Acrylic Pour Techniques

Guide to Acrylic Pour Painting. Learn how to do pour fluid art like dirty pour,flip cup,tree pour,ring pour, swipe pour. Acrylic Pouring for Beginners

Acrylic Pour Painting is about a mix of colors where patterns and designs are formed by how paints are mixed and poured. This pour art creates stunning artwork through paints without using a brush!

It is always nice to have some guidance when you are at a learning stage. I’ve created this guide to help you with the most common techniques used in poured acrylic painting. 

Acrylic Pouring Recipe

All the pouring techniques need the same material. The three main supplies you need are paint, medium, and water. If you are trying to achieve something in particular, like more cells or fewer cells, the ingredients will change slightly. There are many ratios in which you can mix the paint. Here is a basic acrylic pouring recipe.

  •    Floetrol - 2 parts     
  •    Acrylic paint - 1 part
  •    Distilled water - 1 part
  •    Silicone - a few drops  if required

If possible, avoid hard water and tap water as mineral content will act differently and change the way paint floats, so choose distilled. Choosing the right consistency is the key to a good pour. A thin stream of liquid is required when poured, not too thick, not too watery either. If the consistency is too thick, it will dry with cracks on your final painting.

Acrylic Pouring For Beginners

As a beginner, it is overwhelming when choosing the things you want and things you might need. With so many products in the market, it’s challenging to decide. That’s why  listed below is a starter set supplies list with which you can start pouring.

Acrylic Pouring Supplies

  •     Canvas for Pouring
  •     Acrylic Paint for Pouring
  •     White Gesso
  •     Silicone oil 
  •     Sealant
  •     Plastic cups 
  •     Craft Sticks 
  •     Squeeze bottles 
  •     Professional Kitchen Torch
  •     Paint Brushes
  •     Painting Knife
  •     Plastic Drop Cloths
  •     Gloves

Basic or Clean Pour

A simple or clean pour describes the practice of pouring a single color at a time on a surface. This is straightforward and should be a starting point for beginners.  The target is to pour all on the surface separately and keep them that way.  Use a toothpick or other instrument to swirl the colors to create patterns. Clean Pour is great for creating color block pieces or abstract art.

How to create a Clean Pour:

Select colors that you would like to use. Stick to a few colors to avoid a muddy pour. Prepare the mix for each color by adding paint and medium to get a warm, honey like consistency. Mix it properly and let the bubbles settle down. Pick one cup at a time and pour it on a surface where you want that in the design. 

Once all the colors are on the canvas, it's time to tilt the canvas to cover the entire surface. You will notice patterns and puddles developing. If you are happy with the design, leave it right there to dry. 

Clean Pour Pros

  • Easy to do and manage the direction
  • More control over colors

Clean Pour Cons

  • Colors don't mix a lot with other colors 
  • A simple design can be created  

Dirty Pour

A dirty pour is one step ahead of a traditional pour. The colors are first prepared in individual cups and then poured into one large cup before pouring onto the surface. The patterns from this method are quite unpredictable as you have no control over the colors. This is also known as filthy pour. 

Colors play an important role in this technique. Hence one should familiarize with the color scheme and a color wheel to avoid ending up with muddy colors.

How to do Dirty Pour:

Begin with the basic pour. Choose your color and prepare the mix in individual cups. Begin pouring separate cups into one big cup forming layers. Just before that, remember the sequence in which you pour color matters. Color with higher density will settle down, and colors with lower density will remain on top. If you pour quickly, colors will settle at the bottom, and colors remain on top if poured slowly.

Pick the big cup and pour it on the canvas to start creating a pattern. Pour enough paint to cover a good area of the canvas. Now pick the canvas and tilt it in a few directions to get the pattern you want. As the colors stretch, you will see patterns and puddles coming out.

Dirty Pour Pros

  • Color get to blend into a cup before being poured onto the canvas
  • Multiple shades are created during the pouring process

Dirty Pour Cons

  • Less control of where colors flow
  • Color choice becomes important

Flip Cup

The Flip cup technique is similar to a dirty pour except for the way colors are poured. The filled cup is flipped onto the canvas instead of dripping the paint slowly. This technique is messier and needs some practice to control the flip.

Flip cup create attractive, dynamic patterns and combinations. Cells can also be obtained with this technique,by adding silicone or dimethicone into a couple of colors.

How to do Flip cup:

Take the same steps as dirty pour. Once you have the big cup will all colors ready, place the cup in the middle of the work area.

For a small canvas that is easy to pick with one hand, try this. Set the filled cup at one side of the table. Place the canvas on top of that cup. Now, with one hand on the cup and the other on the canvas, flip them over, so the cup is upside down.

For a larger canvas, try this. Place a small plastic over the top of the pouring cup. Manipulate the cup and plastic in the same way as you would have done for a small canvas. Place the cup where you like to start pouring. Flip the cup and let the liquid go over the surface.

Wait a couple of seconds, then slowly remove the cups. The paint and canvas might form a seal. Apply force at an angle to remove the cup. Tilt the canvas and watch the paint spread, helping it reach the edges. If any area on the canvas is still uncovered with paint, use a brush or knife to let paint flow.

Flip Cup Pros

  • Color get to blend into a cup before being poured onto the canvas
  • Layer the paint with all the heaviest paint at the bottom of the reverse cup can help the creation of cells

Flip Cup Cons

  • Less control of where colors go
  • Color laying is very important as color density considerations affect how the pour turns out
  • Potential mess if not done correctly

Ring Pour

A tree ring pour is similar to a dirty pour, but pouring the paint on canvas makes the difference.  When the cup is ready, you'll end up pouring some paint at the center of the canvas to form distinct layers. The canvas is tilted in a circular motion to let the paint stretch out and form a ring like image.

How to do Ring pour:

In a big cup, layer your colors as you would work for a dirty pour. Pick the cup and squeeze a bit to form a pointed spout. Now begin pouring the paint in a circular motion onto the canvas. Do not stop until all the paint is on the canvas. 

Tilt the canvas slowly in a circular motion to create ring patterns. This slow-motion back and forth generates the rings. As more paint lands around the canvas that the rings extend outward.

Ring Pour Pros

  • Contrasting colors make excellent pours
  • No need for cells

Ring Pour Cons

  • The colors you use can make or break the pour
  • A good amount of paint is required if you'd like a proportioned circular form.

Swipe Acrylic Pouring

The swipe technique refers to pouring one color at a time, then swiping the paint using a basic tool like a palette knife or a plastic scraper. This looks best with just two or three colors, and then white.

How to do Swipe Pour:

Mix the paint and medium to the required consistency. You can choose to keep the colors separate or mix them for a dirty pour whichever you prefer. 

Pour the paint at the bottom of the canvas. Now pour another color with any pattern over it. Take a scraper or palette knife, very gently, without applying any pressure, spread the paint to create patterns.

Aim to smoothly glide the tool over the top, allowing some colors to peek through. With a bit more pressure, you will see the colors pop. 

To learn how to create cells, check out cell creation guide.

Swipe Pour Pros

  •   This technique can be done with even two colors
  • All colors look good in this technique   

Swipe Pour Cons

  •  This technique requires some practice and patience to swipe color across the canvas
  •  Pulling too hard or too much paint will leave an undesired effect.


Do not be dishearten whenever you try a new style, and it doesn't turn out as expected. Take notes of what went wrong and what went well. Next time before you try the same technique again, go through the notes for better results.

With practice and patience, you will get your desired results. To avoid mistakes commonly made by artists, read Acrylic Pouring Tips and Tricks.

Happy Pouring!