Cool Effects with Acrylic Paint on Wood – Easy DIY Ideas

Acrylic "special effects" — triple the fun.

Why settle for boring old flat paint when you can have triple the fun trying out different effects?

ALL acrylic paints are easy, smooth, quick-drying, and look good on wood (in short, our go-to paint for wood crafting).

But SOME acrylic paints are: glowy, glossy, extra-extra glossy, shiny, shimmery, pearly,  iridescent, textured…. Are you salivating yet?

Many acrylic paints already come with effects, but the largest selection of colors is in matte, so you can always create your own effects by mixing, adding mediums, or trying your own little tricks.

What are your acrylic ambitions?

Acrylic is endlessly versatile, and so much fun to play with! Here are some of the questions we’ll answer in this post:

  • How to make acrylic paint thicker/ add texture to acrylic paint
  • How do you use metallic acrylic paint?
  • How do you get shabby chic paint effects?

1. Textured — teddy bear

Teddy bears need to be tactile – as in, fun to touch, not just look at. This one isn’t quite fuzzy, but it’s got some terrific texture. The effect is easy:

  • just buy textured acrylic paint from a company that has a good, thick version (my favorite brand for that is Target – every time I shop there I have to not let myself go down the aisle with all the yummy paints!) 
  • OR mix gel medium into whatever acrylic paint you have. 
  • OR create it! How to add texture to acrylic paint on your own? Never tried it, but they say cornstarch…

Also – when painting with textured paint, I do it with a sort of dabbing motion instead of simply sliding the paintbrush.

2. Metallic streaked — bird

Metallics are becoming available in more and more colors. You can paint a project totally metallic, or start with a matte background and mix in some metallic streaks , like I did with this raven. They actually show up better on a black or white background, depending on the color of the metallic. So it’s best to prepaint a surface if you want to color it with metallic paint How to paint with metallic acrylic paints? No special methods needed! Just apply it to the wood the same way as you’d apply regular acrylic paint, and consider doing a double coat to strengthen the color.

3. Shabby-chic — heart

Call it weathered, distressed, shabby chic – or if you’re the straight and sensible spouse without the artsy gene, call it “ridiculous” – either way, it’s beautiful. My secret little hack for how to make paint look distressed involves a…paper towel. Yup, Bounty’s best. Goes like this:

  • Apply the paint to the paper towel instead of directly to the wood
  • Rub the paint firmly into the wood using your painted paper towel
  • Push harder in some spots and more gently in others to get that naturally weathered look

4. Sponge Painting — sheep

I used sponge painting to make this flat lamb cutout look curly and fluffy. You can use it to add some cool character and a drop of texture wherever it belongs. (Sponge painting is also great when you’re painting with kids. It ups the sensory stimulation and is just so much fun!)

  • Choose a few different shades of paint. If you look close, you’ll spot some blue and pink and aqua in that sheep, even though the general effect is white.
  • Squeeze blobs of your chosen colors on a plate, (or palette if you’re fancy) and don’t worry if they touch or overlap
  • Give the sponge a dip and dab away on your wooden canvas! Make sure to use the most of your “base color”

5. Chalkboard Paint — black cat

As the name implies, with this paint you can literally paint a chalkboard wherever you want. If you want to win ‘mom of the month’ by your kids, paint a wall of the playroom with it! When it dries, go ahead and write, erase, and chalk it up to your heart’s content. (Confession: The white lines on the cat cutout are not chalk, they’re white paint marker. But the black is definitely chalkboard paint!)

Guess the effect!

Here are some more Woodpeckers plywood cutouts I had fun with. Can you tell which effect is used on each one?

Matching style to shape

My co-worker, Chaya, wants to know how I determine what effect to use for what cutout. My very insightful answer: I don’t know. It just goes. 

Chaya’s next question: so when are you writing a 100-page ebook? To show people what effect is the best fit for each of the 657 Woodpeckers wood cutout shapes? Well, I do have some more ideas up my sleeve (good storage spot for ideas, by the way). Look out for more posts on fun with acrylics! And if you have ideas of your own, please share them in the comments!

Find YOUR favorite cutout to craft

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