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Encaustic - instructions and technique for wax painting

  • Tool & Material for wax painting
    • Prepare workplace
  • Learn Encaustic - the four basic techniques
    • Technology 1 | Slide
    • Technology 2 | Take off
    • Technology 3 | lines
    • Technology 4 | Points and fine lines
  • Additional tips for great results
  • History to the encaustic

Encaustic is a passionate art form that anyone can learn. With the wax painting you create magical pictures whose colors shine wonderfully. We tell you which materials and tools you need and familiarize you with the technology. What and how you paint, however, is up to you in the end. And the best thing about art: the result is guaranteed to be beautiful!

The vast majority of painting techniques require a lot of talent and even more practice to achieve really great results. Not so with the encaustic. This painting is an art of passion. You just paint what comes to your mind and you can be sure that your picture will look magical in the end.

In the course of learning and practicing, of course, you have the opportunity to improve your skills and, after the abstract works, you can also go on to representational paintings - landscapes or even portraits. But that's not a must. Enkaustik offers you the chance to let your feelings run wild and express them in the form of colorful pictures.

What is encaustic ">

Encaustic refers to a painting technique in which you first distribute wax on the heated surface of an ironing device . So you melt the wax color and then spread it as you wish on a paper surface. There are certain techniques with which you achieve different effects. These are presented in the guidebook.

The extraordinary painting creates powerful images, which inspire above all by the brilliance of their colors. Let's start!

Tool & Material for wax painting

The basic equipment consists of the following devices and tools:

  • Wachsmalgerät
  • wax colors
  • Painting Boards
  • paper towels
  • 1 box in DIN A2
  • 10 sheets of DIN A4 paper
  • newsprint
  • duct tape

Note: Be sure to work in one place with a power outlet (if necessary, including extension cord).

For beginners, we recommend starting with a beginner box. Such a box includes a painting iron, several wax pencils and some painting cards for the first experiments. In part, useful extras such as a scraper (for scraping and scratching of lines, surfaces and structures) and / or a manual are included. For such a complete box you pay about 40 to 50 euros.

Later, you can also purchase an encaustic pen and a sponge set to make your pictures even more detailed and varied. But these investments have time - first we want to take care of the preparation of the workplace and the basic techniques.

Prepare workplace

A well-prepared workplace prevents annoying "accidents" (1) and facilitates your unrestrained entry into the arts.

(1) It is very troublesome to scrape dried wax off the table or floor.

Step 1: Place the large DIN A2 cardboard box in the middle of your work surface. It provides the necessary elasticity between the actual box on which you are painting and the painting iron.

Tip: Choose a cleared table as a work surface.

Step 2: Carefully secure the DIN A2 carton with adhesive tape. This ensures that your base does not slip during painting.

Step 3: Place ten sheets of plain A4 paper on the box. All around you should also lay out newsprint, for sure.

Step 4: Put all the required elements (painting iron, wax colors and paper towels) on the table so that they are easily accessible (preferably behind the "mountain" of DIN A2 and DIN A4 paper).

Step 5: Tear off three to four sheets of kitchen paper and place the bundle next to you. The paper is used to wipe the paint iron again and again before you use a new color.

Step 6: Place one of your cardboard boxes on the pile of A4 paper.
Done "> Learn Encaustic - the four basic techniques

In this chapter we will introduce you to the four basic techniques of encausticism. If you master them, you already have the most important skills to create a variety of artworks . Specifically, we will show you how to use the surfaces and edges of the wax device and what effects each application has.

Our tip: At first, only practice with one color. This will help you to see what effect it has.

The first steps are to activate the crayon and melt wax color.

This is how it works in detail:

Step 1: Insert the plug of your device into the socket.
2nd step: Set the controller to level 1.

Step 3: Wait for about a minute. Then the crayon is ready for use.
Step 4: Hold the device level. The iron floor points upwards.
Step 5: Apply any wax color to the iron surface (just paint over it). In seconds, the wax melts by the heat.


  • If the wax melts slowly or remains chewy, you need to raise the temperature a bit
  • If the wax color is quickly very watery, it is necessary to shut down the temperature a bit
  • The wax then has the ideal texture when it runs down the floor like cold olive oil

Fits the setting, it continues with the four basic techniques.

Technology 1 | Slide

Apply the wax color (s) to the paintbrush.

Turn over the wax-painted unit (with the floor facing down) and drive over the prepared cardboard box with an iron. Spread the melted wax paint across the paper.

You should slide the iron as gently and lightly as possible over the cardboard. The less pressure you apply, the better it is.

Important: Always paint the wax in one direction only (right-handed people usually move the device from right to left, left-handed people move from left to right).

Repeat the exercise several times until the wax color has evenly spread on the paint box. Also, be sure to always apply enough wax color to the iron.

Errors and their causes:

a) The wax does not cover the whole area. - Probably you have used too little of it.
b) The wax will "hang" on the cardboard. - You probably put too much pressure.

Technology 2 | Take off

Lay the painted cardboard aside and pick up a fresh one. In turn, melt abundant wax paint on the iron surface of your device.

Then put the latter on top of the cardboard box and pull it up again after a short touch. The suction effect between the iron of the crayon and the wax ensures a great structural effect.

Alternative: If you let the crayon tip quickly on one side, you will achieve a similar effect. Try it!

Is the structure effect only marginally pronounced ">

Technology 3 | lines

Again you need a fresh paint box. Apply wax color using the slip technique .

Then place the device vertically with the lower outer edge on the cardboard and pull it quickly through the colored wax surface. To paint grass-like lines.

These can vary:

  • lateral sliding produces wide lines
  • Fast, straight glide makes for thin lines

Attention: Work quickly, as the wax dries very quickly. This is generally true - not just for the technology of the lines.

Errors and their causes:

a) The lines appear wider than desired. -> You probably slipped too much.
b) The lines appear weaker than desired. -> There is probably too little wax on the box. In this case, cover the outer edge (the "butt") of your device with wax paint again and draw lines again.

Technology 4 | Points and fine lines

You will achieve particularly fine lines as well as small dots and other details with the tip of your wax device. Cover this directly with wax paint.

Turn the male iron with the tip downwards in the direction of the cardboard box and place the male iron tip there short and pointwise.

This creates small points. If you pull the paint iron tip slightly, you will get thin strokes. From time to time apply some of the wax color to the paint iron tip.

Exercise: Painting a simple flying bird (classical seagull)

Put the wax covered tip on a new cardboard box. Then pull it off immediately with a slight jerk to the left.

Cover the tip with wax again. Place it on the box in the same place as before and then pull it to the right with a slight jerk.

Also try painting circles, dots and strokes in different shapes (size, thickness).

Errors and their causes:

a) The lines and dots are too thick. -> Probably your movement was too slow or you used too much wax color.
b) Unsightly blots result. -> Probably the tip of the device was covered with too much wax.

Tips for painting with the tip: You may find it difficult to paint with the tip if you keep the device as normal as an iron. Then you can try to grab it from scratch instead. This puts less strain on the hand and allows for more controlled work.

So these are the four basic techniques that you should master in order to achieve beautiful works of art with encaustic.

Additional tips for great results

In general, it is important to clean the crayon with kitchen paper before applying a new color. This usually works wonderfully. If the sound does not want to say goodbye to the iron, it's best to help it with clear wax. Apply this to the surface and then wipe with kitchen paper . So cleaning is quick and easy.

Caution: Be sure to avoid touching the hot surface of the crayon with your fingers. Otherwise this could lead to burns.

Here are three tips on the design options of your Encaustic-Werke:

  • glide slowly over the cardboard box, get a quiet background
  • Glide quickly across the cardboard box, get a moving background
  • Through back-and-forth shaking you will achieve a fish-fish pattern worth seeing

Experiment to find more variations! It is very important to polish the picture after cooling the wax with a silk stocking or cloth.

The result is the magnificent waxy gloss that characterizes the Encaustic painting. By the way, if you occasionally polish your creations, the colors will stay so intense.

History to the encaustic

In fact, encaustic painting has been around for millennia. In ancient Egypt, 5000 years before Christ (!), The technique was already known (though not, of course, with the technical possibilities we have today). The creatives of that time heated beeswax colors and applied them to various painting surfaces - such as wood and ivory panels.

Among the best-known examples of Encaustic painting are the famous mummy portraits from Fayum. You can still admire these today in the great museums of the world. In the past, art dominated very few people. It's different today. Thanks to the available painting equipment everyone has the opportunity to learn the technique of encaustic and to paint beautiful things.

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