View Full Version : How do u soften edges in acrylics?

07-14-2005, 06:07 PM
Being rather new to the acrylic field I need to know how to "soften the edge". In oils it's easy, you just blur the edge but in this medium the edge is often dry before you can do that. I just did a painting that I'm including a portion of and one of the suggestions was that if the edges were softer it would have given it a dreamlike effect. My first thought was a couple of thin washes of white over the edge but then that would have dulled the color into the black or would have produced a whitish line down the black. :confused:


Anita Murphy
07-14-2005, 06:13 PM
You can get a retarding medium that will give you a longer drying time.
Lovely work!

07-14-2005, 06:23 PM
Work remembering that you must soften edges as you go. I soften edges sometimes and have to work very quickly laying down the edge first, softening, then going back and putting in more opaque paint inside the shape or edge. Usually if I need very soft edges I work very very very thinly, with almost no paint on the brush, scumbling softly over and over until I get just the coverage I want.

Soft edges in acrylic takes a lot of patience and lots of layering in my experience, unless you want to use retarder (which I prefer not to).

Golden had a good demonstration on their website about working and blending. A search might bring it up? (on their site) :) They used a particular medium but I don't remember which.


07-14-2005, 06:24 PM
You can use a bit of acrylic gesso as a basecoat and paint over it while it's still wet. You can also use some gesso mixed in with the paint. If you rather, a medium will work just as well (if not better).


mrs willow
07-14-2005, 06:55 PM
Hi Linda! If I were you I wouldn't try and soften the edges on this particular painting at all! It works so well as it is! Practise the edge softening techiques on something else.
You have got some good ideas from the other comments...so there is plenty to experiment with.
Personally, I go along with Tina. That is my usual method too....sandy

Wayne Gaudon
07-14-2005, 07:00 PM
yes, it's something you do as you paint so all your colors should be before you .. add a little of this and a little of that .. find a go between .. painting over the line with an aura of similar value but contrasting hue, etc .. definately not an after thought.

07-15-2005, 02:46 AM
best and easiest way to soften edges is with your finger!! works a treat...
Got to do it when wet of course..

07-15-2005, 01:05 PM
I've painted with acrylics about 30 years...and am an Industry Partner/moderator here at Wetcanvas.

My forum, though I have a book on painting...is not geared so much to sell products as it is to offer free helps, demos, instructionals, and many past archived Wetcanvas links.

I am also an art instructor and have taught for years...

at any rate...I'll give you one link I have here of giving my son a personal at the kitchen table type step by step painting a Christmas nutcracker. He is very masterful with watercolors, but wanted to learn (as an illustrator and caricaturist) how to work with acrylics. Today..he is 27 years of age attending the Chicago American Art Academy and his use of acrylics is phenomenal.


There are a number of ways to soften edges...and for one, it begins with the surface you are painting on. If a smooth surface, true you could use medium...but also you can do many many multiple layerings of transparent (water plus acrylic) washes or line hatching over the hard edge you wish to soften.

On a textured surface, (such as canvas)...you can use a stiff hog bristle brush, and rub or scrub a bit of background color with the color of the mass/edge you want to soften...yes, a finger as well over that can soften further.

Main thing to keep in mind is the ideal positioning of the work from the eye of the viewer. (will the viewer stand 2 feet from your work...or ideally 10 feet?), and the work is taken in as a whole. Things such as softer edges can be felt or suggested. If the work is seen close up, then you labor to layer transparent washes....or develop a daft skill for scumbling/rubbing.

Check out the demo and numerous others I have in my forum. They exist to help others...