Acrylic Medium

Acrylic Medium – Looking at the Best Acrylic Paint Mediums

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In this article, we are going to discuss the wonders and advantages of using acrylic mediums in your paintings. Paint mediums can add to your paint’s versatility and range, allowing you to create different effects and textures. Just like using oils, acrylics have their own range of mediums and additives that are made of the same base formula as your acrylic paints. This makes them fast-drying and easy to clean up. Before we dive into the best acrylic paint mediums, we are going to explore what types of paint mediums are best for what purpose.



What Is a Paint Medium?

Painting mediums assist the artist in altering the consistency, texture, gloss, and even color of their paints. When oil painting, one would use an oil or chemical-based medium for the best results. With acrylic painting, however, you would need a water-based acrylic medium. These come in different forms, which we will discuss below.

Acrylic Paint Mediums


Matte Acrylic Medium

This type of painting medium will assist in cases where you want a subtler and less glossy finish. Adding a matte medium to your acrylic paint will remove your paint’s natural shine and make your colors more opaque. You would use a matte acrylic medium:

  • To remove gloss;
  • To dullen the appearance of colors;
  • As a decoupage glue alternative;
  • For acrylic transfers. 


Acrylic Gloss Medium

Gloss mediums will enhance the shine and finish of your acrylic paints, making them thinner, smoother, and more transparent. This acrylic medium is perfect for glazing work as it acts as a varnish. Acrylic gloss mediums can also be used as a sealant over your artwork in order to protect them or to increase longevity by altering the binder-to-pigment ratio. You would use an acrylic gloss medium:

  • To add shine;
  • To seal your paintings;
  • For acrylic transfers;
  • To increase the longevity of your artwork.


Acrylic Glazing Medium

Similar to your acrylic gloss medium, a glazing paint medium will create a glossy effect, making your acrylics clearer and softer. These are thicker water-based paint mediums that tend to come in different finishes such as gloss or satin for different effects. They are of a thick consistency and will add to the texture of your paints. You would use an acrylic glaze medium:

  • For dulling colors;
  • In blending;
  • For toning and shading;
  • For adding gloss. 


Acrylic Glazing Fluid

Opposite to a normal glazing medium, an acrylic fluid medium is liquid, which will therefore make your paint more fluid. Fluid mediums work well for doing the job without sacrificing color saturation in your artwork. Glazing can be achieved simply by adding water to your acrylics. However, this tends to wash out your colors and weaken the binding agent in your paints. Glazing fluid mediums are beneficial as they will thin your paint while still maintaining the colors, and will allow your paint to properly adhere to the surface. You would use an acrylic glazing fluid medium:

  • For underpaintings;
  • To add a glossy shine;
  • For altering colors.

Paint Mediums


Gel Acrylic Medium

This range of paint mediums looks more like glue. It is a white paste that will allow for thicker textures and bold brushstrokes. Using a gel acrylic medium will naturally make your paint stickier and can allow it to act as an adhesive. Making this paint medium is a great option for collages and other paper projects. 

These also come in different finishes depending on your preference. In addition to the different finishes, gel mediums come in different consistencies: The heavy body option will maintain the thickness of your paint, while the liquid option makes your paint very watery and transparent. This would be useful in glazing techniques as well. You would use an acrylic gel medium:

  • In decoupage and crafts;
  • For bold textures;
  • To thicken the paint;
  • For its adhesive qualities. 


Retarding Medium

Paint retarders have the job of slowing down drying time when using acrylics. This makes them act in the same way oil paints would. These are useful for blending and color mixing, allowing you more time to tend to your layers and details. Some retarding paint mediums do not contain binding agents, which can make your paint runny and messy, so it is best to closely follow the instructions when adding these to your paints. You would use a paint retarder:

  • To slow down drying time;
  • To add to workability;
  • For blending and color mixing.


Fluid Mediums

These are the liquid versions of the gel and paste paint mediums. Fluid acrylic mediums are meant to be poured and will therefore make your paints quite thin and more fluid. They have the same purpose as the gel mediums, but will allow for more workability and transparency when you are painting. These come in gloss, matte, glaze, and other finishes. You would use a fluid medium:

  • When you need more fluidity in your paints;
  • In thinning paints;
  • For making colors more transparent;
  • To enhance colors or add-ons.


Now that we are aware of the various acrylic paint mediums available, we can take a look at some brand recommendations.



The Best Acrylic Paint Mediums: LIQUITEX Acrylic Mediums

Liquitex is a supplier and manufacturer of various painting mediums. This includes fluid, gloss, matte, and gel. What makes this brand so popular is their broad range of quality acrylic painting mediums and acrylic painting tools. To make things easier, they have defined their product range into three different categories: prep, paint, and finish.  Here, we will look at three of their most popular acrylic mediums and the benefits of each one.

Painting Mediums


The Best Liquid Matte Medium: LIQUITEX Fluid Medium

This Liquitex acrylic medium is an all-purpose pouring fluid and will provide a matte finish when added to your paints. This painting medium is non-toxic and safe to use. The color is opaque upon application and translucent once dry, and it will add depth and intensity to your color pigments. Using this matte fluid medium will also provide dirt resistance to your artwork once done. This medium has a creamy consistency and will add to the fluidity and workability of your colors. You also have the option of mixing this fluid medium with a gloss or varnish to create a sheen to the final piece.

LIQUITEX Professional Fluid Medium
  • Creates a matte, non-reflecting finish with acrylic colors
  • Lightweigh and non-toxic
  • Opaque when wet; translucent when dry
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  • Keeps paint wet and workable for longer
  • Safe and non-toxic
  • Enhances colors
  • Provides a transparent protective layer to your work
  • Can be used with gloss or varnish
  • Available in different sizes


  • Bottleneck design makes decanting or pouring difficult
  • Some users reported a gloss shine when using too much
  • Not to be used with oil-based paints


The Best Gel Gloss Medium: LIQUITEX Professional Acrylic Gloss Medium

This acrylic gloss medium is perfect for thickening paints and extending your colors. A creamy, gloss medium with a satin finish, this product makes blending and color mixing nice and simple. A gel medium is beneficial in adding body and thickening your thinner paints. This will also add to your drying time, so you can paint freely without your work drying too quickly. Liquitex acrylic gel mediums contain certain resins which add to the durability and adhesion qualities of your acrylics. This gel medium will leave your work with a smooth and glossy finish.

LIQUITEX Professional Gloss Gel
  • Thick and creamy with a satin finish
  • Ideal for learning color theory and mixing
  • Retains peaks and brush strokes and good pigment load
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  • Glossy finish
  • Extends colors
  • Thickens watered down acrylics
  • Extends drying time
  • Makes paint thick and creamy
  • Affordable


  • Dry time may take a few hours
  • Too thick to use as a finish coat alone; should be mixed with your paints


The Best Glaze Medium for Acrylics: LIQUITEX Professional Effects Glazing Medium

This acrylic glazing medium by Liquitex provides your work with an iridescent sheen, where the medium includes an acrylic polymer that has been mixed with ultra-fine pearlescent pigments. This medium will add a sparkle to your paints or can be used as a varnish in order to create a shimmer effect. It can also be used to thin out your thicker paints without making them watery. Liquitex glaze medium can also be applied over dry paints to reactivate them and add that pearly look.  

LIQUITEX Professional Effects Medium
  • Includes an acrylic polymer with ultra-fine pearlescent mica pigment
  • Produces a range of iridescent or metallic colors with acrylics
  • Adds shimmer or sparkle to a picture even in the smallest amounts
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  • Affordable
  • Iridescent pearl sheen
  • Can be used as a varnish or mixed with paints
  • Can reactivate previously dried acrylics
  • Perfect for glazed layers


  • This will not slow down your paint’s drying time


The next brand we are looking at is the Golden range. This brand is known for their artist-quality products and broad range.



The Most Cost-Effective Acrylic Mediums: GOLDEN Acrylic Painting Mediums

Golden Paints was established by Sam Golden and his family, where they created the first usable acrylic paints from resin in the 1940s. Ever since then, Golden Paints has come to be a name renowned in the art world. Their range of acrylic mediums is extensive, including gel and fluid mediums as well as pastes and paints. Their gel range alone consists of five different options, ranging from soft gel to heavy gel mediums. Let us take a look below.

Painting Medium


The Best Acrylic Textured Medium: GOLDEN Molding Paste or Textured Medium

Golden molding paste is perfect for use with acrylic and other water-based paints. This painting medium will allow you to build up layers and surfaces within your work, allowing you better use of textures. This paste can also alter or add to the sheen of your painting. Golden Molding Paste is useful when wanting to add realistic elements such as petals, tree bark, and flames. It allows your designs to stand off of the canvas and have a life of their own.

GOLDEN Molding Paste
  • Semi-opaque acrylic texture medium
  • Perfect for building surfaces
  • Creates texture, alters sheen, and changes body
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  • Affordable
  • Recognized brand
  • Great for texture
  • Adds layers
  • Increases drying time and workability of your acrylics


  • Thick texture
  • Take a long time to dry properly


The Best Gel Gloss Medium: GOLDEN Artist Colors Soft Gel Gloss for Acrylic

This is one of five gel mediums in the Golden Artist range. Their soft gel gloss provides a smooth and silky finish to your artwork, which also acts as a protective layer against dirt and dust. Using a gel-based medium enhances your color pigments and will add a natural shine when dry. Because these paint mediums dry clear, they can be used as a separation layer before adding varnish or sealant. Golden’s soft gel mediums can be used for blending wet colors or they can also be used as an adhesive option for paper and fabric projects.

GOLDEN Artist Colors Soft Gel Gloss
  • Excellent as a base for wet blending of color
  • Ideal for extending colors and altering sheen
  • Changes body of paint and increases translucency
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  • Versatile medium
  • Glossy shine
  • Easy to work with
  • Enhances acrylic colors
  • Can be used as an adhesive


  • Thinner consistency than heavy gel mediums
  • May not be the right product for creating thick textures


The Best Acrylic Retarder Medium: GOLDEN Acrylic Retarder Additive and Medium

This retarder additive by Golden is a great choice when you are looking to slow down your acrylics’ drying time. This acrylic medium easily blends with your paint without washing out the color pigments. Giving you an advantage usually bestowed to oil painters, you can now paint for longer and apply wet mixing techniques without your acrylic paint drying up.

You will not need much when using this product. Set aside a small amount to mix into your paints, and should it start to firm up, just spritz it with a little water. This will retain the moisture in your painting medium as well as in your paints- These high-quality paint mediums should ideally not be mixed with other acrylic paint brands. Mixing with lower quality paints could affect the outcome of your work, as the paints may react badly with the paint retarder.

GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylic Retarder Additive
  • Additive used to slow down the drying time of acrylic paint
  • Useful for wet-in-wet techniques
  • Helps in reducing skinning on the palette
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  • Does not affect paint’s texture or color
  • Will last a long time
  • Affordable
  • Good quality


  • Takes a long time to dry
  • SHould not be mixed with other paint brands


The Best Flow Improver: GOLDEN Acrylic Wetting Agent

The purpose of a flow improver is to allow more fluidity in your acrylic paintings. This wetting agent by Golden works by reducing the surface tension of the moisture in your acrylic mediums. It also increases the smoothness and workability factors, allowing your paints to glide over the canvas with ease. The benefit of a flow medium is that it also allows for better adhesion of your paints to the surface area. Much like a paint retarder, this product will also maintain the wetness of your paints and allow for a longer painting time.

GOLDEN Acrylic Wetting Agent
  • Used to reduce surface tension of the water in acrylic emulsions
  • Increases the slickness and flow of paint
  • Effective for achieving rich stains on a porous surface
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  • Allows paints to flow better
  • Allows for better absorption from the canvas or surface area
  • Great coverage
  • Good quality
  • Long-lasting


  • Not safe for children


Having looked at some great options for Liquitex and Golden acrylic mediums, we can now take a look at how to make some for ourselves!



How To Make Your Own Acrylic Medium

As we can see, using an acrylic painting medium is important for many reasons. When it comes to making your own, many assume that the use of water will work just fine. While this may be doable, it is not ideal. The water does end up making your paint runnier and in fact messier. Therefore, using something with a thicker texture or that acts as a binder would be more beneficial.

Pouring mediums are easy to make yourself with items at home. This is always a better idea if you are strapped for cash or would like to first try your hand at using these mediums before spending the money. A pouring medium already implies that it is a liquid, and therefore will add to the fluidity of your acrylics without diluting your colors. Keep in mind that it is always better to purchase a product that was made for the purpose you intend to use it for. Making your own could produce something that does not yield the best results.

DIY Acrylic Medium


Easy DIY Acrylic Medium Using Glue

The best base to use for your at-home pouring medium would be glue. Glues like PVA or Elmer’s are not too thick and will add an opaque effect to your colors just as a purchased acrylic medium would. To start off, you would need to use around 300 grams of glue added to one part or 100 grams of water. Next, you will need to mix it all up and then combine it with your paint little by little, until you have reached the desired consistency.

A side note: When using glue as a pouring medium, it will make your paint dry faster. So, you will need to keep adding the medium to your paints in order to keep them wet and allow better workability.


Using Floetrol as an Acrylic Medium

You may have seen or heard of Floetrol when looking for or using building supplies. This substance is normally used for painting homes and is therefore available in larger quantities for a cheaper price. It is often used in spraying applications, as it comes out smoothly and adds a glossy finish, just like your acrylic mediums would.

Floetrol is also brilliant for mixing colors, as it extends your drying time and maintains your acrylics’ consistency. This product is often an easy and cheap alternative for beginners or artists just starting to explore acrylics. It can also be added to your DIY acrylic mediums made at home in orderto assist with binding and enhancing your colors.


So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about acrylic paint mediums and what to use them for. Now you can purchase or even make the best acrylic paint medium of your own.



Frequently Asked Questions


What Is a Paint Medium?

Paint mediums are either liquids or gels that are used to enhance your paint’s texture and color quality. Depending on the medium you are using, you will achieve different effects. Painting mediums come in different finishes such as gloss, satin, or matte. 


Are Acrylic Paint Mediums the Same as Oil Paint Mediums?

Acrylic paints are water-based, and so are acrylic painting mediums. These paints will not work with oil-based mediums and paints.


What Is the Best Acrylic Paint Medium?

The most well-known brands are Liquitex acrylic mediums and the Golden Artist Colors range.  


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