Do you want to perfectly capture your favorite landscape? What about painting a life-like portrait of your furry family member or best friend? When you want to paint realistically, a good place to start is to learn about realism.
The experts at Tate explain that realism was an artistic movement in the mid nineteenth century characterized by painting subjects in a naturalistic manner. Today, the term is often used to describe artwork painted in a realistic way, almost like a photograph.
Read on to learn more about our favorite tips for painting realistic paintings with acrylic paint.
How to Make Acrylic Painting Look Realistic
Painting photorealism can seem daunting at first. However, this art style is not about achieving perfection, but rather about capturing subjects in a more realistic way.
Before learning more about realistic acrylic painting techniques, it’s important to understand how you can make painting look more realistic. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when you’re learning to paint this style:
- Understand your edges: In real life, there are different types of edges; hard, soft, or lost. Draw Paint Academy explains that “Edges are incredibly powerful as they can tell you so much about the subject without having to use much detail.” Realism isn’t all hard lines and crisp edges, it’s a combination of these lines.
- Use a reference photo: Many artists use a reference photo when they begin creating photorealistic art. Find crisp, clear pictures that inspire you as you paint and help you understand color and dimension. Art is Fun offers a bunch of tips for how to take or choose a great reference photo for your painting process.
- Don’t shy away from texture: Photorealistic art doesn’t need to be completely smooth and blended. Don’t hesitate to use brush strokes to add detail and create texture. This can make your painting look more realistic in the long run.
- Perfect your color palette: The colors you choose can help make your painting look more realistic. Take time to mix colors exactly as you want them and keep value in mind. Value defines how light or dark a given color or hue can be, according to the New York Times. The values will help you capture realistic shadows and emphasize certain parts of your painting.
Realistic Acrylic Painting Techniques to Know
While you can find plenty of realistic acrylic painting tutorials online, it’s always a good idea to brush up on some techniques before you begin. Here are a handful of realistic acrylic painting techniques for beginners and experts alike to know.
This is a straightforward realistic acrylic painting technique that can make your artwork appear more lifelike. Essentially, this technique requires covering the canvas so the white background is no longer visible. Then, block in basic shapes of colors you see in your reference photo.
This technique is all about thinking of your painting in layers. After you block your painting, you can go in to add realistic details.
This acrylic painting technique is ideal for beginners who want to perfectly capture their reference photo. Art is Fun explains that you can easily transfer your reference photo onto a canvas or wood panel to easily trace and paint over it.
There are a few ways to do this, including with a projector, the grid method, or transfer paper. With this technique, it’s important to ensure you’re measuring everything correctly so your dimensions are correct as you begin to paint.
This is a slightly more advanced realistic acrylic painting technique often used by the masters. It involves thinning the paint with a fluid or gel medium, or in some cases water. This creates a glaze that can alter the color of the different layers of your painting.
Use this realistic acrylic painting technique to capture shadows, increase color contracts, or showcase subtle shifts in skin tones.
While it’s true that realistic paintings shouldn’t be completely smooth, blending is still an important technique to master. Blending with a flat brush is ideal for creating seamless skies, oceans, and skin - which are traditional photorealism subjects.
Remember that acrylic paint has a shorter drying time, so it’s important to blend as you work. Alternatively, you can use a slow drying medium to allow your acrylic paint to blend longer.
Ready to try your hand at one or more of these realistic acrylic painting techniques? Nova Color Paints has all the acrylic paints, mediums, and more needed for your next art project. Shop our collection of acrylic paints today!