Instructables
Picture of Freehand Acrylic Painting for T-shirts
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I saw lots of instructables for using stencils on shirts.  Those are great, but some of us have short attention spans and prefer the instant gratification of seeing the color on the shirt quickly.

Some designs aren't suitable for stencils.

Don't tell me you can't draw or paint freehand.  I'm not inclined to believe you.  If you don't like how your first shirt turns out, keep practicing.  The thrift store around here sells plain t-shirts for a dollar each.  Textile medium costs a dollar at my craft store.  The acrylic paint I bought is $5.50 per tube, but they could paint hundreds of t-shirts.

Hopefully at least one of these techniques appeals to some of you and you're inclined to try  liberating yourself from the stencil.
 
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Step 1: Gather and Prepare the Materials

Picture of Gather and Prepare the Materials
You will need:

acrylic paint
textile medium
brushes
waxed paper
cardboard or something else thin and stiff that fits in your t-shirt
tape
water
folded paper towel (or other absorbent material)
t-shirt
water resistant paper plate or other item to use as a palette

If your t-shirt is new, it's a good idea to wash it.  Sometimes new shirts have a substance on them called sizing that hinders paint absorption.

Cut out your cardboard to fit the inside of your shirt.  I used some old pizza boxes for mine. Cover the cardboard with waxed paper and tape the waxed paper in place.  Slip the covered cardboard inside your shirt (the one you plan to paint, not the one you're wearing).

Arrange your paint, cup of water, brushes, palette, and textile medium so they're easy to reach.

My bottle of textile medium says to mix 2 parts medium with 1 part acrylic paint.  I estimate.  The textile medium makes the acrylic paint more flexible so it doesn't stiffen the fabric.  This makes it resistant to flaking off in some parts; acrylic paint already does a good job of permanently staining shirts.  Sometimes I mix the textile medium with the primary colors first.  Sometimes I mix it after I've mixed a color I want to use.  Either way works.

Excellent work. I love the Monty Python one especially. Just one question. Is it an African or a European swallow?

Awesome Hand Painting Just Two Mint Work. He is the greatest painter i hope you can not see like this painting in very short time. His name is BRUCE LEE. http://thisreals.com/awesome-hand-painting.php

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karenkwan017 months ago

how long if im ironing it? im painting one for my fav. kpop band lol

We are having a baby and currently have 2 boys and I'm going to have a lot of fun with this. Thank you
ash .k2 years ago
this is one of my works!!i love art and music!!
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feistydonut4 years ago
Ok I got brave and tried it:
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That is amazing! I haven't seen many Vader/fine art mashups before.
Awesome! a little bit Star Wars, a little bit Starry Starry Night
supersoftdrink (author)  feistydonut4 years ago
gorgeous! I love it!
This may be a stupid question, but do you let the shirt dry before ironing it/throwing it in the dryer?
Nelyan3 years ago
I should have read this through before commenting on the step in the start, I see a baby murloc now! <3 Do you have your art online anywhere? Like deviantart? You're really talented and creative, I'd like to see more of your work :)
Nelyan3 years ago
I LOVE the murloc! Maybe put a baby murloc (the ones with the cutest murloc-squeals) in a babybody?

Great 'ible, I feel inspired already.
Servitile3 years ago
Murloc! Yay!
alix-cool4 years ago
that is brilliant, i want to try it, what is textile meduim though, any idea where i could buy it?
supersoftdrink (author)  alix-cool4 years ago
Textile medium is something you mix with acrylic paint to make it more flexible and soft on fabric. It's not necessary, but it helps so the painted shirt isn't stiff at all. I find it at my local craft store in the section with acrylic craft paint. The bottle says "use only with this brand of acrylic paint," but that's a crock. Their brand of acrylic paint doesn't have enough pigment and is way too runny. It works with any type of acrylic.
class thanks alot, im so gonna try it
Screamo4 years ago
Ironing is soo much easier, I got this from another instructables and it works, Draw what you want on the rough side of sanding paper with a crayon, then iron the smooth side on the shirt.
supersoftdrink (author)  Screamo4 years ago
different techniques, different effects. I don't find painting difficult at all. :)
Then your tallented :) i cant pant at all i suck at it :( im ok at drawing though.
aramanthe4 years ago
I've been doing this sort of thing for years... I had a hoodie in highschool that was rather boring black, and I was bored one day in art class after finishing a piece using acrylic paints. So, I asked my art teacher if I could use a bit more, and he said yes. I walked out of class with a painted hoodie :) Stars on one sleeve and the hood, painted lacing on the other, and "watch me" painted on one pocket. I've never had a problem with flaking or flexibility, it just took quite a while to dry.

Best thing I've ever done to a hoodie, but I just might take the art back up here shortly.... :D
I have always thought about this...my thing is the AP's seem to dry out rather quickly. Do you use anything to slow the process?
Great Instructable!!!
supersoftdrink (author)  FullMoonCurse4 years ago
no, I just use small amounts of paint so I don't waste a lot.


I do use water often when I'm painting shirts, so that might help. I also paint fast... I don't get a whole lot of free time.
Meesy74 years ago
omg! their beautiful! great job!
feistydonut4 years ago
yay! I was going to start nagging you to write about your awesome shirt painting.
supersoftdrink (author)  feistydonut4 years ago
I wasn't going to (how does one tell others how to paint free hand??), but someone told me I had to. :)
ChrysN4 years ago
The Van Gogh oneis excellent, the robot is pretty cute too.
feistydonut4 years ago
Wow, such a great instructable. You are very talented.
I love your murloc shirt :D
BrittLiv4 years ago
Wow, I love the van Gogh one, very good work!