Understanding
Acrylics

There's no more versatile paint system in the world. back in 1995, Liquitax was the world's first water based acrylic available for artists to buy. News for it's huge scope, ease of use and reliable performance quickly spread and now acrylics are the globe's most popular art media.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Water-based acrylic paint is composed of paint particles dispeesed in an acrylic polymer emulsion. There are three main components in any acrylic paint-pigment, binder and vehicle

The Components

Pigments

Pigments are granular solids which give paint its color. They are milled to a tiny particle size and do not dissolve, but remain susspended in the paint. Pigments can be organic, inorganic, natural and synthetic. They have little or no affinity for the surface to which they are applied.

Binder

A binder is the substance that keeps pigment in place after the paint dries. Acrylic paint has acrylic polymer as its binder and this forms a film after the water has evaporated.

Vehicle

This refers to the part of the paint that carries the pigment and binder. Water is the vehicle for water-based acrylic and when combined with the binder, it creates a polymer emulsion. Once the water leaves the system via evaporation or absorbtion, the paint dries, creating a stable clear polymer film full of trapped colored pigment particles

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The Science

Acrylic colors dry as a result of water evaporation. Here's what occurs as pigment, water and acrylic are transformed into a long lasting paint film:

Step 1

Squeezed from the tube, or scooped from the jar, acrylic paint is a finely balanced dispersion of pigment in an emulsion of acrylic plymer and water. The water serves to keep the emulsion liquid, and acts as a kind of chemical 'chaperone' preventing the acrylic polymer particles from getting close and locking up before the artist is ready

Step 2

When exposed to the atmosphere, water in the emulsion evaporates, or is absorbed into the painting painting support. That's when the acrylic polymer particles come into direct contact and fuse with each other.

Step 3

The clear polymer particles organize thtmeselves into a stable, hexagonal structure, trapping the pigment in place. The result? A paint film, which is water-resistant, permanent, full of color and vibrancy and extremely stable!

Tips & Techniques

Useful guides for layering