How To Make Your Own Acrylic Paint

Before getting into the nitty gritty of making your own acrylic paint, let’s get some basics down so you can come up with a strategy of how you’d like to go about it.

Types of Pigments

There are many different types of pigments you could use when creating your artwork. Some pigments are natural while others are manmade. Here we will look at some of the most common pigments and how they work.

Organic Pigments

Organic pigments are Carbon based compounds, so they’re easily biodegradable. Although they’re chemically made and complex in nature, they have low levels of toxicity and so do not pose much of a health risk or environmental concern.

They give off bright colors that are rich in depth. Organic pigments tend to be more resisteant to heat and weathering, so they don’t easily degrade.

Inorganic Pigments

The term “inorganic pigment” refers to those materials that do not occur in nature. Most people think of minerals like quartz, feldspar, mica, and clay when thinking about inorganic pigments. However, artists often use metals such as aluminum, gold, silver, platinum, and copper to add color to their paintings.

These metal-based pigments are very durable because they are chemically inert and resistant to heat and weathering. They also have high reflectivity and opacity.

Lake Pigments

The term “lake pigments” refers to a group of waterborne colorants that include both organic and mineral components. These pigments consist of a mixture of one or more organic dyes and/or lakes and an inert binder or metal compound. This combination provides a wide variety of colors that can be used in many different types of paint products.

This type of pigment is formed when certain chemicals react together over time. This process creates a substance that is rich in nutrients. For example, calcium hydroxide reacts with sulfuric acid to form limestone. When this mixture dries it forms a hard rock called calcite. Calcite is a white pigment that is commonly used in art projects.

Lakes pigments are produced by combining organic dye with inert materials called mordants. Mordants are used to hold onto the color and prevent it from washing out during processing and allowing them to disperse evenly throughout the paint film. Most lakes are produced with iron salts like ferrous sulfate or ferric chloride. These compounds form insoluble complexes with the dye molecules, making the lake color stable.

How to Make Acrylic Paint

Making your own paint is easy, cheap, and fun. This project requires no special equipment or tools. All you need are some basic supplies like a plastic mixing bowl, wooden chopsticks, dry pigment, painting spatula, and an acrylic base.

Things You’ll Need To Make Acrylic Paint

  • A plastic or glass mixing container
  • Wooden stick – to stir the paint (chopsticks work well)
  • Dry pigment – this is  your color
  • Painting spatula – to grind the mix the pigments.
  • Acrylic base  – a clear liquid that acts as a medium for the paint and attributes to its consistency, such as water or alcohol.

Step 1: Dissolve the pigments

Put the pigment in your solution (either water or alcohol). A 50/50 liquid to pigment mixture ratio should work well.  You can change the ratio as you get more experienced, but keep notes so you can produce more as needed.

Alcohol is less dense than water, so it may be easier for the pigments to disperse in alcohol. Water works as well, but gives it a different consistency. Try out different soluions until you get the look and feel that you like your acrylic paint to be.

You basically just want to make it wet and easier to process (in the next step).

Step 2: Grind the pigment

Grind the pigment with a spatula to make an even and smooth texture and even color shade. You don’t want your paint to have varying color depths or lumps. You may need to add more liquid or pigment, depending on your preference for the color shading. Be patient and add a little at a time to reach the color tone you’re looking for.

Step 3: Add a medium

Once your pigment is all blended and you’ve gotten your color, you can now add in the medium. Think about whether you want a matte or glossy look to your art work before settling on the medium you’ll use.

Examples of good acrylic mediums to use are:

  • Water – gives you a matte finish that’s non-reflective
  • Gel – gives you a glossy finish
  • Oil – makes the art work look like an oil painting
  • Latex – gives you a semi-glossy finish
  • Resin – gives you a shiny finish

Step 4: Store your homemade acrylic paint

You can store your finished paint in tubes or glass containers. Glass containers are great since they’re reusable and recylable. Make sure that you have a good lid on your container because acrylic paint dries fast.

Wrapping Things Up

Work in a well ventilated area, especially if you’re not fully aware of the materials you’re working wth or experimenting with mixing colors and paint components.

Work in small batches so that you don’t waste material. Just keep notes on how much you use of what. Measuring is always a plus, although it may prove more difficult to keep track as you get excited about your creation.

You may also want to consider spreading floor coverings over your work area to catch spills and splatters as you work, but cleaning up acrylic paint shouldn’t be too difficult. Use soap and warm water to clean off any excess paint from your hands and brushes. If you spill paint, wipe it up immediately. Don’t let it sit around for long periods of time. It will start to harden and become sticky, at which point you may need to Google for how to clean up acrylic paint from various surfaces.  Not to worry, we’ll have an article on that and include a link here when it’s published.

Have fun and experiment with different shades.

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Your Own Acrylic Paint

Do I need special equipment to make my own acrylic paint?

No, you don’t need special equipment to make your own acrylic paint. You just need a few basic tools listed above.

Is it safe to eat my homemade acrylic paint?

No, it isn’t safe to eat your homemade acrylic paint. Although it might taste delicious, it could cause severe health problems.

Should I use my homemade acrylic paint on furniture?

No. Using your homemade acrylic paint on furniture is not recommended. It could stain the wood and leave permanent marks.

Will my homemade acrylic paint last forever?

No. Your homemade acrylic paint will eventually fade away after a while.

Why did my homemade acrylic paint turn out darker than expected?

There are several reasons why your homemade acrylic paint turned out darker than expected. First, you may have used too little pigment. Second, you may have added too much water. Third, you may have mixed your paints incorrectly. Fourth, you may have applied the paint too thickly. Finally, you may have left the paint to dry too long.

Why didn’t my homemade acrylic paint stay put (on the canvas)?

There are many reasons why your homemade acrylic paints didn’t stay put. First, you may not have applied them properly. Second, they may have dried too quickly. Third, they may have been exposed to air or light for too long. Finally, they may have been stored in a humid environment.

Can I add glitter to my homemade acrylic paint? If so, how should I do it?

Yes, you can add glitter to your homemade acrylic paint. Just add some glitter to the mixture before adding the solvent. Then stir thoroughly until all the glitter has dissolved into the paint.

How long does it take to make my own acrylic paints?

Depending on the size of your batch, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete.

How do I store my homemade acrylic paint? Does it keep well?

Store your homemade acrylic paint in an airtight container. You can also use plastic bags or jars. Keep the containers in a cool place.