How to Paint Tie Dye

I’m so excited about today’s technique because I am going to be teaching you how to create a sunburst tie dye pattern!

Getting Started

I recommend practicing your tie dye technique on a Mixed Media Pad like this one on Amazon. You only need a 1/2 inch wide angle tip brush to achieve this look. Once you’ve gathered your materials it’s time to get started. Using a pencil, find various sizes of circular items that allow you to trace circles onto your paper. I traced the bottom of a soup can, a lid to a coffee canister, and a paper plate. I needed one more larger circle so I freehanded that circle, but just be sure that all the circles are equal distance around. When you’re done tracing circles, you’ll have a bullseye pattern on your paper.

Choosing Colors to Paint Tie Dye

Next you’ll want to choose paint colors! Get creative and choose colors you think will look good. I chose the colors Orange Flame, Peony Pink, Citron Green, Purple Pizazz, Bahama Blue, and Bright Blue. Starting with about a nickel sized amount of each paint add it to your paint palette. My paint palette is a lovely paper plate.

It’s important to start at the center of the bullseye with a color and work your way out. Choose a color and start in the center circle with your angle tip brush, I chose the Citron Green. Use the brush to create a star pattern in the circle. Once the majority of the circle is filled rinse your brush and choose the next color to start the second layer.

How to Paint Tie Dye

Moving to the next circle you drew, start feathering your next color in a bit all the way around, for me this was the Orange Flame. You’ll want to feather all the way around the circle before you start blending them. Be sure to keep rotating your wrist or brush so that your strokes are being applied in a circle. Keep layering around the circle and start going toward the center a little bit so that they start to touch each other. Rinse your brush and switch back to your original color, this was Citron Green for me, and then blend it out a bit so that it’s touching that outside color. One of the most important things to remember is to keep your brush strokes moving outward, never toward the middle, always outward in the same direction.

When you start blending your colors, you may feel that you lose more of your color than you’d like to. If you feel like you’re starting to lose your second color, rinse your brush and switch back to that second color. You can feather it more outward so that it covers a larger space and has room to be overlapped with the next color for tie dye. You want to feather the second color out enough so that when it’s blended with the third color it isn’t overtaken.

Once your second color is where you like it, take the third color on the edge of your second (for me that was my Peony Pink on the outside of the Orange Flame) and start blending it outward with those feathering brush strokes out. Repeat this whole process as you move out your circles.

Once you finish all of your colors, just continue repeating your pattern of colors all the way out until your paper or door hanger is filled! At the end go back and fill in any white you’d like using the feathering technique and the necessary color.

Tie Dye practice on a mix media pad

How to Paint Tie Dye in Other Shapes

The fun thing about learning to paint tie dye is that you could do different designs. You could do this technique with a variety of shapes like you did the circles. Perhaps a star or a heart! If you wanted to do a swirl pattern, just use your pencil to draw a swirl before starting your feathering and blending techniques.

Looking to Learn More Techniques Like This One?

If you’re a fan of this technique and would like access to even more techniques and tutorials then you should join my Painter’s Clubhouse membership! I have tons of techniques just like this one that feature videos with step by step instructions of how to recreate the look. In addition to the many tutorials, Painter’s Clubhouse members get access to a community of other artists just like them to learn from and grow with together! Enrollment in the Painter’s Clubhouse only happens a couple times a year so be sure you hop on the waitlist here! 

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