The purpose of translucent paint is to add color to a surface while also allowing the underlying surface or paint color to show through. Translucent paints and glazes are also useful for adding a decorative texture or faux finish to a surface.
Artists use translucent and transparent paint to provide a layer of texture and color that does not fully obscure underlying layers of paint. Using translucent paint this way can add subtle tints to colors already on a canvas or panel, or produce shimmering effects and create the illusion of depth. Translucent paint also allows artists to color a canvas or panel while still allowing the weave of the canvas or the grain of the wood panel to show through.
Interior decorators and paint contractors use translucent paints and glazes primarily in creating faux finishes or decorative effects. By using techniques such as stippling, sponging, dry brushing and light washing, skilled painters can create the illusion of marbling, wood grain and even more unusual effects. Depending on the number of layers and the thickness of paint or glaze used, translucent paint can create everything from a light gloss to a brilliant metallic shine. Dark translucent paints are useful for creating the illusion of aging on wood paneling, furniture and cabinets.