How to color air dry clay

Clay that is let to air-dry is a fantastic, low-cost, and simple medium for creative expression, particularly for youngsters. Wonderful crafts may be made at home without using a kiln or oven and can be fired in a regular oven if desired.

However, most projects aren’t considered finished until they’ve been coloured, so in this post, we’ll go over all you need to know about coloring and colouring your masterpiece made out of air-dry clay.

Colouring on air-dry clay is best accomplished using acrylic colour or markers made of acrylic paint since these media provide the best results. It is possible to colour right on top of the air-dried clay. Sometimes, several coats of colour are necessary to achieve complete coverage. After the paint has had sufficient time to cure, you may next cover it with an acrylic sealer.

How to colour air-dry clay step-by-step:

  • Examine the air-dried clay to ensure it has reached its final, dehydrated state.
  • Allow the clay to air-dry entirely before decorating it with acrylic colour.
  • When more colour is required, you should take advantage of it.
  • It is recommended that an acrylic sealant be applied to the whole sculpture.

Keep reading for more instructions that go into greater depth!

How-to-Paint color-Air-Dry-Clay

How to colour Air-Dry Clay

There are two different approaches to colouring your air-dried clay. You may colour clay while it is still wet or colour it after it has dried. These are your two options for colouring clay.

Both strategies are relatively straightforward and may be carried out using colours and other art supplies that are inexpensive and easy to get.

We suggest using acrylic or tempera colours when colouring air-dry clay because of their versatility. These colours are fantastic for various reasons; however, acrylic paints are often more straightforward than oil paints.

Make sure that the air-dried clay has reached its maximum level of dryness.

Wait until the air-dried clay has wholly cured before you begin colouring the sculpture.

When the colour of the air-dried clay is uniform throughout, and there are no darker areas, this indicates that the clay has reached its final state of complete drying. It is recommended that you wait at least three days before colouring the clay if you are hesitant.

Colouring with acrylic straight away on top of the air-dried clay.

If you can avoid it at all costs, combining colour with water is something we strongly advise against doing. On the other hand, you may combine them to get a wide variety of colours.

This is because dried clay subjected to excessive water might begin to soften, and then when it is dried again, it can form cracks. Make sure to use extreme caution so that you don’t end up damaging your project.

Use brushes of a high grade when applying colour consistently and without leaving behind brush hairs.

You can determine whether or not the brush is suitable for usage by giving it a little tug on the hair and seeing how readily the hair comes out. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on a good brush, and if you take care of it properly, it will last very long.

Each layer of the brush must have the same width. If the first layer of colour isn’t enough to cover the surface, you must wait until the first one is dry before applying the second.

Make use of the additional colour if and when it is required.

After the first try, you may find that some or all of your acrylic colour doesn’t cover. This is most evident with vivid hues like lemon yellow and lime green.

Suppose you make a mistake when colouring; don’t stress out; colour over the old coat after the new one has dried. You may use as many layers as you want. Sealing the whole sculpture with acrylic sealer is a requirement.

multi colored air clay

A sealer has to be applied once the colour has been cured.

Inadequate protection might cause the colour to flake, and water can also cause harm. As a result, it is crucial to seal the area properly. Our artwork is often sealed with varnish or an acrylic spray sealer.

Varnish is fantastic since it can be found at any hardware store and applied with a colour brush. UV and moisture may quickly fade coloured surfaces, but varnish can keep them looking fresh for much longer.

Vinegar may be found at any hardware shop. While varnish is most often used to protect the wood, it may also be used to seal many other substrates. You may get gloss or spray-on Varnish from places like Amazon or your neighbourhood hardware shop.

Avoid using many coats of matte varnish since certain products tend to dry hazy if you do. For best effects, a single coat of matte varnish is needed.

You may also get varnish with a glossy finish, which, once dry, reveals the base colour underneath.

Make sure the colour is dry before applying the varnish.

Apply the varnish when the colour has dried. It might take up to a day for your design to dry entirely, but once it does, it will be sealed and waterproof. Once your air-dry clay has been coloured, you may seal it with an acrylic sealer. It’s not as obvious, but once you locate it, it’s straightforward to implement.

Put a thin layer of acrylic sealant over the whole surface of the clay sculpture, and then let it dry. To ensure complete coverage, spray extra sealant coatings on top of the first application. Once you let the dye dry, it won’t run.

Is it possible to colour air-dry clay before it completely dries?

Depending on how extensive the job is, it could take more than two days for air-dry clay to dry out entirely. Therefore, would it be a good idea to colour air-dry clay before it has had a chance to dry?

Is it possible to colour air-dry clay before it completely dries? The most straightforward response to this question is that you should not do it. Clay that has been allowed to air-dry before being coloured could become somewhat misshapen if the colour is applied first. If you’re not careful, the colour might also cause the clay to dry incorrectly, leading to cracks.

The vast majority of colours often used for colouring clay, such as acrylic, are water-based. This means that when the colour is placed on the clay, it will cause the clay to absorb water from the colour.

If the clay is still damp after you coloured water on it, it will absorb the water from the colour. As a direct result, one piece of the clay now has a little higher percentage of water than the other parts.

This might lead to cracks in the clay as it dries, and the completed colouring will have a strange look due to the colour drying unevenly. to prevent any kind of cracks in your air dried clay you need to read my post as it will help you prevent any cracking and keep your artifacts safe.

When you colour the sculpture, you run the danger of accidentally distorting it since the moist surface of the clay is very malleable while it is still wet.

Colouring Clay before it dries

To add colour to your clay product, you may also colour the clay before shaping and drying it.

Therefore, is it feasible to colour air-dry clay before its drying? There is a straightforward response: Certainly. Knead the air-dry clay with acrylic colour while still wet until the colour changes. To uniformly spread the pigment, attempt to knead it. White clay is ideal for colouring since it accepts colour easier than other varieties of clay. Colouring clay is surprisingly simple.

  • To colour your clay, you may use any colour soluble in water.
  • We do not recommend using oil- or alcohol-based colours since these may hinder clay from drying correctly and cause it to become brittle after it has hardened.

Typically, we use acrylic colour to impart water-based colour to clay. Then, knead the clay to disperse the colour properly.

After colouring the clay to your liking, shape it into the desired shape and allow it to cure. Due to the water-based colour, drying may take a little longer than usual, but once dry, the clay will be as solid as usual.

air dry clay colored

Does Air-Dry Clay Need to Be Sealed Before colouring?

Air-dried clay doesn’t need to be sealed before colouring. In actuality, colouring the clay after it has hardened would be more challenging. Colour the clay with a water-based colour to protect it against water, sunshine, and scuffs before applying acrylic sealer or varnish.

Which Colour Is Best For colouring on Air-Dry Clay?

Water-based colours, such as tempera or acrylic, are generally considered the best option for use with air-dry clay. However, after the colour has dried, it has to be sealed if it is water-based. Spray colour, latex, or enamels may also be used; further sealing is not required for these applications

In most circumstances, we recommend working with water-based acrylic or similar colour. These colours are not difficult to work with, can be purchased for an affordable price and can be found in almost any craft store or art supply store.

However, water-based colour has to be sealed when it has dried completely. They risk being chipped off, peeled off, or even washed away if they are not sealed. When applied to air-dried clay, they have the most significant disadvantage.

If you don’t want to varnish the sculpture when you’re done with it, you may colour it using enamels, latex, or spray colour instead. After the paints have dried completely, they will automatically form a protective coating. Enamels will have a translucent layer that will resemble varnish, while latex colour will have a coating that looks like rubber.

Colours that dry slowly, such as latex or enamels, may also be used, even though they are more challenging to work with and come at a higher cost than colours made from water-based substances.

Sealing Air-Dry Colored Clay

There are several techniques for sealing air-dry clay, and the one that is most appropriate for the task at hand or the colour used may differ from case to case. The majority of the time, when we needed to seal air-dry clay, we would choose the most straightforward method.

How is coloured clay that has been air-dried sealed? Clay that has been air-dried may be sealed using various processes. Utilizing varnish or an acrylic sealer is the least complicated method. In addition, you might use liquid epoxy to establish a more robust seal if you want to do so. Because of all these sealants, the clay will be resistant to water, and the base colour of the coloured clay will be preserved.

Tempera-colored-Air-Dry-Clay inspection for sealing the paint post drying

how to bake air dried clay easily


  • Can clay that dries naturally be coloured?

Experiment freely with the several pre-colouring techniques available for air-dry clay! You may get a vibrant shade using acrylic, tempera, or poster colours. Oil colours may also be used for basic colouring. However, they are more challenging to clean. If you like a vivid tone, choose oil or acrylic colour designed for artists.

  • Can food colouring be used for air-dried clay?

Place each piece of clay on a clean dish and cover it with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out during use. Mix a few drops of liquid or gel food colouring into the clay using a spoon or spatula.

  • Can you put acrylic colour on air-dried clay?

According to our findings, tempera or acrylic colours work best for embellishing air-dry clay. The tempera colours are ideal for youngsters since they are inexpensive and easy to apply.

  • How do you add colour to clay?

To make coloured clay, you need to add a stain or oxide to your clay. Pigments and oxides come in powdered form. They can be added to the clay as a powder or made into a paste or slip. And then added to the clay in liquid form.

  • Can I colour air-dry clay before it dries?

The short answer to this question is no. Before you mould a lump of air-dry clay, you moisten it just enough to get it soft. After you mould it, you leave it be to dry and harden. But when you try to colour it before it dries, you are introducing more moisture to it.

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