Metallic paints can be used to add shine, sparkle, or a sophisticated finish to all kinds of art and craft projects, from mixed-media painting to clay jewelry to furniture to murals. 

Wondering about painting with metallic paint techniques, or what kinds of projects are best for metallic paint? Read on for guidance and inspiration. 

What Is Metallic Paint?

Metallic paint is paint that includes tiny particles of metal that create a shimmering, metallic effect. They can be the same color as a metal (such as silver, bronze, or gold), or mixed with other pigments to create a metallic sheen on all different types of hues.

There are various types of metallic paint, including:

  • Inks
  • Watercolors
  • Acrylics
  • Powder
  • Spray
  • Oil pastels
  • Markers and pens
  • Wall paint
  • Furniture/wood paint
  • Metal leaf (which isn’t a paint, but can be used alongside paints)

When painting with metallic paint, you’ll use techniques that are similar to how you’d paint with non-metallic paints. In other words, using metallic acrylic paints is similar to using regular acrylic paints. It’s a good idea to do some test swatches first, so you know how much paint to use and how far the metallic pigment goes.

In addition to these tangible types of metallic paint, you can also find metallic paint effects in art and design software like Procreate and Photoshop.

Acrylic Metallic Paints

Upgrey metallic paints are a popular brand of acrylic metallic paints. They come in many colors and are suitable for painting on paper, canvas, plastic, wood, and fabric.

Water-Based Metallic Paint

Popular art supplies brands like Faber Castell and Crayola produce water-based metallic paints, often in the form of a pen, that can be used to paint a wide range of surfaces. 

Metallic Oil Paint

Top paint brands Winsor & Newton and Gamblin produce metallic oil paints in various colors. These paints create very different effects depending on whether they’re painted over light or dark surfaces.

Metallic Ink

Various brands produce metallic inks, or pens that draw in metallic ink, but Winsor & Newton’s bottle inks are particularly good quality. They’re ideal for calligraphic projects. 

Embossing Powder

Embossing powders are mainly used to add metallic touches to paper. Brands such as Ranger Ink, WOW!, and Lindy’s Gang produce a wide range of colors.

Spray Paint

Spray metallic paints are convenient for putting an even coat on a larger surface area. They’re suitable for painting on metal, wood, stone, glass, ceramic, paper, cardboard, and various plastics. MoTip Dupli Metallic Lacquer Spray is a leading brand.

Furniture Paint

If you’re wondering what kind of metallic paint to use when painting furniture, Fusion Mineral Paint is a favorite among artists. It uses pure mica pigments and is available in nine shades.

Interior Metallic Paints

PPG Paints’ Metallic Tones interior paints come in a wide range of colors. They can be used to paint entire accent walls or to add details to smaller areas. Another metallic paint for home interiors is Dulux Design Metallic Effect Paints, available in a range of brown and grey hues.

Enhance Your Art With Metallic Paint

Touches of Metallic Magic

What Do You Use Metallic Paint For?

In short, almost anything! While you may want to use metallic paints in large quantities to complete an entire project, it’s more common to use a touch of metallic paint to add shine and high-impact detail to a multimedia artwork or piece of furniture. Here are just a few examples.

Mixed-Media Art on Paper

lady
Student work by Tante Madam for Touches of Metallic Magic.

Here, metallic ink has been used to enhance a watercolor and ink illustration. Artist Amarilys Henderson teaches a class on how to add metallic accents to your art.

Metallic Watercolor Cards

stationary
Add magical metallic painting touches to holiday cards. 

These holiday cards and gift tags—a quick and easy metallic painting project—were created with metallic watercolor paints.

Metallic Paint on Black

black paper
Metallic paints are striking on a black background.

Whether you use them for paintings or calligraphy, metallic paints and inks stand out on a black background.

Metallic Ink Painting

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This work of art was created with metallic alcohol inks.

Abstract artist Lois Gardiner teaches you how to use alcohol-based inks in metallic hues—gold, brass, and silver—to create fluid effects on paper.

Metallic Calligraphy

gold foil A
Enhance calligraphy with metallic touches.

This calligraphic monogram combines traditional watercolor inks with metallic inks.

Night Scenes

nightscapes
Embellish a night scene with metallic accents.

Metallic paints can be used to give the impression of a shining moon, street lights in the dark, or twinkling stars.

Polymer Clay Beetles

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Paint your finished beetles with metallic paint. 

Some beetles have a wonderfully metallic sheen. To create that effect when making a beetle from polymer clay, paint the finished piece with metallic acrylic paint.

Furniture Restoration

dresser
Source: Instagram
Wondering what kind of metallic paint to use when painting furniture? Rose gold is always a good idea!

When restoring or upcycling an old piece of furniture, metallic paint can turn an ordinary piece into something special and luxurious. 

Interior Accent Wall

bed
Source: instagram
The wall behind the bed has been painted with metallic paint.

When redecorating the interior of your home, a metallic accent wall can add light and brightness to a space.

Bonus Examples: No Metallic Paint Required!

Digital Painting

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Create metallic effects digitally.

If you’re confident using software like Procreate or Photoshop, you can add metallic embellishments to your digital artwork. 

Metallic Effect with Ordinary Watercolors 

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How to make metallic objects, watercolor painting tips. Student work by Elisabetta Furcht for How to Paint Metallic Tones in Watercolor.

If you don’t have metallic paints and you’re wondering how to make metallic objects, watercolor painting of the more traditional kind is a great substitute. Artist Katherine Rodgers teaches you how to mix and paint vibrant metallic tones using the watercolors you already have.

Artists Who Use Metallic Paint in Their Art

Lois Gardiner

blue abstract
Source: Instagram
Metallic alcohol ink painting.

Lois Gardiner is an abstract artist who is inspired by nature. She teaches a couple of Skillshare classes, including one that shows you how to use metallic alcohol ink.

John Sabraw

glass squares
Sourcee: Instagram
John Sabraw uses metals such as gold, as well as coal, in his work.

John Sabraw is an artist, painter, and environmental activist from the UK. His paintings, drawings, and collaborative installations are produced in an eco-conscious way, and some of his recent work includes creating paint and paintings from iron oxide extracted in the process of remediating polluted streams.

Kristina Carroll

gold lady
Source: Instagram
Oil and gold leaf on canvas.

Kristina Carroll is an award-winning artist who specializes in art with a fantastic, surrealist, and symbolist aesthetic. Many of her figure paintings use gold leaf and metallic paints alongside oil paints. 

Lisa Laughy

wood carving
Source: instagram
Metallic details on a wood carving.

Lisa Laughy is a woodwork and print artist who uses traditional hand tools and methods in her carving—along with metallic paints to add details to her larger work.

Sarah Bolton

cabinets
Source: Instagram
Nightstand tables painted with bronze metallic paint.

Furniture artist Sarah Bolton often uses metallic furniture paints to furniture to give them an extra wow factor.

Get Started With Metallic Paints!

Touches of Metallic Magic

Written By

Elen Turner

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