How are acrylic mediums made?
Welcome to Liquitex Uncapped, a behind the scenes glimpse at all things Liquitex. Enjoy an exclusive look at how your favorite paints and materials come to life.
What is a paint medium? And what does it do? An acrylic painting medium is a substance that is added to acrylic paint to change one or more of its properties. Mediums adjust how acrylic paint performs, feels and looks. They can be used to prepare your canvas, change texture, adjust flow, alter the working properties of your paint, or protect your final painting.
Making acrylic mediums
Acrylic mediums are in essence, colorless paints. Made from a water-based acrylic polymer binder, without the pigment we add to make paint. Like our paints, they come in a variety of textures and consistencies that can be combined with your paint to switch up the results you get.
How do the team make a new medium? The process starts by selecting the right acrylic binder for the purpose. The binder for our gels, fluids and color is the same, but will be different to gesso or an effects medium. Next in the acrylic medium recipe, we look at consistency. We pick the correct rheological additive for a gel, and levelling agent to make the right flow for the different fluid mediums. Compatibility testing on the finished formula is vital. All Liquitex products work together seamlessly across families and categories – Pro and Basics. Having the same binder helps us here. For mediums – like Pouring Medium - where the base is different, we do a full compatibility testing in the lab before releasing to the world.
Choosing the right medium
How do you decide between a gel or fluid paint medium for acrylic? Essentially, a gel will thicken color and a fluid will thin it. Both gels and fluids will extend the volume of your color - essentially giving you more paint - as you are adding more to it. The Liquitex pro mediums range has something for almost every artistic need. We’ve recently expanded the collection to give different finishes in fluids – so now you can choose matte, satin or high gloss finish for your color. Every medium gives you a unique result - changing transparency, surface shine, thickness depending on what result you are after. Have a look at the individual descriptions for more detail.
Some acrylic mediums look opaque because of the water content within the emulsion. Others include matting agents that make them appear milky, while other mediums are formulated with a clear resin, giving them greater clarity both wet and dry.
Because they include acrylic resin, mediums maintain or add to the stability of the acrylic paint film and can be used in any amount you want. But in the Liquitex Professional mediums family, there’s also a special category of professional additives. These are chemically different than the rest. Additives are used to adjust the chemistry of acrylic paints. Unlike all other mediums additives, they don't include a significant proportion of acrylic resin. That means that additives should be used only in the amount you need to achieve the desired effect; adding too much can affect the stability of the paint film. Liquitex additives can be used to adjust the flow or drying time of your color. Each is unique so read the instructions before use.
Since our first product, we’ve been powered by a ethos of innovation. A colourless Liquitex acrylic gesso was the world’s first commercial water-based artist acrylic in 1955 and we’ve continued pushing the boundaries ever since. In 1967, we created the world’s first removable acrylic varnish, the forerunner of today’s Soluvar. Our Acrylic Crackle Paste and suite of Pouring Mediums in matte, satin and iridescent finishes, continues the firsts.