How to Splatter Paint

Splatter Painting Tutorial

splatter paint supplies
Lauren Thomann

Learning how to splatter paint isn't difficult. In fact, it's quite fun. The hard part comes in when you want to create a splatter painting, but you don't want to make a huge mess. If you're attempting this craft with kids, magnify the potential mess and the importance of proper prep. 

Before you learn all the basic splatter painting techniques, pick a large area to work, ideally outside if the weather is cooperating. Next, line the area with drop cloths and get on some messy painters clothes. Even if you think you're able to contain your splatter painting, that paint will end up in spots that seem to be yards away.

Once you're prepped, experiment with any of the following splatter techniques to create a one of a kind painting. 

Supplies

  • Acrylic paint*
  • Paintbrushes
  • Palette
  • Canvas
  • Dropcloths 
  • Water
  • Optional: Plastic spoon

*Stick with a simple and pleasing color palette using three to four different shades for best results. 

Use a Toothbrush

splatter paint toothbrush technique
Lauren Thomann

There are several ways to splatter paint on a canvas. For starters, put on a glove and dip the end of a toothbrush in some watered down acrylic paint. Position the toothbrush near the canvas and pull back on the bristles and release them to create a fine mist. The faster you flick the bristles, the more splatter you'll create. This technique is a good starting point to get some color on the canvas. 

This technique is ideal for adding stars to a galaxy painting. 

Flick Your Wrist

how to splatter paint by tapping
Lauren Thomann

The tried and true method of splattering paint is to flick your wrist. However, this technique is not very accurate and can result in drips of paint all over the room. For more accuracy, dip the end of a paintbrush in watered down paint. Lift the edge of the canvas up and tap the middle of the paintbrush handle on the edge of the canvas in a downward motion. This motion will flick a small amount of paint downward on the canvas.

Rotate the canvas around and tap the paintbrush handle all the way down the canvas. Change the angle of the paintbrush to change the effect. For more drippy splatter, add more water. 

Let the Paint Drip

dripping splatter paint
Lauren Thomann

Once you have a fair amount of watered-down speckles on the canvas, one option is to lift the canvas up vertically and allow the paint to drip down. Rotate the canvas as the paint is dripping so that the drips go in different directions.

Fill in With a Fan Brush

fan brush splatter
Lauren Thomann

Filling a large canvas with splatter paint can take a long time and use a lot of paint, especially if you are using the toothbrush method. One way to fill in a piece of abstract splatter art is to use a fan brush. Dip the fan brush in paint and gently stroke the brush overtop some of the splatter paint. This method works best if the paint on the canvas isn't dry yet. 

Keep Adding Layers

how to splatter paint
Lauren Thomann

Keep rotating colors and techniques until your canvas is nearly full. It's up to you whether you want the background to show or if you want a dense splatter painting. If you want to fill a larger surface area, work with some larger paintbrushes, like the kind you would use to paint a wall. 

If you want to create larger globs of paint on your canvas, try the spoon technique. This technique uses a lot of paint and can get messy, so proceed with caution. Load up the end of plastic spoon with paint. Pull the tip of the spoon back toward you and release it to sling the paint forward onto the canvas. 

Style and Enjoy

splatter painting tutorial
Lauren Thomann

Once you are happy with the finished product, allow your splatter painting to dry completely before hanging it on the wall or sealing it.