How to Hydro Dip with Acrylic Paint? [FAQS with Pros & Cons]

Hydro dipping is a process that can be used to apply an image or design to a three-dimensional object.

The hydro dipping process involves applying paint or dye to the surface of the water and then submerging the object into a tank of water.

The object will then take on the appearance of the image or design that was applied to the surface of the water.

hydro dipping with acrylic paint

This process can be used to apply images or designs to a variety of objects, including plastic, metal, wood, and glass.

In this article, we’ll talk about hydro dipping and acrylic paint. Stay with us!

Can I Use Acrylic Paint to Hydro Dip?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint to hydro dip. In fact, acrylic paint is one of the most popular types of paint to use for hydro dipping because it is easy to work with and dries quickly.

When using acrylic paint for hydro dipping, you will need to thin the paint out so that it is a watery consistency. You can do this by adding a few drops of water to the paint or by using a paint thinner.

How to Hydro Dip with Acrylic Paint?

Now that you know you can use acrylic paint for hydro dipping, let’s talk about how to actually do it.

Materials Needed

Hydro dipping with acrylic paint is very simple as long as you can manage your colors. If you want to give hydro dipping with acrylic paint a try, you’ll need the following materials:

  • The object you want to hydro dip
  • Acrylic paints (either liquid or spray depending on your preference)
  • Cornstarch (or borax)
  • A big container (big enough for you to completely immerse your object into it)
  • Water (avoid chemically treated)
  • A pipette
  • Rubber hand gloves
  • Primer
  • Brush or toothpick
  • Small containers or ramekins

If you’ve got all the materials listed above, the following steps will guide you on how to hydro dip with acrylic paint. Let’s get to work.

Step 1: Prepare the Object You Want to Hydro Dip

When it comes to the choice of object, hydro dipping is not selective. The object you want to hydro-dip can be made of any material – plastic, wooden, metal, paper, rubber, and so on.

As long as the object can be dipped safely in the water, it can be hydro-dipped with acrylic.

However, just like any other painting job, you need to prepare the object for hydro dipping. This is not something serious.  It’s just to get the acrylic paint to properly stick to the surface of the object.

If the object you wish to use has a coat of protective finish, you’ll have to sand this away using 80-grit sandpaper.

After that, smoothen the surface with 180-grit sandpaper. This is only necessary if the object is coated with a protective layer.

Depending on the materials the object is made of, you may need to wash, clean, or treat the object with rubbing alcohol.

Once you’re done with any of these, prime the object with an acrylic primer and leave it to dry before proceeding to the next step.

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Step 2. Thin the Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints are usually thick and heavy and won’t float on water but sink into it. However, to hydro dip, you need your acrylic paint to float on the water surface – it shouldn’t sink or smear. You, therefore, need to add enough water to the acrylic paint to thin it and make it float – not too thin though.

Check the thickness of the different acrylic paints you’ll be using as they don’t all have the same thickness. Pour the acrylic colors into different containers and dilute them with the right amount of water using a small container or ramekins until you achieve a thin consistency.

Gently but thoroughly mix each acrylic paint with water using a paintbrush until it becomes moderately thin.

Make sure that the acrylic paints are thin enough to float on water. Also, all acrylic paints must have the same consistency if you want to achieve the best outcome. If you’ll be using spray acrylic paints, you can skip this step.

Step 3: Create a Water Base

By now, your primed object should be completely dried and your acrylic paints properly thinned. So, it’s time to get your big container ready.

As the name implies, hydro dipping involves ‘dipping’ the object into a water base of paint. To get started, fill the container with water enough to fully submerge the object you’re working with.

Having a container that gives a maximum dipping depth is the best. I don’t recommend that you dip the object into two sections. Add a teaspoon of acrylic paint to the water and see if it floats or sinks. If it sinks, thin it again.

You may need to add to the density of the water to make the paint float properly. You can either add borax or cornstarch to the water to increase its density.

I recommend cornstarch over borax because borax tends to interfere with the chemical components in acrylic paint.

To mix the water with cornstarch, follow these steps:

  • Pour about a half cup of water into a pot and boil.
  • Pour two teaspoonfuls of cornstarch into a dry cup, add a little quantity of cold water to it and work it into a paste.
  • Pour the cornstarch paste into the boiling water and gently stir until it becomes thick and smooth.
  • Put off the fire and let the cornstarch paste cool.
  • Pour the cornstarch into the container of water. Stir it until it blends into the water. This should increase the density of the water.

If you choose to use borax, follow the same procedure to add borax to the container of water. Also, you can skip this procedure if you’re using spray acrylic paints. This is because spray acrylic paints are less dense than liquid acrylic paints and should normally float on the surface of the water.

Add all your acrylic paints one by one to the water base from different angles. It’s better to use a pipette to apply the thinned acrylic paints in small drops to the water base.

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This will help you to avoid pouring too much paint at a time. Using a toothpick or pipette, swirl the paints into your desired designs.

Keep adding as many paint colors as you want and keep swirling until you’re satisfied with the design you have.

If you’re using spray acrylic paints, spray a generous amount of the different colors of acrylic paints into the water. Keep spraying until you’re happy with the created patterns.

You may add a drop of dishwashing liquid soap to the water base to make the acrylic paints spread more easily.

Once you’ve gotten all your preferred acrylic colors floating on the water base, it’s time to go hydro dipping.

Step 4: Hydro Dipping

There are different methods to hydro dip with acrylic paint but the most practiced methods are 3D marbling and paper marbling.

The two methods have similar procedures and give a similar beautiful aftereffect. The only difference between the two methods is the materials they used.

Let’s take a look at each technique.

3D Marbling

This procedure involves spreading different colors of acrylic paint on the water surface and dipping your object into it to create swirling designs on your object.

With your rubber gloves on, slowly immerse the object you want to paint into the water base at your desired angle. Make sure that the object is completely immersed.

You may gently stir the water base to enable the object to absorb the acrylic paints faster. To avoid having too much paint smearing your rubber gloves, you may create a temporary handle for your object.

Gently remove the object from the water base and hang it out in the sun for about 20 to 30 minutes.

After that, hang it anywhere safe to air dry completely for several hours. To cover your object with different contrasting designs, you can make multiple water bases with contrasting colors.

Ensure that the first dip is completely dried before making the second dip.

Once your object is properly dry, you can remove the temporary handle.

Paper Marbling

Just as the name depicts, paper marbling is done mostly on paper but it can also be done on leather, fabrics, and other flat surfaces.

As I said above, paper marbling also follows slightly different procedures.  Follow these steps to create paper marbling with hydro dipping:

  • Mix water with borax or liquid detergent in a ratio of 1:3 in a tray
  • Pour a small amount of each color of thinned acrylic paint into the water.
  • Use a paintbrush to swirl the acrylic paints in the water. If you want to create a marbled design, gently drop a color of paint into the tray, and use your paintbrush to swipe the paint across the surface of the water. Add another color and swirl in a different direction. Keep adding different colors of paint and swirling in different directions until your design is achieved.
  • Carefully lay your paper or fabric on the water and let the paints transfer to the surface of the paper.
  • Gently lift off the paper and allow the excess paint to drip off the paper. Lay the paper or fabric on a flat non-stick surface to dry.
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Step 5: Seal the Hydro-Dipped Object

To preserve the paint on the hydro dipped object, it is important to seal it. The seal will also keep the paint looking clean and new.

Apply a sealer on the painted surface – a polyurethane spray is ideal.

You can use a clear spray acrylic sealer or preferably a sealant that is suitable for the material the object is made of.

Apply an even coat of sealer over the object with a paintbrush. If you’re spraying. Spray the sealer over the object evenly.

Mind you, apply the sealer only after the paint on the object is completely dry. After applying the sealer, leave it to dry for several hours before you apply a second or third coat. Once the coat is dry, use a paper towel to gently polish the object to make it shine.

You can watch this YouTube video to better understand how to hydro dip with acrylic paint –

Advantages of Hydro Dipping with Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints are water-soluble, but become water-resistant when dry.

This makes acrylic paint the perfect choice for hydro dipping since it dries quickly and doesn’t require any additional sealer to make it waterproof.

Acrylic paint is also very versatile – it can be used on a variety of surfaces such as paper, canvas, wood, metal, glass, and more.

It is also available in a wide range of colors, so you can create any design you want.

Disadvantages of Hydro Dipping with Acrylic Paint

While acrylic paint has many advantages, there are a few disadvantages to using it for hydro dipping.

Acrylic paint is not as durable as some other paints – it can scratch and chip easily. So, if you’re looking for a long-lasting paint job, acrylic paint may not be the best option.

It is also not as resistant to heat and sunlight as other paints, so it may fade over time if left in direct sunlight.

Does Acrylic Float on Water?

Acrylics are hydrophobic, meaning that they do not mix well with water. However, because of their molecular structure, they are able to sit on top of water for short periods of time before drying out.

This is why it is possible to create a temporary design using acrylic paint and water. However, once the acrylics dry, they will no longer be water-resistant.

To Conclude

Hydro dipping is a great way to personalize your belongings and make them look one-of-a-kind. With a little bit of practice, you can create some amazing designs with acrylic paint. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and give it a try!

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