How to Make Acrylic Paint Less See-through

Acrylic paint is a flexible medium that artists love because it dries quickly and has bright colors. However, it can be hard to make acrylics opaque. No matter how much painting experience you have, learning how to make acrylic paint thicker can help you improve your art. This guide will show you a number of methods and tips for getting the opacity you want.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Less See-through
How to Make Acrylic Paint Less See-through

Understanding Acrylic Paint

Pigment is mixed with an acrylic polymer solution to make acrylic paint. It’s known for being water-based, which makes it simple to clean up with water. There are different types of acrylic paint, such as heavy body, fluid body, and soft body. Each has a different consistency and level of transparency.

Importance of Opacity

When you paint something, opacity tells you how much light can get through it. Getting opacity right is very important, especially when you want to hide levels below or make colors that are bright and strong. Your drawing might look see-through or streaky if you don’t set the right clarity.

Choosing the Right Paint

When aiming for opacity, opt for paints labelled as “opaque” or “heavy body.” These paints contain a higher concentration of pigment, resulting in better coverage. Additionally, selecting lighter colors over darker ones can help achieve opacity more easily.

Prime Your Surface

Before applying acrylic paint, it’s essential to prime your surface. A layer of gesso or primer not only provides a smooth base but also enhances the paint’s adhesion and opacity. Apply multiple coats if necessary, allowing each layer to dry completely.

Layering Techniques

Building up layers of paint is a key technique for increasing opacity. Start with thin, translucent layers and gradually add more paint as needed. Avoid overworking the paint, as this can cause it to become transparent.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Less See-through
How to Make Acrylic Paint Less See-through

Mixing with Additives

Mixing acrylic paint with additives such as acrylic gels or mediums can enhance its opacity. Matte or heavy gel mediums add thickness and opacity to the paint without altering its color. Experiment with different ratios to achieve the desired consistency.

Experimenting with Mediums

There are different kinds of acrylic surfaces, such as gloss, matte, and satin. Different mediums have different effects on paint, so try out different kinds to find the one that makes the paint more opaque while keeping the finish you want.

Using a Palette Knife

When you use a palette knife, you can add thick layers of paint that make the picture more opaque. Try using different knife methods, like impasto, to give your works texture and depth while still getting good coverage.

Utilizing Underpainting

Underpainting involves applying a thin layer of paint to establish the composition and values of your artwork. Use opaque colors for the underpainting to create a solid foundation for subsequent layers.


Getting clarity with acrylic paint is a fun process that takes practice and trying new things. By learning about how acrylic paint works and using different techniques, you can make your art more opaque and make beautiful, bright pieces.


Acrylic Paint FAQ
  1. How can I tell if my acrylic paint is opaque?

    To determine the opacity of acrylic paint, perform a simple test by applying a small amount of paint onto a surface. If the paint completely covers the surface underneath with no visible transparency, it’s considered opaque.

  2. Can I make acrylic paint more opaque by diluting it with water?

    While adding water to acrylic paint can thin it out and decrease opacity, you can achieve greater opacity by using less water or mixing the paint with acrylic mediums or gels designed to increase opacity.

  3. Why does my acrylic paint appear streaky or translucent?

    Streaky or translucent acrylic paint can result from insufficient layering, using low-quality paint, or not properly priming the surface. Ensure you apply multiple thin layers of paint, use opaque paints, and prime your surface adequately for better opacity.

  4. Is it possible to make acrylic paint more opaque after it has dried?

    Once acrylic paint has dried, it becomes permanent and cannot be altered. To achieve greater opacity, apply additional layers of paint or use opaque colors for subsequent layers.

  5. Can I mix different brands of acrylic paint to increase opacity?

    Yes, you can mix different brands of acrylic paint to achieve the desired color and opacity. However, keep in mind that different brands may have varying formulations, which could affect the final result. It’s best to experiment with small test samples before applying to your artwork.

Nancy is the visionary founder of Inked Crafter, a blog dedicated to the art and craft of painting. With a deep-seated passion for art that transcends conventional boundaries, Nancy has embarked on a mission to inspire and guide artists and hobbyists alike through the colorful realms of spray, oil, and acrylic paints.

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