Fluid Art Techniques

Dirty Pour

Paint is poured into your vessel of choice (usually a large cup), so all colours ‘churn together’. This gives a muted effect without the defined colours from mixing a clean pour. Generally, you then pour slowly onto your substrate in whatever pattern you desire.

Artwork by Heather Tank

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Clean Pour

Paints are carefully layered in your cup (or vessel of choice), so each colour sits on top of each other without mixing. This again can be poured in many ways, Straight and Ring Pours are ideal for this cup method. A cut card or similar divider may be used in the cup to create a ‘split cup’ this enables you to pour different colours on each side of your cup, for even wilder effects! Many people are now creating 3D split cups for use with 2,3,4 and more chambers to create exciting new results.

Artwork by TheCharmingGiraffe

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Straight Pour

Using the paint mixed in either of the two ways described above. Layer a base coat on substrate, or a large puddle to pour into. This technique involves literally pouring slowly in one spot, making sure to catch the last drip with your finger to avoid spoiling your centre. Sounds easier than it really is! First colour in when layering will be last colour out, and thus your centre colour. You can create different effects from pouring from up high or pouring close to the substrate. A thicker consistency is ideal for this technique (mound on a mound when drizzling into your cup). Silicone is best avoided in this technique.  

Another variation on this technique is to use thinner paint consistencies, this will achieve a softer more muted look with numerous large natural cells. 

Artwork by Sarah Mack / Gina DeLuca

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Puddle Pour

Starting with a base layer, single colours of paint are puddled in circles in numerous places on your substrate. Add as many colours as you desire on top of each puddle, you can vary the order layered or create each puddle in the same order. A stick or finger can be used to swirl through the puddles in patterns, then the substrate tilted to cover entirely until you reach your desired composition. A slightly thinner consistency is best for this technique. 

Artwork by Dwight Pours

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Flip Cup

Using either the dirty pour or clean pour method your cup is flipped upside down onto your substrate. Allow a few seconds for the paint to settle, then lift the cup and tilt substrate to your desired look. Larger canvases will require multiple cups to cover. Silicone can be added to your paints if desired, a couple of drops is sufficient. A butane torch will pop air bubbles and help the creation of the cells. 

Artwork by Waterfall Acrylics

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Flip Cup & Drag

As Flip Cup Technique, but instead of lifting cup straight up, you lift the cup at an angle and drag towards you at the same time as lifting. Tilt substrate to cover to achieve desired composition. Silicone can be added to your paints if desired. Waterfall Creations has further added to this technique with her Flip and Lip; using the lip of the cup to form interesting ‘ribbons’ after lifting. The use of a butane torch pops air bubbles and aids the cell creation. 

Artwork by Waterfall Acrylics

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Dip

Paint is placed onto a stable surface in either a pattern of choice or applied randomly to achieve different outcomes. A flower effect can be achieved by placing colours in a spiral, in petal shapes, or even a series of puddles. Your substrate is then covered with a thin base layer of paint and placed carefully on top of this (dipped). The substrate can be lifted in different ways, to achieve the flower effect it needs to be lifted straight up. If lifted from one side, you will achieve a feathered effect. Silicone is not needed for this technique. A butane torch will pop air bubbles. 

Artwork by Fiona Art

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Reverse Dip

Paint is applied as for the Dip technique; however, it is placed on your chosen substrate. Your dip tool is either a paper towel, paper napkin or plastic wrap. This is carefully placed on top then opposite corners are lifted and gathered and very slowly lifted straight up to reveal your design. A butane torch helps pop air bubbles.

Artwork by Fiona Art 

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Balloon Dip / Smash / Kiss

A normal balloon (or inflated rubber glove) is used to dip into paint to achieve gorgeous flower effects. Depending on how much you inflate your balloon will create different sizes of flower. This technique can be used either on top of another pouring technique to cover up mistakes, or as an intended technique layering colours in small puddles and dipping your balloon carefully into each puddle. Clean after each dip so colours do not muddy.  
. This technique can also be used on dry artwork, the effects will be totally different with globes rather than flowers, ideal for embellishing a previous pour.

Artwork by Niki D. Art 

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Balloon Rolls

A half-inflated balloon is dipped into your paint and rolled to achieve a feathered effect; this takes practice to master. As for Balloon Dips this technique is also useful to cover up mistakes. 

Artwork by Heather Mader

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Ring Pour

Using either a prepared dirty or clean cup (clean cup achieves a more defined effect) paint is slowly and carefully poured in small circles in one direction, first colour layered into your cup will last out and hence your centre. The effect can be changed by pouring larger circles and by changing the direction whilst you are pouring. Once poured it is imperative to tilt very slowly as it is extremely easy for your lines to distort and lose shape.

Artwork by Sarah Mack

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Traveling Ring / Straight Pour

Also called ‘Wandering Pour’. The same process as in Ring Pour and Straight Pours but with a twist, you travel the paint across your substrate as you pour. Your substrate can be lifted at one end slightly to help the paint travel if you want to pour in one spot. You can move the paint backwards over the paint to achieve different feathery effects. A clean cup is best for this technique for crisp separated colours and lines. Split cups (as described in Clean Pour) work well with this technique. 3D cups with 2,3,4 or more chambers also work amazingly to create feathery lines. 

Artwork by Mina Villegas

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Ring Pour With Ribbons

Same process as Ring Pours but with added ribbons across the piece, usually using the same layered paints to achieve gorgeous effects traversing the lines. 

Artwork by Chris Jeszeck

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Swipe

Starting with a base layer of wet paint, paint is generally layered in lines across the centre of the canvas. Your chosen swipe colour is layered last on top of the other colours. Your swiping tool could be damp paper towels, pieces of card, plastic file dividers or a spatula. Gently swipe the chosen top colour over the others to your desired composition. The swiping motion and differing paint densities create small cells in this technique without the need for silicone. Thinner consistency is best for this technique, silicone may be used if desired and will achieve a different larger cell effect. A butane torch will pop air bubbles.

Artwork by COZ Creations

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Controlled Swipe

A wet base is not necessarily needed for this technique. A small amount of acrylic paint is laid down and carefully swiped, usually with an artist’s spatula. This technique can be used to create leaves, waves, etc.

Artwork by Sandra Lett

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Dutch Pour / Air Swipe

Previously known as an air swipe, Rinske Douna created her own spin on this effect with her gorgeous ethereal effects. Paint can be thinned with just water if it is a quality paint, otherwise pouring medium should be used, and consistency needs to be very thin for this technique. Never add more than 30% of water to protect the acrylic binders. Paint is usually layered in puddles onto a wet base of paint, or in thin lines (minimal paint is needed), the objective is to leave some negative space in your composition. More base paint is poured around your colours to aid the flow, a hairdryer with a concentrator nozzle is used to blow the base gently over the colours, then blow to achieve your desired look. Blowing paint with your breath or a straw are other options. Silicone is not needed for this effect.

Artwork by Garz Art Designs

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String / Chain Pull

Starting with a layer of wet base paint, effects can be achieved either by dipping your string/chain into your paint then placing onto your canvas in patterns then pulling down. Placing in ‘S’ shapes and pulling down will create a Lily type flower for example. Another method is applying paint onto your substrate first, then using your string/chain to create effects.

Artwork by Olga Soby

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Cloud Pour

Created by Mely D, who found that Decoart Satin Enamel in white created a cloudy effect when used with other paints. The enamel paint is layered in small amounts between other colours and poured using either the Ring Pour, Straight Pour, or Travelling Pour techniques. The satin enamel can engulf your other colours if used in excess. 

Artwork by Carole's Art Room

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Embellished Pour

On your dried completed artwork, you may wish to add details (embellishments) either by painting with acrylic paints, acrylic pens, gold or silver leaf, oil paints or applying a decal. The ideas are endless and only limited by your imagination!

Artwork by Chris Jeszeck

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Sheleeart Bloom

Created by Shelee Carruthers. This technique creates stunning flower bloom effects with unsurpassed lacing and cells without any need for silicone. A thick pillow is first applied to your substrate, followed by your colours layered in a puddle in the centre. A cell activator is layered on top and this is blown over the colours creating the cells and lacing. Shelee’s special pouring medium and cell activator can also be used for swipe techniques. To gain full information take the SheleeArt E-Course. This Little Piggy (TLP) pigments are perfect for this technique. 

Artwork by SheleeArt

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Density Pour / Dump & Swirl

Paint colours have different densities, due to pigment weights, so you can use this to your advantage to create special effects. Extremely thin opaque paints when layered with other colours will create pearl type cells once tilted and stretched over the canvas. For example, layer very thin white paint to completely cover the canvas, apply other colours in desired technique in a slightly thicker consistency. Tilt canvas and the white base layer will magically emerge through your colours creating pearl effects. Another technique is again using very thin paint and layering (dumping) in large puddles with a heavy opaque (titanium white or black) being your last layer. Swirl paint on to cover canvas quickly and the cells will appear as if by magic! 

Artwork by Dwight Pours

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Dustpan Pour

Literally using a vessel such a dustpan to layer your paint into, either straight pour, ring pour or apply in lines (the choice is endless) into the pan. Apply a base layer of paint on your substrate then pour from your dustpan onto the substrate to achieve your desired composition. Tilt carefully as for Ring Pours, this effect works well leaving some negative space.

Artwork by Sarah Mack

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Open Cup Pours

Starting with a base layer of wet paint and a cup with the bottom cut off is placed on your substrate. Pour more base paint around the edge of the cup, paint colours are poured carefully in small layers into the open cup, it will start to move with the paint escaping and creating natural cells. You can twist and move the cup as you pour to your desired composition. Remove cup once it is reached an edge of the canvas by twisting off carefully. Tilt canvas for desired result. Galaxy effects can also be achieved with this technique by using a black base and bright opaque or semi opaque colours (transparent colours will not be as noticeable once dry), metallics work well for a galaxy look.

Artwork by Gail Burstyn

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Floating Cup

Technique starting with a wet base layer of paint on your substrate, using either a dirty cup or clean cup flip upside down onto substrate and wait a few seconds for paint to fall. Piece bottom of cup twice to allow air to escape, and gently glide across substrate, either by allowing cup to travel freely or by gliding with your hand. Once paint stops releasing remove carefully and tilt to achieve desired composition.

Artwork by Gail Burstyn

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Pearl Pour

Technique where gorgeous metallic pearl cells burst through as you tilt substrate. Decoart extreme sheen metallics and their other metallics are used in this technique. Start with wet base layer of paint, puddle one or more generous layers of Decoart metallic paints n centre. Next pour into the centre of the puddle using a clean or dirty cup in either a Ring or Straight Pour technique. Tilt to cover substrate and your pearls will magically burst through. Some pearls appear straight away other will take up to 15 minutes, torching with a crème brulee or butane torch will aid their appearance.

Artwork by Mina Villegas

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Fractal Dendrites

Technique which produces tree-like branches which can resemble coral. Starting with a wet base layer of paint, acrylic ink or highly pigmented high-flow paints are applied by using a dropper or pipette. One drop of Isopropyl alcohol (91%) is applied to the centre. Your branch-like creations will react against the thicker base layer and will begin to grow!

Artwork by Heather Mader Art

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Kiss Pour

Technique using two cups of paint, one may be a cup of layered paint and the second one solid colour, or you may wish to choose all cool colours in one and all warm in the second for dynamic results! Starting with a wet base on your substrate, hold the two cups together and kiss them so the paint pours together in a stream onto your substrate. Tilt to obtain desired composition.

Artwork by Olga Soby

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Wing Pour

This technique is like the travelling ring/straight pour technique, but the importance is in how you layer your paint in your clean cup to achieve your ‘wings’. It’s hard to describe exactly how to layer your colours please see Kristen’s work on YouTube for clarification.
The effect can also be achieved by using two cups as in the Kiss Pour Technique, your second cup being all one colour, for example white or black. Thin rectangular substrates work best. Tilt canvas at one end so paint travels down easily, have layered colour in the hand of the highest point of the canvas, solid coloured cup in the hand of the lowest point. Pour at the top slowly at the same time, kissing the two cups, the solid colour will be in the centre with the colour on the outer creating a feathered angel wing effect. Tilt slowly to avoid creating zigzags in your feathered lines.

Artwork by KOS ART

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Mallet / Hammer Pour

This technique is fun! Pour small puddles of different colours on top of each other and lightly smash in the centre and around the edge to create your desired effects.

Artwork by Fiona Art

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Alcohol Inks

A technique using alcohol inks and 91% or above Isopropyl alcohol. Substrates need to be non-absorbent such as synthetic paper (Yupo or Nara), porcelain, glass, metal or specifically designed alcohol ink boards. The ink is best applied sparingly, then moved around using a hairdryer, heat wand or airbrush using the isopropyl to help merge inks seamlessly together to achieve sweeping fluid effects like silk.

Artwork by Cool Breeze Art Studio

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Resin

Fluid art using two-part epoxy resin. Resin works best on hard substrates such as wood and is extremely important to measure by volume and not by weight. It is also imperative to wear full protective personal equipment and nitrile gloves when using resin and always in a well-ventilated room as it is toxic. Resin may be tinted with pigment powders (TLP are ideal for this), pigment pastes, alcohol ink, acrylic ink and acrylic paint (the latter no more than 1 part to 10 parts of resin).
A butane torch is used to pop air bubbles and a heat gun to move the resin to desired composition. Cover when drying to avoid dust particles. Inspired by nature Geodes have become extremely popular using the epoxy resin technique. Artists are adding real crystals and minerals to the resin to create fabulous Geodes inspired by nature.

Artwork by Bonita Creative Space

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