What is puffy paint? It’s exactly what it sounds like; paint that is puffy! Also known as dimensional paint, it is a brightly colored, thick paint that dries to a spongy, puffy finish. It’s easy and inexpensive to make your own puffy paint. It’s a fun activity you can do with children, and the ingredients are materials that you likely already have in your home.Jump to Recipe
What Are the Ingredients for DIY Puffy Paint
The ingredients for puffy paint can vary slightly depending on the recipe you’re using, but at the most simple you’ll need three basic things: shaving cream, white glue, and food coloring. You don’t even have to use specific brands. Inexpensive supplies you can get at the dollar store will work just fine.
Other items that are useful to have are disposable cups or bowls to mix the paints, popsicle sticks, plastic squeeze bottles and/or zip-close plastic bags, paintbrushes, heavy paper or card stock, and a dropcloth or cover to protect your work surface.
Ok Let’s Make it!
No matter which puffy paint recipe your try, it’s a good idea to get your materials together and prepare your work area.
You’ll want to put something down to protect your table. Puffy paints are heavier than regular liquid paints, and the food color can stain some surfaces. Disposable plastic tablecloths or even a shower curtain liner from any discount store works great for this.
Puffy Paint for Kids
If you’re working with little kids, it’s always a good idea to have them wear a “paint shirt” or apron to protect their clothing. Puffy paint should easily wash out of most clothing, but it’s never a bad idea to wear something that is okay to get a little messy.
Disposable cups or bowls, made of either paper or plastic, are handy for mixing the paint. You can use cheap plastic bowls, but again, food coloring and certain paints can stain some plastics.
If you don’t want to use your kitchen measuring cups for this project, just measure out the desired amount of water into a disposable cup. Use a marker to make a line showing the top of the water. Then write the measurement amount at the line, and discard the water. Now you can use this cup to measure out the correct amount of glue, shaving cream, etc.
Popsicle sticks or disposable chopsticks are great for mixing, as well as for using as a paintbrush. You can use paintbrushes with puffy paint, but if you want to make the artwork as puffy as possible it might be easier to dab it on with a stick.
Zip-close plastic bags or any small plastic container that has a lid are useful to store any leftover puffy paint. Unused puffy paint will only last for approximately 3-5 days for best results, so don’t mix too much at one time. Puffy paint recipes that contain flour will last a few days longer than the recipe that is mostly white glue and shaving cream.
Puffy paints work best on light card stock or heavy paper such as watercolor paper. Even paper plates can be a fun painting surface. Puffy paints are heavier than water-based paints, and won’t stay nice and puffy on regular drawing paper.
Lastly, keep a roll of paper towels handy, just in case!
Homemade Puffy Paint With Shaving Cream
This method is the easiest way to make puffy paint, using only three common ingredients.
You will need:
- 1/4 cup white glue
- 1/4 cup shaving cream (any brand, just make sure it is the foamy kind, not shaving gel)
- Food colorings
Here’s how to mix it
Pour the white glue and shaving cream into a small bowl and use a stick to thoroughly mix them together. Take your time and don’t mix them too fast. You don’t want to “deflate” the shaving cream. Once they’re mixed together, add the food coloring and stir it in. For fairly vibrant colors try 10-12 drops, to begin with, then add a couple drops more if you want more color. Mix up a few colors, and get ready to have some fun.
Now it’s time to paint! With this recipe, it’s easiest to use a popsicle stick or a paintbrush with wide fairly stiff bristles. The should dollop the paint on your paper or cardstock, instead of trying to brush it on as you would with traditional paints. To avoid having to continually clean a paintbrush while working, keep one stick or brush in each color while painting.
Once your painting is done, it needs to dry overnight. With this recipe, the paint will flatten a little bit as it dries, so pile the puffy paint up nice and fluffy. The colors will look a little darker once they’re dried, so if you want a pastel look on your painting, mix your paint color a little bit lighter than you’d like.
DIY Puffy Paint With Acrylic Paint
This recipe won’t be quite as puffy as using shaving cream, but the results are still puffy and colorful. One advantage of this recipe is that the finished work will be harder than the shaving cream based paint after it is fully dried.
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- Acrylic paint
Here’s how to mix it:
Mix the salt and flour in a small cup. You could even use a small whisk to make sure they’re completely mixed up. Then add a little bit of acrylic paint, and stir. Add some more paint if you’d like until you get the desired color. The mixture will be the consistency of a thick paste at this point. Add a teaspoon or two of water, and mix that in. If you need more water, add it just a little bit at a time. Mix this together, adding more water and/or paint, until the paint is smooth and the consistency of cake frosting.
It’s important to use acrylic paint for this recipe. Watercolor paints aren’t pigmented enough, and are too watery. Oil based paints will cause the puffy paint to separate. You don’t need to use expensive paint; any cheap acrylic craft paint will work great for this. Just for fun, experiment with using acrylic paints with metallic or pearlized finishes!
This paint is much thicker than the shaving cream recipe. While you can certainly dollop it on with a stick or paintbrush, it might be easier to transfer the paint into a plastic squeeze bottle or zip-close plastic bag. If you’re using the plastic bag, move all the paint to the bottom of the bag, and snip off one corner of the bag. Now it can be used like a pastry piping bag. You can pipe the paint onto your paper directly from a squeeze bottle, or squeeze it out of the plastic bag like you’re decorating a cake.
You’ll need to let your artwork dry overnight on a flat surface. With this recipe, the colors should stay pretty true to however you mixed them. The salt in this recipe adds a little bit of texture and sparkle to the finished piece.
Extra Big Homemade Puffy Paint
This recipe is a bit of a hybrid between the two prior recipes. For best results, you should use the squeeze bottle or plastic bag method to pipe the paint out instead of using a paintbrush. The end results of this recipe hold their puffy shape beautifully. This recipe makes a larger batch, that can be divided among several cups to make different colors of paint.
You will need:
- 3/4 cup of shaving cream
- 1/4 cup of white glue
- 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
- Food coloring
Here’s how to mix it:
With this recipe, the order and method you use to mix the ingredients are important. First, mix the shaving cream and white glue together. Then, add the all-purpose flour just a couple of spoonfuls at a time, fully mixing each spoonful in before adding more. Next, add your food coloring, several drops at a time, until you get the shade you want.
If the paint seems too thick, add a little water to get it to a more usable consistency. Don’t add more than one tablespoon of water total, though. If you add too much water, the result will flatten the paint a little bit and the dried texture won’t be as hard.
Now you can transfer the paint to a squeeze bottle or plastic bag, and have fun painting! You can use a popsicle stick or paintbrush with this paint, but because it’s so thick the piping method is easier and more precise. Let your finished piece dry on a flat surface overnight.
How Long Does it Last?
Puffy paint really works best if you use it as soon as you make it. If you have leftover puffy paint, it can be stored in an airtight container, or in a sealed zip closure bag. The first recipe using shaving cream, white glue, and food coloring will only last a couple of days before it becomes gummy and unusable. The recipes that include all-purpose flour as one of the ingredients will last a bit longer.
Tips and Ideas
Puffy paint is easy to make and fun to use, both for adults and small children. Here are a few useful tips on using homemade puffy paint.
Puffy paint does work best on heavy paper or card stock. Using it on regular drawing paper can cause the paper to wrinkle and warp. Card stock comes in a variety of colors, which can make your colored paint look even more vibrant. Brightly colored puffy paint designs on black or dark blue backgrounds are especially eye-catching.
You can use either liquid or gel food coloring to tint your paint. Gel food coloring will give you more vibrant colors, and you won’t need to use as much. Liquid food coloring will take more drops to get the shade you want, but you have a little more control over the shade of color you’re trying to create. Both liquid and gel food colors will produce great results, so have fun playing around with them!
Puffy paint can be used for a variety of art projects. It’s not limited to painting on paper! Try painting designs on smooth rocks. Decorate empty glass jars and bottles to make pretty storage items. Painting with puffy paint on clear Christmas ornaments is a great activity for kids, and they can be given as holiday gifts. You can even decorate plastic Easter eggs with puffy paint.
How to Clean Up Your Puffy Paint
Accidents happen, and that usually means some kind of mess that will need to be cleaned up. Fortunately, homemade puffy paint cleans up easily from most surfaces. Warm, soapy water should be enough to clean up most messes.
Having a disposable plastic tablecloth over your work surface is the most efficient way to keep puffy paint from getting on your table. If you do have a spill that leaves food color residue on your table a magic eraser cleaning sponge does a great job! Another method for cleaning up faint stains is to make a paste with cool water and baking soda.
Spread it on the soiled area and leave it for a minute or so. Then lightly scrub the area with a sponge, and rinse it clean. The baking soda paste works well to get any faint food coloring residue from your hands, too.
If puffy paint gets on your clothes, in most cases you can let it dry and then just pick it off. Then launder as you regularly would. Paint brushes can be cleaned with hot water and a mild dish detergent. Clean brushes promptly after use, especially if you’ve used them with puffy paint that contains glue as one of the ingredients.
It is recommended to use disposable plastic or paper cups to mix your puffy paint. If you do use non-disposable containers, keep them exclusively for crafting needs, and not for food storage.
Puffy Paint Recipe
- 1/4 Cup White glue
- 1/4 Cup Shaving Cream (Any Brand)
- 12 Drops Food Coloring