How To Paint Air Dry Clay? (Step by Step Guide)

Air-dry clay is a crafting material that is amazing, cheap, and convenient to use especially for children.

To cure it, you do not require an oven or kiln which makes it suitable for making great projects at home.

However, a project cannot be complete until it’s painted.

In this article, I will inform you about what you need to understand to paint and color an air-dry clay project.

DISCLOSURE: is reader supported so if you buy any products featured on this site I may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.

Step by Step Guide to Painting Air Dry Clay

Air-dry clay can be painted in two ways – you can directly paint it or paint the clay before you dry it.

Paint Type

I would recommend utilizing acrylic paints or Tempera paints.

These paints are all great but acrylic paints are widely available.

It is important to allow the air-dry clay to dry completely before you get down to painting the sculpture.

If necessary, do not mix the paints with water.

Instead, you can mix them to try out various colors.

The reason behind this is if you add too much water to the dried clay, the clay could soften which increases the likelihood of getting cracks when the clay dries again.

If you’re not careful, you could end up ruining your project.

Brush Types

Always use good brushes. When painting air-dry clay, ensure that you use brushes that will not leave behind any hair and one that will apply your paint evenly.

You can test the brush by pulling on its hair slightly.

If the hair easily comes out then it means that that brush is not suitable for your project.

A decent brush for painting does not cost much and you can use it for a long time if you correctly about it.

Sealing The Paint

After the paint has dried, you need to seal it.

If you do not seal it well, the paint will eventually peel off. Also, over time, the sun will change its color and water can as well wash the parts of the paint.

Therefore, properly sealing it is crucial. I usually prefer using acrylic or varnish spray sealer to seal my works.

Varnish is great to use since it is easy to apply using a brush and your colors will be sealed especially from sun and water.

You can obtain varnish at any hardware store. Varnish is usually used to seal the wood but you can also use a myriad of materials with it.

If you have varnish matt, then you only need to apply a single layer of it. I’ve never experienced any problems with a glossy varnish.

Apply varnish only after the paint has completely dried.

Can You Paint Clay Before It’s Dried?

Can you paint clay before it’s dried? The answer is yes, you can.

You just need to add acrylic paint to the air-dry clay that is still wet and gently knead it until it changes color.

Keep kneading until the paint is evenly spread. Select the best type of clay to paint.

White air-dry clay is the most suitable type if you want to achieve great results.

This is because white clay accepts color as compared to any other type of clay.

I would not particularly recommend the use of alcohol-based or oil-based paints because it could interfere with the process of drying and your work could end up becoming brittle once it has dried.

Therefore, use water-based paints and add acrylic color to your clay.