together and looking awful.
While I can’t guarantee that this will work every time, it will work MOST of the time, so it’s worth practicing a little just in case you need to add some fancy lightening in the future.
Does paint lighten as dries?
Nope. With acrylic paints the acronym ‘WYSIWYG’, or ‘what you see is what you get’ definitely applies. While it might look a little bit light or darker when it’s wet, that’s natural, and it’s not going to lighten up when it dries. It should look exactly like the color that you see depicted on the paint tube.
If it doesn’t, then you may have watered it down a little or you might want to seek out some different brands of paint, but for the most part it’s always going to look like what you see on the tube. The biggest reason for this is the composition of acrylic paint. You’ve got acrylic resins in a water medium and these resins form chains as they bond and as your paint turns into a semi-plastic.
The water evaporates, leaving only that ‘plastic’ and the pigments from the color and they are all in one solid mass that should retain its color for centuries, as long as you don’t skip that all important varnishing step.
In today’s article I’ve told you how to lighten up acrylic painting and it’s all a matter of adding in some paint thinner or even just a little dab of yellow will do the trick. You can also paint light colors over dark, as long as you prime the area TWICE first before you do so and I’ve busted the myth that your paint will lighten as it dries.
It won’t, so don’t worry.
Before I go, on the subject of lightening I’ve found a fun article that tells you how to make an acrylic wash that looks like watercolors! You can view the 3rd party link here and I hope that you have fun with it. In the meantime, be sure to practice your new lightening techniques and I’ll see you again soon!