Can You Use Fabric Paint on Canvas?

At times, you come across pretty canvas paintings on Pinterest that urge you to pick up the canvas and begin. You search your paint supplies and only have a choice of fabric paint. That’s the reason you are here. People who paint on scarves, shirts, bags, etc. are well aware of the fabric paint.

Canvas is a heavy-duty fabric made of cotton, or linen, or a combination of both. Mostly, you see canvas made with cotton. It holds paint very well. Can you use fabric paint on canvas? A big YES. Fabric paint stays well on canvas fabric.

When using fabric paint, prime the canvas first so that the picture turns out in brilliant hues.

In this article, we have explained everything about using fabric paint on canvas. Give it a read before you start your project with fabric paint.

Can You Use Fabric Paint on Canvas

What Kind of Paint You Can Use On Canvas?

You see the painters usually use three types of paint on canvas. If you have these traditional paints, then you are good to go. But, if you want to try using fabric paint on canvas, have some patience. Take your time reading down the article to know all about it.

Oil Paint

Oil paints are expensive but a good option for canvas painting. They give brilliant long-lasting colors and smooth texture. But, the problem with oil paints is that they take a longer time to dry. Additionally, they can be toxic so you would take care.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a versatile water-based paint that works well on all types of fabric. Unlike fabric paint, it sits well on synthetic fabrics too. It dries quickly and becomes water-resistant. This is one of the reasons it is used for painting fabric. The colors are bright and vibrant turning your painted fabric extremely pretty.

They require warmer temperatures to work on, as the paint is hard to remove off the brush if dried.

Tempera Paint

It is also water-based paint that is easy to wash off the clothes. This type of paint is non-toxic so children use it for finger painting. It is cheaper than other types of paints.

Tempera colors are very bright making them to the favorites list. But it can crack, if too thick.

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What is Fabric Paint?

Fabric paint is a mixture of fabric dye and binding agent. It is commonly used to dye or paint on clothes and adheres well to the fabric. You can use it on bed sheets, scarves, bags, boots, etc. The fabric stays soft and folds well without getting stiff. Also, the fabric paint does not come off when you wash your clothes to remove water stains on the fabric.

However, fabric paint only goes well on natural fabric. It also requires a heat source to dry otherwise it would come off, if not dried.

Difference between Fabric Paint and Acrylic Paint

People who experiment with these paints know the actual difference. Let’s have a look at how these two paints are different from each other.


Fabric paint can only work on natural fibers. While acrylic paint works on all kinds of fabric so it is known to be versatile than fabric paint.

If applied on normal texture, fabric paint chips away.


Fabric paint adheres well to the fabric. As the fabric paint is a combination of dye and binding agent, it absorbs into the fabric.

On the other hand, acrylic paint is not fabric-friendly so, it stays on the surface. When acrylic paint is used on fabrics, it leaves a stiff and taut design.

Drying Ability

Both fabric paint and acrylic paint dry quickly. But, if you are using fabric paint, you would need a heat source to dry it quickly. The source of heat can be direct sunlight, iron, or dryer. If not dried, it will come off when you wash your clothes.

Acrylic paint does not require heat exposure as it is permanent paint. It dries out quickly.

Washing Effect

Fabric paint does not come off when you wash your clothes as it absorbs well in the fabric. After using your painted clothes for several years, the color might dim. But, there would not be any breakage or damage in the design.

With acrylic paint, the fabric loses the design in a single wash.

Can You Use Fabric Paint on Canvas

Whether you are planning to experiment with fabric paint on canvas or do not have another option. Do not hold in the picture your mind wants to paint on canvas. Pick your fabric paint and begin. Fabric paint works well since it is closer to traditional acrylic paint.

Fabric paint has a different formula that helps to absorb well into the fabric and does not stiffen the material.

The traditional paints that artists use are sensitive to temperature and other conditions. The fabric paint once dried using a dryer does not come out when washing the clothes. You can make any color and paint easily without any special techniques.

Keep in mind that the acrylic and fabric paints dry quickly. So, you cannot get lost in your thoughts leaving the brush there. Also, you need to quickly adjust the mistakes before your painting dries up.

How Fabric Paint Works on Canvas

When painting canvas with fabric paint, you need to prime the canvas first. Primer stops the paints from soaking into the canvas fabric and turning dull. It seals the fibers making the canvas tauter.

A good primer on canvas will bring out bright hues giving an attractive look to your art.

Primers usually come in white, grey, and black colors. Other primary colors are also available. You can buy a good primer from an art store or online. It is available in liquid or spray form. This means you can paint the primer on canvas or spray it.

Before priming, you need to make sure that the canvas fabric is stretched. It should be completely flat otherwise the bumps will be the cause of gaps in the final product. You can use clips to keep the canvas flat and then prime the whole surface.

When done with painting your favorite design, dry it using a dryer.

Fabric Paint on Canvas Shoes

Have you ever tried painting your plain white shoes? Adding colors when you get bored of them will give them a brand new look. It would be super fun as it is quite simple.

  1. Clean your shoes and remove the laces.
  2. Insert newspapers inside the shoes to help them stay in shape.
  3. Cover the areas that you do not want to paint with tape.
  4. Spread newspapers below the shoes where you will be painting them.
  5. Take a spray paint can.
  6. Simply follow the instructions on the spray can.
  7. Let the paint on the shoes dry when you are done.

Fabric Paint for Canvas Backpack

You can make your old backpack attractive by painting it with beautiful designs. Have a design in your mind? Sketch it on a rough page before you execute it on your backpack. Decide on the colors you want to use. You would not be saying “Oh, again” on your next trip.

  1. Clean your backpack and fill it with newspapers
  2. Cover the area with newspapers where you will be painting so that you do not ruin the place
  3. Use a brush or spray paint to create your design
  4. Let it dry under sunlight or use a dryer

Tips to Paint on Canvas Using Fabric Paint

Once you decide the colors and the design you want to paint, here are some of the tips to get amazing results.

Priming the Canvas

Priming your canvas is very important. Having a smooth surface will help to stick the paint well. You can coat the canvas with a color that matches it. The primer takes some time to dry. Make sure it is completely dry before you begin painting on it.

If the canvas has been pre-stretched, then it is already primed.

Setting Up the Canvas

When you are done priming your canvas and have all the supplies around you, think about the position. Set your canvas at an angle you will be comfortable painting from. After positioning your canvas, figure out the convenient place for your paint, brushes, and water. You need to know about the brushes to get precise results.

Size of the Canvas

The size of your canvas depends on what you are planning to paint and how larger the picture would be. Smaller canvases are easy to work on making them the best canvas to paint on. While the larger canvases take time to work on them.

Sketch the Design

Sketch your design to make sure it turns out the way you desired. Since the fabric paint dries out quickly, you will need to adjust the mistakes instantly. Once the painting dries, you cannot make any changes.

Recommended Fabric Paint for Canvas

Jacquard Textile Fabric Paint for Canvas

The Jacquard textile paint comes in 8 colors. Each bottle includes 2.25 ounces of paint. This pretty 8 color set has both primary and secondary colors. They appear to be thick in the jar but are pretty smooth on the fabric. The colors are vibrant and do not bleed when you paint your shirt. You can place cardboard in your shirt for a worry-free painting session.

It is easy to paint with a brush or stamp. The paint is washable and stays soft on your fabric. These paints are expensive but worth the money.

Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow Specialty Paint

This Dye-Na-Flow paint set includes 10 pretty colors. Each jar contains 2.25 ounces of paint. It is perfect for watercolor, tie-dying, silk painting, airbrush, sponge application, etc. This non-toxic specialty paint works well on both natural and synthetic fabric.

When used on silk, the colors produce shine. On cotton, they do not change the texture of the fabric. While on velvet, these colors turn out vibrant. You heat set the colors by using an iron or hairdryer to get a permanent finish. The color does not fade even after washing the fabric a zillion times.

Jacquard Neopaque Color Set

The Neoprene 8 color set includes deeply pigmented paints. You get gold yellow, magenta, blue, violet, green, black, white, ochre. All the colors are 2.25 ounces. These vibrant colors are easy to blend. They are great for opaque layering as they provide thick coverage.

You can use these neoprene colors on anything. Not only canvas and fabric, but you can also paint on wood, paper, polymer clay, rubber, and plastic. The amazing color palette and creamy consistency make you fall in love with them. They dry quickly so you need to paint quickly.


Can I use Fabric Paint on Canvas?

You can use fabric paint on canvas. It stays well on the canvas fabric and produces amazing results. Your fabric stays smooth and the painting does not fade. There are some tips to paint on canvas. Priming the canvas will not dull the design. Since the fabric paint dries quickly, you need to be quick with the adjustments in your painting. When done, heat-dry it.

Do you have to wash canvas bags before you paint fabric paint on them?

For soft fabrics, you will be washing and drying them before painting them. Skip the washing step for duck or canvas fabric.

Clean your canvas bag and stuff it with some paper. This will give it a structure and prevent the bleeding of colors. Then you can prime the canvas bag if you want to create a masterpiece otherwise it would be good to go. Hide the areas you do not want to paint with tape. Then dry your painting.

Can you put fabric paint on canvas material?

Yes, you can put fabric paint on canvas material. It works well on canvas but you need to prime your canvas first to get original colors. Fabric paint has a formulation that does not make it stiffen the material. Also, it is crack-resistant.

Can you use fabric paint for handprint on canvas?

You can use non-toxic fabric paint for handprint on canvas. It is great for painting clothes as it does not stiffen them and is permanent. Adding your baby’s handprint on the canvas is an attractive way to create memories.

Does acrylic paintwork on canvas fabric?

Acrylic paints are versatile as they work on all kinds of fabric. They are easy to use and dry quickly. You will need a paint thinner to help the acrylic paint adhere to the fabric. Not using a textile medium will make the fabric stiff and uncomfortable.

What kind of paint to use on canvas?

Tempera, oil paint, and acrylic paint are the traditional paints that artists use on canvas. Acrylic paints and oil paints are the most common types of paints for painting.

A thicker paint performs well on canvas and a primed surface will help to achieve the best results. Oil paints also work very well on canvas. Other than that, Gouache and latex paints are also used on canvas.

What kind of fabric is used for canvas?

Canvas is not only popular but also one of the most enduring fabrics. It is made of cotton or linen, usually blended with PVC. Mostly you see the cotton canvas as it is cheaper.


Canvas is a heavy-duty material that holds paint pretty well. Fabric paints absorb well into the canvas fabric and do not make the material stiff. But, before painting, priming the canvas is important. Keeping it taut when you prime it will help to avoid gaps in the painting. Sketch your design with a pencil and start painting over it. Heat set the colors for permanence. Fabric paint does not fade with washing it.

This article has all the details to your question “Can you use fabric paint on canvas?”. Set up your canvas and let your creativity flow in. Good luck with fabric paint!

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