Acrylic Pouring Techniques
Acrylic Pouring Techniques

In this article I’ll cover these fluid art techniques for beginners:

  • Dirty Pour
  • Ribbon Pour
  • Flip Cup
  • Tilt and Slide (Flip Cup Variation)
  • Swipe
  • Puddle Pour
  • Blow/Air w Puddle Pour
  • String
  • Strainer/Colander
  • Balloon Smash
  • Hammer Time
  • Tree Ring

Acrylic pouring, also known as fluid art painting, has become quite the phenomenon these past few years!

You may have seen those viral videos of people pouring mixed paints onto surfaces that result in beautiful cells and psychedelic landscapes. Yep, that’s acrylic pour painting and there are a lot more techniques than you may realize!

The truth of the matter is, it’s not as easy as it looks! I’ve been doing art all of my life, have an art degree and it’s definitely a trial and error process. I’m embarrassed to say how much money I’ve spent trying to get the results I was looking for.

The outcome of your painting mainly depends on two things: your recipe and technique. I’m not going to touch base on recipes in this article because everyone does it a little differently. Honestly, I eyeball it and do it a little bit differently each time. I’m still experimenting with the perfect combination of ingredients. So, you may not want my advice in that area! But, there are several places you can find recipes just by doing a simple Google search.

I’ll be honest and say I’m not a complete expert in fluid painting. But, I’ve been doing it for about three years, done a lot of research and watched a lot of YouTube videos! I’ve already done a lot of the hard work for you. So, in this article, I’m going to give it my best shot and talk about all of the different acrylic pouring techniques any beginner can use and experiment with.

So, here we go!

Dirty Pour

The first and probably most popular is the dirty pour. This is where you put all of your paints into a container (maybe give it a gentle stir with a popsicle stick) and pour it onto the surface all at once without moving your cup.

Ribbon Pour

This one is similar to the dirty pour, but just a little different.  You still put all of your paint into one container, but you pour it out and move your cup around in motions to make ribbons. Do it fast, quick or both!

Flip Cup

This method begins as a dirty pour, but you put your painting surface on top of the cup, flip the cup and surface 180 degrees and then release the cup slowly (or quickly if you want). A lot of people add paint after they have flipped the cup to help it flow more and reach the edges.

Tilt Slide Flip Cup Variation
Tilt Slide Flip Cup Variation

Tilt and Slide (Flip Cup Variation)

Proceed with the flip cup technique above, but just lift your cup gently and let it glide across the paint as it escapes. The cup may need a little nudge or tilt. So, lift up your painting surface and tilt it just a little so the cup moves and flows across your paint.


Pour paint on to your surface, but leave an edge of it clear. Be creative, it doesn’t have to look any certain way. After you get the hang of it, you’ll understand how the paints react after the second step. The space that you didn’t cover is going to be your drag color. I’ll touch briefly on the density of this paint because it needs to be somewhat thin to drag across the top of the other paints. Pour it on that empty area and don’t be shy. Get a ruler, spatula, cardboard or a wet paper towel and drag lightly over your other paints. If you don’t get the cells you’re looking for the first time, do another drag from the other side. A lot of of people use silicone with this technique, but I’ve never added it to the drag color.

Puddle Pour

I discovered this technique from Mely D who was one of the first fluid artists I watched on YouTube. The idea is to make separate layered puddles of paint and then tilt your canvas in different directions.


This is personally one of my favorites. You begin with a puddle pour (above) and then blow on the areas you want the magic to happen. Messy Ever After uses an air compressor, but I just like to close my eyes and blow on it and hope it doesn’t get all over my face. I’m not recommending you do my technique. You can also try a straw if you don’t want to get too close to the paint.


I’ve done this one a few times, but I was never really happy with my results. Plus, I didn’t want to seem too girly making flowers. Just kidding! The idea is to lay the base on your painting, dip a string into paint and then drag it off. It’s hard to explain, so I’ll just let you watch the video below.


I’ve never tried this one I think mainly because I’d like a little more control over my paint. But, to each their own! I actually read once about an artist in the 1970s who did something very similar. If only I could remember his name and had somewhere to search on the internet. When I remember, I’ll be back to update.

Balloon Smash

I personally haven’t tried this one yet mainly because the results look similar to the blow/air technique and I don’t want to go buy balloons. But, I’m not discouraging you from trying it. The idea is to do a puddle pour (above) and then smash it with your balloon.

Hammer Time

It’s not really called “hammer time” but I just decided to call it that because I wanted to break out in a dance. Quite frankly, I’m scared to try this one because I’m already a mess and it reminds me of the guy in the 1980s who used to smash watermelons with hammers named Gallagher. If you know who that guy is, bonus points for you!

Tree Ring

The key to a tree ring pour is to stack each paint color in your cup and keeping them from mixing as much possible. The results create beautiful bands of color that resemble the characteristics of the rings inside a tree. Watch the video below on How To Do an Acrylic Pour Tree Ring to get all of the details.

So, there you go! That’s what I know about acrylic pouring techniques. All of these methods produce really amazing results and sometimes I like to combine a few of them to make it more interesting. Try bookmarking this page and do each of them at your leisure.

After you try out any of these techniques just remember, you more than likely won’t nail (except for hammer time) any of them the first time and to keep trying. I sure didn’t! I highly recommend starting with cheap paints as well unless you have a lot of money to blow. Also, don’t get discouraged if your art doesn’t look like someone else’s because that’s exactly what makes yours unique. Most importantly, remember to have fun and experiment!

If I forgot anything or you have your own new acrylic pouring techniques to share, please let me know in the comments below.

And of course, I have to do a little shameless self-promotion. So, be sure to check out my art on vinyl records shop.

Thanks for stopping by and have fun!