Playing with Masks: Using Masking with Acrylic Mediums to Create Layered Spreads

Happy Wednesday Messians! Tiffany here with an interesting way to play with your acrylic paints and inks. In this tutorial I’ll show you a few ways to play around with masking. Masking is the use of materials to protect areas from change, or to focus change on other areas. Masking is often used to protect “white space” from your chosen medium, much like watercolor over washi tape, then pulling the washi tape up to reveal untouched white space. While masking techniques seem to be more common with watercolors (as there are an array of mediums you can use to mask or resist watercolors), I wanted to share with you a few ways you can mask with acrylic paints and inks.

The idea is simple. Using a “mask,” we want to protect a part of our piece from being changed by our medium. With acrylics, we can easily use this technique to build layers of different masks to create a unique work of art. It just takes balance between what to cover up and what to keep exposed when applying the acrylics. I’ll show you how you can use various stencils, stickers, and paper cut outs as masks to create some fun pieces of art in your journals.

While this is a very controlled process—which seems a bit counterintuitive to our freedom theme—I find that the end result or the reveal could be quite freeing. We will be covering up a lot of our piece in the process, so that when it’s complete, that acting of finally revealing the finished pieces will seem so freeing.

Playing with Masks: Using Masking with Acrylic Mediums to Create Layered Spreads


  • Acrylic paint
  • Acrylic ink
  • Texture paste (Molding/Modeling)
  • Stencils
  • Alpha stickers
  • Die cut shapes (paper punch/cut outs, scrapbooking die cuts, shaped stickers)


In this first video, I will show you the easiest way to create a mask with acrylic paint with a stencil. When you use a stencil with anything, you are purposely covering up the background of something to only apply your medium through the decorated part of the stencil onto your page. That essentially is masking. I ended up using white textured paste on my page, but you can apply your paints the same way. You can also use a stencil as mask to apply an ink spray or even spray paint to your page.

Along with using a stencil, I also used alpha stickers as a mask. Using any sticker with a distinct shape can be used as a mask just by painting over it then peeling it up to reveal the space on your page you protected. As you saw in my video, I used thickers that I covered in white acrylic ink splatters as a mask to write out the word “free.”

In this second video I show you how you can use various die cut embellishments as a mask. The process is very similar to the stickers, except you will have to lightly glue or tape down a shaped die cut before you paint over it. If you don’t have any pre-cut embellishment shapes, have fun using your punches to punch a few out or hand cut any shapes you might like to use out of some cardstock paper.

You can use anything as a mask to protect or reveal space on your page as you apply your mediums. What’s so wonderful about acrylic mediums is that they lend themselves to layering upon each other once dried, which is difficult to do with watercolors. Once I let the first layer of this page dry, I went ahead and used a star stencil to add a layer of scattered stars in blue paint. When that dried, I finished the page off with a bit of journaling.


Playing with Masks: Using Masking with Acrylic Mediums to Create Layered Spreads

Action Steps

Have fun combining different masking techniques to create beautiful layered spreads. My minimalist tendencies only allowed me to do two or three layers of masking, but build up as many layers of masking as you want, letting each layer dry in between so you don’t end up with a muddled mess. 


Tiffany is an artist of many trades living in New York City with an absolute passion for documenting her everyday life. A traveller to the core, she loves documenting her various journeys around the world in thick handmade travel journals bursting with photos, memories, and travel ephemera.

1 Comment


    Love your classes, Tiffany!