Tips for painting polymer clay

Hi everyone and welcome to Mai Darling Designs blog! To celebrate the new year, I decided to finally start a blog for Mai Darling Designs. I've been thinking about it for quite a while and finally it's time!

The first post it going to be about painting polymer clay since I get a lot of questions about this topic. If you're familiar with my work, you might already know that I sculpt my pieces out of polymer clay and paint them with acrylic paints.

Planning for color palettes and painting are definitely one of my favorite steps in the process. For me painting is what brings the piece alive and shows the characteristics and the story of each piece. So, today I decided to share some painting tips for you of how to paint polymer clay.


The things one is usually looking for when painting polymer clay pieces is

  • full coverage with paint

  • even surface – no streaks

  • durability

  • matte surface (before varnishing)

Paint in thin layers

Paints don't usually give you full coverage in just one layer. At best you usually need 2-3 layers, especially when adding paint with a paint brush. The most even results will be achieved with multiple thinner layers.

It's also important to let the layers dry before adding a new one or you'll end up removing paint from the previous layer.

Even surface

The same goes to this step – thin layers. If you're finding that you paint job has a lot of streaks, it's probably because you're trying to add too much at once. In this case, less is more and patience is the key. 

You might also want to check if you're using the right kind of brush for acrylic paints. Very stiff brushes won't work in this case. Neither will the soft brushes that are meant for water colors. Look for synthetic brushes that are compatible with acrylic paints. This will help you to get more even  surface and it's also easier to clean the brushes. 


Not all acrylic paints are compatible with polymer clay or particularly with the clay you're using. The worst-case scenario is that the paint you're using peels off or turns sticky over time. 

I recommend doing some testing before you invest a lot of money into a new brand of paint. If you want to learn more about testing paints and which paints I'm using to paint Super Sculpey clay, you can find more info about it on Patreon. I recently wrote a booklet explaining which paints I use and why I use them.

Matte surface

There are a lot of different types of acrylic paints out there and it can get confusing of which one's to get. My recommendation is to always go for the matte paint instead of shiny.

If compatible with the clay you're using, matte paints will stay matte. They also blend beautifully which helps in creating gorgeous gradient effects. Shiny paints on the other hand won't blend well. They can be used as an effect in some cases but I would not recommend them as the main paints.


I hope these tips were helpful to you!

Happy creating,


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