ceramic painting guide

Ceramic Painting Guide – Everything to Know About Painting On Ceramic

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Year after year the same question arises: What do I give people for Christmas or other occasions? A self-made gift often not only looks very beautiful, but it also has a special charm. Self-painted or handmade gifts come from the heart. The person receiving the gift has the feeling that the giver has thought of them in a special way. And usually, the gift is unique – something very special that only exists once. So if you want to bring someone great joy, consider self-painted porcelain or ceramics. Sounds complicated? – But it’s not. We’ll tell you how it works.



Painting Ceramics – An Introduction

When painting on ceramic or porcelain you neither need many materials nor endless skill – only creativity. With just a few steps and a few tricks, you can refine any piece of crockery in a unique way – even if you are not normally a great artist. There are no limits to your imagination. This is how you create very personal gifts or very pretty home accessories that can fit timelessly into any environment.

The time required varies enormously. You can decorate your crockery or vases with just a few strokes and dots, but also with elaborate colorful patterns. However, you should of course allow for the time it takes to dry and possibly bake your works of art.

Before you start decorating, your art object must be cleaned thoroughly. Please do not use a dishwasher or any commercial detergent! These often provide the dishes with a film, through which the colors do not adhere properly and thus do not become durable. Clean the porcelain with the help of a sponge and scouring agent. Then polish it with high-proof alcohol. It is best to use disposable gloves, otherwise, your fingers will leave a greasy film again when cleaning. This can affect the durability of the paint.



Materials Needed For Ceramic Painting

Now, what about the materials? All you need is:

  • Plain porcelain or ceramic: cups, bowls, plates
  • Special porcelain paint – either porcelain pencils or brush paints
  • Ceramic stickers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Nail polish remover
  • Templates
  • Possibly painter’s crepe
  • Possibly scissors
  • Possibly wooden skewers, brushes, sponges
  • An oven

With the ceramic that you want to finish, you should make sure that the colors used stand out well. For light pieces, you should therefore use dark colors and vice versa.


Ceramic Paint Pens

Normal touch-up pencils only last a few washes. That is why it is worthwhile to use special porcelain paint pencils. To ensure that the colors last for a long time, you can bake them in the oven.

how to paint ceramic


Ceramic Paint

Ceramic paints are best painted with a fine brush. It requires a little more practice than painting porcelain with a ceramic pen. If you want to enjoy your unique pieces as long as possible, use paints from brand manufacturers – these are much more resistant. The best paint for ceramic art can be acrylic, epoxy, or latex.


Other Materials For Painting Ceramics Explained

You need the cotton swabs and nail polish remover to remove unwanted lines, streaks and spots. If something goes wrong, moisten a cotton swab with the nail polish remover and stroke gently over the area you want to touch up. Afterward, you can easily continue painting.

Whether you need masking tape or stencils, tape and scissors depends on the technique you want to use. If you want to paint freehand, you can leave out the materials mentioned above.

Wooden skewers, brushes, and sponges are also not a must. You can use them to create beautiful dot or line patterns with brush paint.

It is important to get all the materials right so that painting is relaxed and you don’t panic if you are missing something.



Painting Ceramics – What Can Be Painted?

The special thing about this art form is that you can paint practically anything made of porcelain or ceramics. So you can really give your creativity free rein. Here are some popular items:

  • Cereal bowls
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Fruit bowls
  • Jugs
  • Flower vases

You do not have to limit yourself to the outside. The inside of bowls and cups or even their handles can also be refined. And as far as the design is concerned, you are completely free – whatever you want is allowed.

paint ceramics

A very simple idea with great effect: This cup set painted with porcelain pens is not at all complicated to create, but super sweet and will delight every (child’s) heart.



Painting Ceramic Blank or Glazed?

There are two ways to create a beautiful coffee cup: Paint the blank ceramic or decorate the glaze. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

If you paint a blank before glazing, you can create particularly long-lasting works of art. The end result is very durable and scratch-resistant. The major disadvantage of this technique is that you need a very steady hand. You can leave your cotton swab with nail polish remover in the cupboard – once the paint has touched the blank, it can no longer be removed. This type is therefore not necessarily suitable for beginners.


The painting of a ceramic blank is the ultimate discipline in porcelain painting – once the paint is on the blank, it can no longer be removed.

painting ceramics

The situation is different when painting glazed pieces. These are also dishwasher- and scratch-resistant, but not as durable as when the blank is first painted and then glazed. But you can really let off steam with already glazed porcelain: If something goes wrong, you can simply fix the spot with a cotton swab. This kind of porcelain painting is therefore much more relaxed.



How to Paint Ceramics

As far as design is concerned, there are various techniques – all of which have their advantages and disadvantages. The best thing is to try out what suits you.


Freehand Ceramic Painting

Freehand painting does not require any masking tape or other materials. You simply take the porcelain item you want to decorate and dab, paint or apply your own design. It does not matter if it is a flower or a star, a spot, or a fantasy animal.

ceramic painting

Plates with Indian designs, for example, look particularly elegant. Feathers, zigzag lines, spirals and circles alternate and form a beautiful pattern. Just go for it or think of a design beforehand. The fact that these patterns are not quite accurately designed, makes the special attraction.


Tracing Templates

The tracing of templates offers you particularly beautiful possibilities. With this, you can create very noble works of art. You can create templates yourself or you can search for them online. They have to be printed out and cut out. If you want to paint a plate or a bowl, you have to measure the inner diameter for a round design.

For this technique you will need some additional materials:

  • Of course, your template
  • A sharp pencil
  • Painter’s crepe or masking tape

You apply your pattern on the porcelain with the help of the masking tape or painter’s crepe. Then you draw the letters or the drawing with a sharp pencil. Press it firmly so that the porcelain sticks to the pattern. Then you take the pattern off again. Now you can see it through the pencil on the porcelain. You can now trace over it with the ceramic paint.

Actually, nothing can go wrong – especially since you can touch up with the cotton swab. However, this method requires much more effort than freehand painting. First, you have to find a template, print it out, and cut it out and then transfer it with a pencil. If you want to do things quickly, this technique is not suitable.

ceramic paint


Ceramic Stencils

Using stencils and masking tape is easier than freehand work. You can use prefabricated shapes by cutting them out and sticking them on your porcelain. All you have to do is moisten them with a little water and apply them to your item. They stick without any glue. Excess water should be wiped off before painting. This is the only way the paint will hold without smearing.

Then fill the stencil with paint or use it as a boundary. When you are finished, you should wait until the paint has dried. Only then remove the stencil. If noses have developed, you can gently remove them with a cotton swab and nail polish remover.

The use of stencils in porcelain painting has the advantage that even uncreative people can produce beautiful pieces. For children, it is probably the easiest way to work on porcelain.

The disadvantage, however, is precisely this: your own creativity is somewhat restricted. You have to limit yourself to the forms that are available. Furthermore, painting with stencils is a little more complicated than freehand techniques, because you cannot “just paint on it”. It needs a little more preparation.

You can also create beautiful templates with painters crepe. You can use it to mask off angular shapes, for example, or to trace contours well. Simply stick the shapes you want to paint or draw on with the masking tape. Let the paint dry and then remove the masking tape. If it is difficult to remove, you can soak it with a wet cloth.




Embellish With Lettering

Do you want to let off steam artistically, perhaps not quite so much, but still create something beautiful with porcelain?

Then why don’t you try writing on it? A curved “Best Grandpa” or simply “Thank you” on a white porcelain cup creates something special. This way, even less artistic people become artists. You can also apply small lettering to the inside of mugs or cereal bowls. Or how about a smiley face and a little “I love you” at the bottom of the coffee mug? This will certainly bring a smile to your partner’s face at breakfast.

how to paint porcelain

Larger bowls can be decorated with poems or lyrics. Or how about a quotation from your favourite book or a cheeky saying on a mug?



Ceramic Stickers

If you do not want to write or draw yourself, porcelain stickers offer a great alternative. These are also available in specialist shops and can give any simple ceramic piece something special by simply sticking them on. Children also have fun with this simple method.


Again, the ceramic item to be decorated must be free of grease and dust. After cleaning, cut out the design with a margin of about one millimeter and remove the background paper. Now stick the sticker onto the porcelain and rub it carefully but thoroughly with a dry cloth. This will remove air bubbles and ensure a strong adhesion. Then remove the foil on the front and let the porcelain dry for two hours.

Of course, you can also combine colors and stickers. However, you should first use the paint, then burn it in and then apply the stickers.




Caring For Ceramic Paint

After you have decorated your artwork, you must let it dry. Whether the item has to be baked in an oven cannot be answered in a general way. This depends on the ceramic paints used. Pay attention to the instructions. In this case, you usually proceed as follows:

  • The porcelain must dry for about fifteen minutes
  • Then it is put in the oven at 320 degrees for about 25 minutes
  • Afterward, it must cool down in the oven

As a rule, the inks used should be dishwasher-proof and even scratch-resistant – especially if they have been fired. However, make sure that you always use paints from only one manufacturer, as the care and after-treatment can differ.

best paint for ceramic

Plates and other tableware can be embellished with a variety of designs. Totally trendy, among others, are abstract patterns as our example in the picture shows.



Ideas For Painting on Ceramic With children

Painting porcelain is not only fun for adults. Decorating little porcelain cups is a great idea for a child’s birthday party. You don’t like these plastic bags because they cause a lot of waste? Here comes a better idea: party cups!

Let the children paint the ceramic cups first. Then let them dry and bake them. After cooling down, fill them with small toys and a few sweets – and the party cups are ready! This way you avoid unnecessary plastic waste and offer the children a unique and creative activity. This is an especially great idea for children who have their birthday in winter.

painting on ceramic

Whether at a child’s birthday party, in kindergarten, at school or simply at home as a wonderful hobby – painting porcelain is also great for children of almost any age.

Painting on ceramic is also a fun idea for kindergarten or for small art projects at school. This kind of art stimulates creativity in a unique way and even trains the fine motor skills of children. On top of this, it is a lot of fun and easy to do.

So there are no limits to the imagination. Painting porcelain or ceramics is easy to do and does not require a lot of frills. It is a lot of fun and stimulates creativity.


If you wanted to find out how to paint porcelain, the above guide should have taught you everything you need to know. Hopefully we have inspired you to try to paint ceramics – a truly fun, creative and rewarding project!

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