How To Paint Blurry Backgrounds In Acrylic? Step By Step Guide

Producing blurred background in your painting is an extraordinary skill that can add a touch of originality. 

Here in this blog, I will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to paint blurry backgrounds in acrylic. 

In addition, I’ll equip you with practical tips and help you in selecting the right brushes, colors, and acrylic techniques to achieve that perfect out-of-focus background effect.

What Colors To Choose For Forming Blurry Background?

When making blurry backgrounds, you generally need to use soft and subtle colors to avoid distracting from the main subject of the artwork or design. Here are some tips on choosing colors for blurry backgrounds:

  • Neutral Tones: 

Neutral colors like soft grays, muted beiges, and desaturated browns work well as they are calming and less likely to clash with other elements in the foreground.

  • Pastel Colors: 

Pastel hues like pale blues, pinks, and greens can create a gentle and dreamy atmosphere and make them great choices for softer backgrounds.

  • Monochromatic Colors: 

Using a single color and varying its shades can give a harmonious look to the background without overwhelming the viewer.

  • Complementary Colors: 

If you want a bit more contrast, consider using complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) in a subtle way to add interest without being too distracting.

  • Analogous Colors: 

Analogous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel) can create a smooth and coherent background when used thoughtfully.

What Type Of Brushes To Use For Painting Blurred Background?

The type of brush you use can greatly influence the appearance of the blurry background. Here are some brush types that are commonly used for creating soft and blurred backgrounds:

  • Soft Round Brush: 

This brush has a soft and smooth edge, making it ideal for creating gentle gradients and soft transitions between colors.

  • Airbrush: 

The airbrush tool is designed to create smooth, even color transitions, which is perfect for creating a subtle and uniform blurry effect.

  • Blending Brushes: 

Some digital art software provides specific brushes designed for blending colors smoothly. These brushes are excellent for achieving a soft and blurred background.

  • Texture Brushes: 

Depending on the style you want to achieve, textured brushes can add an interesting and subtle texture to the background, enhancing the overall visual appeal.

  • Opacity and Flow Settings: 

One thing you should keep in mind is the opacity and flow settings of the brush can also influence the blurriness and intensity of the colors you apply. So try out these settings to find the desired level of softness.

Step By Step Procedure On How To Paint Blurry Backgrounds In Acrylic

Creating a beautiful blurred background with acrylic paint can add depth and optical interest to your painting, making it appear more real. The technique involves manipulating the paint to get a soft, out-of-focus effect. 

Step 1: Collect Required Supplies

  • Acrylic paints (choose your preferred colors)
  • Canvas or acrylic paper
  • Brushes of various sizes (for background and foreground)
  • Water container (for cleaning brushes)
  • Palette or a flat surface to mix colors
  • Paper towels or rags (for wiping brushes)
  • A reference image or idea of what you want to paint (optional)

Step 2: Prepare Your Painting Area

Find a comfortable and well-lit area to work in. Make sure you have good ventilation if you’re using acrylic paints, as they can emit fumes. Cover your work surface with old newspapers or a useless cloth to protect it from any accidental spills.

Step 3: Choose Your Background Colors 

Decide on the color palette for your background. Soft and muted colors work best for creating a dreamy, blurred effect. Blues, purples, and pastel shades are great choices, but feel free to try out other colors too. 

But avoid using very intense or contrasting colors, as they may not blend well for the blurred effect.

Step 4: Prime The Canvas (optional)

If you’re using a raw canvas, consider applying a thin layer of gesso to prime it. Gesso provides a smoother surface for your paint to adhere to and prevents the paint from soaking into the canvas.

Step 5: Create a Watercolor-like Base

Before diving into the blurred background, we’ll create a watercolor-like base layer. Dilute some of your chosen background colors with water to produce a transparent wash. 

Apply this wash to the canvas by covering the entire area you want for the background. 

You can apply it in smooth strokes or use a sponge to create interesting textures.

Step 6: Building The Blurred Background 

Now, let’s start adding depth to the background:

6.1. Mixing colors: 

Take a small amount of your background colors on the palette and mix them with some acrylic glazing medium. The glazing medium will extend the drying time of your paint and enable you to blend and manipulate it better.

6.2. Blurred layers: 

Apply the mixed colors to the canvas with a soft, large brush. Use broad and loose strokes to create a hazy layer of paint. Blend the colors together and keep in mind that the outer edges of your canvas should have softer edges.

6.3. Layering

Let the first layer dry (acrylics dry quickly) and then add another layer of paint, this time using slightly more concentrated colors. Again, use soft and loose brushstrokes, focusing on creating a gradual transition from one color to another.

6.4. Adding details: 

To add more interest to the background, consider incorporating subtle textures or patterns. You can lightly dab a sponge or crumpled paper towel onto the canvas while the paint is still wet to give it a mottled appearance.

6.5. Blurring the edges: 

To enhance the blurred effect, lightly drag a clean, dry brush along the outer edges of your background. This will soften the edges and create a seamless transition between the background and the foreground.

Step 7: Focus On The Foreground 

Now that you have a beautiful blurred background, it’s time to bring focus to the foreground. 

Whether you’re painting a landscape, portrait, or any other subject, add more detail and sharpness to make it stand out against the softened background.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Review your artwork and make any necessary adjustments. Add highlights, shadows, or any other details that will enhance the overall composition. 

Stepping back to take breaks during this process can give you a fresh perspective on your painting.

Step 9: Varnish Your Artwork

Once your acrylic blurred painting is complete and fully dry, consider applying a layer of acrylic varnish to protect the artwork and give it a professional finish.


How to build bokeh background using acrylic paint?

To create a bokeh background with acrylic paint, dilute the paint with water and apply it in small, out-of-focus dots or circles on the canvas. Use various colors and blend them subtly to achieve a soft and dreamy bokeh effect.

Is there any blurry painting technique?

Yes, the “blurry” or soft-focus painting technique involves using techniques like blending, glazing, or feathering to create a blurred appearance in the artwork, giving it a soft and hazy look.

How do you paint a blurred line?

To paint a blurred line, load your brush with paint, then drag and feather the brush along the line’s edge. Gradually decrease pressure and let the colors blend, achieving a smooth and blurry transition between the line and its surroundings.

Is it possible to produce a blurry effect with acrylic paint?

Yes, you can produce a blurry effect with acrylic paint by using techniques like blending, glazing, or smudging to soften edges and create a hazy appearance. Diluting the paint and applying it in small circles also helps achieve a bokeh-like effect.


I hope you’re now well up on how to paint blurry backgrounds in acrylic. It is all about the correct blending, using appropriate brushes, and picking up the right colors to give a blur effect to your artwork. 

Jose Scott

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