A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Polymer Clay: Learn How to Transform your Clay Figurines Now!

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Date: September 26, 2023
  • Time to read: 22 min.
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Painting polymer clay requires the right materials and techniques. Using a matte or gloss varnish, a brush, and quality acrylic paints will make it easier to achieve the desired color and finish.

Begin by cleaning and sanding the object’s surface to ensure you have a smooth base for painting. After this step is complete, apply two coats of primer before adding your chosen acrylic paints. You can mix colors and create layers with multiple hues if desired.Polymer Clay

For an even coat and realistic texture, use short strokes in one direction when applying each layer of paint. Allow for some drying time between coats so that the surface remains smooth. Once all layers are on, brush on a layer of clear-coat sealer.

To make sure your colors are protected and last longer, you can also apply a top coat of varnish—either matte or gloss. If you want to protect the painting further, opt for an additional layer of wax. This will make sure that bacteria and other environmental elements cannot damage the paint’s finish.

Painting polymer clay is a great way to create beautiful objects with vibrant colors. Follow these steps carefully to ensure that your project turns out perfect every time!

Do I paint Polymer Clay before or after baking?

The answer to this question depends on the type of paint being used. Acrylic and other water-based paints can be applied before baking, while oil-based paints are best applied after baking. If you decide to paint before baking, make sure you use a sealant or varnish over the painted surface once it has been baked, as this will help protect the paint and give it an even finish.

If you choose to paint after baking, it’s important to take extra steps in order to ensure that the painting adheres properly – lightly sanding the piece before painting can help with this process. Once your painting is complete, apply a coat of sealant or varnish; again, this will help protect the paint and give it an even finish.

It’s important to remember that no matter which painting method you choose, the painted surface must be sealed with a clear sealant or varnish in order to ensure that the paint stays intact over time. Now you have all the information necessary to make your own beautiful, customized polymer clay creations! Happy creation!

Can you bake Polymer Clay with acrylic paint on it?

Yes, you can bake polymer clay with acrylic paint on it. However, before baking the polymer clay, make sure to thoroughly dry the painted pieces so that no moisture remains. Also, be aware that some acrylic paints are not meant to be heat-set and may bubble or crack when baked. Therefore, if you want a durable finish that won’t fade over time, we recommend using an air-dry paint specifically made for Polymer Clay projects. Furthermore, baking times vary depending on your oven and the thickness of your project’s layers; therefore it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and test small sections of your piece at a time until you’ve found the correct temperature and baking duration. Lastly, always remember to use an oven thermometer to ensure that the oven temperature is accurate and consistent.

After baking, you can seal your project with a glossy finish to protect it from scratches, moisture and fading. While there are many sealants available on the market, some of the most popular include glazes, gloss varnishes and polymer gloss sprays. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results. And remember: always test products in an inconspicuous area before use!

Do you need to seal paint on Polymer Clay?

Yes, it is essential to seal paint on Polymer Clay. When using acrylic paints, you can use a matte or gloss finish sealer after the painting is complete. This will help to protect the paint from scratches and chipping over time. For oil-based paints, you can use a polymer varnish that is designed for this purpose. For best results, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the sealant. Additionally, it is important to allow ample time for each layer of paint and sealant to dry before moving on to the next step. Taking your time with this process will give you better results in the end.

Are there any special techniques used for painting on Polymer Clay?

Yes, there are some special techniques to keep in mind when painting on Polymer Clay. It is important to first use a primer that can adhere to the clay and help the paint stick better. You will also want to ensure that each coat of paint is thin and even, as this will ensure the best results. Additionally, you may want to experiment with different applicator tools such as brushes or sponges for creating various effects. Finally, be sure not to overload your brush or sponge with too much paint at once; this could cause streaks or smears on your piece. Taking time and care throughout the process will help you achieve beautiful results!

Can you paint Polymer Clay with nail polish?

Yes, you can paint polymer clay with nail polish as long as the clay is cured. Cured polymer clay is a type of plastic that has been baked at the correct temperature for a specific period of time, resulting in a hardened material. The process of curing the clay helps to ensure that the paint will stick more securely and last longer.Polymer Clay

When painting polymer clay with nail polish, it is important to select an acrylic-based formula. This type of nail polish will adhere better than other options and help provide a smooth finish. Before beginning to paint, apply a sealant layer over your cured polymer clay sculpture or object. This sealant layer should be allowed some time to dry before painting.

Once painted, allow enough time for the paint to fully dry before handling or sealing. It is also beneficial to use a clear sealant over the painted object as this will help maintain its vibrancy and protect it from damage. With proper care, nail polish can provide a great way to add colors and design elements to polymer clay art projects.

Overall, painting polymer clay with nail polish can be done with success as long as the clay has been cured properly and an acrylic based nail polish is used. Additionally, applying a sealant layer before painting and a clear top coat after will help ensure that your design remains vibrant and secure for many years.

Hope this helps! Have fun creating your beautiful polymer clay art!

What type of paint do you use on Polymer Clay?

When it comes to painting polymer clay, you have a few options. You can use acrylic paints, craft paint, or oil-based paints. Acrylic paints are the most common type of paint to use on polymer clay because they are water based and easy to clean up with soap and water. Craft paints may also work well depending on the brand and quality of paint used. Oil-based paints require solvents for cleanup, so they aren’t as user friendly. All of these types of paint will work well when applied correctly; however, if you want your project to last longer, consider using a sealer over top of the painted area once dry. This will help keep the colors vibrant and prevent wear and tear from regular use.

Before you get started painting, make sure to condition the clay by kneading and rolling it until it is soft and pliable. This will help create an even surface for your paint, making it easier to apply. Then let the clay air dry or use a craft oven for a quicker drying process. Once the clay is dry and cool to the touch, start painting! Work in layers if you’re using multiple colors, allowing each layer to dry completely before adding on more paint. Finally, seal your project with a sealer spray or brush-on sealant once all of the paint has had time to cure properly. And that’s it – you have now successfully learned how to paint polymer clay!

Should I prime Polymer Clay before painting?

It is not necessary to prime polymer clay before painting. However, it can be beneficial depending on the desired effect and surface characteristics you are looking for in your finished product. Priming can help ensure a smoother finish and truer colors when the paint is applied. It also helps to create a more even surface that will adhere better over time.

There are several different types of primers available for use with polymer clay, including gesso, air-dry acrylics, spray paints, and other specialized products. The choice of primer will depend on the type of paint you plan to use and the end result you want to achieve. For example, if you plan to use oil-based paints then an oil-based primer would be the best choice.

If you decide to prime your polymer clay project, it is best to apply the primer in several thin coats rather than one thick coat. This will help create a more even surface and allow for better adhesion of the paint. Allow each coat of primer to fully dry before applying additional coats or painting over it. After all coats are applied, sand lightly with very fine-grit sandpaper before painting if desired for an even smoother finish.

Once primed, use either acrylic paints formulated for use on polymer clay (such as Sculpey Premo Accents) or other water-based paints such as craft paints or artist grade acrylics on cured clay projects. When using these types of paints, it is best to apply several thin coats rather than one thick coat. Allow each coat of paint to dry thoroughly before adding additional coats or applying a sealant. For even more vibrant colors, consider using alcohol inks on unprimed clay surfaces.

No matter which painting technique you choose, take care to properly cure the polymer clay after painting for the best results and added durability. After curing, apply a sealant if desired for extra protection from wear and tear.

Polymer clay can be an incredibly versatile material when it comes to art projects – with proper preparation and techniques, you can create artwork that is both beautiful and long-lasting! Keep these tips in mind as you explore all the creative possibilities of crafting with polymer clay!

Happy Crafting!

Why is my Polymer Clay sticky after painting?

Polymer clay can become sticky after painting for a number of reasons. Paint may not have been thoroughly mixed and incorporated into the polymer clay, leading to a tacky texture. Additionally, paint may not be properly sealed or cured on the surface of the clay causing it to remain sticky. Finally, if anything is applied over wet paint such as sealant or glaze this can also lead to stickiness.Polymer Clay

To avoid sticky surfaces, make sure you mix your paint well with the polymer clay before baking. Be sure that all areas of the clay have received an even coat of paint and have had enough time to cure completely before applying any additional mediums. When in doubt, leave extra curing time for best results!

Can Polymer Clay air dry?

Polymer clay cannot air dry on its own. It must be cured in an oven or with a heat gun for the material to become hard and durable. Generally, most polymer clays need to be heated up to at least 265 degrees Fahrenheit (129 degrees Celsius) for 15 minutes per 1/4-inch thickness of clay. To ensure that it is completely cured, use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the clay when baking. If you are using a heat gun instead of an oven, hold the gun 8-10 inches away from the clay and keep it moving over the surface until all parts are heated evenly and thoroughly. Before curing your project, make sure that any items added as decorations can withstand high temperatures; if they cannot, use superglue or epoxy to attach them instead.

After curing the clay, allow it to cool down before handling or decorating it further. The finished product will be hard and durable enough for everyday wear and tear. Follow the instructions on your specific brand of polymer clay for best results. Enjoy expressing yourself with this versatile medium!

Should you gesso Polymer Clay before painting?

Gessoing Polymer Clay before painting is not necessary. However, there are some benefits to doing so. Gesso is a primer made of white acrylic paint and a binder, such as glue or gums. It provides an even surface for the paint to stick to, which makes it easier to create smooth, finished pieces with less brushstrokes showing. Additionally, applying gesso can reduce the amount of time it takes to finish your project because you don’t have to wait for each layer of paint to dry before you start the next one. Lastly, gesso will help protect your painted piece from scratches and wear over time since it acts as a sealer that keeps out dirt and moisture. If you are looking for an even smoother finish, be sure to sand the clay with a fine grit sandpaper after gessoing.

In conclusion, whether or not you should gesso Polymer Clay before painting is a personal preference. If you are looking for the best chance of success with your project and want to produce professional results, then gessoing is recommended. However, if you are short on time or want a more rustic look, then it’s perfectly acceptable to skip this step. Ultimately, it all comes down to what look you’re going for and how much effort you want to put into achieving it! Good luck in creating your masterpiece!

Can you Rebake Polymer Clay after painting?

Yes, you can rebake polymer clay after painting it. The process of re-baking the painted clay is known as ‘curing’ or ‘firing’. This involves baking the clay in a toaster oven at the recommended temperature and time specified on the packaging. When curing polymer clay, it is important to use an oven thermometer to ensure that the temperature remains consistent throughout the process. After firing, your piece will be permanently hardened and sealed for protection. It should not need any additional sealant or varnish for protection. However, if you are looking to add a glossy surface finish then applying a coat of sealant or varnish may help achieve this effect. Keep in mind though that some sealants or varnishes are not suitable for use with cured polymer clay, so it is important to check the packaging before using them.

If you want to add a coloured effect to your piece, then some paints and varnishes can be applied after the firing process has been completed. Again, just make sure that you check the instructions on the product packaging to ensure that they are compatible with cured polymer clay. With these tips in mind, painting and re-baking polymer clay should be a breeze! Good luck and happy crafting!

Can Polymer Clay get wet after baking?

No, once polymer clay is baked in the oven according to instructions, it will become waterproof. This means that the clay should not get wet, as this can cause it to lose its original shape and color. If you want to clean your finished piece, use a dry cloth or soft brush. Do not submerge the piece in water! Polymer clay should also be kept away from direct heat sources such as radiators and hairdryers, as these can damage the surface of the material. Additionally, note that some paints used on polymer clay may contain solvents that could dissolve or cloud the finish if exposed to excessive moisture after curing. Always allow enough time for the paint to cure before exposing it to humidity or wet conditions.

It is also important to be aware that some finishes and sealants may alter the surface of the clay, so it is best to test these products on a sample before using them on your project. Finally, remember that polymer clay can become brittle over time with excessive handling, so handle finished pieces with care.

Is Polymer Clay waterproof once baked?

Once polymer clay has been baked, it is waterproof. This means that projects using this material can be used outdoors and in humid environments without risk of damage. It also makes the clay suitable for use in making jewelry and other items which will come into contact with water. Polymer clay takes on an incredibly hard finish once cured in the oven and if properly sealed can last a lifetime. Use sealers specifically designed for polymer clays or clear acrylic spray paint to protect your creations from moisture and wear and tear. Be sure to read packaging instructions before applying any sealer as some may require additional baking time after application.

Can I use water on Polymer Clay?

Yes, you can use water to dilute paints and some glues for Polymer Clay. However, you should avoid using too much water as it could make the clay soft or sticky. It would be best to use a damp cloth or brush instead of directly applying water on the clay. Additionally, you should also be careful when mixing different types of mediums with the polymer clay as they may react in an unexpected way. Finally, if you do decide to use water, ensure that you dry the clay completely before adding any kind of paint or sealant because wet clay is highly vulnerable to staining.

Do you glaze Polymer Clay after baking?

Yes, you can glaze Polymer Clay after baking. Glazing is an optional step if you want to give your creation a glossy or matte finish. You can either use store-bought glazes that are made specifically for Polymer Clay, or mix up a batch of homemade glaze using common items like white school glue and water. Before applying the glaze, make sure to sand any rough edges on the clay with very fine-grain sandpaper. To apply the glaze, you can either brush it onto the surface of the clay or dip it into a container filled with the mixture. Once applied, let the piece dry completely before handling it again!Polymer Clay

In addition to giving your piece a beautiful finish, glazing can also help to protect the clay from scratches and wear and tear. Keep in mind, however, that glazing won’t make your piece waterproof. If you want a waterproof finish on your Polymer Clay creations, you should use an acrylic sealer or varnish instead.

Overall, whether or not you choose to glaze your Polymer Clay after baking is up to you! Glazing can add an extra layer of protection and enhance the look of your project but it isn’t necessary for all projects. Experiment with different finishes to find out what works best for you!

What can I put on Polymer Clay to make it shiny?

Polymer clay can be given a glossy, shiny finish with the help of several techniques. One of the most popular and inexpensive techniques is to brush polymer clay with liquid polymer gloss or sealer. This provides an even layer of protection and helps to enhance the color and vibrancy of the clay’s surface.

Another idea is to apply a coat of varnish or clear nail polish over the finished project for additional shine and durability. This technique works best on small projects since larger pieces may require multiple coats of varnish for coverage. Additionally, metal leafing can be used to give a metallic sheen, which is especially attractive when combined with brightly colored clays.

It is also possible to achieve a high gloss finish by baking the clay in a low temperature oven. The heat from the oven will melt and smooth down the surface of the clay, giving it an even shine. This technique is especially useful when creating detailed pieces such as jewelry or figurines.

Finally, buffing the clay with a cloth can bring out its natural luster and help to make small details stand out more clearly. This technique requires some patience and practice but can be done with little equipment.

No matter which method you choose, adding a glossy finish to your polymer clay creations is sure to make them look amazing! With a little experimentation, you can find the perfect technique for achieving your desired results. Happy crafting!

How do you seal Polymer Clay?

One of the most important steps for painting polymer clay is sealing the clay before beginning to paint. Sealing your piece helps protect it from water, dust and other damage that can occur when exposed to air over time.

The best way to seal polymer clay is with a matte finish sealer. This type of sealant helps keep color pigments on the surface of the clay while also preventing cracking and crumbling. Many types of sealers are available, including acrylic-based sprays, varnishes and aerosol cans. Be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing as some may not be suitable for use on polymer clay.

To apply the sealer, start by lightly misting your piece with water using a spray bottle. This helps the sealer adhere better to the clay. Then evenly spray the sealer on your piece from a distance of about ten inches away. Let it dry completely before beginning to paint.

Once sealed, your piece is ready for painting. Be sure to use polymer-specific paints and other supplies so that you don’t damage your project. Enjoy creating beautiful pieces with your newly sealed polymer clay!

Can you paint baked Polymer Clay?

Yes, you can paint baked polymer clay. You will need to use acrylic paints or specialized glazes which are designed for painting on cured polymer clay surface. Before beginning to paint your piece it is important to apply an appropriate sealant in order to make the surface smoother and more receptive to the paint. This will also help protect your finished product from scratches and damage. After applying the sealant, you can begin using brush strokes, sponges, stamps, or other tools to create designs on the clay’s surface. Some artists prefer to use a combination of these techniques in order to create a truly unique look. It is important to remember that all paints and glazes must be fully dry before they are considered safe and secure against wear and tear. Once your painting is dry, you can add an additional protective coat of varnish if desired. Painting on polymer clay is a great way to add color and texture to any project and the results can be stunning! Good luck with your next polymer clay masterpiece!

Is acrylic paint permanent on Clay?

Yes, acrylic paint is permanent on polymer clay. When painting polymer clay pieces with acrylic paints, it’s important to remember that they need to be baked in the oven after being painted in order for the acrylic paint to adhere properly and become permanent. This is because the heat of baking helps chemically bond the paint particles to the polymer clay surface, making them more durable and less likely to chip or flake off. It’s also important to use a primer before painting on polymer clay as this will help ensure your piece stays looking fresh and vibrant for longer. Acrylic paints are water-based, so you can easily clean up any mistakes with a damp cloth if needed.

Once your piece has been baked and cooled down completely, you can then enjoy your finished work! Acrylic paints are a great choice for decorating polymer clay, as they offer vibrant colors and are very easy to use. Be sure to follow the instructions on how to bake polymer clay correctly, so your hard work won’t be wasted!

Happy painting!

Environmental Protection & Energy Saving

When painting polymer clay, it is important to be mindful of the environment. Choose water-based and/or non-toxic paints to reduce harmful fumes generated during the painting process. Where possible, try to use natural or recycled materials such as paper cups and sponges in place of traditional ones. Additionally, avoid using too much energy by turning off the lights when not in use. This will help ensure that you are taking steps to protect the planet while still getting a great result from your projects!

Prepping for Painting

For best results, start with a clean surface before you begin painting your polymer clay creations. Gently scrub any dust or debris off your project before beginning with a soft cloth or brush. Additionally, if you are planning to add a glossy finish or extra detail to your project, create an even base coat by lightly sanding the surface with fine-grit sandpaper.Polymer Clay

Once your project is free of dust and debris, it’s time to start painting! Make sure to use a paintbrush that is specifically made for use with polymer clay. This will ensure that the bristles do not get stuck in the clay and ruin your project. Additionally, be sure to read the directions on the back of any paint bottle before beginning as some paints may require additional preparation steps.

Painting Techniques

Now that you’ve prepped everything for painting, it’s time to get creative! There are a variety of techniques you can use to add color and texture to your project. For example, you can layer different colors to create interesting shading effects or add texture by blending multiple paints together. You can also use stencils or other tools to create detailed designs on the surface of your clay.

Finally, if you’re looking for an extra glossy finish, try sealing your paint with a clear glaze once it has dried completely. This will help protect your design from wear and tear while still maintaining its vibrant colors!

Hopefully these tips have helped you understand how to paint polymer clay! With a little practice and patience, you’ll be creating beautiful masterpieces in no time! Good luck!

Safety Tips

Wea latex gloves when working with polymer clay to avoid skin contact.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area; the fumes produced while baking can be hazardous if inhaled over an extended period of time.
  • Avoid handling clay near heat sources such as ovens and stoves, as this can cause it to become soft and malleable.
  • Use a cutting board or other protective surface to prevent marring your work surfaces with the clay residues.
  • Polymer clay should never come into contact with food items; use for decorative purposes only.

Basic Terms

Polymer clay is a type of hard, durable plastic clay made from a mixture of polyvinyl chloride and other components. It can be used to create small sculptures, jewelry and other decorative items.

Tools and Materials

Before you start painting polymer clay, make sure that you have the following materials:

  • Polymer Clay in your choice of color (premo, sculpey, or fimo are all popular brands)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • An oven or heat gun for baking the clay
  • Wax paper or aluminum foil if using an oven
  • Optional – Watercolor pencils or marker pens for detailing and shading after baking


  1. Start by kneading the polymer clay until it becomes soft and pliable. If you want to mix colors, blend together two or more pieces of different colored clays to create a new color.
  2. Roll out the clay with a rolling pin on wax paper or aluminum foil until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Cut out shapes from the rolled out clay using cookie cutters, scissors, or a knife as desired for your project.
  4. Let the cut-outs dry for about 24 hours if you are not in a hurry – this will help to prevent cracking during baking later on!
  5. After drying, use acrylic paint and brushes to decorate your creations however you like. Let the paint dry before baking.
  6. When you’re finished decorating, bake your polymer clay creations in an oven or with a heat gun according to the manufacturer’s directions on the packaging.
  7. After the pieces have cooled, you can use watercolor pencils or marker pens to add more detailing and shading if desired.
  8. Finally, seal your project with a clear acrylic sealer for added protection against cracking and fading.

Now that you know how to paint polymer clay, get creative and start creating! Have fun!Polymer Clay

Best Practices for Painting Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is a versatile, easily manipulated material that can create stunningly beautiful works of art with the right painting techniques. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when painting polymer clay:

  1. Choose the right paints and other supplies. Acrylic paint is the most commonly used medium for painting on polymer clay, but you can also experiment with oil paint or spray paint as well. Make sure to use a brush specifically designed for painting on polymer clay; normal brushes will not work well due to their bristles being too stiff and harsh for this delicate material. Other supplies you’ll need include a palette knife or rubber spatula, water-based glaze, and varnish sealer.
  2. Prepare the surface of the clay properly. Before you begin painting, make sure your polymer clay is smooth and free from any dirt or dust particles. These tiny contaminants can affect the quality of your paint job and how well it will adhere to the clay’s surface. To ensure a clean base for your artwork, use a piece of sandpaper to lightly scuff away any imperfections before applying any paints.
  3. Start with a light layer of paint. For best results, apply thin layers of acrylic paint rather than thick coats all at once; this will help prevent cracking or warping in your final product as it dries. Additionally, if you plan on using multiple colors in your design, it’s best to start with the lightest shade and gradually build up the colors until you achieve your desired effect.
  4. Set the paint with a sealer. To ensure that your painted polymer clay holds its shape and color over time, it’s important to apply an acrylic sealer or varnish once everything is dry. This will also protect your artwork from chipping or fading due to UV exposure or contact with moisture.

By following these best practices for painting polymer clay, you can create beautiful works of art that will last for years to come!


How do I smooth polymer clay?

After you've molded the clay into your desired shape, you can use a variety of tools to smooth it out. Depending on the shape and surface texture you're aiming for, you can use a plastic or rubber ribbed loop tool, a needle tool, an acrylic roller, a soft cloth or even your fingers to create a smooth finish.

Does polymer clay need to be baked?

Yes! Polymer clay must be placed in an oven at 265°F (130°C) for 15 minutes per 1/4-inch thickness of your project in order to achieve its full strength and durability. Make sure that any pieces connected together are firmly pressed together before baking.

What can I use to paint polymer clay?

You can use acrylic paints, alcohol-based inks, oil paints, and even watercolors on cured polymer clay. Before painting you should lightly sand the surface of the clay to create a smooth texture for the paint to adhere to. Polymer clays with glossy finishes may require an additional layer of primer or sealant prior to painting for best results.


Painting polymer clay is a satisfying and rewarding process, one that requires patience and attention to detail in order to get the best results. It can be used as an artistic outlet for creating beautiful pieces of art, or for crafting functional items such as jewelry or figurines. With the right tools and techniques, it’s easy to master this fun craft. Keep practicing your skills and you’ll soon have stunning pieces of artwork! Don’t forget to post photos of your creations online so others can enjoy them too! Have fun with painting polymer clay!

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