How to paint cardboard? Step By Step Instructions

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Painting cardboard will be difficult as long as you not understand how to paint cardboard. Many people have resorted to cardboard as an alternative to paint on, especially since it is considered a great low-budget type of canvas they can use to learn to paint or just to simply do some experimenting on.

If you love art and have shopped around for art materials like canvas and artboards, then you know that they can be quite expensive especially if you’re a beginner or if you’re on a tight budget. Prices can range anywhere from $10 to up to $300 depending on the size of the canvas, and not everyone wants to go digital, also, they are people out there who just would like to do both.

But don’t be discouraged by this, it doesn’t mean that you should give up on your dream of becoming a great artist, since they are also, as we mention, other alternatives available out there for you to paint on, cardboards been one of them. Whether you paint for a living or as a hobby, cardboards are a great and affordable option for you to start painting or experimenting on. Or maybe you just want to switch things up a little bit. To paint on cardboard we hard the very popular question that is What Paint To Use On Cardboard.

So, below we answer the question and list a simple explanation to get you started to paint using cardboard.

First, we need to seal the surface of the cardboard you choose with a sealant to make it waterproof; this will avoid the colors from damaging the cardboard plus paintings normally look better on sealed cardboard.

To prepare the sealant you can use some shellac which is a natural product, mixed with methylated spirits or denatured alcohol to create a solution. This is considered an eco-friendly sealant since the shellacs are made from tree sap which is a thin substance found in all trees. Once applied, it will harden the cardboard making it easy to paint on and allow you to focus on your painting. Add a few coats for better results. Furthermore, this type of solution is used on furniture as a protective coat. Also, take into account that there is another type of sealants out there you can choose from.

Second, we need to prime the cardboard. This is done with gesso which is a kind of white paint used to whiten the cardboard so that it may look like an original canvas. Once applied, you should wait 24 hours before adding the next layer to prevent any type of damage to the cardboard. Although some people would rather add the gesso directly to the carboard without applying a sealant which is ok, others choose to use nothing at all and draw directly unto the cardboard which is also ok. That said, Everyone has different preferences and styles. But making your cardboard waterproof will allow it to last longer especially if you will be using acrylic paint.

Gesso is prime paint made from chalk and a binder which gives your cardboard that canvas finished look. It’s recommended to add two coats of gesso if you will be painting with acrylic paints and four coats of gesso if you will be painting with oils. And for a smoother surface, it’s recommended to sandpaper the cardboard in between coats.

How to paint cardboard without warping?

Warping happens when the cardboard becomes bent or twisted as a result of dampness, this is the reason why it is recommended to coat cardboards with gesso and other primers one thin layer at a time to avoid damaging the cardboard, either you’re using acrylic, oil or spray paint.

Protecting your cardboard from moisture is important to avoid ruining your painting, especially if you spend hours and hours trying to complete your paint and also because it will last longer.

Many famous artists take this into consideration when using cardboard to create beautiful sculptures, illustrations, etc. they also consider if the cardboard is new or recycled.

So how to paint cardboard without warping, we listed some tips below: Select cardboard that is in good condition to work with. This is to ensure you get the best results when using cardboard.

Use enough primer. Although the cardboard needs to be coated one thin layer at a time and allowed 24 hours to dry, using enough primer will make your cardboard durable.

Make sure your cardboard is coated with some waterproof solution to avoid moisture and help the cardboard last longer using either a shellac solution or a lacquer spray.

Also, make sure the surface you’re working your cardboard on is dry and make sure you let it dry properly once done

Try not to add lots of water to your painting especially when using watercolor paints to avoid dampness.

When using colors, it is recommended to add them directly to the brush you’re using or on a separate color tray, this is to avoid dampness on the cardboard

There are also other types of solutions you can use to prevent your cardboard from warping such as acrylics and enamels. If using cans, you can just hold the can 12 inches away to apply a few thin layers to your cardboard.

So, these tips are to make you aware of the different types of methods available out there to use cardboards and as we learn, many people are starting to realize that they are really good to use. Many people would rather use cardboard cause it’s very versatile and it’s easily obtained plus, you’re protecting the environment by recycling cardboard, so make sure you used them for future projects, test it out and see what works best for you.

You can choose to make these products yourself or buy them from a retail store, depending on your budget, prices can range from $14 to $250+, if you prefer to go DIY, they are tons of tutorials videos online explaining how to make these products from scratch, maybe it’s something you’d like to do during the quarantine.

Whether your using cardboards to save some bucks or cause you care about the environment, or because you have some spare time to try it out, cardboards are a great alternative to use. We hope you’re able to find your style with these tips.

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