I'm working on designing a set for a stop motion animation, and I'd like to have a wall that looks like peeling paint— something like this. I would be able to have a plywood board painted one color, which is peeling to reveal another color of paint underneath. What paints and techniques should I use to make this possible?

  • 2
    Is crackle paint close to what you want?
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 2:45

3 Answers 3


The basics of this can be pretty easy if you want it to be. Getting the exact desired effect, much like anything in crafting, will take some experimentation.

In its simplest form put down you base paint i.e. the colour you want to see below the peeling, distress and etc. Then put down something to help prevent the next layer of paint from binding. White glue works well for this. You would not necessarily use glue on your entire surface but where you want the cracking / peeling to occur. In your case you can try and target it along a line to simulate broken wall or foundation or something. How long you let the glue dry before you put on the next layer of paint is subjective. Most seem to wait until it is tacky to the touch.

Next you would put on your top layer of paint. The choice of paint should not matter here to much either. A milk paint lends easier to distressing or chipping. You see milk paint used a lot in "antiquing" furniture.

Once that paint is dry it should have cracked on its own while drying. If that is not to your satisfaction you could use some tools to help it along. Utility knives, putty knives would be obvious tools of choice. Again, you would need to experiment to get your desired effect.

Aside from the above or possibly in conjunction I have also seen people accelerate the drying process with something like a heat gun / hair dryer. This will definitely help the peeling process via bubbling. Take caution as to not burn or melt the paint.


that's a tough objective, considering how much work is put into preventing just that problem. One big aspect of such an objective is that time is a portion of the "feature" you seek. One may expect you wish to not wait for weeks to get the peeling paint effect. Alternatively, one could find an old building that meets your visual requirement and offer to purchase a wall panel! Color matching may not be all that easy in this last suggestion.

Heading toward a solution, I did a quick search using "what causes peeling paint" and found many answers. Many were unsuited to your goal, but one of the links provided a series of causes and possible solutions.

The one I like is located here: Peeling Paint and the Possible Causes and could be considered a recipe book for how to cause it, as each problem is described in reasonable detail.

I would suggest that if you attempt to create your own "model wall," to accelerate the process with heat and moisture. Enclosing your sample board in a greenhouse would be especially helpful. Lacking a greenhouse, an inverted aquarium or even a plastic storage bin may give you results you like.

For the two color effect, a poorly done initial coat of one color allowed to dry, then painted with the top color and subjected to extreme conditions might also enhance the results. Using excessively thick layers would give excessive shrinkage to help with the poor adhesion to the lower coat.

Look for instructions on paint sites regarding proper preparation and do the opposite! Clean and dry? Dirty and damp!


Wallpaper. Thin paper could be painted on both sides, pre-torn and pasted to the plywood, then easily and gradually lifted along the tear lines for stop motion. The paper sould be kept wet for the entire sequence or the colors will change as the water evaporates.

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