Different acrylic pouring techniques

If you want to achieve a range of different styles and patterns in your work then you have come to the right place. You will be amazed at the results you can get from different acrylic pouring techniques.

New techniques are surprisingly easy to pick up and there are hundreds of styles you can try out.

Here I have compiled a list of the best acrylic pouring techniques for you to try, so you can see how the paint reacts on the canvas with various types of pouring.

In this how-to we will take a deeper look into;

  • Dirty pour
  • Flip cup pour
  • Tree ring or swirl pour
  • Wing/Split Cup Pour (New)
  • Puddle Pour
  • Bottle bottom puddle pour or flower pour
  • Bonus: How to pour on a cheeseboard
  • What to mix with acrylic paints
  • Different types of pouring mediums

Types of acrylic paint pouring techniques

Dirty Pour

The dirty pour technique is an acrylic pouring technique in which all of the colors are poured in the same cup or container and then simply poured onto the surface.

To do a dirty pour, firstly mix your colors in separate cups. Maintain the 1:2 ratio of acrylic paint to floetrol (plus a dash of water) and refer to our other acrylic pour mixing articles if you need a refresher.

The colors are then stacked on top of each other into one cup.

Once you have filled your cup enough to cover the canvas (e.g. one cup for a small canvas and two cups for medium canvas).

You can give the cup a very small stir with a stirring stick (e.g. popstick), not so much that you “muddy” the paint, but just enough to make a marbled effect. The other way that works is by giving the cup of paint a tiny little shake in your hand to allow the colors to blend inside.

Now comes the fun part! You take the mixture and pour them over the painting surface with a steady flow.

Warning, don’t just drop the cup upside down over the canvas because all your paint will splat on the canvas or off the edge and the patterns wont be as good.

Slowly allow the paint mix to gradually pour out of the cup onto the canvas.

You can pour the paint from the cup by moving across the canvas in lines, if the paint isn’t reaching the edge don’t worry! You will lightly tilt the canvas at the end to make the paint reach the edges.

You can paint on most surfaces, so have fun with new ideas. You can even do this technique over terracotta flower pots for example. But make sure you prime the pots first!

Whatever you choose, the surface is then tilted back and forth.

This will allow the paint to spread and you simply stop when you are happy with the result.

Finally, you can then leave the painting to dry. Put it on baking paper so it doesn’t stick!

For the double dirty pour you can mix together two cups, each having two or more colors and pour using the puddle pour technique.

Flip Cup

The flip cup technique is practically identical to the dirty pour technique above.

The only difference between the two is that you flip the cup of paint over onto the canvas, rather than pouring it.

To explain, once you have the cup of stacked paint, instead of pouring it you flip it upside down onto the canvas.

You then carefully lift the cup to allow the paint to flow out all at once over the canvas.

When you lift it up you will reveal awesome effects. The individual layers of paint from inside the cup, randomly layer the canvas creating cells and patterns.

To do this style, firstly, you individually mix all colours in separate cups.

The reason that this is done in all of the acrylic paint pouring techniques is that you can ensure the correct consistency and besides, if you mix all the paint colors together they will create a muddy brown color.

Then you get an empty cup, and pour the colours one on top of another in the same cup.

Flip the cup carefully on to the painting surface, there are many ways to do this. You can either position your hand above where you will flip the cup, and then in one swift action flip the cup down onto the canvas without spreading the paint yet. Once it is positioned, you can lift up the cup to let the paint spill out underneath.

If you flip fast, then the paint won’t spill out.

Otherwise you can flip the canvas upside down, on top of the cup, then flip both the cup and the canvas back over together using two hands.

Now, lift the cup up so that all of the paint runs out. If it is flowing towards the edge of the canvas, just carefully tilt in each direction to make the paint cover the whole canvas.

If you would like more cells then you can use a heat torch or blow torch to reveal more cells by making them pop. But do not use this for too long as it can burn to paint if applied directly to the surface for an extended period.

Move the painting around back and forth until it is spread evenly over the surface and has given the desired result then leave to dry.

Tree Ring or Swirl Pour Technique

With the tree ring or swirl pour acrylic pouring technique, the paint is carefully applied to the canvas with circular movements, creating a pattern that resembles the annual rings of a tree.

Each color is mixed individually, together with the pouring medium, and water in a ratio of approximately 1:1:<1.

These are then stacked on top of each other in a cup/container.

The contents of the container are poured very slowly onto the painting surface, a very small circular motion can be carried out in order to achieve the appearance of growth rings in the wood.

Make sure you are continually pouring in the centre of where you last poured, and not moving around the canvas, or the effect will not work as well.

The painting is then tilted back and forth until the “Tree Ring” has spread over the painting and the result corresponds to the ideas.

Then it can be left to dry.

Wing or Split Cup Pour

The wing cup pour is a slightly modified version of the tree-ring pour.

The wing cup pour is a newer technique and requires a higher level of experience and skill, but it is certainly fun to work and experiment with.

Mix each color individually in cups, with the pouring medium, and water in a ratio of 1:1:<1. Do not add silicone oil as you do not want to have many cells in this pour.

Choose two or more contrasting colours, for example in this painting we have used teal and white.

The most important step follows.

Put your first colour down one side of the cup and the other colour down the other side of the cup. Be sure to use a lot of white paint to help show the contrast of colour. So perhaps on one side of the cup you may choose gold paint, on the other side you may have black paint. But in the centre of your cup you will have even more quantity of white paint (because black can overwhelm white in this pour).

Prop up your canvas slightly by putting something like a small wooden block under the canvas.

Pour the mixture by starting at the top of the propped up side of the canvas. Pour down the canvas in a fine, constant stream so that the paint ripples out.

From here you should move the cup in your direction all the way to the edge of the canvas to visually separate the two wings. The end result will be the impression of a butterfly/angel wings or similar.

Once you achieve the desired result place aside to dry.

Puddle Pour

This is a very simple beginners pour that many people start with.

Each color is mixed separately and then poured individually onto the canvas.

So let’s begin, this is how you do the puddle pour technique.

Firstly, mix each color individually.

For all acrylic pouring techniques, the ratio of paint mix is very similar.

The ratio here should be 1:2 for acrylic paint and pouring medium. But also add a small dash of water. The water content should never be more than a tablespoon because otherwise your paint will go too thin.

Remember you can always add silicone oil (optional) for more cells production. Two to three drops in each color if you want to add this.

Once you have mixed your paint you can follow these simple steps:

  1. One color is poured as a base, this will become the outer most color after you pour. (Think about choosing a light or dark background so that it contrasts nicely with the other colours you have mixed for the puddle pour.)
  2. Decide whether you want to do a pattern with your colors, for example, tuquoise, dark blue, white, peach, black. And then repeat the same colors.
  3. Next, pour your first color and pour it in the centre of the canvas, or if you are doing two-three puddle pours on the one canvas, then pour where you desire each spot to go.
  4. When pouring, pour in the centre of the last color you poured.
  5. Finally, you can tip the canvas by picking it up and lightly tilting it back and forth, to help spread the paint across the surface.

Do this until you are happy with the result and then put it away to dry!

Bottom Bottom Puddle Pour or Flower Pour

Artwork by Tiktus Colour Art on Youtube.

Bottle bottom puddle pour or flower pour is an acrylic pouring technique and this is how you do it.

As per all acrylic pouring techniques, mix your colors in separate cups first. With pouring medium and a dash of water.

Note: You do not need to add silicone as we do not need cells for this technique! It is important that the paint is allowed to act in a natural way without cells to give the desired effect of the bottle bottom puddle pour.

If you don’t want the flower pattern to cover the entire canvas, you can first apply a background color to the canvas. The color will also flow better on the canvas that way.

It is essential that the base for the painting should be level so that the applied pattern does not run. You can check this beforehand with a spirit level.

Take a PET bottle and cut the bottom with scissors or an Exacto knife.

First pour a base colour on the canvas. Try white as a beginner because it helps lighten your painting which makes it look nicer!

Now using the cut plastic bottle bottom, place it carefully in the middle of the paint puddle in the centre of the canvas. Apply the colour slowly to the centre of this.

The raised areas in the base of the bottle are able to create a pattern that resembles a flower or a psychedelic design.

Pour small quantities of each color one after the other onto the bottom of the bottle.

The color now runs over the depressions onto the canvas and generates the flower pattern.

If you like the result, carefully remove the bottom of the bottle.

Now pour some different colors into each other in a circle in the middle of the canvas where the bottle was, so that this area is covered with color as well

In the end, you can change the resulting pattern according to your taste by tilting the canvas very slightly. This gives a unique and fascinating design as with every acrylic pouring technique!

With the other side of a fine artist brush, you can set directional accents by driving from the outside to the inside or from the middle of the flower to the outside.

If you would like a slightly different effect, you can also apply several bottle bottom pours to the same canvas.

Once you are happy with the result you can set the canvas aside and leave to dry.

BONUS technique: Pouring (ocean style) on a cheeseboard

For the people who have taken our FREE 5 step acrylic pouring fundamentals course here is the video we promised you.

How to acrylic pour on a household cheeseboard!

Enjoy 🙂

Frequently asked questions

What do you mix with acrylic paint for pouring?

There are a few things that you need to add to your acrylic paint before you begin pouring. You want to ensure the right consistency as mentioned above so that it flows well on the canvas or any other surface that you will be pouring on.

Firstly, you will want to have a good pouring medium. Pouring mediums are discussed below, as there are a few factors that will ensure that you find a good one.

This will thin down the paint as well, seeing as acrylic paint is often quite thick and does not flow very well on a canvas.

Generally, the guidelines for mixing your paint are as follows;

The best consistency can be created by mixing 60% glue and 40% water. From here you can add 2 parts of your pouring medium and one part of your chosen acrylic paint. This should be a soft body paint, which is what most tube paints are.

Most of the time no extra water is needed at this point, and if you do feel that the paint mixture is still a bit thick then you can add water a few drops at a time.

You do not want to add too much and make it too runny. Mix after you add a few drops and recheck the consistency.

This way you will get the optimal acrylic paint for pouring that you are trying to achieve.

It happens to me all too often that the paint is not at the exact consistency for my work, so to avoid wasting precious time I use the method above so I get the right blend every time.

Starting over and over again because the paint has not been mixed correctly is not as fun as it sounds!

What can you use as a pouring medium?

If you are just starting out in the world of acrylic paint pouring then you may want something that is a little cheaper than the expensive, advanced brands.

For this, you can opt for PVA glue, for example, Elmer’s glue which can be purchased cheaply and in large quantities at your local craft store. Bookbinders’ glue is also a cheaper alternative.

At the beginner to intermediate level the best option for a pouring medium is Floetrol.

As we progress to the professional level, you will want a well-rounded and all-purpose medium for your works. This could include Floetrol, GAC800, or Liquitex Pouring Medium.

You can purchase most of these mediums online. There are also other kinds of mediums you can choose from if you are looking for something a little different, such as a gloss medium which can be purchased from brands such as Sax and Sargent Art.

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