Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Paper?

When it comes to painting, acrylic paint is one of the most popular and versatile options available. It can be used on various surfaces, including canvas, glass, wood, and metal, making it a popular choice for professionals, hobbyists, and students. But what about paper? Can you use acrylic paint on paper?

Yes, you can! But before you get started, there are a few tips to keep in mind. You’ll need to work in smaller sections and have your supplies ready before you start painting.

So if you are ready to explore a new creative outlet, keep reading to learn more about painting with acrylics on paper! Because once you’ve mastered the basics, you can experiment with different techniques to create unique effects.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Paper

What Is the Best Way to Prepare Paper for Acrylic Paint?

When preparing a paper surface for acrylic paint, several steps must be taken to ensure that the paint adheres properly and does not react with the surface of the paper.

The paper must first be ready by being cleaned of any dust or dirt to ensure that the paint adheres properly. It should be thoroughly covered with a sealant, such as an acrylic gesso, to prevent the paint from penetrating or interacting with it.

This sealer can also help to create a smoother surface for the paint to adhere to, preventing any texture from remaining once the painting is complete. At last, before painting, the paper can be lightly sanded to create a smooth surface for the paint to stick to. Once the paper is prepped, the artist can paint their artwork.

Acrylic Painting on Paper for Beginners – A step by step guide

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium used on various surfaces, including paper. Although it may seem daunting to use acrylics on paper at first, it can be easy and fun with a little practice! Here are some steps for painting with acrylics on paper for beginners:

Step 1: Choose the right type of paper

Acrylic paint works well on both absorbent and non-absorbent papers. If you’re not sure which type of paper to use, try experimenting with different kinds until you find one that you like working with.

Step 2: Prepare your surface

Make sure your paper is clean and free of any debris before you start painting. You may also want to prime your surface with an acrylic gesso to create a smooth base for your painting.

Step 3: Use thin layers of paint

When painting on paper, its important to use thin layers of paint rather than thick ones. This will help to prevent the paint from seeping through the paper and ruining your work. To ensure that you are using thin layers, start using a light layer of paint and then gradually increase the amount of paint you are applying. Doing this will also allow the colors to mix and create a more vibrant effect.

Step 4: Let each layer dry before adding another

This is an important step when using any type of paint, but especially important when working with acrylics since they dry quickly.

What kind of paper is suitable for acrylic painting?

The type of paper you use for your painting will depend on your desired outcome and techniques. Here, we’ll explore the different kinds of paper you can use with acrylic paint:

Canson Montval Acrylic Paper

If you’re looking for affordable, high-quality paper with acrylic paint, the Canson Montval one is an excellent option. This paper is specifically designed for use with acrylics and is acid-free, making it ideal for archival purposes. It is also very thick and heavy, providing a great surface to work on. Additionally, this paper has a very smooth texture that allows for even paint coverage.

Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper

This paper is specifically designed for acrylic paints and is made with heavy-weight, acid-free, and archival-quality paper. This paper is perfect for creating beautiful works that will last for years.

Fabriano Artistico Acrylic Paper

Fabriano Artistico Acrylic Paper is a great choice for acrylics, as it has been specifically designed for use with this material. The paper’s surface is ideal for acrylics due to its absorbency, ensuring that the paint does not spread excessively and doesn’t leave a glossy or streaky finish.

Additionally, the paper is acid-free and features a cold-pressed texture, allowing various effects. Fabriano Artistico Acrylic Paper is also thicker than standard paper, so it is more durable and can handle multiple layers of paint without tearing.

Bristol Board

The type of paper on which you can use acrylic paint depends on the desired result. A high-quality bristol board is ideal for a smooth and precise finish. This paper is heavy-weight, usually made from a mixture of cotton and wood pulp, giving it a smooth surface that helps to create a precise and consistent finish for your artwork.

The acid-free nature of the paper also helps ensure that the colors don’t fade over time. While it can be expensive, this paper is a great choice when you want to create a professional look. Additionally, if you’re a beginner, this paper can help you easily create a beautiful painting.

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is specially designed to absorb and hold water, which is crucial when working with acrylics as they are water-based. This paper is usually thicker and more durable than other paper types, making it ideal for acrylic painting as the thicker paper is more resistant to buckling and warping. It has a slight texture which helps provide a better grip on the paint, and its absorbency can help give your artwork an interesting texture and look.

Is Acrylic Paint Suitable for Watercolor Techniques on Paper?

Acrylic paint is not typically suitable for watercolor techniques on paper. Unlike watercolors, acrylic paint has a different texture and consistency, making it difficult to achieve the desired transparency and blending effects. However, artists can experiment with using acrylic paint on watercolor techniques to explore unique effects and textures.


Acrylic paint can be a great medium to use on paper. Preparing the paper is essential to get the best results. The best way to do this is to use heavy-weight paper that is suitable for acrylic paints, such as watercolor paper or cardstock. 

Additionally, it is important to prime the paper with a gesso or acrylic medium to ensure that the paint adheres to the paper properly and lasts for a long time. With these simple steps, you can be sure to create beautiful acrylic paintings on paper.

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