Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Acetate?

Using transparent backgrounds for illustrations and images has been quite popular for a while now. We create phone cases, key holders, and bookmarks using transparent film. 

Acetate is one of the most popular transparent films used for these purposes. It is mainly a clear plastic film you can use as a drawing surface. You cannot use all types of paint on acetate film. Are you curious about if you can use acrylic paint on acetate or not?

Acrylic paint can be used on different surfaces and you can use it on acetate as well. But how the paint will work and how long it will last depends on the conditions and circumstances. 

Let’s learn more about the relationship between acetate and acrylic paint and understand how you can make it work.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Acetate?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Acetate?

The versatile use of acrylic paint helps it to secure its place on almost any surface. You can use acrylic paint on acetate as well. As both acrylic paint and acetate are plastic-based materials, their combination is quite unstable. 

Acrylic paint creates a thin layer on the acetate surface. Acetate does not absorb any paint and you can remove the paint quite easily after it dries. 

But if you want to make the paint last longer and create a strong connection with the acetate surface, you can prepare the surface before painting. The result might vary depending on how you prepare the surface and where it is going to be used.

Will Acrylic Paint Stick To Acetate?

Whether the acrylic paint will stick to the acetate surface or not depends on the type of acrylic paint and how you apply it. 

Though acrylic paint can be used on multiple surfaces, acetate does not create a strong bond with acrylic paint. The smooth plastic surface of acetate keeps the film isolated from any penetration of any type of paint. 

But if you apply a thick layer of paint, it will stay on your acetate surface if you do not scratch or try to remove it. How strongly your paint will stick to the acetate surface depends on the conditions of your film.

Things You May Need To Apply Acrylic Paint On Acetate

As the acetate surface is quite smooth, it is not a good medium to paint on. The paint does not stay on the surface and creates a thin layer of paint. 

With minimum friction, the paint layer tends to get cracked and come off. But if you can clean and prepare the surface with the right materials and apply the paint properly, then it will last a lot longer and give you a better result. 

To make this work, you will need the following things:

  • Primer 
  • Brush 
  • Acrylic Paint 
  • Marker 
  • Sealer

Based on the type of your project and paint, you might need some additional products as well. Also, you will need a good cleaning agent in case you spill the paint in the wrong place.

How To Paint On Acetate With Acrylic Paint?

To make acrylic paint work on acetate, you can follow the following steps.

Clean Your Acetate Sheet 

If your acetate sheet has any dirt on it or any layer of old paint, the new acrylic paint layer will not sit well. So, you will need to remove anything from the surface and clean it thoroughly. 

You can use rubbing alcohol and wipe the surface in a circular motion to remove all the residue without damaging it.

Sand The Surface 

You will need to roughen up your smooth acetate surface before painting. Plastic scratches easily. So, you cannot sand the acetate sheet with coarse sandpaper. You will need a smooth or less rough sandpaper for preparing your acetate surface.

Apply Primer 

After sending the surface, use an appropriate acrylic primer for preparing the surface and binding the paint better. You can use both colored and clear texture gesso depending on your work and preferences.

Draw Outline 

Without outlining your design, it will be difficult to paint on an acetate surface. Use a sharpie or thin-lined marker to outline your design and determine the area you want to paint on.


Now you are all prepared to put the paint layer on your acetate surface. Mix the paint thoroughly and get the required thickness. Then apply it with a smooth brush. Don’t use too thin layers of paint. Apply multiple layers of paint to get smoother paint.

Secure With Sealer

After the paint dries, you can use a good acrylic sealer to secure the surface and make sure that it does not scratch or peel off easily.

What Other Paints To Use On Acetate?

There are a few paints that you can use to decorate and color your acetate film. Besides acrylic paint, you can use glass paint and markers to create beautiful and detailed designs. 

As acetate has a smooth and slippery surface, most paints do not go well with it. You cannot use any type of oil-based paint on acetate. 

Also, if your paint is too thin, it will not stick to the acetate surface. You can use alcohol-based paints or markers that dry fast. It will help you to draw easily on acetate.

Suggested Materials You May Need

Painting on an acetate surface is rather challenging for anybody. But using the proper products can make the process a lot smoother. Here are a few products that you will need while dealing with acetate.

#1 Liquitex Professional Gesso Surface Prep Medium : (Recommended Acrylic Paint Primer)

If you directly apply paint on an acetate surface without preparing it, the paint can become flaky and come off easily.

It will be quite troublesome if your paint cannot fulfill its purpose. So, preparing the surface is an excellent idea to get a long-lasting and better result. 

The Liquitex Professional Gesso Surface Prep Medium will help you to achieve this goal. This gesso is easy to apply and dries immediately on any surface. It will create a fine surface to paint on. 

You will find both clear and colored gesso. So, if you do not want the gesso to be visible, it can be done. The product lasts for quite a long time, and it is very affordable. So, you do not need to worry about wasting too much money on preparing the surface.

#2 Aleene’s Acrylic Sealer Spray Gloss Finish : (Recommended Acrylic Sealer)

After you have drawn and painted all the details of your design, it is time to seal the layer. You cannot let your paint stay without any protective layer. 

The acetate surface cannot protect and bind the layer of acrylic paint firmly. If you want to protect your design from any scratch or damage, using this sealer will help you. 

The Aleene’s Acrylic Sealer Spray Gloss Finish will highlight the vibrant color of your design and make it look more beautiful. Also, it will protect your paint from any scratches or dust. 

The spray is easy to use. You can easily spread the product evenly on your paint surface. You do not need to smear the product using any brushes or cotton swabs. So there won’t be any additional friction with the paint. 

The spray is also very affordable and comfortable to use. What are you waiting for? Grab this fantastic product today.

Over To You

Painting on acetate film is an incredible experience. You can create extraordinary designs and make different products using this. 

If you are still wondering, “can you use acrylic paint on acetate?” I have answered your question. This article covers the characteristics of acetate, its behavior with acrylic paint, and how to create beautiful designs. 

Let’s understand all the procedures and make your acrylic journey more enjoyable. Don’t forget to share the result with us and increase your joy tenfolds.

Further Readings

Can Acrylic Paints Be Used On Acetate? 
Acrylic Paint On Acetate Christmas Background 
How To Paint On Acetate 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply