thin acrylic paint

How to Thin Acrylic Paint – Tips and Tricks

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Acrylic paints are available in many different consistencies: from rather thin-bodied to paste for the spatula technique. You can dilute your acrylic paint to change the consistency according to your wishes, in order to create exciting effects. We will show you what you should keep in mind when doing this, and what special effects you can achieve with thinning acrylic paint.



Can Acrylic Paint be Thinned?

First things first: yes you can make acrylic paint thinner by dilution. You can do this either with normal water or special agents like a pouring medium. However, there are a few basic rules to follow so that the dilution is successful and you get the desired result.



The Basics: What Does Acrylic Paint Contain?

how to thin acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is basically dilutable with water, dries quickly, and is very easy to apply. These positive characteristics are due to the composition: acrylic paint consists to a large extent of color pigments, binding agents, and sometimes other durability agents.

The color pigments provide the necessary intensity of the colors. The binder is responsible for fast, even drying and gloss, and also ensures that the ink dries waterproof. The binding power is enhanced by the acrylic binder used. The shelf life enhancers ensure that the colors last longer, but are suspected of being harmful to health. Therefore you will find less and less of these additives in acrylic paint, especially in high-quality paints. High-quality acrylic paints are characterized by a high proportion of color pigments.



How to Dilute Acrylic Paint With Water

Can you thin acrylic paint with water? Absolutely! The simplest and cheapest method to make acrylic paint thinner is with water. Water ensures that the binder and pigments contained in the product are diluted. Therefore your diluted mixture will lose some of its radiance and color intensity. You can do this specifically if you want to paint with a glaze. By adding water, the paint becomes more transparent and translucent. This is an easy acrylic thinner.

If you heavily dilute your paint, you can paint with it as though it is a watercolor. This is ideal for painting soft backgrounds and color gradients for example. After drying, you can paint over it without any problems. If you do not want to use your diluted acrylic paint right away, but want to store it for a longer period of time, you should use distilled water so that no mold can develop. Too much water can destroy your work, as cracks and other unwanted surface defects can occur during drying.

Tip for the glazing painting: You will get the best results with a maximum addition of about 30-40% water to the acrylic paint. Stir the mixture for 1-2 minutes to obtain a homogeneous mixture.



How to Dilute Acrylic Paint With Acrylic Binder

In contrast to diluting with water, you can use a standard acrylic binder to dilute your acrylic paints without affecting the color intensity and other properties. Since acrylic binder is already a component of your acrylic paint, it is compatible with the paints of all manufacturers – making it an easy acrylic paint thinner.

The acrylic binder therefore only changes the viscosity of the ink by making it more liquid. However, the color pigments contained are not broken down. With more binder, the paint absorbs less into the substrate – the result is a higher radiance of paint and a shinier surface after drying. In addition, you can further influence the gloss level of the dried paint with a gloss medium. A uniform surface can still be achieved by varnishing with a final varnish.

Tip for the addition of acrylic binder: Do not use more than 50% acrylic binder to avoid loss of color intensity


PEBEO Studio Acrylics Auxiliaries Acrylic Binder
  • Non-yellowing liquid binder with a translucent glossy film
  • Specially designed for use with acrylic paints
  • Comes in a convenient 1L bottle
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How to Dilute Acrylic Paint With Pouring Medium

acrylic paint thinner

Another possibility besides water and acrylic binder comes in the form of a pouring medium. This was developed to improve the flow/pourability of acrylic paint and is an effective acrylic thinner. Originally intended for acrylic pouring, you can also use this medium for painting with acrylics.

You will get a similar result as with the acrylic binder, but the drying time will be longer. So you have much more time to create your artwork before the paint dries.

Tip for the addition of pouring medium: For acrylic painting 10-20% is sufficient to obtain a significant dilution of the acrylic paint.


LIQUITEX Professional Pouring Effects Medium, 32 oz
  • Liquitex is known for its high-quality artist products
  • Easy to process and dries to a silky gloss
  • Very good cell formation without air bubbles
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How to Thin Out Acrylic Paint That Has Dried

If your acrylic paint (in a jar or on your palette) has already dried, you may be able to save it by adding water and some acrylic binder and stirring intensively. However, once the painted paint is dry, you will not be able to revitalize it. To prevent this from happening, you can put a moistened piece of household paper over the paint or spray it with some water to delay the drying process.

thinning acrylic paint


Knowing how to thin out acrylic paint is a useful skill for any artist wanting to experiment with different paint structures. Thinning acrylic paint can help to achieve a range of different effects and painting techniques. This can be used to spark and ignite your creativity further.


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