Acrylic Pour Painting – Paint Pouring Techniques Guide

One of the more increasingly popular art forms or hobby ideas is fluid art painting. This is a wonderful technique of painting with acrylics that can easily be used by beginners. Pouring is also a lot of fun and therapeutic as well. However, you do need materials and to learn some paint pouring techniques before you begin. So, keep on reading to find out more about how you can start acrylic pour painting.



A Description of Acrylic Pouring

Acrylic pour painting is a painting technique where fluid acrylic paints are poured over the canvas. By using various paint pouring techniques, you can create pools or puddles of color, as well as create marble-like effects. The technique was first discovered during the 1930s quite by accident by a well-known artist by the name of David Alfaro Siqueiros. He poured various colors of paint over each other and let the paint run, creating patterns.

Paint Pouring

More recently, this method of painting has been revived, with a few advancements in the process. When pouring the fluid paint, it appears smooth and glossy and can create some dramatic, abstract, and contemporary results. Whatever paint pouring techniques you use; you will need to adjust the acrylic paint by adding in the pouring medium. The medium helps to change the consistency so you can pour it smoothly and prevent any cracking once the paint film dries. Once you have poured all of the fluid paint colors, the canvas is then tilted so the paint covers the entire surface, including the sides.

You will achieve varying results due to the type of paint you use as well as the pouring you add and other additives.


Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paint Pouring

Even though acrylic pour painting is something that almost everybody can do, there are a few advantages as well as some disadvantages to fluid art painting. Although, the pros definitely outweigh any cons.

Easy Paint Pouring


Pros of Acrylic Paint Pouring

First of all, we have already established that acrylic pouring is great for beginners. This is also a good method for those who do not have a lot of time on their hands, as it does not take long to complete a project. You also do not need all that many tools and supplies, and the entire process is simply fun. A few more advantages are included below.

  • Perfect for most ages, from young to old can enjoy the benefits of pour art.
  • As with most other art forms, it is a great stress reliever.
  • There are various acrylic pour techniques, so you can create many different patterns and pours.

Easy Fluid Art Painting

  • The final painting can be enjoyed in many ways. For example, as a gift or to sell, or to use as a decorative piece around the house.
  • Fluid art painting is open to interpretation, so you do not necessarily require any painting skills as you would with normal painting and sketching.


Cons of Acrylic Paint Pouring

There are a few disadvantages when it comes to paint pouring. The chief one is that pouring can get quite messy. You will need a designated space to work, and you will need to cover the painting surface you work on to prevent spills. Some more disadvantages are laid out below.

  • There is quite a bit of paint that you use and might waste when you do this type of pour art.
  • Some of the supplies and materials needed can be quite expensive.
  • It needs quite a lot of time to dry, so when the acrylic pouring is done and drying, it can be damaged. For example, it can be knocked over or dust can accumulate on it.
  • It can be a very messy process. 

Techniques for Paint Pouring



What Materials Are Needed for Fluid Art Painting?

Before you begin your acrylic pouring journey, you need to make sure you have all your supplies ready. You do not want to be in the middle of a pour art project, only to find you need something you forgot to get.

Of course, the most important material in acrylic pour painting is your acrylic paint. Since there are various kinds of acrylic paint, you must choose the best one. For example, you have your heavy body and soft body acrylic paints.

Fluid Art Painting

The best option is a soft body as this has a lower viscosity compared to the heavy body acrylics. When pouring, it should go on smoothly and evenly, without bubbles and clumping. You can use heavy body acrylics and student grade acrylics, but both require a lot more pouring medium and cost more as well, so these are not the best option.

Besides the soft body paints, there are now high-flow acrylic paints, and you can use acrylic ink or fluid acrylic paints. The colors used are completely your choice. When starting, maybe try not to use too many colors as the result could become too busy.

Some of the more popular paints include metallic and glitter paints, which add an attractive addition to the painting.


Do You Need a Pouring Medium?

Now that you have your paint, you need something that will create the perfect consistency for pouring. The pouring medium is what helps to create the perfect consistency for pouring. As there are various options for pouring medium, we have provided one of the products we recommend below.

The main reason for using a pouring medium is to provide a smooth and even pouring experience. It is important to get a good quality pouring medium if you want the best results, even if it does add to the costs when pouring.

Fun Pour Art

There are cheaper alternatives like Elmer’s glue or PVA glue, but these do not guarantee good results and are unpredictable, with minimal control over what happens. This might be only good for experimentation if you wish to try it.

A good pouring medium will be self-leveling, which also means you will have fewer pockets of air caught in the final painting. The consistency is also accurate, a kind of honey consistency that can adhere to surfaces without being too runny. The professional quality pouring mediums are also archival, which your basic PVA glue is not.  Pouring medium also offers these benefits.

  • The paint colors remain vibrant
  • Proper adhesion is formed
  • Correct flow consistency
  • Few to no issues with cracking

You can also not simply add water to the acrylic paints to make them thinner. The water does not provide the right consistency, the colors become less vibrant, and you will have a problem with cracking when the paint dries.

The different pouring mediums offer various properties. You can get pouring mediums with varying consistencies from thin to thick. Some pouring mediums have an additive that makes it glossier, while others dry but remain sticky so make sure to get a medium that will dry hard.

The flowability of the medium is important, and some mediums have perfect and even distribution of the paint, while others are more difficult to work with.

You should also look out for pouring mediums that are archival or provide UV protection. Another difference in pouring mediums is drying times, some dry overnight, while others can take days to dry. You can also use a heat gun to fasten up the drying process a bit, but it’s better to let it dry naturally to help avoid cracks.


Best Pouring Medium: LIQUITEX Professional Pouring Medium

The Liquitex pouring medium will create an even, flexible, and high gloss pour every time. The pouring medium can be used with all acrylic pour techniques and will not cause any cracks or bubbles once the painting has dried. When it does dry, your painting will have a nice wet and glossy appearance. The pouring medium will also not yellow over time and becomes water-resistant when dry.

LIQUITEX Professional Pouring Effects Medium
  • A fluid medium with acrylic polymer and high resin solids
  • Creates even puddles, poured sheets, and flowing applications
  • Mix with Soft Body Acrylic to promote drying with an even film
View on Amazon
  • Professional quality
  • Glossy and even finish
  • Provides the correct paint flow
  • Little to no cracking or bubble issues
  • Colors remain vibrant
  • Expensive
  • You will need to use gloves


Canvas or Substrate

You can do acrylic pouring on almost any surface as long as it has been properly prepared or primed. Many prefer to pour onto stretched canvas, while others may like canvas boards, painting panels, wooden painting panels, or gesso board, which is a wooden board that has been pre-primed. Some of these surfaces are more rigid than others.

Since you are going to be using a lot of paint on the surface, the painting ground is important. This is simply a layer that is applied that offers support when painting and is usually water-resistant. When purchasing your surface to work on, you can always check to see if it has already been primed.

Acrylic Pouring Medium

You should always prepare the surface before painting. If you do this, you can pour onto things like cups, trays, tables, or glass. If you choose a canvas that is not pre-primed, you will need to prime it yourself. You can do this by using Gesso, which assists with the adhesion of the paint onto surfaces. Also, the paint will not sink into the substrate, so you have a nice smooth and even surface.

Paint pouring does use a lot of paint, which can weigh a considerable amount when pouring. The stretch canvases are hollow at the back with pieces of wooden stretches. If you do a heavy pour, the paint can cause sagging to occur, which will create an uneven pour. If left, the dried paint is more likely to crack. Simply place a flat card or firm flat object to brace the back of the canvas. 

There are also things like wooden canvas keys that help to keep the canvas tension at appropriate levels. 


Other Acrylic Pouring Materials

You can also add in some accessories for acrylic pour painting. The most common and easiest item you can use is the paper cups, which you can use for various acrylic pour techniques. You can also use palette knives, spatulas, or stirring sticks, which are perfect for mixing and making an even surface of the paint. To keep the paint in and to help with pre-mixing colors, a squeeze bottle with measurements on the side can help provide more accurate amounts of paint.

You will also need newspapers or old sheets; you could also use plastic sheeting or a tray for smaller pours. These will help to keep the mess to a minimum and make things easier to clean up afterward and protect the surfaces you are working on.

Pour Art Techniques

The paint usually has to pour or fall off the sides, so it needs to be elevated slightly so the paint can reach all sides and does not stick to the bottom. To do this, you can use glasses, tins, or jars that you can place the canvas on. You also get specific canvas stands you can purchase. As long as the canvas remains even while doing so. Another item you will need is gloves, as this is messy work, you do not want to have to struggle to get paint off your hands after you are done.

As you gain more experience, you might include other materials like a blow torch, or silicone oil. The blow torch and the heat it produces help to prevent bubbles and also help prevent certain defects from forming. The heat also allows the lighter colors to rise to the surface.

The silicone oil rises to the surface when poured and creates circular cells, which can also reveal other layers of color beneath. This is quite a popular and striking acrylic pour technique.

 You can get both high viscosity and low viscosity silicone oil. Both of these produce different results, the high viscosity oil generally produces many smaller cells, while the low viscosity will produce larger cells.



An Acrylic Pour Painting Tutorial

Now you have all your supplies and materials ready, you need to prepare a working area. You will need to lay down plastic sheeting, even on the floor, if necessary. Dried acrylic paint is very difficult to remove from surfaces. Once this is done, gather all your other necessary materials, paints, and cups, so that everything is easy to reach.

Paint Pouring Techniques

Before you begin, put on some gloves, which help protect you from getting paint on your skin and hands. Once placed on your object that elevates your canvas, you can also check that the panel or canvas is even with a spirit level. You want to make sure it will be level, otherwise, the paint might pool, or runoff and you have done everything for nothing. Whatever surface you are going to paint on, it needs to be clean.

Remove any dust and, if necessary, grease, for a clean and smooth surface. Any grease left on the surface will reduce the chances of the paint holding onto or securely remaining on the surface.


Mixing the Acrylic Paints

The basic guide for mixing is quite simple, place some of your acrylic paint into your cup, and then add in the same amount or double the amount of pouring medium. The amount of medium will depend on the type of pouring medium you choose to use. The aim is to get a paint consistency that is similar to honey, not too thin and not too thick. You can also add a little water and mix to reach the correct consistency.

Acrylic Pour Art

After you have the proper consistency, you can then include silicone oil. This is optional, and you can add in one or two drops and mix. Let the paint mixture stand a little so that the bubbles can come out and you can get rid of them. Many even prepare their pouring mixture a day in advance to avoid bubbles. If you are in too much of a hurry and you pour straight away, you are more than likely going to get pockmarks or pits everywhere.


Determining the Mixing Ratio

You might be wondering how much paint and medium to use? Can you simply guess or is there a way to determine accurate amounts? Achieving the correct ratio does involve some practice as it does depend on the consistency of both the paint and medium used.

A general method does include using one part acrylic paint and one part pouring medium, which is a 1:1 ratio. Mix this ratio and test the consistency. However, if it still seems too thick, you can add in a little more medium or water. Remember, you can only add in 30 percent of total water.

The correct consistency is what makes the perfect pour, if you make it too thin, you will not get the nice patterns and the paint will run all over the place.

 Too thick, the paint becomes difficult to spread evenly and you also will not get the patterns you want. Once you determine the correct consistency with the products you are using, it is easy to get the same results in the future.

As a reference for beginners, there are some general methods you can use to get the correct consistency. Below are some recommendations for using different pouring mediums. One is using Floetrol, which is a paint additive that improves the workability of water-based paints, the other is your professional pouring medium, and an alternative using glue. First, mix the paint and medium, and then add the water.

Mixing Acrylic Pouring Medium

  • Professional Pouring Medium: One part paint, one and a half parts medium, and half water.
  • Floetrol: This is the same as for the above. Add one-part paint, one and a half parts medium, and half part water.
  • Glue: As mentioned, this could be Almer’s glue or PVC glue. Add in one part paint, one and a half parts medium, and one part water.

An even simpler way to determine the ratio is to use a pouring calculator. You will just need to fill out some pertinent information like the length and width of your substrate, and it will determine the amount of paint needed.


Paint Pouring Techniques

Since this is an article for beginners, we will be dealing with a basic tutorial on the traditional acrylic pour. However, there is also a list of some more advanced paint pouring techniques as well. The traditional method is quite simple, all you need is to mix your paint in different cups, and then you pour the paint colors individually onto the canvas. It is harder to create more complex designs this way, but it does provide more control over where the colors go, and it is perfect as a starting point for acrylic pour painting.

Once you have added your paints, you can pick up the canvas and tilt it in various ways to form basic patterns.

Remember, to let the paint run over the edges to cover t