13 Hacks and Tips for Pouring Acrylics

Welcome! I’ve been pretty well obsessed with poured acrylic painting lately. There’s so much I love about it: deciding the palettes, the uncertainty of the mixing and the beautiful color wheel of surprises that are revealed when you pick up that flip cup and see the beginning of the creation!

While I haven’t been doing this very long myself, I have learned a LOT recently, and I just wanted to pass a long a few little nuggets of wisdom that I have gleaned along the way. This isn’t exactly a beginner’s guide to pouring exactly, but if you’re new to pouring, hopefully this list helps at least a little to answer some common FAQs and share some hacks, tips and method to make pouring easier.

(As a side note, I don’t endorse one brand over another in the products I recommend here. When I  suggest brand names, it’s just shorthand (like kleenex or bandaid) unless otherwise noted. I certainly don’t get paid to mention them… Though if you know someone, send them my way… I’m not proud. Broke, but not proud…)

1. Protect your phone. Looking at a picture on your phone for inspiration? Have that pouring medium recipe pulled up, but want to keep your phone safe in your work area? Put your phone in a ziplock bag! My Samsung Edge 7 fits PERFECTLY in a snack-size ziplock bag. The one drawback to this is that it can make it difficult to take photos, if that’s your thing. However, you can cut a little hole in the baggie and use painter’s tape to to tape it closely around the lens, allowing the camera to be unhindered.

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Throw your phone in a baggie to protect it while you work!

BONUS TIP: If your next phone upgrade isn’t worth it, hang onto your old the phone and dedicate it as a camera! It may be decommissioned as an active phone, but did you know you can still connect to the internet? Not only can you use it as a camera, but when connected to wifi, you can also us it to upload to your social media or blog!

2. Keep your paints fresh without airtight jars. Some people like to mix their paints ahead of time to cut down on air bubbles. Sometimes you’ll have leftover paint from a pour that you’ll want to come back to later, but airtight plastic containers are a total pain if you’re only trying to save paint overnight. Press n Seal plastic wrap is AMAZING for this. Simply group your cups together, cover them with the plastic wrap, and run your finger firmly over the rim of each cup. This seals them super effectively and cleanly! You can also use this tip to seal your paint brushes between gesso sessions!

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Keep your paint fresh, right in their cups!

3. Tighten up that saggy-ass canvas. Are you a cheapskate like me? Do you buy the crappy student-level canvas that’s all loose and saggy? Maybe it’s an old canvas? Something you picked up at a yard sale? You can make it nice and taut again by spraying the back of your canvas with water, lightly rubbing it down and letting it air dry. Use cotton pads to get right up in the corners, otherwise they may pucker. Specialty liquids and sprays specifically made for this are available at art supply stores, but 9 times out of 10 water works just as well!

4. Keep the ambient temperature down. 68F-70F is ideal, and stay away from drafts. Nothing will make your painting craze faster than heat and draft!

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Crazing happens when the top layer of the paint dries faster than the rest

5. The SUPES secret pouring medium LIQUITEX DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT!!111! *ahem* Want to know the absolute best pouring medium out there? What brand is best? I’m about to blow your mind right now… it just doesn’t effing matter. I’ve have achieved both great and horrible results with every form of pouring medium I’ve tried… and they all work (and all word together) as long as you have the right consistency, you can pretty much use whatever combo of pouring medium, Glue-All (not School Glue), Floetrol and water you want and it will make medium. The rest is up to you!

BONUS TIP: Save yourself a ton of money and a trip to the art store and make your own pouring medium. YouTubers and poured art gurus will expound endlessly on their “fool-proof recipes” for DIY pouring medium for maximized cells, but most of the time they’re full of so many different additives and fluids that you wind up paying more than if you bought it pre-made! In it’s simplest form, all you need is Elmer’s Glue-All (NOT “school glue”) and water. (Well, that’s not true. In it’s true simplest form, you can use Floetrol alone for a fraction of the cost of pouring medium) Here’s a few basic ratios to get you started:

* DIY Pouring medium- 2 parts Elmer’s Glue all : 1 part distilled water (add Floetrol as desired… or not!)
* Paint Mixture Ratio #1- 2 parts Floetrol : 1 part distilled water : 1 part artist quality acrylic paint (for fluid acrylics, use a 1:1:1 ratio). Add several drops of pure silicone to enhance cell formation.
* Paint Mixture Ratio #2- 2 parts pouring medium : 1 part isopropyl alcohol 71% or higher : 1 part high-flow acrylic. (The alcohol is there to promote cells. Do not add additional silicone to this mixture!)

6. Light ’em up! Wondering where to get a tiny torch? try your local smoke shop or head shop. A good one should only be about $15 and they sell huge cans of replacement fuel!

8. Make contact! Use a sheet of acetate (like an overhead projector sheet or Yupo to swipe. Allow to make good contact with about half the sheet and lightly drag the white paint across the surface of the colored paint. This helps prevent you from dragging the paint too deeply across the canvas.

BONUS TIP: Use a piece of cardboard bent at a 90 degree angle to make yourself a “corner catcher”. Position it around the corner of the canvas when you tilt to keep more paint on the canvas and to provide even coverage on the sides.

8. Get Heavy. For a heavy, intense white, add a little gesso to your Titanium white paint.

9. Speaking of gesso… did you know you can tint it? Not only does gesso come in white, it also comes in black, grey, metallics, and even clear! Tint your own gesso to your desired background color when priming your canvas, using high flow acrylics or powdered pigments. You kill two birds with one stone when your prime, and it adds visual interest to any negative space piece while helping to hide any bare spots.

10. Back of house inspiration Places like Smart & Final carry a lot of restaurant supplies. Using a large catering platter or roasting pan really helps to contain the mess. They’re also super cheap, and disposable once you’ve abused them enough.

BONUS TIP: Lay down a sheet of freezer paper, plastic side up between your canvas and the pan. This keeps your platter extra clean, and you can slide the paper off between pours, allowing you to easily keep your acrylic skins!

11. Keeping your canvas or panel elevated is important! It allows extra paint to flow off freely and, more importantly, it allows air to circulate beneath the painting, helping it to cure more quickly and evenly. Push pins on the back of canvases do this beautifully! Add 4 pushpins to the wood at the back of the canvas to elevate your piece and promote airflow. The best part? You can push the pins in as little or as much as necessary to adjust the height, allowing you to make the substrate perfectly level!

BONUS TIP: You can also use a cookie cooling rack from the Dollar Store for the same purpose, which has the added bonus of providing a clean base to pick up and tilt. The drawback is that it isn’t as easy to adjust the levelness.

hacks_rackplate

A catering platter and cooling rack make for a great pouring tray that can be reused!

12. Don’t skimp on metallic paints. The cheap shit doesn’t show through. Use liquid metal or add mica. In fact, stay away from cheap craft acrylics when possible because they are so low in pigmentation. If you must use the cheap crap, bolster it by adding some higher quality paint to add a little more pigment. In general, buy the best paints you can afford. When shopping, the levels of quality (from lowest to highest) are “Student”, “Studio” and “Artist” or “Professional” quality.hacks_metallic.jpg

13. EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT! Take good notes if you want to be able to consistently reproduce the same results piece after piece!

Wallpaper Wednesday! Firefly, comrade? Da! Shi!

I woke up feeling in a very Soviet mood today. Not Communist, exactly… More cold and bleary and cursing my crappy cup of coffee. (That last part’s a lie. My coffee was delicious. Keurig FTW.) Anyways, I started thinking about Firefly/Serenity and, for some reason, The Hands of Blue came to mind. In my mind, an Alliance propaganda poster would likely be Russian Constructivist style. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at this style of design, and today was the perfect opportunity. Enjoy your free Firefly wallpaper!

Firefly Constructivist poster

Right-click > Save As to download full 1920 x 1080 resolution JPEG

Maker Monday: Stock Photos That Don’t Suck

Confession: For the longest time, I couldn’t have cared less about using royalty-free photos. I grabbed the first internet photo that served my purpose and didn’t think twice about it. Now that I’m a little further into my life as a designer, I understand the importance of using royalty or copyright-free images in my work when I’m not supplying my own. (Well, like 90% of the time.*) It’s not just a legal issue, but a moral one because you’re basically using someone’s property without their permission.

"We're Coming to Get You, Barbara", (2013) Aerosol on canvas, 12x24

I painted this a few years ago from an iconic photo from the classic Night of the Living Dead… Do as I say, not as I do.

Continue reading

Devil’s Night Freebie Friday! Dean Winchester Pumpkin Carving Template

Happy Devil’s Night everyone! Hope you don’t get into too much mischief tonight… In fact, maybe you should probably stymie those mischievous urges by staying inside with some hot spiked cider and carving pumpkins for Halloween tomorrow. In fact, you should challenge yourself a a little. Get fancy this year.

And o hai… would you look at that. I even have a free carving template for you…

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Click to download free printable template

Carving pumpkins like this is easier than it first looks, though there may be times you’ll need toothpicks or paper clips to stabilize small bits. If this is your first time tackling a carving like this (or if, for whatever reason, you’re not a Supernatural fan…), I high recommend visiting ZombiePumpkins.com for their outstanding tutorials and plethora of patterns.

See you guys next week!

Wallpaper Wednesday! The Man in Black Fled Across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed…

Ok, so I’m going to try a thing… (It’s a thing in progress. Respect the thing.) The idea is that each Wednesday I’m going to post a new free wallpaper. Might be desktop, might be phone, might even be FB header.

For the inaugural post, I bring you a desktop wallpaper from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series!

Dark Tower Wallpaper

Click for full 1920 x 1272 resolution

I am a hardcore Constant Reader*. I, like Roland, am a self-confessed Dark Tower junkie. I am currently re-reading the series for the 5th or 6th time, do ya kennit. Right now I’m entering the 2nd half of the final book, and it is always so hard to say goodbye to the ka-tet. Picking up the series again really is like getting to see old friends and leaving them again never actually gets any easier. Nothing can make me ugly-cry like book 7 of The Dark Tower…. So yeah, I’m working through some feels via Photoshop right now lol.

Please check out my other Stephen King merch here! (More coming soon!)

Enjoy!

[* For those not hip to the jive, a Constant Reader is a Stephen King fan…]

Halloween Tutorial Tuesday! AKA Creepy Clown Ruins My Day, But Whatever

It’s Halloween! Huzzah! The most wonderful time of the year! I decided to loosely revisit the zombification proccess I went through on my first horror piece and write up a tutorial. Lemme tell you something though… This has been a rough day. Clowns scare the bejesus out of me and I’ve been looking at this photo for about 7 hours now…
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Level: Intermediate
Notes: This tutorial assumes a certain level of familiarity with Photoshop and will not cover basic tasks like cropping and using adjustment layers. While I have made most of the resources I used available for download HERE on my Deviant Art account in order for you to follow along, I encourage you to seek out and use your own photos and brushes. You’ll learn more, and faster!

Still in? Sweet. Let’s do this. Continue reading

Free Download Friday: Huge Grunge Brushes for Photoshop!

I am a self-confessed brush addict. I love collecting brushes aaaallllmost as much as I love collecting fonts. It’s a problem… But hey, there are much worse things to be addicted to, amirite? I am also a big fan of using grunge in design. While it generally has little place in mainstream advertising, grunge is my style when I’m “at home” as they say.

I’ve always had a hard time finding brushes big enough to create web layouts and print projects, so I want to offer some for people who are in the same situation. (I see you, LJ designers!) These are perfect for designing business cards, flyers, brochures, web layouts, banners, headers and digital art!

Click the image below for ABR download, or view this file and more of my art and resources on my Deviant Art page.

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Check back for more brushes soon, or scroll down and follow this blog!

Tutorial Tuesday! Removing Backgrounds in Photoshop CC

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In this post we’re going to start with a Photoshop basic: how to remove the background behind the subject of your photo using the selection brush and the quick mask feature. You know,

cutitoutgif

*Ahem*

This is technique useful for a lot of reasons. Maybe the background is ugly and you want to replace it. Maybe you’re making a fun composite. Maybe you want to swap your head onto Will Graham’s in that ladder scene in S1 Hannibal. Hey, I don’t judge…

I’m going to show you two ways to get rid of unwanted backgrounds, or, to look at it another way, extract a subject from a background to place in another image. This is a beginner level tutorial, and hopefully in-depth enough to not just follow along, but actually help you understand the tools. Continue reading

Free Download Friday! Functional Resume Template

It’s Friday! Huzzah! I mean… I don’t work the typical 9-5, M-F job like a lot of people, so Friday is kind of whatever for me, but I am SO excited for you! Unless you’re unemployed and need a job… But guess what. I’ma help you out with that on Free Download Friday!

Functional resumes are great for people with a wide variety of experience!

Functional resumes are great for people with little or varied experience!

Gone are the days where you go straight from high school to college and spend the rest of your life working for the same company. Many people today have a wide variety of work experience, and a lot of us may be “job-hoppers” now or in the past. Don’t worry, that’s actually becoming the norm. But what do you do if you don’t have much experience, or maybe a lot of experience, but nothing that’s really relevant to the jobs you’re currently applying for? The answer is what’s called a functional resume.

A functional resume is one that emphasizes your skills and attributes over your employment history and/or education. You do this by highlighting the attributes you possess that makes you a great candidate for the job. For example, if you are applying for a job as a line cook but have no previous restaurant experience or culinary training, you may wish to emphasize your speed, ability to take direction and ability to work well under pressure. A slick-looking resume helps you to stand out.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide on how to write a functional resume. There are plenty of job hunting advice sites for that. Instead, I am giving you a tool to get you started!

This resume template is fully editable. Customize each heading to highlight YOUR best skills and attributes to a potential employer. Set yourself apart with professional formatting!

  • ZIP file
  • Contains InDesign file (.indd) as well as editable PDF
  • Fonts used come from Adobe Typekit, which comes with your Adobe CC subscription. If you don’t have this, you will need to change the fonts when you edit!

Good luck with your job hunt!

PS BRUSHES: 12 Hi-Res Grungy Number Brushes

Free Download Friday!

This week I have for you some new large grunge brushes! These are perfect for adding texture and depth to your Photoshop project and are especially effective when overlapped and blended on backgrounds.
[Click image for download]

PREVIEW

+ Created in Adobe Photoshop CC
+ .abr brush file PLUS .png image pack for Non-Adobe users
+ Free to download for personal and commercial use, just don’t claim/distribute them as your own.
+ Would love to see what you make!