How To Paint Neon Effect Acrylic? Step By Step Guide

Are you searching for a way to bring vibrant, electrifying colors to your artwork that glow and pop up?

In this blog, I’ll walk you through the process, from selecting the right colors and materials to mastering the brushstrokes and layering techniques that bring a perfect neon effect to your painting.

Painting a neon effect with acrylics is both exciting and achievable, even for beginners. By following a few key steps and employing specific techniques, you can transform your canvas, walls, papers, and any surface into beautiful luminous hues. 

Drawing from my collective expertise with Steve Mitchell ( Famous Neon Artist and Owner of the YouTube Channel The Mind Of Watercolor), I have curated this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the challenges of this captivating technique.

Where To Get Neon Painting Ideas?

Websites like Pinterest, DeviantArt, Facebook, and Instagram are great platforms to discover a wide range of artwork, including neon paintings. 

Browse through art tags, search for specific keywords like “neon art” or “neon painting,” and explore the works shared by artists worldwide. You can save or bookmark your favorite pieces for reference.

Step By Step Procedure To Get Neon Effect On Any Surface

Giving your paintings a glow is a fun and interesting way to express your artistic skills. However, doing it the right way can really get you unexpected results. 

Here’s a complete guide on how to draw neon effects on white paper, canvas, walls, or any other surface.  

Step 1: Arrange All The Necessary Supplies

The first query that clicks in your mind is, what do you need for the neon painting effect? Well, before you begin, make sure you have all the following materials:

  • Acrylic Paints

Choose a selection of neon colors. You can either purchase ready-made neon acrylic paints from Amazon or Walmart or create a DIY neon paint by mixing a bright, saturated color with a small amount of white or fluorescent paint.

  • Painting Surface

Select a canvas or any surface suitable for acrylic painting. You can also choose a wall, paper, etc. 

  • Paint Brushes

Have a variety of acrylic paint brushes on hand, including flat, round, and fine-tipped brushes. You may need a roller for larger surfaces like walls.  

  • Palette/Mixing Tray

Use a palette or any smooth surface to mix your acrylic colors.  

  • Water and Cloth

Keep water and a cloth or rag nearby for cleaning your brushes.

Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace 

Set up your workspace in a well-ventilated area with ample lighting. If you’re painting on canvas or any such surface, cover the surface beneath with a protective sheet or newspaper to prevent any paint spills or stains.

In case you’re painting neon colors on walls, it is suggested to cover the floor with a rough cloth or newspaper. 

Step 3: Sketch Your Design (optional)

If you have a specific design or composition in mind, you can lightly sketch it onto your canvas using a pencil or chalk on the wall. 

This step is optional and can be skipped if you like to work freehand or use abstract techniques.

Step 4: Apply a White Base Coat

In order to enhance the vibrancy of your neon colors, I recommend you apply a white Gesso or light-colored base coat to your surface. 

This step enables the neon paints to stand out and appear more luminous. Use a large flat brush or a roller to apply the base coat evenly on the desired area. Let it dry fully before moving on to the next step.

Step 5: Mix Your Neon Colors 

If you’re using ready-made neon acrylic paints, you can skip this step. However, if you don’t have them in your kit, don’t worry; you can prepare your own. Here’s how to prepare neon colors with acrylic paint.

Squeeze a small amount of the desired bright, saturated color onto your palette or mixing tray. Then, add a touch of white or fluorescent paint to create a neon effect. Try out different ratios until you get the desired intensity.

Step 6: Apply The Neon Paint

Dip your brush into the neon paint and begin applying it to your surface. Get a start with broad strokes by gradually filling in the areas you want to highlight the neon effect. 

Keep in mind that neon paints tend to dry quickly, so work efficiently and avoid overworking the paint. Apply multiple layers if required to enrich the intensity of the neon effect.

Step 7: Add Contrast and Details

To make your neon colors pop even more, consider adding some contrasting elements or details. 

For this purpose, you can incorporate black outlines or accents in order to produce a sense of depth and improve the contrast between the neon colors and the surrounding areas. 

I recommend you use a fine-tipped brush or a marker to carefully add these types of details.

Step 8: Apply Protective Coating

Allow your neon painting to dry thoroughly in a clean and dust-free area. Once dry, consider applying a top coat of a varnish or protective sealant specifically designed for acrylic paintings. 

It preserves your artwork and enhances the colors, making them appear more vibrant.

How To Draw Neon Sign Painting Easy With Acrylic?

Step 1: Materials Needed

You will need a blank canvas or paper, a pencil, an eraser, fine-tip markers or pens (preferably in neon colors), and a black marker or pen.

Step 2: Decide On Your Sign Design 

Decide on the words or images you want to create for your neon sign painting. Keep it simple and bold for a more effective neon sign effect.

Step 3: Sketch The Sign With Pencil

Lightly draw the outline of your design on the canvas or paper using a pencil. Take your time to get the proportions and placement right.

Step 4: Outline With Black Marker 

Trace over your pencil sketch with a black marker or pen. It helps you create a solid outline for your neon sign.

Step 5: Add Thick Strokes

Use the black marker or pen to add thick strokes along the edges of your design. This will give the appearance of a neon tube.

Step 6: Choose Your Neon Colors 

Select the neon colors you want to use for your sign. You can use a combination of different colors for a more vibrant effect.

Step 7: Fill In The Colors

Start filling in the letters or images with the neon colors you chose. Use fine-tip markers or pens to color inside the black outlines. Press down firmly to get a solid, vibrant color.

Step 8: Add Highlights 

If you’re willing to enrich the neon effect, use a lighter shade of the neon colors or a white pen to add highlights along the edges of the letters or image. It will produce the illusion of glowing neon lights.

Step 9: Clean Up The Edges

Use an eraser to carefully remove any remaining pencil lines that are visible.

Step 10: Add Final Touches

Step back and assess your neon sign painting. If you notice any areas that need touch-ups or additional highlights, go ahead and make those adjustments.

Once you’re done with the above steps, you’re ready to show off your neon light painting signs to your friends. 

How To Paint a Glow Effect With Acrylic?

  1. To produce a glow effect with acrylic paint, select a primary color for the glowing area and a complementary color for the surrounding space. 
  1. Now, apply a base coat of the complementary color to the entire surface and let it dry. 
  1. Next, sketch the outline of the glowing area using a pencil, carbon marker, or chalk. 
  1. Mix the glowing color with a small amount of medium or glazing liquid to make it slightly transparent. 
  1. Now Start applying thin layers of the glowing color to the outlined area by slowly building up the intensity and blending it outward into the surrounding space. 
  1. Use a dry brush or sponge to create soft edges and transitions. Add additional layers if required to attain the desired glow effect, keeping the paint transparent and luminous. 
  1. Finally, add highlights by dabbing a brighter or lighter color on the edges of the glowing area, emphasizing the radiance. 

Note: Step back occasionally to assess the overall effect and make adjustments as necessary.


What Do You Add To Paint To Make It Neon?

To make paint neon, add fluorescent pigments or dyes, such as fluorescent acrylic or neon ink, to your paint mixture.

How Do you make acrylic paint look like neon?

Create a neon effect with acrylic paint by using fluorescent or neon colors, applying them in thin layers, and using a black or dark background to enhance the vibrancy.

Does neon acrylic paint glow?

Neon acrylic paint can glow under UV or blacklight conditions due to its fluorescent properties. In regular lighting, it may still appear bright but won’t emit a glow.

Is painting neon effects easy for beginners?

Painting a neon effect can be relatively easy for beginners. Begin with a dark background, select vibrant fluorescent colors, and experiment with layering and blending techniques to gain the desired neon effect. Practice and experimentation will improve your skills.


Here ends our discussion on how to paint neon effect acrylic; I hope you’ve gone through the process and have digested the procedure discussed. For any kind of further assistance, you can comment below. 

Jose Scott

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