Working with polymer clay can open a whole new world of possibilities. When it comes time to finish your project, though, choosing the right paint can be tricky. Will you choose acrylic paint? Are you going to apply the pain on unbaked clay or baked clay? The clay and paint varieties are endless it seems.
If you’re looking for the best paint for your polymer clay creations, you’ve come to the right place. Painting polymer clay doesn’t have to be a chore.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best polymer clay paint. From watercolors and oil paints to acrylics and everything in between, this guide will give you an overview of what your options are and guide you towards the best choice for your particular application.
Are you ready to start painting clay? Grab your brushes and palettes, it’s time to pick out some paint!
Got no time to read? Here are our best picks and why we picked them.
|Polymer Clay Paint Name||Why We Chose It|
|Liquitex’s Professional Heavy Body Acrylics||High pigment load|
|DecorRom’s Alcohol Inks||Plenty of colors to choose from|
|Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint Set||Range of colors and opacities|
|Blick Studio Acrylics Set of 24||Buttery texture|
|Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colors Set of 10||Long rework time|
|Benicci Complete Acrylic Paint Set of 24||Additional materials such as art brushes, palette knife, and sponge are included|
|Winsor & Newton Travel Tin set of 12||Palette included in travel case|
|Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paints Set of 60||Variety of colors to work with|
|GOLDEN Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Set||Paint retains brushstrokes and palette knife marks|
What to Consider When Buying Paint for Polymer Clay
With so many possibilities, it’s easy to get caught up in how you should paint on polymer clay projects. As you shop for paint, keep the following in mind to help you determine which paint choice works best for your particular project.
As always, you’ll want to consider how much you’d like to spend on paint before you begin your search. It’s easily achievable to purchase quality paints for polymer clay under $100. In fact, many of the options we’ve included in our list come in under that number.
That said, spending a bit more can definitely get you a better quality paint. For more on what makes for good paint in a particular type, check out our sections below the list of the best paints for polymer clay. There you’ll find specific characteristics you should look for when considering that particular type of paint.
The bottom line is that painting polymer clay may be more affordable than you think. Polymer clay is a budget-friendly medium to work with, whether you choose acrylic paint, chalk paint, oil paints, alcohol inks, or any other paint type.
Depending on what type of effect you’re going for, you may want a paint that provides more or less coverage. For instance, antiquing requires diluting a paint over another in order to highlight creases and folds. However, in most cases, you’ll want to purchase paints that will cover your polymer clay with an opaque layer.
Another consideration when it comes to coverage is the fade resistance of the paint you’re choosing. In many cases, this goes hand-in-hand with pigment density.
The higher density of pigment a paint has, the more opaque it will be going over your clay. These higher pigment paints also tend to resist fading better than watered-down paints, as the layers are built up to withstand weathering.
As you get more experienced with paint, you’ll find there are many ways you can implement it in order to create certain effects. For example, you could easily purchase a metallic paint in order to create a shiny surface coating. You can also add depth to pieces by antiquing them with a watered-down wash.
Gold, silver, and copper flake can be added to polymer clay before baking in order to give it depth as well.
Mica powder can be worked into the polymer clay before you begin modeling, or you can sprinkle the powder on the outside of the raw polymer clay right before you bake it.
Clay vs. Paint
Sometimes it’s easier to achieve the color you’re looking for by mixing polymer clay colors together before you even start modeling. In many ways, it’s faster compared to adding paint on polymer clay.
In fact, it’s a good way to not only save money, but time as well. If you can achieve the color you’re looking for from the start, you won’t have to worry about adding paint on polymer clay pieces.
Purchasing colored clay is easier these days with the internet. Simply search for “color polymer clay” or “colored polymer clay” and you should find plenty of options.
Sealing Paint on Polymer Clay
Though many consider painting polymer clay to be the end process in decorating cured polymer clay, there are some cases in which you’ll still need to seal your polymer clay creations. This is especially true if you use acrylic paint, as water based paint tends to fade as time goes on.
Even a thin layer of sealant or varnish can help extend the life of acrylic paint on polymer clay. To seal acrylic paint, you can either apply an acrylic sealer or spray the entire project with clear spray paint.
However, there are some cases where you won’t want to seal your polymer clay projects with sealant or varnish, as they may cause issues with your paint choice. Keep this in mind as you work through which paints to choose for your project.
The great thing about paint for polymer clay is that there’s a variety of brands, types, and applications out there. This gives artists the chance to express themselves with what works best for them, whether it’s a particular brand, type of paint, or application.
If you find you work well with a certain type of paint, continue to work with it further to see what else you can create.
At the same time, if a particular brand or type doesn’t feel quite right, consider experimenting with it further to see if it can be of use to you in some other way. Sometimes all it takes is understanding how a paint works before you unlock its full potential.
With these characteristics in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best polymer clay paint.
Best Paint for Polymer Clay
Below are some of the best paints for polymer clay.
Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Set
We chose Liquitex’s Professional Heavy Body Acrylics for not only the number of colors you can choose from but the quality of the paints as well. Heavy body acrylic paints tend to work best on clay, providing the coverage necessary to achieve dimension, and this set from Liquitex is no exception.
Vibrant colors such as Quinacridone Crimson and Brilliant Purple complement the deep tones of Cerulean Blue Hue and Ivory Black. The paint itself retains a thick consistency that works well for basic painting techniques and beyond.
Liquitex’s heavy body acrylics blend well with additional working time. The smooth application has good surface drag in cases where you need to build up layers. Plus, there’s a high pigment load for full color that won’t fade as quickly as other paints.
- Variety of tones
- High pigment load
- Heavy body consistency provides solid coverage
- 22 milliliters isn’t much paint for larger projects
DecorRom Alcohol Ink Set 24 Colors
Alcohol inks can be a fun way to achieve some interesting effects with your polymer clay projects. If you’re looking for a quality set of alcohol inks, check out DecorRom’s Alcohol Inks.
With 24 colors to choose from, there’s plenty of opportunity to experiment with alcohol inks on your polymer clay pieces. These 10 milliliter squeeze bottles contain highly concentrated alcohol inks that provides vivid coloring. The non-toxic formula spreads quickly to cover a large area. Plus, you can add more alcohol for a better spread effect if you prefer.
Colors featured in this set include lime, lemon, mango, tangerine, water melon, cherry, rub, fuchsia, peach, deep purple, grape, lavender, violet, navy, blueberry, forget me not, turquoise, clover, deeper white, sinking white, black currant, coffee, avocado, and kiwi.
- Highly concentrated
- Plenty of colors to choose from
- Squeeze bottles can be messy
Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint Set
Don’t let the “Basics” part of this particular acrylic paint set from Liquitex fool you. These acrylics are formulated to the same standards as the brand’s professional lineup, using the same high-quality pigments. That’s the reason we’ve chosen it for our list for painting polymer clay.
Liquitex includes a total of 48 tubes in this set, each at nearly a quarter of an ounce. Of medium viscosity, the acrylic paints come in a range of opacities and are mixable with other Liquitex paints as well.
These paints are a strong balance of quality and economy, albeit with slightly less pigment concentration than the professional series from Liquitex. Though they dry quickly, these acrylics flex and stick to almost any surface. Their heavy body nature translates to a buttery consistency that’s easy to spread.
- Mixable with other Liquitex paints
- Range of colors and opacities
- Heavy body, high-pigment acrylics
- Quick to dry
Blick Studio Acrylics Set of 48
This set of studio acrylics from Blick contains 48 vibrant colors with plenty of opportunity to color your polymer clay projects for days on end. Each of these 0.7 ounce tubes exemplifies Blick’s dedication to price and performance, which makes them a great choice for beginners and seasoned professionals alike.
One of the best things about this set of 48 acrylics is the high pigment concentration found in each tube. The pigments are ground using a three-roll mill, which provides a consistent texture and color when painted.
Blick’s acrylic paints are flexible when dry but can also be used in diluted form as a wash. The buttery oil paint-like texture flows easily across the canvas, drying to a permanent film that’s flexible. Though it may act like oil paint, it’s best to use Blick studio acrylics on non-oily surfaces.
- Can be diluted
- Buttery texture
- High pigment concentration
- Doesn’t stick well to oily surfaces
Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colors Set of 10
Winsor & Newton are well-known names within the industry, which is why we’ve chosen them for our list. This set of 10 Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colors is no exception to the high quality standards of the brand’s lineup.
The 21 milliliter tubes of this set include colors such as Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Green, Ivory Black, and Yellow Ochre. These acrylics, when applied in thin films, dry within 2-12 days. However, you can rework them within the first few days as the acrylics remain soft and wet.
The pure pigments of Winsor & Newton exemplify purity, quality, and reliability, making them a solid choice for the best paint on polymer clay.
- Quality acrylic paints
- High pigment
- Long rework time
- Takes a while to dry
Benicci Complete Acrylic Paint Set of 24
Starter sets are a great way to go if you want to dabble in the world of acrylic paints, and this Complete Acrylic Paint Set of 24 from Benicci is no exception. There are plenty of possibilities in this set to add vibrancy to your polymer clay projects.
Along with 24 non-toxic and quick-dry acrylic paints contained within 12 milliliter tubes, you’ll also receive an art knife and sponge. Plus, Benicci includes 12 non-shed nylon art brushes to experiment with. Use the small-tipped brushes for detail work or the fan brush for washes.
- Additional materials such as art brushes, palette knife, and sponge are included
- Plastic tray may make it hard to remove and store paints
Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Travel Tin Set of 12
You’ve seen this name before on our list, but we also wanted to include this Travel Tin set of 12 paints from Winsor & Newton. Sometimes moving around with your acrylic paints can be hard, but with this travel piece, you’re able to bring polymer clay to life wherever life takes you.
Within the travel tin case that houses these high quality acrylic paints, you’ll find four large wells and 10 smaller wells. Within each you can mix and match as you please. Each of the 5 milliliter tubes contains acrylic paint that’s pure in color and contains a high concentration of pigment for the best colors.
- Travel tin case
- High pigment
- Palette included in travel case
- Travel case only holds 5 milliliter tubes
Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set of 60
If you’re looking for a value pack of acrylic paints that will not only get you started in painting your polymer clay projects, but will also introduce you to a wide variety of shades, this set of 60 Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paints should be at the top of your list.
Besides being able to choose from 60 different colors, this paint set is non-toxic and consistent. The durable paints contain vivid pigments that retain a buttery consistency. Each tube of paint holds 0.4 ounces of blendable paint that works well on multiple painting surfaces, including polymer clay.
- Adheres to multiple painting surfaces
- Buttery consistency
- Variety of colors to work with
- Requires several coats for full coverage
GOLDEN Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Set
GOLDEN is a well-known name when it comes to acrylics, which is why we’ve chosen the Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Set for our list. It might be the last, but it’s certainly not the least when it comes to value.
GOLDEN’s acrylic paints are ideal for all experience levels. With a smooth and thick, buttery consistency, each tube contains three-quarters of an ounce of either Benzimidazolone Yellow Medium, Mars Black, Naphthol Red Light, Permanent Green Light, Titanium White, or Ultramarine Blue.
The pigments within these paints are pure and contain no fillers, toners, or dyes. This makes them lightfast, as well as able to retain brushstrokes and palette knife marks. Depending on the tone, the acrylic paints can either be opaque and matte or glossy and transparent. Because of their rich consistency, they also stand up well to light, resisting fade.
- Paint retains brushstrokes and palette knife marks
- Pure pigments
- Ideal for all experience levels
- Only six colors to choose from
Types of Paint for Polymer Clay
The following is a list of the various types of paint you can use to color your polymer clay projects. At the same time, not all of the options are your typical paint makeup.
Using acrylics to paint your polymer clay projects is one of the most popular methods out there. However, you should be aware that there are two main types of water based acrylic paint: craft and artist. The best acrylic paint is the one that provides the coverage you’re looking for, though there are certain features you can expect from both types of acrylic paint.
Craft acrylics are not a bad paint. They’re simply a lower pigment paint that provides adequate coverage for pieces that will sit on a shelf, but they can’t quite provide the opacity that artist acrylics can. You can easily find craft acrylics at your local hobby store.
Artist acrylics are often called “heavy” or “heavy body,” as you saw with the Liquitex acrylics above. They are water-based and non-toxic like craft acrylics are, but do cost a bit more since they are higher pigment.
Whether you choose craft or artist acrylics to apply to your polymer clay, you can apply the paint before or after the polymer clay is baked.
In many cases, it’s better to paint the polymer clay after you bake it, but if you do decide to paint raw clay, you should allow the acrylic paint to dry completely. This typically takes two or three days depending on your local climate.
Each acrylic paint will provide different coverage amounts, but you should average about two coats for solid coverage. Every polymer clay will be different, so you may have to adjust accordingly.
Sealing your acrylic paint job will help it to resist fading. You can easily cover your painted polymer clay with waxes, epoxy, varnishes, or an acrylic paint sealer.
Oil-based paints can be a great alternative if you’re looking for something different from your polymer clay paint. Oil paints allow you to create a marbling effect but can take a while to dry in most cases. That said, you won’t need to treat these projects with any sealant or varnish after they’re complete.
It’s best to find an oil-based paint that comes from linseed oil, rather than petroleum. These can be expensive paints, but useful in creating the effect you’re looking for. Oil-based paints are applied after you’ve baked your polymer clay, and require a second baking to cure.
Working with ink can be a bit messy at first, but alcohol-based inks allow you to create some really cool effects on your polymer clay projects. In fact, you can easily create a stained look to set off your piece. Most alcohol-based inks are easy to find, but they can be a bit more expensive than your typical craft paint in some cases.
Alcohol-based inks consist of colored dyes held within an alcohol base. This alcohol is what must evaporate before you can bake your polymer clay project. You can also paint your piece with alcohol ink after it’s been baked, too.
We’ve talked about antiquing in previous sections, and that’s really one of the best ways to think about how watercolors affect the surface of your polymer clay project. Many times, artists will use watercolors to highlight certain details or create a textured look. However, they should be applied after baking, since they can bubble if you apply them beforehand.
Never underestimate the power of a Sharpie. In fact, it’s a tool you can use to paint polymer clay pieces just as easily as if they were miniature paint brushes.
You can easily find Sharpies at your local office supply or craft store in a variety of colors to suit your needs.
However, these markers will fade over time. Plus, they’re prone to running if you intend to seal your work with a varnish or other sealant. Keep this in mind as you consider using Sharpies to paint your polymer clay projects.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to paint your polymer clay project, spray paint can be an affordable option. Depending on which type of spray paint you purchase, your results could last a while outdoors. It is a bit harder for most artists to accent smaller details with spray paint, but that’s not to say you should dismiss it as an option altogether.
On the flip side, clear spray paint makes sealing your paint polymer clay projects a quick task to complete. Plus, it’s a bit less messy than other sealing methods. Just make sure you bake polymer clay projects before you spray paint them.
If you don’t want to paint polymer clay projects but want some character, oxide stains are a great choice. They work a bit like mica powders but provide their own unique shading abilities.
Using oxide stains to paint polymer clay projects provides natural, deeper tones and results in a matte finish. While you can purchase oxide stains that are already ready for use, you can make your own if you prefer.
As you can see, there’s no limit to what you can do with paint when it comes to coloring polymer clay.
How to Paint Polymer Clay Effectively
There are many ways you can paint polymer clay. Here are just a few suggestions you should keep in mind:
- It’s a good idea to experiment before you paint polymer clay. Create a few test pieces that you paint first to see how the layers dry and how many coats you need for the coverage you desire.
- Though it might be tempting, don’t use nail varnish/nail polish when painting clay. Nail polish could easily chip off and ruin whatever finish you might have on your polymer clay project.
- If you’re having trouble getting your paint to stick, lightly sand the polymer clay surface with a light pass of sandpaper before applying any paint. This will give the paint something to grab onto, especially if you plan on applying a few layers.
One final thing: have fun! Painting your polymer clay projects is all about expressing yourself, so don’t limit yourself to what’s already been done. Break outside the lines to color as you please. The best polymer clay paint is the one that allows you to achieve the look you’re going for.
Common Issues When Painting Polymer Clay
Choosing your paint wisely can make the difference between achieving the desired effect and something that just misses the mark. But what can you expect if you choose the wrong paint for the application?
- Certain types of polymer clay can make different paints turn sticky. An ingredient in the paint is adversely reacting to a chemical in the clay.
- Chipping and/or peeling can occur, as well as cracking. This could result from polymer clay that is too dry or from thin paint layers. Poor quality paint can also have this effect.
- Paint that doesn’t dry completely stems from the opposite end of the spectrum. If you’ve applied too much paint and didn’t let the layers cure in between, it could take an extended amount of time for your paint to fully cure.
The bottom line is that using the wrong type of paint will result in something that doesn’t match what you wanted.
That said, each time you do paint a project, you have a chance to learn how it interacts with the polymer clay. Next time you use that paint, you’ll have a better idea of not only what to expect, but how you can implement it to your advantage in the future.
Painting your polymer clay projects can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. We hope you’ve found this article on painting polymer clay useful in your search for the paint that will showcase your projects. You should now have plenty of ideas and inspiration to paint to your heart’s content.