How to use Crackle Effect in your painting

How to use Crackle Effect in your painting

Artists who work in texture usually want to know about the crackle effect if they don’t already know how.

Crackle painting is a faux painting technique that produces a finish that looks like old cracked paint with older layers of paint showing through. Its not just for abstract work nor is it just to make things look old in still life style works either.

Commonly, crackle paint is used on furniture, cabinetry or on accent trim and molding but makes an awesome effect in artwork also. Supplies are readily available at almost any art store or hardware supplier. Gordon Harris and Spotlight have different types of crackle medium. Depending on the effect you hope to achieve, you would use different types of medium. The Golden range has a wonderful thick paste type medium that works well for a dry earth type effect with deep crevices while rabbit skin glue and other types that are painted on in-between coats of paint are good for a more controlled effect. I like the Jo Sonya crackle medium for most effects as well as the golden paste one.

Learning to use the crackle painting technique is simple enough to learn.

Step 1

Choose what paint, crackling medium and other materials you want to use. You need to choose two different paint colours, an undercoat that will show through the crackling, and a top coat colour that will be the crackled paint. They need to be quite different for you to be able to see ( i.e. a white background with a black topcoat will show up really really well.) The crackling medium itself is colourless. The golden paste is an opaque white but we will deal with the more traditional method in this post.

Step 2

Cover and mask surfaces you do not want to paint. Use masking tape to mask surfaces immediately adjacent to the surface you'll be painting.

Step 3

Apply the undercoat colour according to the paint instructions. Allow to dry for approximately 4 hours.

Step 4

Apply the crackling medium. Use a paintbrush to give a directional effect to the crackling, or use a roller to achieve more uniform crackling. Allow to dry at least 1 hour but no more than 6 hours to apply the finishing coat.

Step 5

Apply the top coat. Apply the paint thickly for more crackling, or apply the top coat paint thinly for subtle crackling. The direction you paint in will be the direction the paint will crackle in so keep this in mind if it matters which way you want it to go. Work quickly and with a large brush for this as going back over the crackle medium will often lift it and it wont crackle effectively if at all.

Step 6

Remove the masking tape after a few minutes, while the paint is still fresh. Do not wait for the crackle painted area to dry completely, as this may cause the fresh paint to lift off with the masking tape.

Step 7

Allow the crackle painted surface to dry completely. You can then varnish it, although do be aware that varnish will make it crackle even more, a good thing if that’s what you want, not so good if it isn’t!

Check out this video on how to do a type of crackle effect 

crackle effect video tutorial 

The attached image is an abstract floral piece using crackle effect as its base. In Another Lifetime III by Collette Fergus

In Another Lifetime III

Posted: Sunday 21 February 2010


No messages found!


Buy Me a Coffee at

If you like what you see, please 'buy me a coffee'  by clicking on the button above (it's a tiny donation) which will help me continue to create more art