Faux Paint Crackle

School is right around the corner and I am currently revising some plans that I have for some of the assignments and I thought that I would share a fun and easy paint technique.

I cannot claim this as my own idea. I found it somewhere on the internet…before Pinterest (where i would have saved the link easily) and have been doing this technique over the last couple of years with my students. Its easy and always turns out cool looking.

All you need is two contrasting colours of paint and white Elmer’s glue. i have not used any other type of glue with this so I cannot say whether or not the technique will work with other glues. Probably other white, liquid school glues but, for instance, I don’t know if modge podge would work.

Start out by painting your surface with your first colour. My choice was a smokey blue, grey colour. Then go blow dry it.

Next get your glue out.

And drizzle it all over your paper

I used my finger to spread it all over the piece of paper. Any area that does not have glue will not crackle. Work fast because you don’t want the glue to dry. You can use a paint brush but I don’t care about getting my fingers dirty.

Next get your contrasting colour out. It has to be an entirely different colour than your base colour. you can do subtle crackle effects by choosing colours that have less contrast but for your first one make sure you choose entirely different colours.

There are 2 things about this step that are important to understand.

1- The idea is that the paint is to sit ON TOP of the glue. The paint and glue dry at different rates…the paint much faster than the glue. As the paint dries it shrinks and that is what causes the crackles to form. Which leads us to number 2…

2-If you play around with mixing the paint too much the glue and paint mix together and nothing will happen. So…apply your paint with only 1 brush stroke!!! only 1!!! ONE!!!!  If you miss a spot you can go back and put more on that one spot.

I guess there are actually 3 things to keep in mind. The glue must be wet to the touch when you apply the second colour of paint on top. A student a couple of years ago kept blow drying each layer and whining…yes whining….that it wasn’t working….well if the glue isn’t drying at a different rate than the acrylic nothing will happen!

You can see in the above photo that I have a couple different colours going on. It’s because missed a couple of spots and decided that I would like to do multiple colours so I threw some white into my original colour and added away!

So now is the fun part. You can wait hours for the paint and glue to dry. This is going to take longer than you are use to for the paint to dry.


You can go get your blow-drier and force things to happen a little faster. Keep in mind that this is really only going to dry the acrylic paint and some of the thinner glue. The thicker glue is going to take more time and you will have to leave that over night to properly set up.

So a couple of minutes blow drying and we have crackle paint my friends! Yes you can go and buy an additive that will crackle paint for you but it is not nearly as cheap and available as white glue is. and for in the classroom nothing is cheaper or more readily available than white glue!

So I know this will work on paper…I think it will work on canvas and it will work almost any hard surface that you want to crackle paint…rocks…wood…metal…go experiment and see!

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