Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Shrinky Dinks? (Answered)

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll


can you use acrylic paint on shrinky dinks

Shrinky dinks are a fun arts and crafts product for both kids and adults. They can also be used for jewelry making. Usually, these are sold in kits with felt-tip markers and pens. But what about paint? Can you use acrylic paint on shrinky dinks?

To answer your question: absolutely! You can use paint to draw on shrinky dinks, which are so easy to use. You can create brilliant pieces with them and have fun the entire time. Plus, they can be set with heat.

Below, we will cover more details regarding the essentials of using acrylic paint on shrinky dinks. Read on to gear up your inner artist!

Can I Use Acrylic Paint on Shrink Plastic?


Acrylic paint is an excellent option for drawing and coloring shrink plastic. It is the preferred option for many because of its wide color selection. This means you can freely exercise your creativity!

Acrylic paint is also most suitable for painting on shrinky dinks for its ease of use, provided that you use glossy ink-based acrylic instead of regular ones.

As this paint type does not shrink, a thin liquid like the ink-based variety will be most suited for when the plastic contracts. Otherwise, too-thick paint will crack when the dinks shrink in the oven.

Moreover, acrylic paint produces extremely stunning, vibrant results. There is no need to apply many layers to get the colors to show. In most cases, you will just need one to two coats of paint. By minimizing the number of layers, you’ll also reduce the risks of paint cracking.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paint on Shrinky Dinks



  • Easy To Use

As mentioned briefly above, acrylic paint is easy to use and fairly forgiving. You can easily correct mistakes. Plus, the tools involved are easier to upkeep and look after. The overall learning curve is not steep.

  • Many Color Options

You can find acrylic paint in many variations, including special ones like metallic, neon, and holographic. By the same token, you have more freedom in making the best shrinky dinks! Every piece you create will be impressive and unique. That’s the goal of making art, right?

  • Produce Vibrant Results

Not only do you get a lot of colors with acrylic paint, but you also get them in incredibly high quality. The colors of acrylic ink are solidly vibrant. So, your artwork is always great. You do not have to ever worry about producing subpar outcomes when using acrylic paint on shrinky dinks.

  • Can Be Set With Heat

After using acrylic paint on shrinky dinks, you can set your creation with heat. The heat will seal the paint and not cause it to melt or distort in any other way. This gives it an edge over oil paint or crayons, both of which melt or burn when exposed to high heat.



  • Can Be Messy

Compared to other art tools, paint can be a lot messier. For example, if you accidentally knock your pens or markers down, you will just have to pick them back up. When this happens with paint, you will have to clean up the spillage, which takes time, effort, and resources.

To use markers on shrinky dinks, you just need to take off the cap. With paint, you have to take a couple of steps. You must first apply paint to a palette, pick it up with a brush, wipe it to remove excess, and then you can use paint on shrinky dinks. The extra steps mean more room for creating a mess.

  • Can Be Toxic

Even though acrylic paint is typically considered safe,  some varieties can emit dangerous fumes while drying. As such, it can still pose a risk to users’ health and well-being. This is particularly worth noting when the little ones use paint on shrinky dinks.

  • Can Be Costly

Acrylic paint might not be as expensive as other art tools, but they require several items to work. You will need not just the paint, but also paintbrushes, a palette, a cup to hold water for diluting paint and cleaning brushes, etc.

While not strictly necessary, you might also need an apron, a cover sheet for the workspace, and paper towels to accommodate the messy nature of acrylic paint.

All these “extras” can amount to a heftier bill.

Best Acrylic Paint to Use for Shrinky Dinks

Arteza Acrylic Paint


  • Has many colors to choose from
  • Can layer and blend well
  • Features non-toxic, low-odor paint
  • Yield vibrant and bold colors
  • Take a while to dry
  • Feels sticky

DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint


  • Easy to clean up
  • Dries quickly and does not drip
  • Yield consistent results
  • Has a non-toxic formula, making it kid-friendly
  • Somewhat expensive

Steps to Use Acrylic Paint on Shrinky Dinks


The process of using acrylic paint on shrinky dinks is straightforward. You just use a brush to paint your kit. However, to ensure the best results, there are a few things you must keep in mind:

Step 1. You need to thin the acrylic paint first. A thick layer of acrylic paint will crack! So, be sure to add water to dilute the paint. Simply tap water into your paint with a brush.

Step 2. You need to use minimal paint. Using too much paint thickens up your shrinky dinks, and as we have mentioned above, this results in cracking.

Step 3. Use acrylic paint that has a glossy finish. Those that are matte would crack after drying.

Steps to Bake Shrinky Dinks


Step 1. Cover an oven tray with non-stick aluminum foil or baking paper, then place the plastic pieces on the tray. The rough side should be facing up. Also, make sure that the pieces are not too close to each other.

Step 2. Preheat the oven for 1 to 3 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3. Put the tray into the oven. Then, set it to run for 1–3 minutes. You will notice the shrinky dinks curling up, but do not worry. They will flatten in a bit. Once this happens, bake them for 30 more seconds.

Step 4. Take the tray out of the oven. Let the designs cool completely. Your pieces should now be smaller but thicker.

Draw the desired designs on the plastic pieces, then cut around the edges. Alternatively, you can punch a hole in the pieces to loop a line through.

Other Tips for Painting on Shrinky Dinks

Tip 1. Painting Shrinky Dinks Before and After – Which is Better?


You can paint before or after baking, but we recommend the latter (Meaning you should paint shrinky dinks after baking).

You can keep your designs from curling while painting if you choose to pre-bake. This makes the entire process more fun and less tiring.

Here, the most important thing to keep in mind is to let the shrinky dinks cool fully before using paint on them. If you rush it, your color will smudge easily, and you will not get ideal results.

Tip 2.  What If You Don’t Have an Oven?


If you do not have an oven, you can seal paint on shrinky dinks and shrink the designs with a hair dryer with a high heating temperature.

The trick is to hold the hair dryer roughly 6 inches away. Positioning it too close to your piece can melt or warp it. Also, it is necessary to move the dryer back and forth to distribute heat evenly.

Frequently Asked Questions


What other paints can I use on shrinky dinks?

You can use tempera paint on shrinky dinks, such as those from Crayola. These washable paints on shrinky dinks are especially great for handprints and footprints. You do not have to spend loads of time scrubbing it off your skin when you are done.

Read more: Tempera vs acrylic paint: which is better?

What types of markers and pens can I use on shrinky dinks?

Paint pens, paint markers, and permanent markers, like Sharpie, all work well. You can also use Crayola markers on shrinky dinks if they are the only ones you have. They are not as great, as they are oily and become runny when the shrinky dinks are heated. Colored pencils will work, too.

Can I use watercolor on shrinky dinks?

Unfortunately, no. Watercolor is runny and will not set on your designs. It is better to use acrylic paint or shrinky dink markers.

Can I use nail polish on shrinky dinks?

Yes. You can use nail polish either as coloring tools or sealant on shrinky dinks. However, for the former case, nail polish is not the best option, considering how hard it is to get the exact details right, especially compared to artist brushes or specialized markers.


Now that you know the answer to, “Can you use acrylic paint on shrinky dinks?” you can go ahead and start creating them!

Do not forget to apply the tips we have provided you with, and feel free to reach out to us in the comments if you have questions. When you are done with your pieces, tell us about your experience in the comments too!

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