Painting on Drafting Film (Mylar)

January 24, 2009

UPDATE 02.15.2016:
I’ve added a new article to my website that summarizes this post and adds new information. You can read the new article here:

Single Sheet of Film

Single Sheet of Film

I’ve received some new sheets of drafting film that I had ordered, and wanted to show some samples here of how it can be used as a painting surface. This is a sheet of “double matte” (meaning frosted on both sides) polyester film. There’s another version with a clear glossy surface, but although paint will adhere to that too, it holds better on this etched surface.

Back in the ancient days of my animation career I used the clear type of this film as cels with vinyl paint, and for many years since then have used the frosted type for inks and pencil. Only recently have I begun to use other types of paint on this. Below you can see various paint swatches of gouache and oil. Acrylics and casein work well with it also. I placed a sheet of colored paper beneath them so you can see how transparent it is. You can also paint on the back, of course. Even gouache sticks to this fairly well.

Gouache Sample

Gouache Sample

Oil Paint Sample

Oil Paint Sample

This product is usually called “Mylar” which is a brand name of DuPont’s. This particular sheet is made by Azon called “Herculene.” There are other brands as well, but they’re all basically the same. This whole sheet is 24 x 36″, 4ml thick and cost me <$5.00 per sheet. It also comes in rolls. When I get time I may make a full write-up about it and post it on my website.

See also my posts regarding…




  1. I was just curious, when painting with oils on the “mylar” do you use mediums such as turpentine? If so, wouldn’t it melt the plastic or not be archival over time?

  2. Hi Sarah. Gum spirits of turpentine would not be strong enough to affect the film. Mineral spirits won’t hurt it either. Polyester sheet isn’t like plastic wrap; it’s pretty stout stuff.

    As for the film being archival, ask me again in a hundred years. Dupont made the film in the early 50s and I’m not sure if those first films were acid free, but I have some pieces that are very old and look new.

  3. Hi,
    I have been experimenting with drawing on Mylar, and I have found any time I use any wet medium on the mylar I get a rippling effect-especially in trying to adhere the mylar to another surface. Have you come across this problem? and what solutions have you found? None of my teachers at school have worked much with mylar, and have no suggestions for me.


    • I know exactly what you are talking about. I call it blistering and I had a huge problem with it. The problem occurs when you apply adhesive to the entire surface of the mylar and then apply it to a rigid board (I use tempered masonite). The difference in the coefficient of expansion between the mylar and the board results in the blistering. It will be worse on larger pieces.

      The solution is very simple. Only apply the adhesive to a thin strip around the outer edge of the artwork, then lay the art over the board and smooth out any air pockets. I use DAP brand clear caulk but most any good adhesive will do. I just cover about an inch around the outside of the entire artwork. I rub it in with my fingers. Never had a problem since I started mounting my art with this technique.

      Joe McHarg

  4. Caitlin, I haven’t noticed any sort of “rippling effect.” I typically glue the film with an acrylic gel (Soft Gel by Golden) coating the gel on both surfaces, and press it down flat for a few hours to dry. No ripples. There are also adhesive sheets you could try, but I’ve found them to not work as well. What sort of wet media are you using, and how wet?

    • Hi,
      I painted a series of Plein air oil studies on Duralar that is thick and frosted on both sides. They got wet and ended up rippling although they were sandwiched between rigid foam core. I am considering re-wetting the backs and placing books on top to see if that helps. Any ideas?


      • I’m surprised to hear that your Duralar rippled after getting wet. I’ve submerged the film in water to wash and reuse it without it being affected. It could be that the oil paint is the problem, and got damaged somehow. Was the film glued to the foamcore? You might try emailing Grafix about this and see what they recommend.

  5. I have noticed the “rippling” or wrinkling of the mylar when I’ve used ink (markers are fine), acrylic paints and any type of glue… including acrylic gels. Even spray adhesive seems to cause a slight puckering, and it doesn’t seem to adhere for very long-the mylar peels off. The same kind of wrinkling happens when the mylar gets wet.
    It is a frosted mylar that I’m using.

  6. I hate to sound like I’m doubting you, but are you absolutely certain it’s Mylar film you are using? Drafting vellum, for example, looks exactly the same but is made of cotton fiber, and that can indeed wrinkle when wet. Polyester film should not. It certainly never has for me. I have some in front of me now I just held under water and it’s not even curling.

    • My research has revealed the cotton version tears easily but looks similar and seems to be the one used by architects and I guess artists. I have found many sources.
      But I am looking for a solution involving the plastic mylar film or polester film which are the generic names for what is actually Trademarked by Dupont Tejjin Fils. These are plastic sheets made from the resin Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
      My problem is an old sheet used for a ink drawing is damaged with what was very acidic tape from 30 years ago. Looking to remove this without melting or warping the mylar so that it can be reprinted. Or to leave a residue. Acetone warps it. And thinners leave a residue?
      Any thoughts if this is the mylar that you have
      been using?

      • What I’ve been using is not PET film. Sorry, but I don’t have any suggestions for you about safely removing the tape, other than trying to contact the manufacturers or conservators who have dealt with that problem.

      • Contact a paper conservator. You should be able to find one through the AIC website — in your area.

  7. It’s what they have always sold at the school store as Frosted Mylar. It says so right on the package. All of my fellow students at school have found the same problems with it, as well as friends from the design department. It doesn’t burn like paper either. It’s possible it is just a cheaper quality, but it runs at about $6 a sheet.

  8. That’s very odd. Maybe Dupont makes it differently now. The drafting film I have here is made by Azon and some from Graphix that is single sided, neither of which wrinkle. You might try another brand and see how it compares.

  9. I saw some beautiful painting on Mylar at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts student exhibit in Philadelphia and had to try it. I’m working on an oil painting on the Mylar now, and it’s working very well. Unfortunately, I need to attach it to a surface (should have solved that before I started…. oh well). I bought some Mod Podge and a wood panel which I’ll first gesso. Have you ever heard of using Mod Podge to attach the Mylar to the gessoed panel? I know it’s used for decoupage, so figured it could be used in this case.

  10. Helen, I’m familar with the name “Mod Podge” but have not tried it out. I think it’s a form of PVA type adhesive. From what I’ve read it requires a porous surface like fabric, paper, or wood, so you might have trouble with Mylar. Try testing it out on a scrap piece first.

    Another glue I’ve recently tested is Loctite’s “High Performance Spray Adhesive” which is vinyl based and acid free, and it seems to work okay so far. It dries quickly and clear.

  11. Update on the Loctite adhesive: don’t like it as much as I first thought. On a small preliminary test (@3 inches square) the film held fine to a hardboard panel, but a larger sheet has started to become unglued on its own. Small bubbles and wrinkles are appearing. Maybe a heavier coat of glue would be better, but I’m backing away from recommending it now.

    Acrylic gel is still the best adhesive I’ve found for use on drafting film with Graphix Double-Tack adhesive sheets a close 2nd. Another glue I’m investigating now is polyester adhesive thinned 50% with mineral spirits. I thin it so the glue won’t expand as it normally does and to make it brushable. So far so good but I’ll have to see how it holds up.

  12. I just started working on mylar. I love it. I am using very translucent oils with just a bit of linseed. I noticed that I am getting a slight “shadowing” effect (like a halo of oil yet it is not wet to the touch)) around the image. I wonder if this will go away when it dries. I am working this piece to submit to a show and worry it will not be archival. The shadowing effect does not really distract.

  13. That’s interesting Lisa. I haven’t noticed that effect you mention.

    What exactly do you mean by “translucent oils?” Are you referring to transparent pigments or paint that has more oil added? I doubt the “halo” will vanish after drying. I assume you’re painting isolated shapes? If all of the Mylar is covered in pigment there would likely be no halo, but that may not be what you want to do.

    Of the paint swatches shown above I should mention that the gouache has started to flake off on some colors, but not all – mostly the white. The other paints are still okay, including the oil.

    • Thanks for your reply. I meant less pigmented colors (ie; green gold vs say, mars red for example) that have more linseed. Actually it seems the problem is going away as the painted areas dry. So I think there was some oil absorption into the mylar directly around the painted area.Good to know you have not seen problems over time because I have my students playing around with this surface as well. Many thanks. Lisa

  14. I’ve recently painted some gouaches on mylar, while travelling in Europe.
    They made great stable little paintings that transported well with no flaking, and were packed flat in a cardboard backed sketchpad. re. your comment
    above about gouache flaking after a time, the gouache I used is in an acrylic
    base (label says acrylic gouache) and is sold at the art store at the school I teach at which has a huge animation program. It’s sold for the classical animators to work on cells which I believe are done on acetate, but for sure on some type of plastic film. Anyway, acrylic gouache adheres really well to mylar and handles just like traditional gouache. The brand is the Japanese brand Holbein, I believe. (It’s at the studio and I’m not – sorry.) Thanks for the tip on Golden gel as an adhesive.


  15. Thanks, Megan. I’m not surprised with your success at using acrylic “gouache” on drafting film, since they are essentially acrylic paints, which adheres well to this surface. Genuine gouache needs something more absorbant like paper. There are several other brands on the market other than Holbein: Turner, Lascaux, etc.

    By the way, animation cels these days are also made of polyester, assuming you can find anyone still using them. Acetate was used also, but is less stable. Gouache was used early on since it could be washed off and the cel reused, but was later replaced by vinyl and acrylic paints.

  16. Try chromacolour paint on the drafting film -absolutely top class.

  17. Hi Dave!
    I’m very interested in your results – was just over at RP asking about this. I’d like a smoother surface than linen, but big – what’s your take on mounting the Herculene on large panels? Say, Gatorboard or one of the lightweight aluminum panels? Up to 4 x 8′?

  18. Hey, LG, thanks for stopping by.
    The adhesive winners so far are still Soft Gel or Double-Tack tape, but nothing yet holds extemely well. One test panel in oil that had the film glued with Soft gel to hardboard got some ripples and bubbles appearing as it came unglued in some spots, but another one was fine. Still due for testing is epoxy or high strength acrylic glue like BEVA.

    For a large panel I’d want either a slow drying glue or adhesive sheets. I don’t know if sheets are available in large sizes but it might be possible to seam pieces together without that showing through.

    In the case of oils, I wiped dried paint with solvent and was able to easily get all the way to the film – it sort of peeled off. I took a palette knife and was also able to scrape it off without too much effort. It might be better if the oil paint is several months old or if the film surface was acrylic primed.

    As another option you might want to consider is polyester fabric. It has the same features but the weave makes it more porous. Thin polyester muslin is very smooth and could be mounted to panel.

    • DB, I have used soft gels to adhere both paper velum and the mylar you are discussing and had no trouble with wrinkling. If the vellum is thin — really, what we used to call bumwade, a sketch in a roll — then it will pucker, as it has no weight. I have never used oils on top of the soft gel; I didn’t know you could use acrylics under oils at all. You’ve had no problems with this?

      • Acrylic mediums will shrink some as they dry, so I suspect that’s what caused the film to wrinkle some. It wasn’t all that thin as I recall. The real issue there, I believe, was the gel not adhering properly to the hardboard. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes not. Could be that it was uneven and dried too quickly in spots.
        To be clear, I wasn’t speaking about painting oils on the gel, but using the gel to adhere the film, and then painting on the film. Oils can be used to some degree on acrylics, although it’s an open issue as to how well that works in the long term. The main problem is that the acrylic polymers, as I understand it, aren’t that porous. Arcylic primer work with oils because the solids in it makes it porous. The only time I will use acrylics under oils is for a thin underpainting layer. I’m not that fond of acrylic primer.

  19. Hello,
    Do you have any updates on your experiments with the adhesion of mylar to wood? I’ve been using 3M spray adhesive for a double bond, but pieces of mylar have been coming off some weeks after the fact. Any new suggestions?

    • Hello Daniel. Still to date the best adhesives for me have been the acrylic Soft Gel or Double Tack sheets. The sheet is not as strong as the gel but goes down more easily. The only problem I’ve seen with the gel is some spots on a test piece have come unglued. Other pieces with gel are still very smooth and well adhered. I was able to pull them loose but it took some effort. I’ve yet to try a stronger glue like BEVA. I sent a query to Dupont for their recommendations, but haven’t heard back yet. When I do I’ll post it here or if anything else turns up.

      • Hello again,
        Have you tried any of the stronger 3M glues? I may try the spray adhesive 3M 90 (as opposed to the all-purpose 3M 77). Thanks for your prompt response.

      • I received a reply today from a Dupont customer service rep. He didn’t give me a direct answer to what glue to use, but recommended I try adhesive companies directly, such as 3M. One thing he mentioned is that not all polyester drafting films are made matte in the same way (not surprising.) Dupont uses some sort of “filler” mixed internally, and others use some sort of coating. This may help to explain why different brands give different results when glued down, and behave differently between brands of film. Not a one-size-fits-all situation.

        A friend of mine who makes model airplanes says he has heard of a heat-activated glue called Balsarite or Balsaloc that model builders use to adhere Mylar to Balsa wood. Next time I’m near a hobby store I’ll look for some.

  20. Hi David

    So excited just started using Frosted Mylar – from Daniel Smith. My drawing are done in charcoal pencil with pan pastels.
    Do you find that when using a soft product as I just described that I need to spray it? I usually do this with charcoal on paper but I was not sure what to use on Mylar.
    In addition where do you buy your frosted mylar. The sheets I am using are only frosted on one side.


    Mary Jo

    • Hello, Mary Jo.
      I imagine a fixative spray would work just as well on film as it does on paper. Use whatever spray you like.
      I’ve found sheets of film by Graphix at a local hobby store. Artarama has them too, and I bought the Herculene sheets at Fineartstore.com

  21. If the mylar has to be mounted to something else, like MDF panel, or a gessoed panel, what is the cost savings?? Sounds like you are duplicating surfaces?

    It would seem to me that you would treat is just like a drawing/paper and mat under glass, thereby only needing to secure with archival double-stick mounting tape.

    • Mounting it like paper is an option, but some people may not want to use a mat around their painting, or even a frame, and just have it on the front of a cradled box. The film can also sometimes buckle under it’s own weight when vertical if it’s not glued flat.

      One advantage to polyester film is that it’s a permanently stable surface, unlike wood which reacts to the envirnoment. Although you might still be using wood as a support, you’re not painting on it. As such, it’s a good idea to make sure whatever adhesive you use is reverseable.

  22. Have you tried water-mixable oils on wet-media acetate?

    • I’ve avoided acetate since it is easy to tear, and the brands that I’ve seen say they are not acid free. I have tested water-miscible oils on polyester film, however, and they seem to behave no worse or better than regular oils.

  23. Have used drafting film for some time. I paint on it using chroma colour. I love it for coloured pencil drawings. Using pencil on the front and on the reverse gives good saturation. I often use it for mono prints. Draw on the drafting film with watersoluble pencils, dampen some paper and place it onto the drawing, transfering the drawing from the mylar onto the paper. I also use the film as a home made scraper board. I draw onto the mylar with either a waxy coloured pencil or Indian ink and scrape into it with a sharp blade. I can place any coloured ground that takes my fancy behind the drawings. How versatile is that?

  24. what do you suggest as a varnish or finish for oils on mylar? thanks!

    • I’d suggest any varnish that’s safe for oils would be fine. Turpentine or mineral spirits that may get on the film doesn’t appear to affect it in any way.

  25. For mounting the Mylar onto board or a frame. Would it work to treat it like canvas and wrap it around to the back and staple it down? Of course you’d have to leave a wide enough border around the painting and probably cut out the corners.
    You can sand mylar too, it’s very tough. I use it for stencilling and it survives a bath in really hot water, which I use to remove the acrylic paint clogging the stencil.

    • Once you cut into it it’s easy to tear, and I doubt you’d be able to get it very flat or tight to a frame. In that situation I’d just go with polyester canvas instead.

  26. Thank you very much for writing this, there is lots of good info here! My painting teacher told us that mylar doesn’t have enough tooth to hold an oil painting for a long time, because it will eventually flake off. I have not been able to find anything about the archival quality of mylar, but I do really enjoy painting on it in both acrylic and oil. Do you have any information?

    • There isn’t any testing that I know of, Hannah, of paints on drafting film. The companies that make them don’t really market it that way either, so that may tell you something. Long term results are uncertain as a result. In the same vein, it’s not right to say that oils WILL flake off. I would want to see proof of that as well. Flaking would be the result of crazing or cracks which is a flexibility problem. The films will be as stable if not more so than whatever they are attached to. They can bend, but unlike canvas or wood they don’t expand or contract. The remaining issue is paint adhesion, and as long as the oil begins in lean layers the adhesion should be good enough to last a long time. That’s the best I can tell you.

  27. I have a beautiful acrylic and pencil artwork on single matte mylar, approx 30 x 42….for three or more years I have been trying to figure out how I can hang it so that it retains the luminosity and translucency of the work. Does anyone here know of a safe adhesive to mount the mylar to a clear sheet of acrylic?



    • David, my recommendation in that situation would be to use polyester tape or adhesive mounting film, Grafix Double-Tack or something similar.

  28. Hello David,

    I looked through all of the comments on your website and didn’t find this question. I am an artist and an architect. I’ve been familiar with mylar drafting film for years and have also discovered it works great as a medium for just about any paint or ink media for art. Here’s my question.

    I recently started an indian ink drawing on a sheet of double-sided matte mylar. I used a little bit of water and a q-tip to try to erase a portion of the ink. As I did this, I was surprised at how easily the indian ink came off. I then wiped it clean with a dry cloth. As soon as it was dry, I skimmed over it with the back of my finger and found the spot to be a bit tacky. As I inspected it some more seeing it off the reflection of the light and then slipped a black sheet under it to see it even more clearly. The tooth or matte finish actually was gone, and the spot was more transparent (looked darker, over the black underneath). I was livid. I never experienced water actually dissolving the matte finish of a mylar sheet before. I’m at a loss as what to do with it now. Have you ever come across this? Is it a new type of manufacturer? Has the chemical make up of mylar drafting film changed?

    Another very odd thing about this was – that when I tried the same thing with the water on the reverse side it was fine! Did I use the wrong side or what?
    The story gets better – then I decided to use mineral spirits, something that I’ve used before without harm, but seeing what water did I can only imagine what spirits will do – but using the mineral spirits did not harm it or the ink at all! Only the water took off the film!

    One thing I did think may be a factor is that I’ve have heard of some films being bio-degradable (which at first thought sounds nice, but actually seems to defeat the purpose of the film). Do you think that could be the reason for this? Have you come across this before? What do you suggest?

    Thank you, Rob

    • For an official response, Rob, you’ll have to try and contact the company that makes the drafting film you’re using. Is it actually Dupont Mylar or another brand? I’ve never had the problem you describe. It’s hard for me to understand how water alone could affect the film. Maybe it’s the ink you’re using? India ink is also something that varies from company to company and some won’t wash off easily. The best thing I can offer is to try another brand of film. The Herculene film I have isn’t affected by water.

  29. Hi, first of all I want to say how pleased I am to find this blog post, it has provided a wealth of information. Thank you.

    Now my question- I am also a college student beginning to experiment with transparent surfaces as a paint ground. So far I have been using clear vinyl and wrapping it around a wood frame as you would canvas, but of course it’s very sensitive to ambient temperature. So, do you know of any clear products that are flexible enough to wrap and yet resistant to temp variations and archival? (Is that too much to ask for? lol)

    • It might be possible to gradually heat polyester or polypropylene film and mold it to a frame. I have seen archival boxes and bags made of this material that are recommended for storing archival papers and they have bent corners. That’s something I’ll have to put on my list of things to test out.

  30. To create a piece of collage art work, I tried to glue paper on the drafting film by using Golden Gel Mediums. But after it dried, the paper is not smooth any more. Do you have any tricks?
    Lots of thanks in advance

    • I’m guessing when you say it’s “not smooth anymore” that perhaps the paper is too thin and is wrinkling on you. What you might try in that case is to press it under some weight to keep it flat as it dries. If the film is thin it might wrinkle or pucker. The gel mediums can shrink some when they dry.

    • Jenny, it sounds like the problem you are having has to do with the paper expanding when it gets wet, and then wrinkling when it shrinks again. I know the artist Donato Giancola uses matte medium to mount strathmore paper to masonite, and has published an article on his technique on his website: http://www.donatoart.com/technique/mounting/mounting.html Although the materials are different, it might be worthwhile to experiment with his method and see if it gets you anywhere.

      Hope that helps!

      I just want to say that this is a really great thread! I’ve been doing all of my illustration work with charcoal and conte and wet brushes on mylar and then scanning them in and coloring them digitally. It’s really fun and turns out pretty cool.

  31. the good thing about oil paintings is that they last very long, they can even last for generations -;,

  32. Hi, I’ve recently started a project where I’m printing on opaque mylar with an architectural plotter. I was then wanted to paint on it (possibly on the back) with something that would be transparent with vibrant colors. I’m planning on creating a lightbox type structure behind it.

    So basically its a 3’x4.5′ drawing thats printed with black toner and I want to have transparent colors that are bright that will show well with lights behind them.

    • If you’re asking what type of paints to use, I’ve not tried a set up like what you’re proposing, but my suggestion would be to use acrylic or vinyl paint on 2-sided frosted film. You can print in reverse on the back and paint the other side. There are fluid acrylic paints or inks that are fairly transparent enough, but even regular acrylics aren’t all that opaque.

  33. Hi, I am happy to find this thread because I have been working on mylar for a while and just recently started worrying about it’s archival quality. However, i do have in my possesion an acrylic painting I did on mylar 20 years ago that looks in great shape.

    Another person mentioned wrinkling when using collage…yeah, i get that. The only paper I’ve found that doesn’t do this is washi or japanese papers, which I think are specially made so as not to wrinkle when wet. I collage onto the back of the mylar so the pattern is seen (muted) through the front. I will follow the link posted above for gluing techniques to avoid wrinkling…

    The other thing I do is draw on mylar with graphite. I work on both sides kind of simultaneously. one can erase over and over without damaging the film. i then fix it by carefully painting on acrylic medium, and sometimes add colour on the reverse side so the colour doesn’t obscure the drawing. I am still playing and experimenting with this technique. I also add collage to these pieces, but I have several I am happy with aside from the wrinkling (yes, caused by the paper).

    • Thanks for the comment, Paula.

  34. Hi there, Have you ever painted on Tyvek?

    • No. Never tried paint on Tyvek.

  35. On the topic of adhering Mylar to another surface, I’ve begun painting on transparent Mylar (sold under the brand name DuraLar) and so far I’ve had no problem with using 3M double-sided tape to affix the film to a wood frame. It seems to hold well enough, and I’m working at sizes around 40-48″. My question of durability will be how long the tape holds before breaking down (50 years? 20 years?) I guess I’ll find out someday!

  36. Entropy.

    It’s a sound approach to make the work so any future repair is not too cumbersome for the owner, and that your methods are as sound as possible.

    Some artwork has the faults obviously built in so the owner knows upfront what they’re getting themselves into. Others may be misleading. If anyone expects art to last forever without some maintenance they will be disappointed.

    That said, I think using the tape is a reasonable decision. If it does fail even in a relatively short period of time, it shouldn’t be too difficult to fix. As long as it doesn’t do it so often as to be a nuisance.

  37. Have you had any problems with oils, oil bars or oil paint sticks not drying on frosted mylar?

    • Drying of oil paint wasn’t really a problem. I seem to recall that it took a little longer than expected. Bars or sticks I haven’t tested.
      Looking at my test samples now the oil paint hasn’t flaked or wrinkled, but it’s still easy to scrape off. A varnish coat might help that problem. Strong solvents are a risk to the film, so any cleaning or removal of varnish in the future may be an issue.
      Acrylics seem to adhere better than oils when painted directly on frosted film, so an acrylic primer may be the best solution, or at least to start with a thin acrylic paint layer. That should also improve the drying rate. I’ve also tested a shellac primer which seems to hold well, but in that case I’d recommend mounting the film instead of having it loose; probably a good idea for oils anyway.

  38. Hi David—-I don’t know if anybody is paying attention to this thread anymore, but just in case—-Do you know if, after you have printed (inkjet) on mylar, you can then roll the artwork up and transport it without damaging the art? And then if you hang it unframed and unmounted, will it straighten itself out on the wall? I suppose you could weight it somehow at the bottom. But the important question is, can you roll and unroll (and roll it again) it without damage to the print? Any insights appreciated!

    • The film can be rolled but I wouldn’t do that too tightly, certainly you don’t want to fold or crease it. I doubt it would straighten out by itself, but you can mount it under a mat to press it flat.

  39. Thanks for the reply, David. I’ll try rolling it. For hanging, I have in mind a kind of simple poster hanger. http://www.posterhanger.com I want to avoid mats and real frames since that suggests more traditional work than mine currently is. Thanks again.

  40. Referring to the comment by Caitlin Rooney I am an architect using polyester drafting film because it is stable in all humidities. Sir, do you know a way of removing slight creases? Caused by bad packing I think. Maybe a warm clothes iron? The creases are like mild “work hardening” in some plastics. This is is not life threatening of course but as a golfing buddy said, a bit like finding your new Titleist Pro V1 golf ball has a cut on it just before you’re about to tee off at Augusta!

    • When frosted film is bent it makes a bright line along the crease and there’s no way to remove that I know of.

      • I agree, especially if the substrate is less than 10 mil thick. I have been reverse painting on mylar since 1985 and found once the sheet stock has been buckled or creased, there is little to fix or repair the damage. Switching to 10mil is what seems stable in avoiding surface damage. De Jaecy

  41. this has been an eye opener of the finest kind. i am starting to use paint sticks (Shiva) on the Mylar. The painting i did was a wonderful tactile process leading to a painting i am satisfied with. that in itself is unusual.
    i have not thought about hanging it for gallery sale. i need to use the most economical means to do this yet i do only use archival materials. i want simple, very simple.
    could you help me with this?
    thanks in advance,
    linda b

    • I’m not the sort who would recommend a cheap method of presenting the work. The presentation is as important as what’s on the surface, so it’s always due the same consideration. Pricing on framing costs will vary as anything else, so it pays to shop around. A customary approach for oil stick media is to use a mat with glass/acrylic glazing.

  42. hi i am interested in mounting mylar to wood in a semi permanent fashion, in that i would like it to come off if and only if i take it off.any ideas? does the spray adhesives bing permanent?

    • sweetgeorgiapeaches- Try double-sided tape. There are different types of semi-permanent and removable tapes. I use a permanent double-sided tape to affix clear mylar to wood frames and it has worked very well so far.

      • You can also buy large double-sided adhesive sheets that work the same way. Their use might be an issue depending on you display the board since it’s possible to see them through the film. Spray glues would be another option. Epoxy glue would be stronger than an acrylic one. How long any of these will hold I can’t say, so “permanence” is uncertain.

      • also just to clarify when u say wood frames do u mean wood panels? and if not, is there no substrate at all behind the frame?

      • Instead of tape or glue, I use small map tacks to adhere the frosted mylar to foam core. I then from slightly beyond the tacks and I have never had a problem. I use the mylar for large drawings so I want the transparency and glue and tape are not an option for me.

        M. J.

  43. thank you dbclemons! i tried the spray mount ( 3M 90) as a test and it stuck pretty good, although i was still able to remove it (after 24 hours). the spray did leave a messy horrible residue on both sides so am thinking to try tape. if you would be so kind to recommend both a permanent and non permanent thinnest tape would be great. thanks for keeping this blogt alive!!!

    • I was the one who responded about using tapes, not dbclemons, just to clarify. I have built wood frames 2 ways, with canvas stretcher bars and with select pine 1×2 wood, not wood panels. I then place the clear mylar film across as if it was canvas, using the double-sided clear tape to affix it to the frames along the edges of the mylar. If you want thin tape I recommend Scotch brand Double Sided Preservation Tape… thin, clear, permanent, non-yellowing, low offgassing, acid-free. 3/4″ is width that I use. I haven’t used any non-permanent tapes, I just know they are out there, often labeled as ‘poster’ tapes.

  44. I often use drafting film as a ground for acrylics, graphite, ball point, coloured pencil…in fact there are very few mediums that drafting film will not accept. I was once drawing with pencil and brushed the surface with my left hand. I noticed a dark mark over the surface. My gold wedding ring had left this mark. I have since produced a number of silver and gold point drawings. The metal goes straight onto the film surface without having to coat the surface with a ground as is usual with all other surfaces I have tried.
    I mount the finished work on white self adhesive mounting board. And then frame it under glass.

  45. For people who are still reading and following this thread, please take a look at my recent series of posts where I’ve been experimenting with Dura-Lar Wet Media film. It covers many things that have been brought up here on what seems to be a superior surface for paint application. The posts start here:

  46. Hi, I have been drawing on drafting film for nearly 10 years (graphite, charcoal, oil pastels) I have always framed the works, but with my current work I’d like to glue them to 3mm MDF as i would like the colour to show through , I feel that I should seal the MDF first with possibly shellac? Before I glue(possibly trying your idea of the gel medium). Would be interested in your thoughts on this. The works are small 20cmx12cm. Thanks in advance

    • The gel medium itself will seal the MDF, so you won’t need anything else. The gel likely wouldn’t adhere that well to shellac anyway. The gel might cause the thin MDF to curl unless you press it under some weight for a few hours while it dries. Be aware that the gel can sometimes cause an uneven spotting through the clear sheet that is noticeable with drawings, so you should test this out on a scrap piece first to see how it looks. Otherwise, I’d suggest a drymount using the Double-tack tape or something similar.

      • Thanks, I will test a few things out, the double sided tack I think we call Jac paper, but I will give it a go anyway and let you know. I’ve just done a test using Micador spray adhesive and it seems ok but of course I will leave it for a week or so to see if there’s any lifting. One thing I did notice was to be careful not to get any spray on the face of the film, it doesn’t seem to dry and thus collects dirt! Thanks again.

  47. Thank you for this very informative thread!!
    I’m in a fine arts graduate program and I’m having fun using powdered graphite in a Neo Neglip or other oil-based gel mediums on frosted mylar. I love being able to use retractive techniques while the paint is still wet. I also use odorless mineral spirits to thin the paint. I’m relieved to see that the mineral spirits doesn’t seem to hurt the mylar (the person at the art supply store said to use mineral spirits sparingly because it will continue to attack the mylar)

    • Sparingly sounds like reasonable advice to me. While I didn’t notice any affect from the spirits on the film I didn’t repeat that process several times over the same area. I wouldn’t be surprised if doing so would eventually weaken the film. However, even the use of more aggressive solvents didn’t show any sign of damage either. Your mix of mediums sounds interesting. Keep up the fun!

  48. Mylar film is very versatile, We print onto it and then pressure seal the film onto acrylic tiles. We have to add a coating onto Mylar so it will accept inkjet printing.

  49. hi very interested in trying this paper. do you know where i can get a sample or buy 1 sheet. i don’t want to buy a whole pack until i can see a sample of the paper to make sure it will work for my project. thank you.

    • I don’t know from experience where you could get samples. You might try looking for an email to the company customer service, and ask for some. They’re usually good about that.

  50. I have been wanting to work with mylar for some time. This page and comment thread has been very helpful. I have been trying to figure out different ways you can mount mylar to a panel. Besides using gel medium, have you tried or know of using resin to mount and layer mylar drawings on a panel?

    • I have no input for you on resin adhesives for films, Lauren, sorry. Some questions for it would be how long-lasting would it be, or how easy to replace when it fails, and if you have any clear areas of the film exposed, would the adhesive change color or be adversely affected by light.

      • I have used resin on art projects. Over a short period of time, it yellows.

  51. Hi! I might have missed this information in this long, extremely informative thread, but I would love to wrack your brain a little about preservation. I paint with a combination of oils and acrylic on mylar sheets (usually one-side frosted), and I am now struggling with storage. In a small studio space, storage is crucial, and I had to learn the hard way that the paintings are very fragile. They also need to be wrapped, since dust really sticks to the paint (probably because I use varnish). What I am trying to do is build a rack system, so I can hang the mylar paintings, while individually wrapping them in a plastic sheeting (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-20-ft-x-100-ft-Clear-6-mil-Polyethylene-Sheeting-CFHK0620C/100651802) that does not adhere to the paint on the surface. The actual hanging of the paintings is the tricky part, as I’m not sure about using clips (with felt in between) or magnets. I was just wondering what you do do store the mylar. Have you ever attempted anything like this? Also, if you would like to see what I do, you can go to sassonzr.wordpress.com. Thank you!!

    • sassonzr, I wouldn’t recommend wrapping the Mylar painted with oils, since you want the paint to continue to get air circulation while it’s curing in storage. Also make sure the sheeting doesn’t touch the paint surface. I would suggest taping or clipping the Mylar to a firm backing, such as mat board, and then draping the sheeting over that. I have some shelving made of thin steel rods that I sometimes use for hanging the artwork.

  52. I paint with oil on Mylar or duralar. It fell off the wall and sat and a few creases formed. Is it ruined? Is there a way to get creases out of the Mylar.

    • There’s no safe way to do that that I know of, Susan. Gluing it to a firm backing may diminish the effect.

  53. Thanks. One of the ideas I had to salvage the situation, was to cut out the crease and glue in a “patch” of painted duralar from the back. Will acrylic medium glue mylar to mylar or is there another adhesive that would work?

    • Polyester tape might work better for you in that case. It will stick to the film very well. 3M makes different kinds with various degrees of strength and coatings.

      • Thanks. I have another question since I’m worried that tape eventually fails? Would it work better to glue the Mylar to paper using acrylic matte medium? Or some other glue?

      • Any way you can mount it to prevent it from getting damaged again is obviously best. The tapes come in different strengths and should hold well enough, or be easy to replace compared to acrylic. Otherwise, I would suggest using a gel instead of acrylic medium, since it has better adhesion in my experience.

  54. I used to use a large roll of 3M pressure sensitive adhesive to mount oil paintings on double frosted Mylar to a lightly sanded Sintra (plastic) backing. But I have recently started using Talas Lascaux 498-20X (acrylic polymer) adhesive for mounting another material that is similar to Mylar & am wondering if it would work with Mylar long term. I use a squeegee to obtain a firm, even bond.Any thoughts?

    • I’ve no experience with that brand of acrylic polymer, Bettina. I assume it would at least work as well as the acrylic gel that I’ve tried, which is still my preference.

  55. I’ve been working on with ink on polypropylene vellum similar to duralar, yupo and mylar. I love it but have had problems mounting it to Birch cradled panels. I have used gesso to prime the surface or even latex paint and then have experimented with various adhesives for mounting the polypropylene to the primed surface: pva, acrylic gel and medium, white gesso and yes paste. I’ve had terrible problems arise with air bubbles that come up later after they’ve been mounted and are on the wall of a gallery. This situation is also complicated by my process as I sometimes work on the back of the paper. Colleagues who use this material swear by PVA but they usually use the opaque white version of these materials, versus the frosted version. My question:

    Have you tried to remove artwork you’ve already mounted with gel medium or pva in order to repair air bubbles? I have friends who are art conservators and they have no experience with this material. I’ve tried poking tiny holes in the bubbles and pressing the air out. I’ve not tried adding glue via a needle. It’s terribly frustrating as the results are not predictable. Some work perfectly and other do not.

    • That bubble problem is one I haven’t been able to figure a work around when trying to mount a clear sheet of drafting film to a firm backing. I’ve guessed that it’s because the gel dries too fast in those spots where the bubbles show up, or that the gel thickness is uneven underneath.
      You might try to just mount the edges, or top edge. This can lead to puckering if the gel shrinks or the backing has any movement later on. You might also notice a slight shadow effect caused my the artwork on the backing through the film. Clear adhesive film tape would not cause bubbles, and is available in large peel-off sheets. It doesn’t hold as strong as gel, but works better than spray adhesives I’ve tried.

  56. Good evening, you mentioned that in your ancient days you would use this as you would a cel. I am trying to find a cel like plastic sheet just like this, to paint over as they would in disney animation. When they trace on this sheet with paint by oulinning it on the reverse side then flip it, it comes out so perfectly smooth and without streaks or brush strokes. I ran into this sheet at a michael arts shop and used 3 mediums, acrylic, watercolor, and oil but non of them gave the affrct. What would you suggest??

  57. Gabriel, the medium I used on cels back in the day was gouache. We later switched to a vinyl medium that was similar to acrylic paint. It takes a great deal of practice to get the look correct, and the cels were not very consistent in quality, adding to the difficulty. The paint has to be the right thickness also. I don’t know what brand of film you’ve been testing, but you might want to check out a type of film from Grafix called Wet-Media. It takes water based paints very well, and might work better for you. I’ve made some posts here where I’ve tested it out. If you do a search they should pop up.

  58. The secret to painting on mylar and then laminating the finished media to a support is using a gel medium for the skin coat on the slick side of the 7 or 10 mil polyester substrate. The acrylic ground is compatible to bonding to the support with a soft gel medium by flat rolling the substrate directly to a support. R. Benton Jacks, aka DeJAECY

  59. I recently purchased an older painting by the Pennsylvania artist, Hornberger. I removed the painting from the old mat and frame and believe it to be done on mylar. It was disturbing to find that masking tape adhered the work to a cardboard backing and that several inches of the original were hidden under the mat. I would like to remove the masking tape residue from the painting but I am unsure what to use. Also, can the painting be hinged matted using archival tape to an archival backing board and then placed under glass to keep it clean? Can the painting be cleaned? It appears to be dirty, perhaps smoke residue? What are your suggestions for a proper matting and framing of this very lovely painting?

    • Carolyn, the wisest thing would be to take it to a professional restorer/conservator to get it handled properly. Cleaning will depend on the type of paint, and you don’t want to use a strong solvent that might affect the paint or film. Any painting can be mounted on a firm support and placed under glass. That’s a consideration of your aesthetics and the conditions you have to display it.

      • Thank you for your prompt reply. I pretty much thought this would be the right route to take in preserving it.

  60. Where could I find the mylar that is matt in one side and glossy on the other?

    • If you do an online search for single (or 1) side matte drafting film I’m sure you can find many places that sell it.

      • Dick Blick sells both single side frosted mylar & double surface sheets.

      • Haven’t had good luck finding it, My source has been GS Direct for a double sided frosted film. I don’t care for the surface.
        I used to use the one side glossy, one side matt mylar, back in the day, as a color separator.
        Perhaps it’s called something different now.
        There are laminating films that are one side matt and one side glossy, but I don’t think they would be stable.
        I was hoping you would know of a source. I’ve been calling around and was told that it’s no longer not made.
        Have you seen it lately?

  61. Found something like it, thanks. I was looking for the frosted mylar, but drafting film might be similar. The one I worked on was very heavy and in sheets.

  62. I’m using frosted Mylar to paint on. I hang it with magnets on the corners to large head nails onto the wall. The nails are roofing nails so have a wide head…it looks amazing and is clean and simple. The magnets are tiny rare earth…super strong.

    A collector purchased a painting and hung it floating between 2 pieces of glass.

    One question I have :
    I cleaned the Mylar with acetone and overworked one spot…removing a spot of the frosting…..is there any way to add back the frosted effect to this spot ?

    • Magnets are a clever method of hanging the sheet, Caryann. Good for you.
      As for replacing the frosted surface, there are frosting sprays on the market you could try. I’ve not tested that particular use of them, but they do work on non-frosted films. Krylon or Rustoleum are a couple brands that make them.

  63. Dave,

    I have found your blog extremely interesting. I am an architect and accustomed to working on mylar. This before the days of CAD. Any way, I have started painting on mylar and love it with one exception. I have had problems with “wrinkling” and “blistering” when I have mounted large drawings on hardboard. No problem with smaller drawings, up to 18″ x 24″; larger drawings have tended to blister when I adhere them to hardboard. I have come to the conclusion that the mylar has a different coefficient of thermal expansion from the hardboard that it is mounted on. The mylar will expand, when warmer, break the bond with the board and when it returns to its normal temperature, it leaves a blister. I have sold paintings and had them returned because of this problem.

    At first, I assumed that the adhesive was not strong enough. I used better adhesives and more of it. Still had puckering on large paintings.

    After much experimenting, here is my best solution for mounting large mylar paintings on hardboard. I spot the adhesive every 4″-6″ around the edges of the artwork. No adhesive in the middle. This allows for slight changes in the size of the mylar vs. the hardboard without stressing the mylar and causing it to pucker. I have used several types of adhesive utilizing this method with no problems. My favorite is silicone caulk as it sticks well and allows a little flex.

    I hope that this may help those of your readers who work with large format mylar artworks.

    • Thank you for your comment, Joe. Glad to hear of your experiences and how your solving the adhesion problem.

      Your comment about the film expanding may not be correct. From all I’ve read, it is dimensionally stable and will not shrink or expand, according to manufacturers. Wood panels, however, are not stable; although, some have more movement than others. Even with paper and canvas, I’ve sometimes had problems with adhesives sticking evenly across the surface of hardboards. It seems to me that movement in the wood may be more likely the cause of those problems with wrinkles and puckering. When I used acrylic Soft Gel to adhere the film, I never had puckering problems on wood.

      If you’re satisfied with how the spots of glue on the edges are working for you, then keep it up. One issue comes to mind that I’m not sure I covered before, and that’s when the film is not glued down completely to the surface, any mark that’s on the front can cast a slight shadow on the backing, even if the film is touching the surface.

  64. Dave,
    Have you ever gessoed the back of the Mylar with several thin coats creating a thicker substrate, more rigid to attach to board?

    • I have not tried to gesso (acrylic dispersion ground) the back in order to adhere the film to a substrate. I have applied acrylic gesso to the front to use that as a paint surface, and it works okay on frosted film. It would not make it more rigid, but it would be thicker and have more tooth by way of the gesso. I wouldn’t expect it to be any better than an acrylic gel. One problem with the gel is it sometimes gives me some uneven streaking after it dries that can be seen through the front of the film. You wouldn’t see that if you painted gesso on the back.

      • Thanks Dave, good feedback. I think the double tack tape mounting method you discussed, may be the best other than mounting under glass. Thanks again. Jan

        Sent from my iPad


  65. Recently I picked up a sheet of Crescent Perfect Mount film at a local art store to test out. It’s dry mount adhesive similar to Grafix’s Double-Tack that I mention before. It works like double sided tape. You peel off one side of the protective paper, apply it to the surface, and then peel off the other side. When I pressed some frosted film to this it held very well without any bubbling. I used foamcore as the backing in this case, but I could also use a wood panel. It’s available in sizes 11 x 14 and 20 x 16.

  66. […] magnets instead of adhesive. One of the most popular posts I’ve made was regarding the use of drafting film for drawing and painting, but an open issue has been trying to find the best way to mount the finished work. Acrylic gel or […]

  67. Hello Dave, i was reading through these comments on mylar because i am looking for a solution to bond a frosted double matte mylar onto a plexiglass sheet. I have donde several trials with acrylic gel medium , but find that although the mylar seems bonded if any corner is left out glue you can just pull the mylar right up. is there any adhesive you can recommend for this purpose? mylar onto plexi ?

    • I work with drafting mylar exclusively. There is a problem with mounting mylar on a rigid surface due to the fact that there will be a difference in the coefficient of expansion between the two surfaces (they will expand and contract at different rates, leaving sags in the mylar). What has worked for me is using rubber cement adhesive around the outside edges of the mylar. The rubber cement will absorb some movement between the two materials and if sags do occur, the rubber cement is repositionable and can easily be flattened out again. Never coat the entire surface of the mylar with adhesive.

      Joe McHarg

      • That’s an interesting point, Joe. However, the only thing that causes surfaces to expand and contract is either physical movement, or moisture. Moisture doesn’t effect drafting film, but would have an effect on wood or wood pulp (paper.) The only real problem I can think of there is by using unbraced wood panels that can curl or bow edge to edge. A properly braced panel should give you no problems there. In my mind, the problems are due to the adhesive, not the support. Any rippling that you’d see in the film is due to the adhesive giving way. Your idea of using rubber cement sounds reasonable, but it tends to become quite brittle over time, and need to be replaced. An acrylic gel shouldn’t have that problem.

    • I don’t have any experience with mounting film to plexi, Sandra. Perhaps something like epoxy glue would work better, or you could try contacting Golden or Liquitex to see if they have recommendations on a different type of medium to use.

  68. […] old post of mine regarding the use of drafting film as an art surface remains one of my most popular posts with ongoing discussions today. The main concern is how to […]

  69. Most posters here do not seem to realize that many “frosted” mylar (polyester) sheets actually are just a coating on top of clear polyester. One reason they put it on is to make it possible for ink jet printers to print on it, the “frost” quickly absorbs the ink which would just float on the mylar.

    I’ve done several tests with aceton, paint thinner, alcohol, white spirit, etc. Mylar seems completely insensitive to these. However these frosted coatings dissolve very easy especially in alcohol.

    Another suggestion about the “blisters”: maybe you can use thicker layer of mylar to avoid it? I have a sheet of polyester sheet here of 1mm and it’s available even thicker. Also, if it’s thicker it’s much stiffer so there is no need to glue it all the way, just sticking it at a few places may be enough

    • Thank you, wouter. Good points to make. The coating is a mix of silica and acrylic resin, so that would explain why alcohol is not recommended. Your suggestion on thicker film is good advice, too.

      • Thanks for keeping up this site, it is still very useful resource for art on mylar.

        I would suggest to stay away from the frosted mylar completely as the frost even seems to react on plain water. If I use one of these frosted sheets, I either take off the frost (with alcohol) after which it becomes a clear sheet, or use the back side if that’s unfrosted.

        The sheets I have here have this coating on 1 side, with plain mylar on the other. It’s very hard to see but it makes a huge difference in behaviour.

        I’m painting with oil on plain mylar. I sand it lightly (600 grid with water) for a better adherence and to get a nice velvety feel to it, but that’s not needed. Sanding also gives a ‘frosted’ look but different, more white while the frost looks more transparent.

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