Acrylic Paint on a T-Shirt! Easy Beginner Steps To The Fancy

Aren’t you tired of the plain old solid colors your closet is filled with? How about adding some color to a few of your t-shirts by painting them with acrylic paint?

Sounds exciting and creative, I know! But it gets way more creative and fun as you immerse yourself into the procedure.

Acrylic Paint on T Shirt! Easy Beginner Steps To The Fancy

It’s time to make a change to your monotonous life and fashion. And painting your t-shirts with acrylics seems like a great way to do that.

I know all of you have wanted to do it at some point, but you were always worried if it would mean falling into a mess. Now that you’re here, trust me, you’re in good hands. I’ve experimented with all the different methods, and now you bring to you an article guiding your path to a colorful wardrobe. Let’s see what informations you’ll get after you’re done reading this article –

  • Acrylic Paint on t shirt: How to apply it
  • T-shirt painting materials and the easy steps to it
  • Can you wash a shirt with acrylic paint on it

So, if you want to get creative soon, let’s dig in!

Acrylic Paint on T-shirt: How to apply it?

Before you get your hands on the paints and stencils, it’s always safe to know what you’re doing and if it’s right. So a few minutes to go through this small guide for acrylic painting on your t-shirt with a few ideas on the design will not hurt, my friend.

How to paint a shirt with fabric paint?

T shirt painting materials:

Acrylic Fabric PaintBrushes
Painter’s tapeWaxed paper
Exacto knife or hard stock for stencilsMineral spirit
Thin cardboard or a rigid plane to fit inside the t-shirtPaper towel or other absorbent materials
And of course your plain t-shirt

As a newbie, I would suggest you practice your painting on a white t-shirt rather than going for other colors.


Let’s begin! Before letting yourself float in the world of creativity and colors, it’s essential to make a few preparations. It’ll help you go through a smooth painting process.

Step 1: Preparation

  • As I said, it’s wise to start with a white t-shirt. Now, if you have a t-shirt you’ve just bought from the store, then wash it before you paint it. Otherwise, the sizing in the new t-shirt will not allow expected adherence of the paint to it.
  • Take out the cardboard and roughly take a measurement of the tshirt and cut out the cardboard using the Exacto knife. When using cardboard, place some waxed paper on it and use tape to attach it in place. This will allow you to move your brushes quickly on the tshirt with a solid surface to work on.
  • You can also use a foam board, and by cutting it with a rough measurement, place it inside the t-shirt.
  • Gather your paint box, brushes, palette, textile medium, and of course the paint and water and keep them close to you for convenience. Also, don’t forget to wear gloves and even aprons if you’re worried about paint splashing in your clothes.

Step 2: Mixing the paint

If you have already mixed fabric paint, you can go straight to the next step. But if you have ordinary acrylic paint, you’ll need to make a mixture of the paint and the textile medium.

There will be instructions on the bottle of your textile medium on the proportions of the paint and medium for a satisfactory result. Usually, it would be best if you mixed 1 part acrylic paint with 2 parts textile medium. Well, I prefer textile medium because it keeps the fabric soft and doesn’t harden it. Hence, there’s no risk of chipping or flaking.

Step 3: Make a background

Well, you won’t always be satisfied with a basic image on the white fabric. So, to spice up things, you can make a background of your own.

Dilute the color you have picked for the background and apply it to the fabric surface with gentle strokes. Don’t add too much paint because it’ll just turn the T-shirt into a coarse fabric you will not enjoy wearing.

This also gives an interesting watercolor effect to the fabric. Once you’ve painted the background, give it enough time to dry before you paint the images.

Step 4: Make an outline

Direct outline of the fabric:

Now, select an image you want to paint from the internet or something you have in your mind already. You can take a pencil or crayons to sketch the outline of the image on the fabric.

Remember to be gentle and make the sketch lightly because you don’t want it to ruin the paint or take the limelight. If you’re a beginner and you are having difficulty choosing the image, you can go for simple shapes or elements like fruits, flowers, geometric shapes, etc.

After lighty making the outline, you can use some paint diluted well and soak a thin brush with it. Then gently paint over the lines. This is very simple to do because you don’t have to worry about making the lines perfect. Also, you can vary the thickness and density of the paint as you prefer!

Outlining using a design print

If you are concerned about spoiling the design, there’s a little trick you can use. Please print out the desired design on paper and put it inside your t-shirt. Stick the paper edges to the fabric using tape so that it does not slip or you don’t get unnecessary spills. Now use a crayon or your brush soaked into the paint and outline on the fabric.

Step 5: Start adding colours

After you’ve made an outline, it’s time to fill it in with the paint. For the basics, add a solid color at first. Yes, if you’re not content with it, you can add the details, shadow, and highlights later and make a masterpiece! When adding colors, keep a check on the fabric being straight and stretched. You don’t want grooves to spoil your color.

You can slightly dip the brush with paint in water for smoother strokes. However, don’t forget it might drip. So don’t go with more water. You can also use painter’s tape to protect the surrounding areas from unintended spills and drips.

Using a stencil:

If you’ve not practiced enough or doubt your skills for freehand acrylic painting on the t-shirt, stencils can be a great way to work it out for you. A stencil is also useful when you want to repeat the same design for multiple shirts.

  • Firstly, print out the design you want to use as a stencil on the tshirt.
  • Take your Exacto knife and gently cut out the design or letters, whatever design you’ve chosen.
  • When you’re done with the cutting, place the paper on your fabric and tape it down. Be careful that it is well placed and rigid, or the design will turn out a mess.
  • Now, you can either use spray paint or traditional paint with a sponge to get it over the stencil. Do not apply too much paint, or there will be drips everywhere.

Step 6: Heat, set, and wear!

You can dry your masterpiece for hours under the ceiling fan, or you can go for quicker methods involving heat. There will be instructions on the medium on the time and intensity of heat you should apply.

A dryer is a good solution here. Put it in for about 45-50 minutes, and it’s ready to wear!

You can also iron the paint, but there might be some risk of spoiling the paint, so I prefer not to.

And here you go! Done with the t-shirt painting!

Can You Wash A Shirt With Acrylic Paint On It?

Even after you’re done with painting your t-shirt, it doesn’t mean your work is done here. Aftercare and maintenance are equally important.

Yes, you can wash your shirt with acrylic paint on it. But, there are a few things to know. We know acrylic paint is strong, but it’s still not 100% stable, so be very careful with the cleaning.

Hand washing is the best way to wash your painted fabric, be gentle with it, and drip dry the clothes.

  • If you are using a washing machine, choose a gentle mode. For a tumble dryer, use low heat.
  • Once you’ve painted the fabric, remember to wait for at least a week before you can wash it. This helps the paint to set properly.
  • Do not keep your t-shirt soaked in water for long or use hot water on it.
  • Dry cleaning is a good option till you keep the heat at room temperature.
  • It is better not to go with spot cleaning
  • When you’re ironing the fabric, make sure you have set the heat to low and iron it on the reverse side of the painting.

Applying acrylic paint on shirts may not be the easiest thing you’ve done in your life. It will not come out with the desired result on the first try. But one thing I must tell you, it’s a whole lot of fun and creativity to work on it. And whether the tshirt is for you or your close ones, it’ll definitely give you a good and more aesthetic clothing vibe than ever!

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