Four Pro Tips for Perfectly Crisp Tree Ring Pours

The beauty of a tree ring pour is the distinct bands of color, circling each other without mixing. Preventing this style of painting from turning into an undefined, muddy mess requires more than simply mastering the physical technique of rotating your hand as you pour. Below are my Top 4 pro tips beyond pouring technique for creating the quintessential tree ring lines.

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Acrylic Pouring Tree Ring Example

Acrylic Pouring Tree Ring ExampleTip 1: Opaque Colors

While transparent colors create whimsical blending effects in fluid art, opaque colors are best if you want the crisp tree ring contrast. Opaque colors are less likely to overpower or cover up one another. You can increase your opacity by:

1) Choosing naturally opaque pigments (most paint brands indicate opacity right on the tube);

2) Adding a small amount (5% or less) of titanium white (not zinc white) to your color (caution: this will lighten your color some); and/or

3) Adding opacifying medium to your color (this will not change your color at all). My favorite opacifying medium is from Tri-Art).

Acrylic Pouring Tri Art Acrylic Pouring Tri Art

Tip 2: Thicker Paint for Better Layering

The key to tree rings is to stack each paint color in your cup, avoiding them mixing as much as possible. A perfect tree ring cup will look like layers of cake from the side. In this case, thicker paint makes this task easier as the colors are less likely to sink into each other as you pour them into your cup. If you normally thin your paint with water, you’ll want to avoid that in this technique. You can also consider using only heavy body acrylics (no fluid acrylics) for your paint mixes to make them thicker. Lastly, adding naturally thicker pigments (like whites and blacks) to any pigment will also thicken it up.

Pour each color into your cup slowly to prevent too much mixing. Remember that the first color in your cup will be the last color out of your cup, and therefore the most dominant… so layer accordingly!

Acrylic Pouring pouring paint into cup

Tip 3: Specialty Cups

Experiment with angled, square cups to make pouring easier and more interesting. I find that pouring out of a corner (as opposed to a round cup) is easier to control. It also allows you to vary the thickness of the lines and speed of the pour more easily.

Split cups are ones with a divider (or dividers) down the middle of the cup. It allows you to get the benefits of two pour cups in one, creating interesting variations in your tree ring.

As a bonus, most specialty cups are reusable, so you save money over time while also producing less waste. Some of my favorite specialty cups include the 3D printed cups from LEDBFG on Etsy. A less expensive option are the Colorations Double-Dip Divided Paint Cups, although to my knowledge they only come in small, round sizes.

Acrylic Pouring Split Cup Acrylic Pouring split cup tree ring


On a side note, to complement your Acrylic Pours, I highly recommend using a Cricut Machine (my personal favourite is the Explore Air 2 machine) to design and print yourself beautiful crafts on all sort of supports. Check it out here!  Now back to Tip 4.


Tip 4: Extra Paint

Overstretching as you tilt is never a good idea, but it is especially detrimental to a tree ring pour. The more you tilt, the more the colors blend together and create a muddy mess. Keep your lines crisp by using extra paint in your cup so you have to tilt very little to cover your canvas. For example, I would use 12-16 ounces of paint for a 12-inch square canvas (1.5-inch depth).

Acrylic Pouring Tree Rings blue


I look forward to seeing your next tree ring pour! Tag me on Instagram or send me a DM to show off your work.

Read Next: 5 Simple Steps to Do a Tree Ring Pour

10 thoughts on “Four Pro Tips for Perfectly Crisp Tree Ring Pours”

  1. Wonderful information,
    thank you so much for sharing! Tree ring pours are so satisfying,
    definitely one of my favorites!

  2. Wonderful information I am still learning and have only tried the tree ring once and did not like the end result. With your info, going to try another one. Thank you so much for taking the time to educate us beginners. Have a wonderful day.

  3. Great tips for ring pours. I haven’t been completely satisfied with my results so far and your tips are so helpful. Also, THANK YOU for mentioning the size of your canvas and the total volume of paint! This vital information is often omitted in other instructional videos!

  4. Being a beginner with this technique,i have found that on larger canvases i will pour 3 -5 rings -a lot less tilting , BUT my biggest mistake is not using enough paint still,so thanks for equations. ????

  5. There are some tips here that I will definitely keep in mind the next time I do a ring pour. Just fyi, though. I clicked on the link in your article to the TriArt Opacifying Medium. It brought me to Amazon, where the 250 ml bottle has only one buying option and it’s priced at $1949.20. I might try looking at the TriArt website directly, or other art supplies stores including online. Just wanted to let you know in case you didn’t. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Julie Guenther

      I had the same high price result but after looking further I found this:
      Tri-Art Opacifying Artist Mediums, 120ml

  6. This is great information! Thanks for sharing these tips. One question…how do you prevent cracking when leaving this much paint on the canvas?

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