Learn How to start Painting with Acrylics, using my Dry Brush Technique
There are many ways to create a painting with acrylics. The way that I do that is, I use a technique called a dry brush technique. I paint with a very dry paint brush with acrylic paint. Little by little, I build up layers of acrylic paint on a textured surface, to create my Acrylic Paint look.
It is so hard to explain my Acrylic Painting Drybrush style without video.
I’m still amazed at how amazing the internet is – I almost think that it’s a blessing to have grown up without it. I don’t think my kids can appreciate it as much as I do.
The internet has made it possible for illustrators and artists to show and teach our students our techniques. Instead of the frustrations of trying to explain how to dry brush, I can now show it. In the how to paint videos I take the painting you see above from start to finish in real time. I didn’t speed this one up so anyone viewing it can see exactly how you can dry brush with acrylic paint. I start it with a sketch, transfer to paper, add acrylic texture, under-painting (or Grisaille), and finally the finished painting using wet paint, glazes, and dry brushing. I talk about everything from materials to design.
Acrylic Paint won’t do what it won’t do
I often hear my students complain about how much they HATE painting with acrylics– I tell them, “It’s because you want them to do something that they aren’t good for.” In these videos I show you why acrylics have been the workhorse medium for illustrators world wide.
I also included two bonus videos – two different approaches on how to paint using acrylics: Painterly and cross hatching. I really hope these videos are helpful to anyone trying to learn how to paint with acrylics! Click here for more information
Can you tell which is digital art and which one is Acrylic paint?
Digital Art work on the Left vs an Acrylic Illustration on the Right
Pretty cool huh? Check out the texture on the Digital Art (left).
This little mouse, or rat, (depending on what YOU want it to be, (I want it to be a mouse, with teeth) was just a little doodle in my sketchbook that I ended up painting in Photoshop a while back. I posted it just a week or so ago talking about how you may want to make the switch. I also painted it the old fashioned way for an art demonstration for my Media and Techniques class at UVU. I used my dry brush, technique using acrylic paints. I just thought it would be kind of neat to do a side by side comparison.
I paint so dry that I just lightly put some Liquitex heavy gel medium down right in my sketchbook and painted him there. I used to like having a few paintings in my sketchbook – That way I always had a few finished pieces with me wherever I would go. Now of course I carry my i-pad and always doodle, digitally of course, and have a regular portfolio with me all the time. It sucks when you lose it at the airport though. Yes that happened, well almost happened. I went back to where I was sitting and an hour later, it was still there. I am a grateful man.
It is starting to look like I like to paint digitally. I have a secret. I have converted. But don’t get me wrong, I still love a real painting,and if I were to do gallery work, it would be a must. I just really like the switch that I’ve made.
You can learn how to paint digitally at FolioAcademy.com and you can learn my dry brush acrylic technique there too.
Since I have been telling lately about my transition from acrylic to digital illustration, I thought I would post these little After and Before pictures ot a sketch I drew then painted in Photoshop. In the beginning I was able to get a handle on the digital painting a lot faster than digital sketching and designing the drawing. So I would do a basic drawing and then finish it in Photoshop. I also enjoy a lot of the play between the pencil drawing and the painting. I left a lot of the hatchy, sketchy, pencilly, lines shining through the paint, on purpose.
This little study took me just two hours to complete and was a lot of fun.
If you were given a “carte blanche” assignment to illustrate the word, EARLY, what would you come up with. They say that if you give a thousand people the same task, they would come up with a thousand different ways to do that task. I would say that the same thing goes for ARTISTS. If you give a thousand artists the same assignment, (i.e. word or phrase to illustrate) you would get a thousand different ideas and portrayals.
So I’m feeling bad because I just don’t add to this creation any more.
What started out as an insignificant piece of Masonite that I pulled out of the trash,
turned into this big thick clump of endless layers of acrylic paint.
layers of paint since 1990
So I was looking for something I could blog about and then it occurred to me – my pallet! This mound you see before you is constructed out of all of the acrylic paint I’ve used since 1990! It started out as my friend Wayne’s Masonite oil pallet. Wayne thought his pallet was too big so he cut it in half and tossed my half (the piece you see) in the trash. Way back then it was just a flat piece of 1/4 inch board. When I pulled it out of the trash and started using it as my acrylic pallet it began to grow.
Don’t Throw it Away! It’s got Character.
There was a time when I was going to discard it – it was growing out of control and I thought it would be easier to work on a new one. In fact I did carve some off a few times. But then I looked at it again – all bumpy, colorful and lumpy, Full of character and personality, We’d been through a lot together. “There there lil’ fella, don’t you worry – daddy isn’t going to abandon you like Wayne did.” (can you tell it’s 2:00 AM?)
He’s been around too
So here he is – I figure he’s probably middle aged like me – lots of miles, like me and many more ahead, like me, (I hope). He’s been to Maryland, California, technically Nevada and Idaho, but mostly he’s lived here in Utah. Of the thousands of paintings I’ve done he’s got parts of all of them in him.
I think I’ll name him Benjamin since I never had any run-ins with anyone named Benjamin.
There is an arch in there
Oh, and that arch you see was at the request of my children constantly nagging me to sculpt some form into him – It took about 9 months to build the arch. Sometimes you just gotta ask yourself, “What would Dr. Seuss do?” I think his pallet would look a lot like Benjamin.
Art Demonstration for an illustration Class at BYU
I may offend them with a BYU alumni overweight, and smoking!
I was asked by Greg Newbold to do a demo in his illustration classes… so I racked my brain to come up with something that would be FUN but non-offensive to the students. Well not TOO offensive.
Behold! the sketch I came up with. Fun? Offensive? Art?
I really like this sketch and I’m going to paint it but I’m concerned that the student’s might not like that I’ve decided to portray a BYU alumni overweight. And as many of you know, they don’t smoke, so I am taking a little risk here. Not to worry, they may be Mormons but they aren’t that uptight.
Finished, Acrylic paint over Photoshop printed background.
This is the finish art demo: It was a lot of fun working on it and talking to students. I was happy that they thought it was funny… or at least, didn’t beat me up for poking fun. I worked on it in class for about 4 hours and spent an additional 2 at home with a few finishing touches.
Digital Stage, no lighter than 50% value.
This is the beginnings of my digital stage where I Scan in my sketch, take that into Photoshop and airbrush some smooth, basic colors and keep them kind of dark. My main concern is getting everything no lighter than about 50% value.
Using Photoshop I spent about 20 minutes laying in shadows and basic foundation colors. Then I printed it on watercolor paper. The next step in this method was to stipple a layer of acrylic gel medium over the print. I use a kind of short hair paint brush and a little Gel Medium at a time and stipple it onto the paper, giving it millions of little tiny peaks. Aka tooth. The gel drys clear so you can paint with acrylics right over it. Building up the lighter areas. And of course saving the highlights for last.
One of my oldies that I painted the old fashioned way with real acrylic paint and real brushes. Now days I do most of my artwork using pixels. Digital art work is just faster and… well you’ve heard me say it before and you’ll hear it again. I am not dissing on traditional painting, in fact I love the real stuff. And I encourage every artist to learn to manipulate real pigment.
Looking at this takes me back. If you’ll notice, I would paint or tone the canvas or paper, with a rather dark color, and then paint lighter colors on top and slowly build up the painting with a very dry brush. Leaving a lot of the toned background to show through. In a nutshell, that is my acrylic painting style.
I wanted to do a painting of a dream that I had as a kid….
make sure you watch the ending : )
A little lesson in acrylics but watch fast because it goes fast.
The worst (and best) thing about painting with acrylics
The worst thing about painting in acrylics is that it dries fast. The best thing about painting in acrylics is that it dries fast. The worst thing about painting in acrylics for me while doing THIS painting was filming it and working around the camera.
Notice the painting process, Start with the Darks
As you can see, or could see, or did see, if you actually watched the video, I first tone the canvas, (AKA gessoed board in this case) with a dark yet rich color. Then I paint in a little more dark, and you will note that the dark acrylic colors are transparent, while the lighter colors, (aka colours) are opaque. And that is a good thing, so you can see you lines, a little, and transparent shadows are nice. Plus it is good to cover up what you want with those light colors.
Here is a little acrylic sketch that FolioAcademyartist/instructorWill Terry did awhile ago. I was a fellow Art Student with him in college back when he was trying to find his niche and style. I remember him looking for a real toothy texture that would peal the paint off his brush. It took him years to master this style but it was worth it.
He eventually developed his own recipe for a painting. The ingredients include thumbnail sketches and getting the drawingdesigned just right and transferring that onto the paper.
Then getting the texture just right with a clear gel medium that would allow the drawing to show up perfectly.
He then tones the surface usually with a medium value color then adding dark paint where needed and then gradually, using a DRY brush and very little paint, he adds lighter and lighter acrylic paint. Light on Dark.