How to finish an acrylic painting on paper – Essential tips and Tricks

Canvas is especially designed to hold any kind of paint but what if you don’t have canvas? There is also a way to paint on paper as well but it is difficult to use acrylic paints on paper because these paints are water-based and they can wet the surface.

Don’t worry, we are here to solve this problem with this guide. This blog aims to provide a complete guide on how to finish an acrylic painting on paper. We will also cover some important questions at the end of the blog.

So let’s start!

    How to finish an acrylic painting on paper

Acrylic painting can be finished on paper very easily with the help of Surface preparation, Sealing the layers, Varnishing for protection, Farming consideration, Storage and display, Experimenting with resins, and Finishing touches. Make sure you choose a thick and suitable paper for acrylics.

By applying some steps you can efficiently finish an acrylic painting on paper:

  1. Surface Preparation
  2. Sealing the layers
  3. Varnishing for protection
  4. Experiment with resins
  5. Apply the varnish
  6. Farming consideration
  7. Storage and display
Important to know!
Acrylic painting cannot be done on a normal paper because paint is water based. Choose a heavy weight and thick paper such as Hot Press paper. 

1- Surface Preparation

Surface preparation is done by cleaning the surface properly with a wide brush. Here, we are working on paper so there is a need to clean the paper and then choose an acrylic varnish for the paper. Apply only a thin layer of varnish by considering the thickness of the paper.

2- Sealing the layers

Acrylic paint is water-based paint and it contains many layers while painting. When you use acrylic paint on the paper must need to apply a thin layer of an acrylic gel or medium after each layer of paint to stop mixing the paint or you can just wait for a while to let the paint dry completely before moving on to another layer. It helps in adhesion as well as color vibrancy. 

6- Experimenting with resins

Experiment with acrylic resins for creative fishing. The resin is glossy and looks like a glass appearance and provides more depth to the artwork but that is not compulsory.

3- Applying the varnish

After finishing the painting, there is a need to apply a varnish to protect the painting from dust and dirt. Additionally, varnishing also helps to boost the shelf life of acrylic paintings. Liquitex acrylic varnishes are favorable choices for beginners as well as professionals. You can also control the finishing touch of the paintings by using a suitable varnish as they come in matte, glossy, and satin finishes that exactly provide the desired look.

Find the solution of a common mistake: Why my acrylic paint is flaky? 

 Here we are working on a paper so before applying varnish on the paper, use a wide soft brush and apply a thin coat of varnish equally in one direction. Give proper time to dry the layer after that apply the next layer.  

4- Framing consideration

If you like your acrylic painting on paper so much and decide to frame it then make sure you are using acid-free mats, backing as well as glass to protect the painting from UV rays. Proper framing enhances the painting.

Use older designs according to the contrast but if the painting is created on a modern topic then you can use modern designs as well.

5- Storage and display

If you decide to store and display your painting for a long time then make sure you are placing it in a suitable place where it does not come in contact with sunlight and any other harmful things. Also, make sure to hang the painting at a specific height to save it from the reach of children and pets.

Best varnishes for paper

The best three varnishes for paper are: 

  • Golden MSA Varnish ( Mineral Spirt Acrylic Varnish) 

Golden MSA protects the acrylic paint on the paper. It provides you with 3 types of finishing the first one is matte second is gloss and the third one is satin. You can choose to finish according to your desire. 

  • Liquitex Professional Varnish 

Liquitex also provides you with a wide range of varnishes such as matte, gloss, and satin. Even the brand provides you with a level of gloss according to your requirements. The brand provides you with different types of varnish according to different surfaces.

  • Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Varnish 

Winsor & Newton is another best brand for the varnish that provides value for money varnishes. This brand is well known for oil painting but now it also contributes to the industry of acrylic painting. The UV-resistant varnish from Winsor & Newton is highly recommended by us.

Want to know complete review on varnishes? Read: What are the best varnishes for acrylic painting. 

Can you varnish a paper?

Yes, if you varnish a paper it protects the acrylic paint as well as boosts the shelf life. When you apply the varnish on the paper it works like a guard of the paper and protects from any environmental factors such as UV rays, and moisture also It helps to increase color vibrancy and gives you the desired finish or shine on the painting.

Before applying varnish on paper, make sure the painting is completed already because paper cannot hold the removal of the varnish. Keep in mind the thickness of the paper’s surface and then create a layer of varnish according to that. We recommend applying only a thin layer of varnish to the paper.

Does varnish protect paper?

Yes, varnish helps to protect the paper. It works like a safe grade for the paper. It is difficult to work on paper rather than on other surfaces. Paper varnish creates a layer on the paper that protects the paper from UV rays, cracks, dust, and dirt. Apply it carefully by using a wide and soft brush. However, a sponge also works very well.

Which methods can be used to seal acrylic painting on paper paper?

To seal a paper surface, varnishing spray is the best option because it will not cause any imbalance of the quantity. Additionally varnishing spray will create a very thin layer of resin that will not damage the paper but make sure about the dryness of the paint.

We also recommend to not varnishing the paper’s surface if the thickness is as good as desired. Instead, choose a good frame and just hang it in a safe place.


What is waterproof varnish for paper?

A varnish spray is completely waterproof which will also make the paper waterproof.

Can you use wood varnish on paper?

We don’t recommend using a wood varnish over paper because such kind of varnishes are high in consistency and can easily ruin the paper or you will not get the desired finish after using it.

Final Words

At last, there is a complete step-by-step process for creating an acrylic painting on paper. In other words, we cannot define how you should paint and what you should make with acrylic paints because that is the art of the artist but we can definitely provide you with ways to avoid common mistakes that beginners always make. Here are the steps that will help you to finish an acrylic painting on paper. These are surface preparation, Sealing the layers, Varnishing for protection, Applying the varnish, Farming consideration, Storage and display, Experimenting with resins, and Finishing touches.

By using these major thighs, you can finish the acrylic painting on paper. The best way to finish acrylic painting on paper is to use acrylic varnishing that is specially manufactured for the paper surface.

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