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How to Make a Faux-Stained Glass Painting: Video and Techniques

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I haven't been able to stop making faux stained glass creations! I experiment with different techniques and enjoy sharing them with others.

Faux-Stained Glass Painting: It's Easy!

Have you ever tried to make a stained glass masterpiece? I also haven't, but I have stumbled upon the wide world of faux-stained glass painting—and I love it! It's a very uncomplicated form of painting that is removable and reusable on glass surfaces. If you have children or students, it can be a fun and safe craft for them because the materials are water-based!

  • You can place your works of art on glass surfaces such as windows.
  • Since they're reusable, they can be removed and replaced.

Even adults can release some stress by creating works of art for glass vases or dressing up a window that may face toward a not-so-spectacular view. However you choose to display them, they are sure to be a hit with family and friends. It doesn't matter if you're an artist or not. Here are some steps and ideas to a successful faux-stained glass look!


  • Gallery Glass paints
  • Glass
  • Liquid leading
  • Nutpick
  • Paper towels
  • Pencil
  • Sheet protectors
  • Straight Pin (optional)
  • Tape
  • Toothpick
  • Tracing Paper

1. Find an Image

Find what you want to paint or create your own drawing. I suggest starting with something that has simple lines. If you can't draw, don't worry. Find something that catches your fancy, and print it out.

  • If what you are printing is too small, use a copier to increase the size of the picture. That way, you can trace it to create your faux-stained painting.
  • If you cannot find an image with simple lines, take the detailed piece and place a sheet of tracing paper over it. This way, you can choose the main lines and make a simplified drawing of it. This is what drew me to this form of art: its simplicity.

2. Place the Drawing on Tracing Paper

If you haven't already, trace your drawing on a sheet of tracing paper with a pencil. Even if I create my own image, I still trace it on tracing paper. Place your picture inside a sheet protector. If the tracing paper is too large, fold the excess down over the top and tape it down. It helps keep the image in place. You may have to fold the other sides to fit the tracing paper inside.

Sheet Protectors vs. Leading Blanks

There are also aids called leading blanks that allow you to place your image on them to apply your outline and fill in your color. However, you get a limited supply, and they cost more than sheet protectors. The sheet protectors are a cheaper way of doing the same thing. I have not used the leading blanks, so I don't know if they have other benefits.

3. Apply the Outline

With the liquid leading, trace the lines of the design. To get the liquid leading started, take a pair of scissors and cut the tip maybe 1/8 of an inch. You may have to use the tip of one scissor blade to poke it deeper into the hole if you have issues squeezing the leading out. You want it big enough to allow the leading to come out with ease.

  1. When first starting, slowly squeeze until liquid leading begins to peek out.
  2. Place the leading on the sheet protector to prevent the leading from curling up on the tip of the bottle.
  3. Elongate the line of leading before following the outline of your drawing. This allows the leading to stay in a straighter line once you begin tracing with it. If you stay too close to the page when pulling away to make a line, you risk breaking the line of leading.
  4. Do small sections at a time. In time, you will be able to make longer and neater lines.
  5. Once you complete a section of outlining, dip down the tip of the leading bottle to the paper protector and pull up until the line disconnects.
  6. If you find a line you’ve made to be a little crooked, take a toothpick and nudge the leading to where you need it to be before it begins to set. Don’t use the tip of the toothpick to do this. Just kind of sideswipe it.

4. Wait for It to Dry

Wait. It will take the liquid leading about eight to 10 hours to dry. In the meantime, choose the colors you want to use for your picture!

5. Add Color

Once the leading has dried, you're ready to fill the color!

  1. Take the tip of the color bottle and place it up against the leading line.
  2. Trace along the line, making somewhat of an outline within an outline.
  3. Then, fill in the color moving from left to right.
  4. Use a toothpick or nutpick to smoothen the color from left to right. This evens out the level of color and helps eliminate bubbles.
  5. Rake over each color, section by section, as you go along. If you're working with an outlined object with multiple compartments, trying to fill in every section first and then raking over the colors will likely not end well. Sections may already start drying, making it hard for you to eliminate the bubbles and potentially causing you to pull up a section you worked so hard on.

At times, you may not want one color and want to blend a bit. Placing colors in the same space and dragging one color into the other can give a blended or highlighted appearance if mixed with white or a lighter color.

Note: In the video, you might see the outline of the flower's leading move. This is because I constantly picked it up and reused it to test. If I apply pressure to it, it will still stick to a window.

6. Wait Once More

Wait. Depending on the size of your painting, it can take from 10 to 24 hours for the colors to dry completely. After about eight hours, you might be able to look at it to see if everything is dry.

7. Peel the Painting

Peel away what you have painted from the sheet protector and stick it to a window or mirrored surface. Awesome, right?

Painting on Glass, Plexi-Glass, or Mirrors

This process can also be used directly on glass to make hanging artwork pieces.

  • For vertical use on windows, it’s as simple as painting on a flat surface. You may have to hold the tip of a color bottle at a slight angle, but it still works the same. Just be aware of how thinly you apply the paint.
  • Gravity can play a role in the paint sliding downward, making it color-heavy near the bottom of each painted section. With careful application, you should be fine. Just practice before you start your masterpiece.

What Can I Do for a Background?

If you find that your painting is surrounded by nothing but plain space, there are plenty of techniques that can be used for various looks for backgrounds. Most of them can be made up using your own creativity. Backgrounds can be created using any color, but the main colors used to create a “hard to see through” appearance are Crystal Clear (my fave), Hologram Shimmer (has bits of glitter), and Clear Frost.

Here are a few videos to give you a few examples:

1. Swirl Background Technique

2. Dotting Technique

3. Pebble Technique

Dragonfly with an etched painted edge

Dragonfly with an etched painted edge

How to Get a Frosted Look

For more of a frosted look, you can work with Gallery Glass etching paint for an icy look.

  • It can be applied while painting or be dabbed on with a brush.
  • You can also use it with a toothpick to create different background patterns as well.

Note: When using the etching paint, know it is more permanent than regular glass paint. Applying it directly to a window can be hard to get off if you decide to change it later.

Can I Create Different Leading Lines?

Want to create straight lines with leading, but lack the steady hand you need? There are ready-made leading, so you can create perfect leading lines for windows. It comes in a roll or a package of straight pre-cut lines. By simply cutting what you need and adhering it to your surface, you will have the straight line you desire.

Wish you could match the color scheme of your painting a little bit more? There are also liquid leadings of gold and silver you can use to outline your creation.

How to Make Smaller Leading Width Sizes

Though it’s probably best to have a large drawing in mind when doing a project, a thinner leading may be required at times to create a smaller image, such as one of a bird or butterfly.

  • One method of making smaller leading lines is by using tape. Applying tape such as artist's tape to the tip of your faux leading allows you to adjust it to the size of your liking.
  • Another method you can use is to tape icing piping tips (typically used for baking) onto the tip of the leading bottle.

Both options can require a little time to apply to the tip of the bottle but are worth the results.

  1. After each use, make sure you clear out what has been left behind inside the icing piping tips. This can usually be handled by running hot water inside the tip and scraping out the excess with a toothpick. Let it thoroughly dry out before each use.
  2. A simpler method could also be by letting the leading stay within the tips overnight. Once the leading inside has completely dried, just take your toothpick and scrape down the sides of the tip. The hardened leading can easily be pulled out. Tip sizes to consider are 2 and 1.

Note: There are actual tips called Micro Tips for the liquid-leading bottles, but for some reason, they have been discontinued.

How to Get Rid of Bubbles in a Faux-Stained Glass Painting

If you notice bubbles while painting on your sheet protector surface, tap underneath the section with the end of a nutpick or spoon handle and watch them pop!

If you're painting directly on glass, tapping underneath will not work. You will have to take a straight pin and pop the bubbles individually. The main issues are big bubbles showing up on either surface. Pop as many of the tiny ones as you possibly can, but the big ones are definitely the ones that can mess up your painting. With practice, you will get used to popping bubbles.

Helpful Websites and Ideas

Enjoy Trying This Fun Craft Project!

It's not a difficult form of painting, especially with its removable and reusable qualities. In fact, I find it downright easy and fun! You can beautify home furnishings such as windows, vases, or mirrors. Faux-stained painting can also add privacy to windows by preventing outside lookers from seeing in. With some practice, we'll be professionally faux-stained glass painting in no time.

This article was inspired by Mary615 and her awesome introductory article on the subject. Had it not been for her, I wouldn't have found this creative outlet. Check out her wonderful tutorial on making faux-stained glass look real! Thanks, Mary, I've started and, now, I can't stop!


mary on January 21, 2019:

I have used Gallery Glass paints for over 30 years. I use a toothpick to burst bubbles also if you want thinner lead lines I use a empty bottle of colored paint.

SMSalman from Pakistan on March 22, 2018:


NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on February 04, 2018:

Hi Jodee...the protector is for you to apply your outlines and paint on. It allows you to easily pull your painted object up once it's dry enough with ease.

Jodee on February 01, 2018:

So you are painting ON the sheet protectors? Then what? I’m confused

Nancy on June 30, 2017:

Several years I purchased several plastic pieces that already that the lead drawing on the plastic. All the kids had to do was color in the paint. Have you ever seen this before they were about 8 1/2 X 11" .

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on January 19, 2017:

Plain and simple Katie...YES! :-) Depending on where you are, I always got my glass from The Dollar Tree where everything is a dollar. Or I would get my larger frames from discount/vintage stores where they were like 3 bucks or cheaper a frame. I hope you do this with your class. I'd like to know how things turn out. If you have any more questions, just ask!

katie on January 18, 2017:

I love this, I'm an activity director and have some crafters in the community. We are wanting to start a project but I'm drawing blanks about where to get the glass pieces from. What are you using? Is this glass from a picture frame, or are you going through a craft store? Thanks!!

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on July 13, 2015:

Thanks so much Zahurlancer. Glad you enjoyed the article. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on November 23, 2014:

Good idea there Renee! I never thought to do that. Are you able to control the thickness and thinness well? I'd imagine so since you can twist it to your liking. Great suggestion. Thanks!

Renee on November 23, 2014:

As for the leading tip..I replaced the top with an adjustable top from elmers glue and I use a lot of gallery glass on glass blocks

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on July 04, 2014:

Hi pat. I never thinned it out. I only cut the tip of the bottle so it can flow more freely and then I used the taping method to tape over where I snipped, in order to adjust how thick or thin I wanted my leading outline to be. Hope this helps. You may have to play with it a few times before you get the hang of it. For tape you can use something as simple as artist's tape. Let me know if you have any other questions.

pat on July 04, 2014:

yes I been trying to use the liquid leading but I have a very hard time getting it to come out, is there a way to thin it down

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 11, 2014:

Thanks so much erorantes! I love that darn rooster too. I haven't done my paints in a while. I need to pick it back up. It gives a great sense of satisfaction when finished. Have an awesome day. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on June 11, 2014:

I like your hub. My favorite picture is the rooster. I like your creative mind. It looks like you were having a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing your art.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on August 04, 2013:

Thanks so much moonlake! Glad you enjoyed them. Have a wonderful day!

moonlake from America on August 04, 2013:

Good ideas they are beautiful. I'm going to vote up, share with followers and add it to my Scoopit page.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on July 28, 2013:

Hiya Rusticliving! Thanks for the vote and sharing. I hope you give it a shot. I decorated some of my windows with it in my last apartment and I loved it. If you give it a shot let me know how it went. Go to the Gallery Glass Class link and you might get some ideas there too. Bunches of luck to you!!!

Liz Rayen from California on July 28, 2013:

I am in the process of redoing my front door which has nine square panes. I really love this idea and have booked marked your hub so I can refer to it as start my project. Thank you for sharing! Wish me luck!!!

Voted up +UABI and shared!


NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on July 18, 2013:

Hi tracykar199! Have you tried it? It is fun. I love seeing them completed. If you haven't tried and if you do let me know how it went. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day.

Tracy from San Francisco on July 18, 2013:

Beautiful and fun ~ Thanks for sharing this! ;)

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on October 21, 2012:

Thanks Analyn. I've come across a few challenges but nothing that detours me from painting on. Once you get the hang of it it's fun and easy. Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful day!

Analyn on October 18, 2012:

This is beautiful. Looks easy enough to do.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on August 27, 2012:

I can't put down the paints long enough bridalletter. I have really come to enjoy it. I have an arts and crafts show coming up next month and super excited about showing off my new found skill. :-) Thanks for stopping by. If you try it let me know what you think.

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on August 27, 2012:

Wonderful guide, I need to link it to my stained glass wedding theme. Really cool craft!

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on August 02, 2012:

Thank you so much sen.sush23! Do you use the Gallery Glass or another type of glass paint? I've seen other paints and am curious about using them as well.

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on August 01, 2012:

Very pretty and interesting details in the Hub. Though I know and do glass painting, but I found this useful read and am sure those who have not tried their hand at it can have the courage to do so with such guidance. Voted up.

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on August 01, 2012:

Very pretty and interesting details in the Hub. Though I know and do glass painting, but I found this useful read and am sure those who have not tried their hand at it can have the courage to do so with such guidance. Voted up.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on August 01, 2012:

Thanks tammyswallow! I think this is super easy for anyone. I also saw somewhere where someone suggested using a coloring book for getting outlines. Or you can find stain glass projects online and print them out and trace an outline for them and just fill in the color.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on August 01, 2012:

Thanks Mary! I noticed your title come up the other day when I was trying to look up some things. I just smiled to myself and thought "I know her!" :-)

Tammy from North Carolina on August 01, 2012:

This is a great idea. Painting isn't one of my best talents, but I could do this. Love the owl!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 01, 2012:

I am just so proud of you, I could POP! I love that hologram shimmer. I've never used that before. Your hummingbird is just beautiful. I sure wish you a lot of luck with your craft show!

I'm so please with my Hub on Faux Stain Glass. If you put Faux Stain Glass in search, mine comes up second! That's such a thrill for me.

You are doing some beautiful work here, Nia!!!!

I am sharing this with my followers and on my Facebook page.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on July 20, 2012:

Thanks so very much ishwaryaa22! I get so excited starting on a new project. So much so that now I'm working on completing some for an art show in Oct. I'm super excited about doing that. Show us more of your work when you get the chance. Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Have a wonderful day!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on July 19, 2012:

You created many beautiful masterpieces! Among your amazing work I admired the most is your pretty owl. The water droplets-like pebbles background is done very nicely. Your bird painting looked very wonderful even though you mentioned it is a trial and error method. Your instructions and numerous videos are very helpful. Through this engaging hub of yours, I learnt about hologram shimmer and other backgrounds and gallery glass etching paint for an icy look. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Pressed all the buttons. Voted up.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 19, 2012:

Thanks for the clarification.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 19, 2012:

Good question Jayewisdom. I never thought about it. I just knew it was waterbased assuming there was no lead. I just tried to research it but couldn't find the ingredients of it. I will check when I go home but I believe Dreamermeg is correct. I did find that real stained glass windows uses/used real lead. Thanks Dreamermeg for stepping in with an answer!

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on June 18, 2012:

I'm sticking my nose in here and I may be entirely wrong but I think it's called that because in the original stained glass, the glass pieces were separated by strips of lead metal. That's what you see when you look at a large stained glass window, separating out the different colours.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 18, 2012:

The work is beautiful, but I have a question. Why is it called "leading" paint? "Lead" as in that toxic metal they don't allow in house paint since 1978? Or, is it pronounced "leed-ing" to mean something entirely different? I realize I'm showing my profound ignorance here, but I really want to know.....Thanks. Jaye

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 18, 2012:

Of course it's okay. Thanks! Same to you!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 18, 2012:

Hi again, NiaG. I'd like to link this Hub into mine about Faux Stain Glass, OK?

My best to you.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 17, 2012:

Mary!!! You did inspire me. I've been trying to hurry up and put this out but I had to learn a few things first.

I love doing this. It's been fun figuring out the ends and outs of it. I'm so glad you introduced me to it. Thanks bunches!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 17, 2012:

Oh, NiaG! I can't tell you how thrilled I am to read this! I've been waiting and waiting. You have done a beautiful job with this faux glass painting, I love all of your projects, and the videos are great. I am so proud of you! What a thrill to know that I actually inspired someone to try this. Thanks for the info and link back to my Hub. I voted this UP, etc. and will share and also I'll put it on FB.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 17, 2012:

It is indeed joanwz. And once you get the hang of it, making different patterns and mixing colors becomes a blast.

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 17, 2012:

It's really cool Dreamermeg. Just paint, peel and stick!

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on June 17, 2012:

I have previously done some glass painting,, using old glass jars and confirm that it was great fun. Also did some glass painting on acetate sheets and cut them out to fill in blank spaces in birthday cards. Haven't heard of being able to lift the painting off and stick it direct on a window before. That's awesome. Must try it sometime. :)

joanwz on June 17, 2012:

How wonderfully creative. Another way for you to express your creative side. Cool!

NiaG (author) from Louisville, KY on June 17, 2012:

Thanks TToombs08! I'm really enjoying myself. I'm already working on two more projects. I don't even watch tv anymore. Ha! Straight to painting after work. Love it. Thanks for stopping by. If you give it a shot let me know what you think.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on June 17, 2012:

Beautiful. I've often wondered how to do this. Great job. :)