Acrylic Mediums: The Ultimate Guide For Best Results

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The spectrum of acrylic mediums is as diverse as the imaginations of the artists who employ them. Gel mediums create intricate textures and impasto effects. Meanwhile, pouring mediums facilitate the mesmerizing flow of colors across the canvas.

Matte and gloss mediums enrich paintings with different surface finishes, adding depth and character to the final artwork. Varnishes provide protective layers that enhance color vibrancy and safeguard the longevity of the artwork.

In other words, acrylic painting mediums empower artists to experiment, innovate, and push the boundaries of their creative pursuits, ultimately transforming a blank canvas into a tapestry of textures, hues, and emotions.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or aspiring artist – working with an acrylic painting medium will allow you to experiment and rediscover your artistic expression.

Today, you’ll learn everything there is to know about acrylic painting mediums. Let’s start, shall we?

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What Are Acrylic Mediums?

what are acrylic mediums

Before we go any further, how about we pause for a minute and discuss the acrylic painting mediums? After all, some of you might not be familiar with them yet, so let’s cover our basis:

To sum up, acrylic mediums (AM) are substances and additives artists use or mix with acrylic paints to modify their properties, alter textures, extend drying times, and create various effects on the canvas or painting surface. These mediums are acrylic-based, just like acrylic paints, and can greatly enhance an artist’s creative toolkit.

Now that you know what AM is, let’s look at the different types:

Types Of Acrylic Mediums

As you can probably guess, an AM can come in many different types and forms. How do you know which type to choose for your artwork?

By all means, the type of medium you’ll pick depends on the painting you want to create and the expression you want to achieve as an artist.

Once you get familiar with the different AM types, choosing one that will work best for your artwork will become easier:

Gel Mediums

Gel mediums come in various thicknesses (soft, regular, heavy, extra-heavy). Feel free to use them to alter the body or consistency of acrylic paint.

Most gel mediums range from a gel-like texture to almost paste-like. Subsequently, they’re perfect for creating impasto effects or adding texture to a painting. Artists often mix acrylic paint with gel mediums to build up layers, create textures, or extend the paint without compromising its adhesive or drying properties.

Matte And Gloss Mediums

Matte and gloss mediums exist to alter the finish of the paint. What does this mean, you may wonder?

Matte mediums reduce the glossiness of acrylic paints, providing a flat, non-reflective finish, whereas gloss mediums enhance the shine and luminosity of the colors. Many artists use these mediums to control the sheen of their artwork, giving them more control over the final appearance.

Pouring Mediums

Pouring mediums will become your best friend if you want to facilitate the pouring technique in acrylic pouring art. They help to maintain the paint’s consistency and flow, allowing artists to create mesmerizing poured or dripped effects on the canvas.

If you ask me, using pouring mediums often is not a bad idea – most pouring mediums prevent cracking or crazing as the paint dries.

Texture Pastes And Molding Pastes

Both texture and molding pastes are used to create specific textures or three-dimensional effects in paintings. Here is a little more info about them:

Texture pastes contain materials like sand, fibers, or aggregates, adding grit and depth to the paint. On another hand, molding pastes allow artists to sculpt or mold surfaces before or after painting, enabling them to create raised areas or sculptural elements.

Retarders And Extenders

Retarders and extenders are mediums that slow down the drying time of acrylic paint. With that said, who will have the best use of them?

Extenders and retarders are beneficial for artists who require more time to blend colors, work on larger projects, or want to reduce the risk of paint drying on the palette or canvas before they finish their intended technique.

Varnishes And Sealers

After completing a painting, artists often use varnishes or sealers as a final protective layer. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the need for that:

Varnishes and sealers provide a protective coating. Furthermore, they enhance color vibrancy, unify the surface sheen, and protect the artwork from UV rays, dust, and moisture.

Acrylic Mediums For Beginners: How To Make Your Own Acrylic Medium

how to make your own acrylic medium

Creating your own acrylic medium can be a cost-effective way to customize your painting process. Here’s a simple guide for making a simple acrylic medium at home:

Necessary Ingredients:

  • Acrylic polymer emulsion (also known as acrylic medium or binder)
  • Distilled water


  • Prepare Your Workspace: Ensure a safe workspace before starting and have all necessary materials and equipment ready.
  • Mixing Ratio: Begin by determining the desired consistency or thickness of your homemade medium. Generally, a starting point could be a 1:1 ratio of acrylic polymer emulsion to distilled water.
  • Combine the Ingredients: In a clean container, pour the acrylic polymer emulsion. Gradually add an equal amount of distilled water to the emulsion. Use a stirring stick or spoon to blend the mixture thoroughly.
  • Adjust Consistency: Depending on your desired consistency, you can add more water for a thinner medium or more acrylic polymer emulsion for a thicker one. Keep mixing until you achieve the desired consistency and ensure it’s well incorporated.
  • Test and Adjust: Perform a test on a small area to observe how the homemade medium interacts with acrylic paints. Adjust the ratios if necessary to suit your painting preferences.
  • Storage: Store any leftover homemade medium in a clean, airtight container to prevent evaporation and contamination. Label the container with the contents and date for future reference.

Best Acrylic Mediums FAQs

What Medium To Use For Acrylic Paint?

You can use many mediums for acrylic paint, including gel, matte, gloss, pouring, testure, and molding pastes. Overall, the matte medium is well-suited for acrylic paint.

Do You Need Medium For Acrylic?

No, you don’t need a medium when working with acrylic paint. However, adding a medium provides many benefits, such as extending your paint and enhancing the colors.

What Is The Difference Between Acrylic Paint And Acrylic Medium?

Acrylic paint and acrylic medium are two related but distinct components used in acrylic painting, and each serves different purposes.

The main difference between an acrylic paint and an acrylic medium is that the medium doesn’t contain any color pigments.

What Can I Mix With Acrylic Paint To Make It Thinner?

You can mix several substances with acrylic paint to make it thinner, such as:

  • Water: The simplest and most accessible option is to add water to acrylic paint. Water can effectively thin acrylic paint, making it more fluid and easier to work with.
  • Acrylic Mediums: Various acrylic mediums exist to modify paint viscosity without compromising its adhesive qualities. Matte or gloss mediums, flow improvers, or polymer emulsions can be added to acrylic paint to thin it while maintaining its characteristics.
  • Pouring Mediums: Though primarily used for acrylic pouring techniques, pouring mediums can also be added to acrylic paint to create a fluid consistency ideal for various painting styles.
  • Retarders or Slow-Dry Mediums: Retarders or slow-drying mediums can be mixed with acrylic paint to slow down their drying time. While these mediums are not primarily meant for thinning paint, they can increase the working time, giving artists more time to blend colors or work on intricate details.

Final Say

I guess that’s all I have to say about acrylic mediums for now. However, I often update my articles, so expect further info on the subject in the future.

What are your favorite acrylic mediums? Do you plan to start using an acrylic medium if you haven’t tried one yet already?

Let me know in the comments section below, and we’ll chat about it.

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