How to Paint Designs on Glass

Lead Image
  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-200
What You'll Need
Mirror, drinking glass, or other glass object
Glass paint
Black marker with a thin tip
Paintbrush with a thin tip
Lint-free towel
Flexible paper (or transfer paper for mirror)

Did you know that you can put your own personal touch on otherwise boring glassware? Whether it’s a mirror, pilsner glass, or mug, you can paint any design you want on a glass surface with the right tool and steps. Check out these steps to learn how to paint glass and properly protect your creation.

Step 1 - Draw the Design

First, you must draw the design you want, so you have a guide to work from. Inspect the glassware you plan on painting, and decide on a design that would suit its shape. Trace the outline of the glass object onto the paper to get an idea of how big the design should be. For a mirror, complete this step with carbon or transfer paper.

Designing for Round Objects

If your object is round, like a glass, try placing the paper inside of it, instead. Use a piece of tape to connect the paper where it meets. If you want to paint a mirror, be sure to use transfer or carbon paper.

Step 2 - Transfer the Design

painting a canning jar

Now that you have your design ready, you can begin transferring the design. With a flat object, you can simply set the paper on top of the design. If you’re painting a mirror, you must use transfer or carbon paper according to the directions.

Transferring on Round Objects

If you’re transferring on round objects, you must put the design inside of it. Once you can see the design through, under, or transferred on your glass object, you can use a black marker to trace the lines onto the glass.

When you’re done, allow the marker to dry, and go over the lines again. The goal is to achieve a streak-free, crisp outline.

Step 3 - Read the Paint Directions

Row of wine glasses

Next, follow the instructions provided on the glass paint you purchased to know if you need any more special supplies to make the paint cure properly. You may need special glass paint if you’re working with a mirror. Check your product for specifics.

Step 4 - Paint the Glass

When you’re ready, choose a color and use a thin paintbrush to apply the paint to the glass. As you paint, the paint will leave streaks. This is normal with the first coat, especially.

Repeating the Process

After the first coat has had time to dry, go over the area again until you’re satisfied with the color and stroke on the glass. Repeat this process for the remaining colors and designs you wish to paint. Let all colors dry before continuing.

Step 5 - Add a Protective Coat

If you’re painting a drinking glass, you will eventually want to wash it. Therefore, you must spray the design with two layers of polyurethane. Apply the coating according to the directions on the product, so when the glass dries, you can hand-wash it gently without ruining the design.

For an alternative look, or for painting larger pieces of glass, try using glass spray paint.