All about Acrylic Mediums

by Julie Hyde on August 05, 2021

'So Let's Talk' Acrylic Mediums 

 Our new monthly set of posts focusing on a particular product or technique


Our Let’s Talk’ discussion this month is all about different Acrylic Mediums and how you can incorporate them into you paints and other mixed media products to create different techniques, finishes and looks. Read on to find out how you can grab the free Colour Swatch File or purchase one in the store already made for you. 

So what exactly is Acrylic Medium? 

A medium is a substance that is added to paint to change one or more of its properties. In acrylic mediums, these mixtures can be added into the pigment to lengthen its drying time, make it thicker, or change the texture. Mediums are products that are used in addition to paints and there are many different types you can choose from.

Matte Medium is used in many applications to provide a satin/matte finish to your artwork and is very similar to Mod Podge but comes less thinned out.  

Matte Medium also works well for priming canvases. It has a consistency similar to gesso so it's easy to apply to the canvas with a brush.

You can thin the first coat with a little water but it also works fine  straight from the bottle. You can also mix gloss and matte mediums together in equal parts to achieve a kind of semi-gloss.

Gel Medium is a white, paste-like gel that will thicken your paint and also enhances the adhesive properties of the paint, which makes it suitable for collage work. 

Gel mediums are available in different types, like gloss & matte, and also different textures. For instance  there is a Soft Gel. Regular Gel. Heavy Gel. Liquid Gel. Matte. Gloss. Yep!! So many... ? 

The purpose of a medium is simply to change the consistency and/or appearance of acrylic paint. That makes it a powerful medium to experiment with and  create a variety of new and exciting projects.  

There are three basic types of Gel Mediums–Soft, Regular, and Heavy. There are also three types of finishes–Matte, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss.

Heavy and Extra Heavy Gel

Heavy Gel increases the body of paint and has the ability to hold peaks. Perfect for building texture and layers on your projects.  Both are used for impasto techniques. (Impasto is a painting technique that uses thick layers of paint. When you apply the paint thickly, it produces an incredibly beautiful effect on your project. It can be used as a  strong adhesive for embellishments, to create texture or to create thick custom gels and paints. It's great to use for gluing glass beads, pebbles or other clear shiny objects.

Soft Gel

Soft Gel has a creamy consistency. Soft Gel is used by artists who mix in acrylic paints to produce a rich, translucent glaze.  Mixed Media artists most often use Soft Gel as an adhesive because its smooth consistency allows them to manipulate, move, and place collage materials or ephemera. It is not as ‘wet’ as other adhesives, so it allows the paper to settle more quickly with less curling. It is also used as a top coat.  

Regular Gel 

 Regular Gel extends paint open time (stays wet longer) while maintaining its consistency. It is useful for impasto techniques and glazing, which is applying a transparent layer of paint over dry opaque paint to create luminosity. 

Gloss Medium Is an all purpose medium for acrylic paints and other mediums used to increase gloss and fluidity. It is  non-tacky, remains flexible and will not crack.  

Gloss Medium is versatile and can also be used in many other applications:  such as  glue for decoupage or collage.  It can improve the natural sheen  of acrylic paint and will also make paint thinner and more transparent, which is useful if you want to paint thin but brilliant glazes. 

You can use as a non-removable varnish to protect painting and create a gloss sheen surface.

Modelling Paste is sometimes called molding paste, is like gel medium but thicker and harder. 

Modelling Paste is fantastic for creating textured backgrounds on a variety of surfaces. Depth of texture can be built up by adding layers once paste is dry. 

The paste dries white and maybe over-painted with acrylic or oil paint. Small objects may also be embedded into the paste for other 3D effects.  The fun thing is, they are available in a  variety of colours.

Texture Mediums imitate certain textures, such as sand, ceramic stucco and glass beads. They're fun to experiment with and can really enhance certain artworks. 

You can also make your own texture by mixing in some sand, tiny beads or whatever you want. Easy to use through a stencil  and you can also paint over, sand and tint with other mediums and paints.   

Best applied with knife or brush and can be thinned with small amount of water if required  You can mix with different consistencies and ratios of acrylic color/medium to create a custom texture.


Glazing Medium increases color depth, transparency and surface gloss. It dries quite  quickly for rapid layering. It also lowers viscosity and minimizes brush strokes. 

Glaze Medium is brilliant for creating jewel-like glazes with acrylic paint and when mixed with acrylic paint it will create a transparent version of the original colour.

Glaze can  be thinned by diluting with up to 25% water - distilled water will give best results Mix as much as you like into acrylic color to create the viscosity and transparency you want - the more you add, the thinner and more transparent your color will become

Stir gently to avoid creating foam - if bubbles appear, leave it to sit while the bubbles rise and disappear.

So that just about wraps this post up. 

Here is the link to the free  Product Swatch which you can either download the PDF or JPG files here or purchase the swatch ready made in the store. Each card has been printed on high quality Avery sticker paper and mounted on thick cardstock to make it more durable. All the cards have been threaded onto a little chain. You can even create samples of each of your mediums and keep adding to your swatch. 

I hope you found it a little helpful. Leave a little comment below and tell me what you though!

1 comment
by Adriane on September 13, 2022

Best post about mediums, I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time for a better understanding. Thank you!


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