(Free PDF Download) Beginner’s Guide to Acrylics

(Free PDF Download) Beginner's Guide to Acrylics

Morning Class!

If you’re new to the website I’ve put together a Free PDF ‘Beginners Guide to Acrylics’ which includes a brief overview about acrylic paint, colour palettes, tools & materials as well as showing you how the different areas of the Will Kemp Art School fit together.

I introduce the principles behind my teaching, a catalogue of all the free video painting tutorials on the website and a section on how to find the perfect course for you.

If you click the link Free PDF ‘Beginners Guide to Acrylics’ you can download it and have a read through with a brew!

Hope you enjoy it,



This Post Has 74 Comments

  1. Thank you for the update Will. I’m looking forward to getting on with it. Good to know you are going to the Monet and Architecture. I will look out for you if you go on 26th April. Do you know that there is a Ravilious Exhibition on at Compton Verney at the moment. It is wonderful. Hope there is some sunshine where you are. Best wishes, Vanessa

    1. Thanks very much, Vanessa and cheers for the info on the Compton Verney show, yes looking forward to the Monet!

  2. Very many thanks for a generous and thoughtful product. Oops you have reminded me that I have not yet completed one of your tuitions. Bernie

    1. Ha, ha, no worries Bernie, hope you find it helpful.

  3. Thank you for your wonderful lessons. This guide is a great summary of what you have offered. I have taken almost all you have offered over the past several years and have enjoyed every lesson. I’m currently working on flora still life lesson and am hoping to start my journey with your oil lessons soon. Thank you for being my teacher and bringing me to new levels I never imagined to be at. Sincerely, Louise

    1. My pleasure Louise, thanks for all your support, really glad you’ve been achieving some great results. Hope the floral course is going well.

  4. Thank you so much for all the information in the PDF and your website/YouTube!!
    I am drawn to abstract painting, what would you recommend from your free or paid content to start with? I am a beginner painter but have been creating with other mediums for decades. Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi Ani, I go through a suggested route through the courses in the PDF. If you go to page 28 – Where to start on the website for free courses and page 38 for paid courses.

      1. Thank you, Will, I already read through the pdf, however I would like to paint abstract. Should I still go through realistic painting since I am a beginner?

        1. Oh gotcha Ani, having drawing composition is always a good basis for abstracts but you might find a book or course specific to abstracts more beneficial.

          1. Thank you, Will, once more for your time!

  5. I really don’t know anything else I’ve signed up for that I look forward to so much. Thank you Will, all your posts and guides are fabulous and I’m so looking forward to doing some courses in the future

    1. That’s very kind of you to say so Susan, very much appreciated.

  6. Hey Will,

    I cannot thank you enough for all you do. Your teachings have made such a wonderful difference in my studio and in my life that I will be forever grateful.

    Warmest regards,

    1. Well, that’s brilliant to hear Lorrie, so pleased to hear it.

  7. Thank you very much for this wonderful book, Will! This is the very thing for me at the moment.

    1. That’s fantastic to hear Anatoly, hope it helps.

  8. Beautifully put together Will!
    Would look good on my coffee table as a hard back book! Mmmm maybe you have another in the pipeline?
    Full of great information and advise and very generous to make it free to download. I always point artists to your site as it’s so informative without being intimidating.


    1. Thanks Ali, really pleased you enjoyed it, thanks for sharing and your kind words, much appreciated!

  9. I am thrilled you have put all of your great info in one site. Now I don’t need to search YouTube!
    Always good content. I think your in person workshops are probably great, as you present things well.
    Thanks Will

    1. Thanks Sharon, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons.

  10. Thanks Will for the update. Very useful to have it all together . I still have some tutorials to finish and I look forward to the moment that I will be able to buy all your tutorials.

    1. You’re more than welcome Katerina, hope you find it helpful.

  11. I love the way you square-off the apple. I am so afraid to make the slightest alteration to what I see, which has stifled my desire to be alla-prima and remotely impressionistic. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Tanya, often if you try to think of round objects in straight lines it will make them appear more realistic. It seems a little counterintuitive but try finding an object that has a curved edge to it and draw it only using a straight line. Hope it helps.

  12. Thank you once again for a very helpful text, Will. It gives me a good reference to your courses and to the main aspects of successful painting.

    1. My pleasure Norbert, hope you find it a helpful reference.

  13. Thank you so much for this lovely guide! So so helpful!

    1. So pleased you find it helpful Saartjie.

  14. Gentile Will, grazie per i tuoi preziosi consigli sul PDF acrilic painting. La tua pittura è bella e fresca. Ho apprezzato anche le tue lezioni sul ritratto.Ancora grazie mille.
    Cordiali saluti.
    Giuseppe Acierno.

    Dear Will, thank you for your valuable advice on the PDF acrylic painting. Your painting is beautiful and fresh. I also appreciated your lessons on the portrait. Again, thank you very much.
    Best regards.
    Giuseppe Acierno.

    1. Sei più che benvenuto a Guiseppe, lieto che i ritratti stiano andando bene.

      You’re more than welcome Guiseppe, pleased the portraits have been going well.

  15. Thanks

  16. Thank you so much Will you are helping to achieve a lifelong ambition to produce a reasonable painting – still a long way to go – but what fun I’m having. The Monet exhibition is excellent – enjoy.

    1. You’re more than welcome Sue, looking forward to the show, pleased your paintings are coming to fruition!

  17. Yet another amusing difference between British and American English:

    In common American parlance “a brew” means a BEER. Ha! I assume you mean a cuppa TEA, but many times I’ve read your suggestion for a brew (and biscuits) to go with your instructional material – and many times I’ve thought, “Yeah, maybe that’d be fun!”

    HA! Thanks for so generously sharing your expertise.

    1. Ha, ha, I like to keep my options open with brews Tom, depending on how well the paintings going! hope you find it helpful.

      1. Very good, Will. =]

        “Hope you find it helpful.” If you mean a pint, perhaps I’ll give it a try. There are times (grrrr) when that might be exactly what’s missing.

  18. Thank you, Will!


  19. Thank you so much for sharing Will!

  20. Thank you for the expo on acrylics…

  21. That’s thrilling you are going to the Monet Architecture exhibition….Thank you for all your emails and tutorials..So thrilled about it…I am avtually going to learn how to paint draw…amazing…My mother”s relatives all are and doing well brigi g income tru it too…Okay take care bye…

    1. Glad you’re looking forward to the Monet exhibition review Sabina, should be out in the next few days.

  22. Will – Thanks for the acrylic guide book. Well done as usual.

    The Monet exhibition is very good: he’s a great artist. I’d like your opinion on his Rouen paintings too, compared to the lighter and airier ones on display. An early painting I did from one of your classes was the “impressionistic landscape”. Maybe time to do another one? I suspect the show might inspire!

    Cheers, Alastair

  23. hey will, thank you for writing something accessible and non patronising. i found your site after giving up in frustration over a bodgy looking portrait. since reading this, i have made the following resolutions.
    1. no more cheap paints no matter how pretty they look.
    2. will always start with a painted ground from now on. its the equivalent of starting with a level playing field.
    however i know about drawing and working out a composition beforehand but once i am in front of that canvas that all goes out the window .. there is another me that says ..O just do this instead. So, i guess i have some work to do with staying focussed.
    i also noticed the blog re repainting … i have had interesting results with this by washing off as much as possible, using what is left as ground and texture and just allowing what’s left to develop organically. it doesnt always work but when it does its pretty speccy. i hate waste and throwing out canvases.
    anyway, i will keep working through your courses and thank you again.
    cheers jenni

    1. Hi Jenni, great to hear from you and so pleased you enjoyed the guide. Enjoy experimenting with the coloured ground!

  24. Thank you very much

  25. I am passing you along to my students!
    I copied of Monet’s Westminster–I was so intent, did’nt realize I left out the ferryman!
    Also, a copy of Rouen–looks easy but it is not!
    Carry on Will,

    1. Thanks Jane, pleased you enjoyed the Monet exhibition.

  26. Hi Will,
    Thank you so much for this guide, it is very helpful and fun to read. I have a question for you which popped up in my mind while watching some old painting tutorials by the painter Bob Ross. Can you please explain to me the difference between the shade Ultramarine blue and Prussian blue. Also the difference between the shade Burnt Umber and Van Dyke Brown? I will appreciate it.

    1. Hi Fareeda, pleased you enjoyed the guide, Prussian Blue is a darker greener blue than Ultramarine Blue. Van Dyke Brown is made from earth pigments and is a combination of Burnt Umber and iron oxides.

  27. I am new to your website and an absolute beginner. I have never learnt to paint. Now I have reached a stage in my life when I have a bit more time, and I would like to learn to paint with acrylics. I am so glad I have discovered your website! Thank you for your posts and inspiring acrylic painting tutorials and video demonstrations that can teach people like me the painting basics. What is also wonderful about your lessons is that they teach not only how to paint but how to look at art, and see the beauty of nature and objects around us, how to notice little details and see colours, shapes, light and shadows. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    1. Hi Irina, lovely to hear from you and so pleased you’ve been finding the articles and lessons of interest. Here’s to your new painting career!


  28. Hi,
    Thanks for this acrylic guide

  29. Hello Will, love your page – what a great source of information, I have a question – I am a graphic designer and would love to get into painting too. But I am having a big problem when I wanna paint a sharply defined shape, filled with flat color. I did try even the expensive pro colors but most of them do not create nice flat and uniform looking surface even after 2-3 coats. Black or burnt sienna is perfect but ochre, for example, is a nightmare… How the minimalist and all other painters whom paintings looks almost like a screenprint do it?

    1. Hi Jan, are you using the colours straight from the tube or mixing with white? if you’re using them straight the different pigment qualities will change the opacity and coverage of the effect. Trying to achieve a solid opaque colour using a pure pigment that is transparent would take many layers. However, mixing the pigment with a little titanium white (which is an opaque white) would give you a solid even colour.
      Hope this helps,


  30. Hi Will, Is there a reason to buy acrylic paint in tubes than jars? (Is there a way to search your website to see if you’ve already answered a question like this?)
    thanks, Debbie

    1. Hi Debbie, it’s usually for the price difference of the paint (more reasonable the larger the jars) or the convenience of squeezing the paint out (more convenient in tubes)
      p.s there is a search function in the top bar with a magnifying glass symbol.

  31. Hi Will,
    I am new to this hobby, just tried the first painting last month and can already see the mistakes that I made. Bought 3 sets of brushes, 2 sets of paint – one the basic 5 colours and the other more colours and 12 canvases. The most difficult is the first stroke, I am just staring at the empty canvas for hours!
    I find myself looking with a different perspective at nature and things around me. I have never before realized that there is so many different colours in a simple cloud. I just appreciate everything so much more. Painting surely teach you to see the world through different eyes. Thank you for your videos, and the opportunity to learn from you.

    1. My pleasure Sanet, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons.

  32. Hi Will,
    My question is about the amount of paint (a lot!) I use each time I try to paint the undercoat or ground color. Can I “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” by mixing my ground color with the gesso as I gesso the raw canvas? I tremendously appreciate your blog. It has helped me get stuck more than once. Thanks. Pam

    1. Hi Pam, yes you can mix paint into the gesso to create a tinted ground. Pleased you’ve been enjoying the blog.

  33. Hey Will, I just discovered you online this past weekend. I binge watched your videos and learned so much…specifically, on color mixing. Invaluable lessons, which took my color-mixing knowledge to another level. Wow! Thanks so much for your generous offerings on your site. I can tell you have a passion for teaching, too!

    Ha! I’m from Texas so I LOVE accents and am asked about mine frequently as I’ve moved out of state…also, grab a brew and a couple biscuits!! Really fun! Loving this connection so much and passing it on to several friends!

    Kind regards,


    1. Hey Sami, great to hear from you and so pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons, glad you’ve been enjoying your brews! and thanks so much for passing onto friends, very much appreciated.

  34. Wow how refreshing to get the pdf without being required to enter my info first. After reading your very useful guide, I signed up for your email list gladly and gave you my real name/email instead of my spam one :)

    1. Good one Natalie, really pleased you found the pdf helpful

  35. Thank you for putting all of this together. I’ve been drawing and coloring mostly with dry media for 20 plus years now and just recently decided to finally start painting. Such a long time not messing with the stuff haha, but mostly bcuz it all seemed to complicated. Only when I really started learning about color theory and the truth behind color that it started becoming a reasonable way or more interesting way to color my work. I’ve been learning alot, but everything is so out of order. Now with finding this site I think this will start me at the beginning and let me work through the proper steps. Thanks again.

    1. That’s great to hear Gino, so pleased the site has been helping to put all the pieces together for you.

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