Top 10 Ways to Make Your Own Paint

Feeling creative? Here are different ways you can make paint from objects you can find around the house. In the past, various weird and wonderful pigments have been used to make paint, including crushed beetles and the urine of cows fed exclusively on mangoes! Here Abby ‘Splodge’ Read wets her brush and demonstrates the top ten best ways to make paint.


1. Coffee

Coffee is renowned for staining things, like our mugs and our teeth, and makes a great starting point for home made paint. Just a cup of strong coffee and you’re on your way. We started here painting the trunk and branches of the tree. Interestingly, when a coffee stain dries it evaporates first from the edges. As this happens, liquid from the middle of the stain flows outwards, and eventually dries on the outside of the coffee stain, leaving the ‘outer ring’ effect we sometimes see.


2. Ale

Karen Eland is a famous artist known for creating artwork using just beer. Here we applied Welsh ale in layers in an attempt to build up tones. However, the ale itself is weakly coloured and formed only a faint cream colour for our cottage wall. That said, it’s pretty handy if you get thirsty while painting. It also took an incredibly long time to dry; even though the boiling point of alcohol is less than water, so we’d expect it to be relatively quick. Maybe we were just in a cold room.


3. Yoghurt

And now for some edible paint, perfect for hungry children. Yogurt is a nice, creamy and edible substance which you can finger paint with. Here we used it to make clouds. The problem with edible paints is that they can quickly become a tasty home for mould to grow on, rather ruining the picture. We’re still waiting to see whether this happens to our clouds.

Update: After about a week, our clouds were looking a bit ‘iffy’, and we soon had to throw the painting out. We don’t recommend yoghurt for making a lasting art piece!


4. Shaving Foam

Shaving foam forms a fantastic lather with which to blot and blob as a paint. Here we mixed shaving foam with green food colouring to form the green leaves of the tree. The texture of the leaves was at first amazing, however the shaving foam quickly disintegrates and the effect is lost. The reason shaving foam forms such a pleasurable paint is because of the way it forms coming out of the can. When dispensed, the shaving foam depressurises a steady supply of liquid butane or propane into a gas. This gas is passed through soap and makes lots of tiny bubbles in it, which give the appearance of a soft lather. Over time these bubbles pop and the lather ‘melts’ away.


5. Egg Yolk

Before oil based paints came onto the scene around 600 years ago, humans would paint using egg yolks in a method known as tempera painting. The yolks have the right amount of ‘gooiness’ to be painted with, and easily mix with ground up substances such as herbs or spices to form the ideal colour.

In our case, we used our staple ingredient, red food colouring, instead of spice. The egg yolk must be separated from the egg white. Don’t let that egg white go to waste though. Egg whites (with a splash of water) were used as a glaze on finished paintings back in the day, in order to preserve the colour of paintings and to stop them fading. A word of warning, we found our egg yolk mix took ages to dry! Our windows and doors ran everywhere.


6. Orange Juice and Flour

Oranges and flour, said the bells of… right then, we worked on a bright sun for our painting using orange juice and flour to thicken it. It works very well in 5d diamond painting and is probably very nutritious.


7. Fairy Liquid

On the less edible front, you can use fairy liquid as a unique method to create and disperse oil based paint. Here we used that classic ingredient, dragon’s blood – no only joking, it’s food colouring again – and by blowing air through the mixture using a straw, we can make blue bubbles. The oil in the mixture is rather stubborn and doesn’t mix brilliantly with the paint, creating the pocket effect when it dries.

What’s more, painting by fairy liquid bubbles is a risky affair. When the bubbles form, they naturally try to maintain the smallest surface area possible. This is why bubbles are spherical, and  round shapes have the smallest surface area for their volume. As the bubbles pop over time, the liquid is no longer held in an efficient, 3D sphere. It is instead spread out much further over the 2D paper. Not great when our blue sky kept running over the rest of our painting!


8. PVA Glue















PVA glue and colouring makes for a substance which is actually very similar in consistency to paint. It is easy to control and sticks to our canvas, and dries quickly. This is definitely the most effective home made paint we made.


9. Flour and Water














Nice and simple here, we threw together flour, water and food colouring. Here we used a lot of flour to create a really thick paste, and a whole new way of painting! The gloopy stuff can be picked up and moved around the painting into the correct place, and then, once it has been laid on, you can apply textures into it’s surface (we used a cocktail stick to make a thatched roof effect). The amount of resistance with which a liquid flows is scientifically referred to as its viscosity, and in this case the paint is very viscous. This is a really fun way to paint, although it does tend to dry in congealed blobs!


10. Condensed Milk

Our final way to make paint is using condensed milk. A bit of a downgrade from yoghurt, really, but we had some spare in the office, so we used some to create a ‘chimney smoke’ effect in our scene. The result was disappointingly un-smokey. Instead the cream ran and combined with the sky, and there was no going back after that. Ah well, you live and learn hey.


The Final Result

So, after all that, what does our final science made simple scene of various home-made paints look like? Well, judge for yourselves!

What do you think? Have you had any luck with your own home made paint creations? Let us know if you try any and tweet @scimadesimple or send us a picture on Facebook!

All images by science made simple © All Rights Reserved


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