acrylic paints

You may have seen videos of people hydro dipping everything from shoes to guitars, with awesome colorful designs. If you want to try this fun craft at home with normal, safe, indoor-friendly acrylic paints, you’re in the right place.  

While you might not get exactly the same results with these methods, you can still have fun with hydro dipping and make some cool things

Here’s how to hydro dip with acrylic paint!

Can You Hydro Dip with Acrylic Paint? 

Yes! Many people think spray paint is required for hydro dipping, but it’s just the liquid form of what’s inside the cans that matters.  Knowing this, you can avoid the toxicity of spray paint, and all the extra gear such as gloves and respirator masks.  This also means you can hydro dip with kids indoors using these safer methods. 

Acrylic paint is usually heavier and needs to be thinned by mixing with water before adding it into your dipping water.  Depending on the paint you’re using, you may need to add some cornstarch or borax to add density to your water.  However, your water might not need anything at all — experiment to find out what works! 

In the next sections, we will talk about some different techniques for how to hydro dip with acrylic paint. 

Marbling 3D Objects

bucket with acrylic paint for hydro dipping

Paper marbling (AKA Suminagashi) is a centuries old printing method in which inks are transferred from the surface of water onto a sheet of paper laid upon it.  

You can use this method to make paper art (such as with the Aitoh Origami Marbling Kit), but here we’re going to try a variation where you can dip 3D objects. Preferably, you should use something small, flat, thin, and made of wood. You can use wood scraps, or make your own wood pieces to dip! 


For this method, you will need:  

  • A piece of wood to dip (use sandpaper for best results!)
  • A container large enough to dip the piece of wood (try a bucket or storage bin)
  • Cornstarch and water 
  • Acrylic paints 
  • Pipettes, toothpick, brush (anything to lay paint on the water and manipulate it)


  1. Make a cornstarch slurry by combining 2 parts cold water with 1 part cornstarch.  Here, use a quarter cup of cold water and add 2tbsp of cornstarch. Keep aside. 
  2. Heat 3 cups of water on the stove.  When it begins to boil, add the cornstarch slurry.  Stir until thick. 
  3. Take the thickened water off the stove and let it cool down completely. 
  4. Choose your paint colors.  Take a bean sized amount of each into separate containers.  Each color will have a different consistency so thin them with water till they are all equal.  Not too thin and not too thick. 
  5. Start laying the paints onto the cooled water one by one.  If they sink, they’re too heavy, so try thinning them again.  If they don’t show, they’re too thin, so add some more paint.  With the right consistency, they should float on the surface of the water. 
  6. Use a toothpick to gently swirl the paint into patterns you like. 
  7. Take your piece of wood and gently dip it in at an angle. 
  8. Lift up the paints ever so gently with the piece of wood, and out of the water.
  9. Let your piece dry. Acrylics are pretty fast drying so this shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes tops! 

That’s it! You don’t need aerosols of any kind. This is a quick, safe, and non-toxic method to having fun with hydro dipping. 

Paper Marbling 

marble art painting
(Credit: torange)

Marbling can be used to make some beautiful art on paper. If you’d like to give paper marbling a try, all you need is:

To make it more professional, try:

The steps will be similar to those for 3D marbling. Here there are: 

  1. Mix water and borax in a 1:3 ratio in the tray
  2. Choose acrylic colors and in separate ramekins.  Thin each color separately using water. Different colors have different consistencies, so try and get them all to the same consistency.
  3. Take a paintbrush, dip into a color, and tap the handle on your palm about an inch away from the water.  Let the paint splatter onto the water (if it doesn’t float, thin it even further).
  4. You can also gently dip the brush into the water and let the paint float away from the brush..
  5. (Optional) Swirl the paint around delicately with the other end of your paintbrush if you wish to create patterns.
  6. Lay the paper onto the water.  The paint should transfer onto the paper.  Peel back a corner and lift it off. 
  7. Lay it out to dry and admire your work!

So what can you do with this paper? Well, you can hang it of course. But you can also cut it up and use it for a journal or gift wrapping.  You can use it for origami and anything you’d use regular paper for.  That’s another acrylic hydro dipping technique for you. 

Purpose-Made Hydro Dipping Paints 

There’s another, near-magical method you can use to hydro dip. There are paints out there specifically formulated for hydro dipping! 

DipDoctr Non-Toxic Hydro Dip Paint

If you are looking for non-toxic and kid-friendly hydro dipping paint, check out our very own here: DipDoctr No-Spray-Paint Hydro Dipping Kit. It works on fabric shoes, hats, shirts, totes, wood, unfinished ceramics, unfinished leather, and styrofoam. The results are great!

Marabu Easy Marble Paint

guitar being dipped
(Credit: Traq Guitars)

Check out Marabu Easy Marble paints that come in 15ml bottles of 6 colors, great for beginners. This paint doesn‘t require adding anything into the water, nor does it require any thinning to adjust consistency. So all you have to do is gently drop it straight onto the water, and you’re ready to dip your object!  It’s dry to the touch within 15 minutes and completely dry within 24 hours. 

These paints can be used on 3D objects and can work just as well as spray paint on some materials, mainly wood. However, be aware that results may vary depending on the paint composition, the items you dip, and your overall hydro dipping technique.  In addition, like spray paints, Marabu paints contain toxic solvents so please be cautious if you use them.

Alternative Methods

If you are looking to get more advanced with your hydro dipping projects, there are more methods which don’t require spray paint:

  • Enamel paint with borax method — Oil based enamels float on a borax-water mix to produce extraordinary swirls.  Often used on guitar bodies, this method has wide applications and is used by professionals.   
  • Nail polish method — Who knew your everyday beauty essential could double as fast drying, resilient, glossy paint for hydro dipping? Try this set.
  • Hydrographic film method (still requires aerosol activator) — This is the method that started it all, and is still the only way to get the most complex and customized prints. 

SUGGESTED: How to Hydro Dip WITHOUT Spray Paint | 5 Fun Methods


Hydro dipping is an amazing painting technique, and there are lots of ways to do it.  Spray paint may be a popular method, but aerosolized chemicals are dangerous and require proper handling, which may not be suitable for everyone.  

These acrylic hydro dipping alternatives are easy, safe, and provide great effects — all with the same fun experience of hydro dipping! 

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