The internet has been kind to me. I have learned so much for free for what you would normally pay lots of money for. People are generally just eager to share what they know and I am no different. We've all struggled and sometimes the answers we are looking for come slow but when we get them we are like HELL YAAAA. I think for that reason sometimes we prefer to learn things on our own, for the triumph! But anyways, there are certain bits of knowledge I haven't been able to find and I've really looked for them. Everyone has different art styles but I wanted to share something more physical like the use of the paints themselves. Anyways I'll just get into it, I'm not an art teacher, just some self-taught painter.
1. The Blackest black!!:
Prussian blue. Get a good tube of this in acrylic or oil and mix it with your black. It has such a deep, rich, darkness to it and you can mix it with the black just to take the blue edge off and make it more neutral.
2. Super vibrant red, or orange:
Add a thin layer of hot pink over top. You won't really notice the pink but you will notice right away that colours get noticeably brighter. When making orange it helps to include a fluorescent orange. As a top layer it brightens just like the hot pink does. They work well together. I do not use fluorescent pink as I find it dark, just a tube of the really hot pink stuff you find.
3. Super light colours:
If there's an area you want to be super bright, paint it white first. Let it dry. Paint white again and make sure it's as white as you can get it. Then use transparent / airbrush paint, a lot of these are fluorescent and have luminous qualities to them and makes a good top layer. Brush some of it on lightly and it will turn the white spot into a bright yellow, bright green, etc. This is good for lights, sunsets, or just hard highlights.
4. Making the paint thicker:
A lot of acrylic paint is really thin and can be annoying to use. Try to use very little water except to clean your brush. You can try mixing something with the paint. Sometimes I will mix some oil paint with it. The fast drying acrylic dries over the oil so if you don't like working with oils you won't really have to worry. Acrylic dries as a hard plastic so I find it works nicely. Also just be patient and work in layers but if you want to work faster I got a tip for that too:
5. Dry paints faster:
Use a hairdryer. Just be careful not to blow the paint around and this can create bubbles if you're not careful but if you do it right it will help you layer up a spot quickly.
6. Smooth transitions:
Just use oil... It's so greasy it blends extremely well. Mix it with acrylic if you must and just avoid that area of the painting if you are worried about smudging. I paint like I draw, with my hand resting, otherwise it's tedious, not easy, not fun. If you have a good creamy acrylic paint though just keep it smooth and don't add any water. It already has good blending qualities.
7. Use a thin sharpie pen for lines:
Not only is this faster but it's easier, but be careful because there is a good chance it will ruin your pen. It's a bit wasteful but you can lay down some serious fine lines, quickly. It does leave a bit of red light refraction that can look cheap but what I usually do is go over these lines with black paint after. It's easier to get a sharp, straight line with a marker / pen. As long as you cover most of the line with paint you won't notice a difference. And if you use prussian blue, POW! DARK!
8. Have a variety of different coloured paints:
This one shouldn't have to be said but it's difficult to mix the same colour twice and when you mix colours there is a chance they can go dull. I just find it easier to have premixed paints of a particular colour.
9. Smoother lines:
Use a flow improver. You just need a drop of it, or less. Never use water unless you want to create some kind of effect. If you just want smoother paint you can pull and drag for days, use some kind of flow improver. If you are doing some long thin lines and you want them sharp and smooth, this will do it. Use a thin brush, roll the bristles and get them pointy and that'll do.
10. Super white:
This may be difficult but if you know what area you want to be white, if it's canvas, bristol, or paper, leave that spot and don't paint over it. The raw surface appears more vibrant. You can try thinly painting white over top so it doesn't look out of place. I hardly do this because it doesn't really fit my process but it's just a suggestion. I find the best thing to do is just paint white in layers and your whitest area you can even leave as a big glob of paint. That will cast a tiny shadow as it will leave a raised area but it will be very bright. Also don't paint in low lighting or you'll end up painting holes through the canvas. When paint goes on, particularly white, the wetness makes it look dark and you think you're doing something wrong. When you work under some strong lighting you can see the finer transitions of colour and brightness.
11. Colour wash an area with airbrush paint:
Airbrush paint is very rich and can give a whole area a good wash of colour. Also I find I am never satisfied with acrylics when it comes to certain colours but this paint helps, especially with:
12. Vibrant purple:
Hot pink with a rich blue like the navy blue air brush paint.
I'm sure I can think of more but not at the moment. The intention here is to share what I have learned about the paints themselves, as I can't seem to find too many tips on this but they are just as important as technique and style / expression. Feels good to share this. This is the kind of stuff that I would be lost and frustrated without. Hope this helps!