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Tips, Terms and Techniques

Basecoat - This is the initial layer of color applied to an area of your project.  Use as large a brush as possible and apply with long smooth strokes so you don't leave any ridges.

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FloatShade.GIF (53518 bytes) Float Shade - Float shading is probably the most difficult technique to master in acrylic painting.  If your brush is too wet, color will spread across the width of your brush and leave an unwanted edge.  If your brush is too dry, the floated color won't spread properly, leaving a very stark strip of color.

The only advice I can give is practice and keep trying.  You'll find that within a short period of time you'll automatically know how wet your brush needs to be to get the desired shaded effect you are looking for.  It will just "feel" right.

How to Float Shade:  Make sure the basecoat is completely dry before you float shade.  Dip brush into water, then lightly blot on a paper towel to get rid of the excess water.  Dip the corner of your brush into paint and stroke your brush back and forth on your palette to blend the water and paint together.   Then apply the shading to your project.  As you can see in the picture at left, color is very intense on one side of the brush and floats out to clear water on the other side of the brush.  Float darker shades of your basecoat to SHADE; float light hues to HIGHLIGHT.

Float shading adds depth and dimension to your finished painting and gives it a nice rounded effect.

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Stipple.GIF (30434 bytes) Stipple or Stippling - This technique is used for apply color to cheeks of faces and to sometimes highlight areas of a painting.   Special stippling brushes can be purchased for this, or you can use those old, worn out, flat brushes that aren't flat anymore. 

How to Stipple: Dip a dry brush into paint, bounce it on paper towel to remove excess paint, then bounce it up and down on your project.

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DryBrush.GIF (78000 bytes)

Drybrushing - This works well to highlight areas of your painting.  Dip a flat brush in paint.  Rub it back and forth on a paper towel to remove most of the paint.  Drag your brush in one direction across the basecoated area.  The idea is to end up with just a hint of paint across your basecoat...like chalk on a sidewalk.

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Stripes.GIF (27308 bytes) Stripes - thin your paint with water to an ink-like consistency.  Use a liner brush (the size depends on what size stripes you want).  You'll achieve straighter lines and have more control if you start at the top of the area to be striped and pull the brush downward.

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Dots.GIF (9988 bytes) Dots - You can use a #1 round brush or the end of the handle of a brush.  They also make dotting tools just for the purpose of making different sizes dots. 

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CStrokes.GIF (13170 bytes) C-Strokes - Using a liner brush, start as if to make a dot, then lift up on your brush as you continue to curve out the remainder of the stroke.  This is fun!

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Cat Stripes - Using a liner brush and your paint thinned to an ink-like consistency, "squiggle" in the stripe as if scribbling with a pencil.  Start at the widest part and squiggle down to a point.

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