Best Paint For Polymer Clay: Make Your Sculptures SIZZLE!

Are you a hobbyist or sculptor, looking to know about the best paint type for polymer clay projects?

Good, because I don’t want to leave you with all these great project ideas and leave you hanging at one of the most vital steps- painting them!

Although sometimes I chose different colors of polymer clay (since there were/are so many), the truth is, I painted most of my finished work. As a recovering Sculpey square addict I encourage you to do likewise. But it doesn’t hurt to sample all those pretty colors too, or combine them 🙂

Learn how to paint all of your cute clay projects the right way with the right kind of paint starting now! Let’s go.

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best paint for polymer clay

Getting Started Choosing Paint for Clay

Choose wisely and you can avoid things like unsightly dark spots, do-overs, or paint clumps. I sometimes used Plaid multipurpose acrylics because of the pretty metallics and pearlescent colors. Can’t help it – I love shiny or pearly things! ( It’s also my go-to for wood crafts 🙂 Only thing is, I usually end up applying 2 coats to get the best color saturation possible.

This type of paint, while it’s OK for polymer clay sculptures, it is a little on the thin/light body side. 

craft paint on clay

Case in point-the picture above – this is a sculpture I did a long time ago, I messed up on the glaze and after removing it with rubbing alcohol (at some point it stripped some of the original coat of paint) so I am here doing a “re-paint”.

Notice how you can kind of see the first coat showing? This is what I call an unsatisfactory paint job – (don’t get me wrong, I DO like that color -its called Peony Pink) fortunately I’ve got the wherewithal to apply a nice good coat with something better (keep reading)

Now here’s the same sculpture with a coat of Liquitex (Titanium white) and Reeves (bright red)!

finished sculpture

Big difference huh? I love that color-what do you think? That’s exactly two parts of the white to one part red to get that pretty salmon pink shade. But most importantly, how well it goes on, and the coverage, which is excellent.

For that “other” type, sometimes I find that one coat doesn’t always do the trick, even when I begin with a pure white clay. I know, on pristine white, you would think – right? This wall hanging is a good example; it took 2 coats of that pretty pinkish gold to get that well-coated look 🙂

Creative Commons Image Attribution: Image courtesy of Doug Beckers

Here’s a tip: If you buffer your clay projects a little with fine grit sandpaper, it’s good for paint adherence. One of those little manicure blocks or an emery board if you’re talking about something really small like clay beads.

Choose a Paint With Good Color Saturation For Clay Sculpture

I’m very demanding in that way, bold, brilliant colors are a must. To make one coat only and to get it right, I used more heavy body acrylics. The colors are deeper and richer and I don’t have to go over it again twice (I used to worry that I would mess it up or produce clumps with more than one coat.)

This little figure that is part of a shoebox diorama project- I used Goldens artist acrylic colors for her dress, hair, and jewelry. This is a good brand with high viscosity. It comes in metal tubes.and comes in mainly primary/neutral colors – but you have a good amount of leeway for mixing them.

Your next best choice as far as paint brand goes…Liquitex high viscosity. It squirts out easily and provides good coverage so you’re in good hands with this one too. It’s got a good color selection, including less-than-traditional shades so you can spend a little less time mixing.

I think I talked about it a good bit earlier…in this post I elaborate on the low/high viscosity topic.


Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory Set (0000074-0)Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory Set (0000074-0)Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory Set (0000074-0)Liquitex Acrylic Set Professional Heavy Body Classic 12, MulticolorLiquitex Acrylic Set Professional Heavy Body Classic 12, MulticolorLiquitex Acrylic Set Professional Heavy Body Classic 12, MulticolorLiquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint Set, Classic 8Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint Set, Classic 8Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint Set, Classic 8


High Viscosity Paint Is Great For Clay Sculptures!

Do the fun things you like to make out of clay include figurines? Little things like eyes, hair, lips, etc., all demand attention to detail so it is important that you choose a good kind of paint that provides good coverage and a smooth workflow. On something like polymer clay figurines, this is critical.

I know what a pain it is to have to go over fine details again as they might not look right the second time.

Here’s another polymer clay figurine that I did awhile back, it’s a baseball player (later on converted into one of a set of bookends)I made him out of Super Sculpey which is a must if you want to make figurines because it is already a unique flesh tone.

Mixing paint colors for flesh tones is not an easy feat because there are so many subtleties going on. I enjoyed being able to focus more on painting his uniform because it has a lot of detail in it too 🙂

Following are paints from Blick’s Art Materials –  one of the best online suppliers for art products. I’m an affiliate of Blick so any purchase you make I will receive a commission at no cost to you.

Liquitex Basics Acrylic Set of 6Liquitex Basics Acrylic Set of 6Golden Artist Acrylics SetGolden Artist Acrylics SetAcrylics Set by Reeves - 10 TubesAcrylics Set by Reeves – 10 Tubes


Conclusion

So there you have it, choose a high viscosity/heavy (or possibly medium) body acrylic as it’s the best choice for polymer clay artwork sculptures.

You can glaze them too and I encourage you to do so. I’ve Mod Podged some of my sculptures and used traditional varnish on others. Wait til the paint has been dry for a few days first though 🙂

Well, hope you enjoyed my wrap up of polymer clay best paint options….Now go and paint those cute little clay things you have just finished!

6 thoughts on “Best Paint For Polymer Clay: Make Your Sculptures SIZZLE!”

  1. Duston Lash

    Hi great blog! I’m really getting involved with Sculpey and I’ve been using Anita’s acrylic paint basically because it’s pretty inexpensive, around $1.00 per 2oz tube at Hobby Lobby. It seems to sometimes have a chalky feel when it dries and I really don’t care for the texture much but I’ve just kind of excepted the fact that that’s just how paint feels on sculpey but now I’m wondering if maybe it’s just that the paint is cheap? Is there a better brand I might try to get a smoother finish? I have tried the sculpey gloss and that does help but I’m thinking a better paint might help as well? Thank you

  2. Thanks for the compliment 🙂 If I were you I would definitely stick with the brands I recommend in the post. I do have some of those paints by Anita-they are all kind of related, and they work good for some things, but unfortunately they tend to require additional coats to get a nice finish without seep through. They do have different finishes, not sure I’ve had a chalky finish but they just seem to not show up as well on clay art without at least two coats. Best of luck to you!

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