Monday, March 23, 2009

Acrylic Painting Technique – Make a Print Unique Example

Example using acrylic paints and mediums

Here is an example of starting with a print and painting over the top of it. This is an easy way to paint an original picture without needing to draw! (This is an example to go with the article of the same name below.)

I don't paint a lot of portraits (human ones). I paint a lot of pet portraits and I must say I find painting fur a lot easier than skin. :-) Anyway I thought this would make a good example.

This is a photo of my parents. I don't have many photos of them together in their later years. This particular photo was taken on a holiday to Saudi Arabia. It's a fairly typical holiday ‘snap’.

There are a couple of things that are unfortunate. The top of the wall being in line with Dad’s head is the aspect that I think needs most attention. Also Mum never wore all black outfits; she wore it on this occasion due to the customs of the country they were visiting.

What I did

I printed out the photo on 190g/m² photographic paper; this is a thick quality paper. My printer uses pigmented inks that, once dry, don't run if they get wet.

Even though I made the print 9 by 7 inches (about 22 by 17 cm) I found it was quite small when painting some of the detail. So the picture needed to be done in a loosely painted style.

The Background

Titanium White is an opaque colour so I used a lot of it in the mix to paint the background and to get rid of the rear wall. I used the paints with the minimum of water so the paper wouldn’t buckle too much.

Keep a Copy of the Print for Reference

Once the background was dry I painted in my folks. I used the print to know where to paint the darker and lighter tones.

At this point I had to get a copy of the original print for reference and for fine tuning the picture. I couldn't see the original print once it was painted over as I had used the paint quite thickly.

Changing the Black

It took several layers of paint to change Mum’s outfit to a colour that she would normally wear.

Dad’s shirt was over-painted with a thin wash of colour and a little bit of shading.

I feel I got a reasonable likeness and I know that they would be happy that I made them look a little younger than the photo. ;-)

This technique can be used with any subject; it doesn't have to be a portrait. It would work really well with landscapes of local scene too.
You could also try it on any prints that you may have to make them more interesting and unique.

Acrylic Painting Technique – Make a Print Unique

Using acrylic paints and mediums

This is a different way to update a print into something more unique. It can make an ordinary print look like an expensive original painting.

You can use this technique on a store bought print or you can print out one of your own pictures or photos.

Be sure to check that the print colour is not affected by painting on top of it.
Note - Some computer inks will not be suitable for this method.

Paint on extra colour and texture

The idea is to paint onto the print. This will allow you to add extra colour, perhaps making it a better match for your décor? This will make the final picture unique to you as well, your own custom artwork.

You can use some of the various acrylic gels or texture mediums to show up the brush strokes too. Adding extra texture to the foreground will help to add depth to landscape pictures.

Depending on the result you want you could paint on some texture paste (which is white), then over-paint the dried texture paste with colour. This works best where you want a strong texture.

Or you could use one of the gel mediums to give texture without changing the colour too much; I find this most effective for medium texture effects.

You have the option of adding a different colour to any section of the print you want. You control the strength of the colour as well. If you do not like a particular area you can change it.

You could also add some metallic colours, it really is your choice!


An example of this technique could be over-painting a print of Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh. You could use this technique to add some distinctive brush stroke textures, in the same fashion he used in the original painting.

This can make a regular print into something much more interesting to look at.

Holiday Photos

If your computer ink is suitable you could print out a holiday photograph and add some paint and texture so that it will look like you painted a wonderful picture from your vacation!

Key Points

* Be sure that painting on the print will not dissolve the colours in the print.

* Adding texture to the foreground will make the distance look ‘further away’.

* You can use just paints to alter the colours, or just add a little texture.

* Use the gel mediums and texture paste for more exaggerated textures.