How to use acrylic paint for shadows and details

Use paint acrylic has its advantages but also its limitations. The colors are bright, although they are more similar to watercolors to oils. The basis of acrylic paints are vinyl resins, this makes the paint forms a stable and elastic layer. It is diluted with water, thanks to which it can be cleaned with soap and water, it does not leave odor and oil can be painted over, as long as the acrylic paint is perfectly dry. Making shadows and details with acrylic is a bit difficult, but with enough practice you will master this technique.


  1. First determine the areas of light and shadow that your painting will have. The background, that is to say everything that is in the last plane of the painting, can be only diffuse stains of color. Use a very loose brush to create this depth in the box. When you see an image the background appears blurred, so do not define the strokes. On the other hand, those objects that are closer must be defined more.
  2. If the painting is realistic you must take into account the types of body and how light impinges on them. The shape of the object will create a special shadow and the variety of tones you use will depend on it. With acrylics you must work layer by layer, creating depth with a lot of patience. Place the colors in the palette from lighter to darker. As they dry fast just put the amount of paint you will use in the next ten minutes.
  3. Use dark tones to make shadows and light tones to give light. The black color is not the only one that serves to make shadows, Monet, for example, used blue and red colors to create shadow effects. Thanks to the Impressionist painters the chromatic variety of the shadow was revolutionized. Mix the paint you are going to use on the palette.
  4. Follow the shape of the object when making the brushstrokes that will give the shadow, this way the volume will be accentuated. The shadow projecting the object can go in a stronger tone than the shadow within the object. To know where the projected shadow goes you have to know where the light comes from. Observe a real object to clear all your doubts about the shadow and details.
  5. To work the details you can use cat tongue brushes to help you create a thin line. For thin lines use paintbrushes that are very thin and are used with diluted paint. Do not be afraid to paint freehand, put layers of colors, experiment and let your creativity say the last word.

Tips & Warnings

  • Corrections in acrylic paint are made on what is already painted because this material dries very quickly.