Water Balloons + Paint + Darts = Art

Have you ever seen the movie Princess Diaries?  Well Alys, Kris, and I had a ton of fun recreating the scene with darts thrown at balloons filled with paint in October of 2010.

The idea was to inflate water balloons with air, put paint inside, and mount them to a canvas. We then threw darts at our carnival-game style canvas and watched the paint splatter everywhere (if you were a good shot like me).


  • Water balloons
  • Metallic paint
  • Canvasses
  • Dart
  • Syringe

The trick was to blow up the balloon first, then fill a syringe with paint and squeeze a few milliliters of paint into the balloon. This all has to be done while the balloon is inflated so you have to make sure it is airtight where the syringe and balloon meet.

Metallic paint for water balloons and darts

Metallic paints for some extra!

Water ballons with paint

So many colors!

Then we tied it into a knot and we had a paint balloon! We repeated this to make around 50 balloons. What made it really cool was mixing/layering the paints in the syringe to get some cool color effects.

Here is a picture of some of the balloons we had. I had recently gotten Alys a new 50 mm prime lens (f1.8) we we were getting some cool “artsy” pictures with a lot of depth of field.

The Set-Up

Next, we used pins to pin the balloons filled with paint to the canvas.

pinning paint filled water balloons to canvas

Pinning the balloons to the canvas

Now comes the fun part – Seeing how good you are at darts! I believe I hit each of my balloons on the first throw, but some of us took longer than others…

THrowing darts at water balloons with paint

Dart Throwing!!!!

canvas with paint from water balloons and darts

“Artsy” shot of the canvas and darts

The Final Product

We were all really excited with the finish product – each a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!


Close-up of the texture


Looking good…

water balloons paint darts

The beautiful aftermath/clean-up

This project was a ton of fun, and I think the finished product turned out fantastic!

Thanks for reading!

10 Responses


This is so cool. I am planning on doing this for my twin’s birthday, so I was wondering how you mounted the balloons to the canvases?


Hi Shanna,

That sounds like a great birthday activity idea! We used push-pins to attach the balloons to the canvas. One thing to note is that the canvases we used were a rigid board type where the canvas is stretched over a stiff cardboard board rather than a wood frame. This gave it much more strength to stand up to darts and I would definitely recommend it over a traditional wood-frame canvas.

Have fun and I hope you enjoy!


Where did you buy the darts? I live in San Diego so where should I get them? Also is there any specific type of balloon/paint I should get when buying?


You can pick up some good quality weighted darts at your local sporting goods store (e.g. sportsmart, sports authority, big 5, etc.). However, I’m sure places like Walmart or Target would also have darts, but I’m guessing they’d be lighter weight, cheaper, and more difficult to pop the balloon with.

As for type of balloon, multi-colored water balloons work best because they are still small when inflated. In general, balloons pop easier when fully inflated, so having a large latex balloon that is partially inflated will be very difficult to pop. It might be more difficult to find them in the winter, but in the summertime it should be at every grocery store and large chain. We use push-pins/tacks to pin the tail of the balloon to the cardboard-backed canvas.

For the paint, really any acrylic paint will do. We chose whatever looked the coolest and had success with the metallic paints. However, the best part is mixing all different colors together so feel free to mix and match!

Good luck and have fun!


I’m thinking about doing something like this as a large scale event in town. Any thoughts or advice?


Hi Katie,

That sounds like a ton of fun to do this for a large scale event! As for a few thoughts, I’d say that the majority of the work is the upfront prep work. It took a lot of discipline to prepare all of the balloons ahead of time first before having a ton of fun popping them. I’d recommend making sure you give yourself enough time and help to set-up before the event by filling all of the balloons. Definitely practice beforehand because developing the right technique allows you to work much more quickly!

I’d also recommend getting lots of different colors and types (metallic, matte, fluorescent, etc.) to mix and match. I liked the simple white canvas background, but you can also paint them a color first (black maybe?).

Using a syringe to inject the paint into the inflated water balloon was the best and most efficient way we could think of to get the paint into the balloon. However, I’m sure there are better ways, and I’m interested if you can come up with a better way… definitely let me know how it goes!



I’m doing an art paper.Was wondering if you know who invented this balloon splatter technique??


Can’t wait to do this!!! But I also wanted to do a large scale one, too! I want to put it up as art work in my home. What do I use? I had thought abt just putting canvas on my fence? Do you think thats to hard for darts?


Hi Priya,

Sorry for the super late reply, but I think this technique was first shown in the movie “Princess Diaries,” with Anne Hathaway. My wife and I thought it would be cool to try out and it was a ton of fun!

Thanks for the interest,


Hi Heather,

Thanks for the comment! – sorry I’m so late in responding. I’m going to try to update my blog more, but I’m glad that you’re interested in the water ballon paint darts! Let me know how it goes and I think that’s a great idea to do it on a huge canvas. It should work fine because the darts are just meant to pop the balloons!

Best of luck!

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