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Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Shrinky Dinks? – Facts

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

can you use acrylic paint on shrinky dinks

When working with various DIY projects, you have probably wondered, “Can you use acrylic paint on Shrinky Dinks?”.

Well, yes! Of course!

In fact, acrylic paint is one of the best coloring tools you can use to decorate Shrinky Dinks and give them a really nice pop of colors! However, the correct acrylic paint type and baking method are crucial when choosing this paint to use on shrink plastic.

What Acrylic Paint Should You Use?


When choosing acrylic paint for Shrinky Dinks, it is crucial to use specifically designed or suitable paint for this type of craft.

  • It is best to choose ink-based acrylic paint since it contains acrylic pigments, rendering solid, bold, and vibrant colors. Liquitex Professional Acrylic Ink is an example of this.
  • Nowadays, popular options highlight water-based acrylic paints because of their durable, bright, and lightfast pigments. However, the quality varies from brand to brand.

That said, FolkArt, Arteza, Delta Creative Ceramcoat, and DecoArt Americana are the best acrylic paint brands to use on Shrinky Dinks. Posca water-based marker pens also create incredibly opaque hues, making them among the favorite coloring pens for this craft. Plus, they are handy to use.

Before you use paint on shrinky dinks, take note the acrylic paint should be applied in thin layers. Thick coatings are likely to crack or create uneven layers.

Between the matte and glossy finish of Shrinky Dinks, the glossy side makes an ideal surface for acrylic paint to keep the color seamless and long-lasting.

Steps to Use Acrylic Paint on Shrinky Dinks

Things You Will Need

  • Shrinky Dink or Shrink plastic
  • Scissors or X-acto knife
  • Oven or oven toaster
  • Baking tray
  • Parchment paper or aluminum foil
  • Acrylic paint (in tubes or bottles)
  • Paintbrush
  • Clear acrylic paint sealer spray
  • Mod Podge
  • Resin coating

1. Painting or Coloring


  • Step 1: Choose your preferred colors. Put a small amount of acrylic paint on a piece of plastic or palette board.
  • Step 2: Use a paintbrush and apply thin layers of paint to the Shrinky Dinks. If you missed a spot, do not go back to fill it in to avoid paint buildup. Take note to apply paint in a single direction.
  • Step 3: Allow the paint to dry for 20 to 30 minutes or as long as the paint is completely dry. If you bake it too soon, the paint might not survive the heat, causing the paint to smear. If the layers are too thick, they might crack or flake.
  • Step 4: Once completely dry, use scissors or X-acto knife to cut the images out of the shrink plastic.

2. Baking


  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 to 350 degrees Celsius. For oven toasters without preheating settings, simply adjust them to the recommended temperature. Insufficient heat will not shrink the plastic evenly.
  • Step 2: Place the painted Shrinky Dinks on a baking tray. You may also use parchment paper or aluminum foil as an alternative to a tray for faster baking.
  • To prevent the Shrinky Dinks from sticking to itself while curling, place aluminum foil or parchment paper on top of them.
  • Step 3: Bake for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Step 4: As soon as the plastic starts to curl or stick to each other, quickly use a tool like chopstick to spread it apart. When it is flattening, take it out of the oven quickly.
  • Step 5: Place a hard object on top of it and press it down gently to flatten the plastic. Allow it to cool completely.

3. Using Acrylic Paint Pens


  • Step 1: If you are using acrylic paint pens like Posca acrylic markers, shake the pen first to activate the paint. Press the tip down on scrap paper or plastic to release the paint.

You may also check the instructions regarding this as some paint pens do not require shaking.

  • Step 2: Color the image in thin layers and in a single direction. Avoid applying thick layers or going back to the missed spots to fill them in. Allow the paint to totally dry before baking them.

4. Painting After Baking


You can color and decorate Shrinky Dinks even AFTER you bake them. Just make sure to let the plastic cool down completely before you paint it with acrylic paint.

For baked plastic, the matte finish is the ideal surface to paint on. Painting on the glossy side may take a while and the acrylic paint might wash off eventually.

Use acrylic paint pens or acrylic paint to color or paint the surface. If you want to add more layers to create solid and vibrant colors, it is imperative to give the paint time to fully dry. Otherwise, it will create smears or feathering.

5. Sealing


To seal acrylic paint on Shrinky Dinks, use Mod Podge super-gloss sealer. Use your finger to apply the decoupage on top of the plastic. Apply a thin layer and spread it out evenly.

Use a resin coat and apply it over the decoupage or Mod Podge layer. This gives the plastic a nice, sophisticated, and glossy finish. Correct sealing products and procedures will help make the design permanent.

Never put resin directly onto the plastic because it does not adhere well to polystyrene. Without the Mod Podge as the medium, the resin will peel off of the plastic.

Then, give it time to dry.

Best Coloring Tools to Use on Shrinky Dinks

What can you use to color shrinky dinks besides acrylic paint? Consider the following tools:

1. Permanent and Alcohol Markers

There are permanent markers for Shrinky Dinks that you can use to produce vivid, lightfast, and long-lasting colors. You may use Sharpie on Shrinky Dinks, which is one of the best brands to make colorful and fade-resistant designs.

Permanent markers and alcohol markers on Shrinky Dinks are best to use on the glossy side then get baked afterward. Coloring on the sanded or frosted surface will cause ink smears or bleeding.

2. Colored Pencils

Using colored pencils on Shrinky Dinks can create soft tones or pastel hues. To help the colors stick, it is recommended to opt for sanded or frosted shrink plastic.

3. Tempera Paint


When you use Tempera paint on Shrinky Dinks, the washable variant is recommended. Since you can easily wash it off afterward, the washable Tempera paint makes an ideal choice for messy-free paint sessions with kids.

Use it to paint on the rough or textured side for better adhesion. Then, bake it in the oven according to the shrink plastic’s baking instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to paint Shrinky Dinks after baking?

Yes, you can paint them AFTER baking. Since it shrinks to ⅓ of its original size, it would be great for miniature designs. Once treated or baked, you should paint on the rough or sanded side to help the paint bond with the polystyrene.

Let it fully dry before you seal the paint with an acrylic sealer spray or Mod Podge. Then, to make it glossy, you can apply a resin coat.

Is it okay to paint Shrinky Dinks before baking?

Yes, you can paint them BEFORE baking. When using acrylic paint, apply thin layers of paint to the glossy side. Leave it to dry completely before baking. Otherwise, the paint will run, crack, or flake.

How long do you bake Shrinky Dinks?

It may usually take around 1 to 2 minutes. However, it is best to check the manufacturer’s guide for the recommended baking time. Baking them longer than recommended will create bubbles or even burn the plastic.

Can a microwave oven bake Shrinky Dinks?

Unfortunately, you can’t. Shrinky Dinks do not work with microwave ovens because of their hot spots. This means that heat is not distributed evenly, which will not shrink the plastic properly.

Is it okay to use a heat gun to melt Shrinky Dinks?

Yes, you can. Place the Shrinky Dinks or Shrinkles in a heat proof container to contain the plastic as you shrink it. It melts the plastic much faster.

What to use to seal Shrinky Dinks?

Acrylic sealer spray, brush-on sealer, dimensional sealers like Mod Podge or clear embossing powder, and UV resin or two-part resin. The resin coat should be applied after applying a decoupage.

Some also prefer to use nail polish on Shrinky Dinks. Clear nail polish is a cheaper alternative to acrylic sealers to create a nice glossy finish. Some use glittery nail polish for instant shimmer. Apply in thin layers and allow the nail polish to fully dry.

Can you use washable paint on Shrinky Dinks?

Yes, you can. You may try Tempera washable paint on Shrinky Dinks, especially when painting with kids. Bake the painted plastic in the oven, remove any excess Tempera paint, and seal it with Mod Podge.

Can you use Crayola to color Shrinky Dinks?

Since Crayola is oily, it does not work well on Shrinky Dinks or shrink plastic. It tends to run under heat, leaving color smears and ruined decorations when the plastic is being baked. For that reason, Crayola is not recommended to color Shrinky Dinks.


Can you use acrylic paint on Shrinky Dinks? Absolutely!

To achieve the best results, keep these things in mind: choose acrylic paint that is specifically formulated or suitable for Shrinky Dinks, always allow the paint to completely dry, follow the aforementioned baking and painting directions, and seal the design correctly to make it permanent.

Hope this guide helps to create your best Shrinky Dinks project yet!

Read next a related article: Acrylic Vs Tempera Paint

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