View Full Version : Soft edges

02-09-2000, 10:50 AM
When working with acrylics, is there any way to soften an edge after the fact. When I look at a painting the next day, I often see an edge that is too hard but the paint is dry. Any way to deal with this?



02-10-2000, 12:57 AM
One trick (works in oil to) is to paint medium (transparent) on the canvas and than paint over the area that should have a softer edge. Use a dry brush to soften the edge. The downside is that the edge will move "outwards" slightly.

That is the only thing I can think of except sanding it down, or painting over it.

[This message has been edited by henrik (edited February 09, 2000).]

02-16-2000, 08:36 PM
I have had luck with mixing the two adjacent colors that make up the edge into a fifty fifty mix, then lightly feather this over the offending edge. I use this technique as a deliberate way to block in the planes of a portrait say, and then smooth them over.

02-18-2000, 11:38 AM
Another thing I do...is to load one color on one side of my brush and the other color on the other side of my brush...called double loading..then make a couple of strokes on your palette to slightly blend the two giving a softened line..then paint over the line on your canvas..this will soften the edges without changing you colors. Sometimes I just do this over the dry paint and sometimes I add medium to the canvas as in above note. The medium will give a more transparent look...and when it dries I can build if I want more softening.
(Love those acrylics!)

08-12-2004, 04:04 PM
I would suggest blending the paint with your finger when it is still pretty wet (which won't be for long) to smooth out the thickness of the paint. This will give it a softer look. This works better if you're using more then one color for the edge, but you can still achieve it with a single color. You can also use a blending medium, which are said to work pretty well. Hope this helps,


08-12-2004, 08:58 PM
There are two substances that I know of that can soften and lift dried acrylic paint.

One is rubbing alcohol. The other is amonia. Both require working in a well ventilated area.

I have never tried the amonia (my nose is much too sensitive for that), but I have tried rubbing alcohol. It works to a limited degree, depending upon the color(s) and whether they are staining or non-staining. It will also depend upon what type of surface you painted on and how much rubbing, lifting and abuse it will withstand.

I suggest experimenting on a practice piece of similar painted surface before trying it on your painting. You can start small by dipping a cotton swab in some alcohol and rubbing it onto the area of paint you wish to soften. It may take a few tries, but you should see some of the paint color lifting off onto the cotton swab. I would then switch to a clean bristle or synthetic bristle brush with fairly stiff bristles. Dip it into the alcohol, too, but dab off the excess onto a paper towel. Then begin LIGHTLY stroking this stiff brush over the softened edge to see if you can get the effect you are looking for.

Repeat as necessary but be careful. You may wind up lifting more paint than you wanted to. Also, have clean cloths or paper towels handy to wipe back any smeared color that may have been spread around in a larger area than you wanted.

It's not perfect, but it's a start. If nothing else, you can remove some of the paint from the edge so that you can repaint it a bit softer.

I have also found (by accident) that a product called Turpenoid Natural (a citrus based oil paint solvent) will also lift dried acrylics. It really stinks, however, and also requires a well ventilated area to work with it.

Good luck.


08-13-2004, 01:52 AM
Gee, what an old thread. If you are still around, all you have to do is dry brush over the part that you want to soften. Use water and your finger if need be. :)