Watercolour Mediums

Here’s an insighful introduction to what watercolou mediums.
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Many artists work with very little supplies to create beautiful watercolours, but mediums can enhance your work by helping you alter drying time, control paint flow, add texture, or smooth your blending. Traditional mediums such as masking fluid,ox gall and gum arabic remain the most popular watercolour mediums, but recentlyadditional mediums have made an appearance on the market as well. Here’s an introduction to what you may find.

Watercolour artists often use masking fluid, which looks like very liquid latex. You can apply it to paper when you want to prevent colour from soaking in. Masking fluid dries in a few minutes and can be removed once the adjacent colour is applied. It’s available in various shades to help you see it easily when you want to remove it. While it can be applied with a paintbrush, it’s a good idea to use a metal- or rubbertip tool to apply masking fluid, since it’s difficult to remove the fluid from the bristles of a brush. However, if a brush works best for you, you may want to consider coating the bristles in a mild soap, such as hand soap before using it to make cleaning easier. Important notice Avoid leaving masking fluid on the paper for too long; it may stain the surface or become harder to remove. Substitutes for masking fluid include colourless or white wax crayons, since water won’t penetrate where the wax has been applied. There are also permanent masking fluids that make the surface water-resistant; you can blend them with a colour to create a permanent colour zone.


Add precision to your artwork, embrace negative space and make your life easier! Pébéo’s masking gum marker is perfect for test and practice applying the gum to small details (stars, dots, designs, leaves…).

Gum arabic is the best-known watercolour medium. It improves colour fluidity, slows drying time and helps pigment to float on the paper, which makes it easier to remove colours, particularly the kind that dye the paper. It also gives watercolour works a shinier finish. However, if you use too much, it can turn the paint pasty, and it then stays sticky once it’s dried. Gum arabic can improve colour transparency, which means you need to use less water. In addition, colours enriched with gum arabic adhere better to the surface than paint diluted only with water, such as airbrushing techniques.

Ox gall is a spreading medium. It helps colours to hold to non-absorbent surfaces and improves the adherence of watercolours, gouache and ink. It works by reducing.

You can create a watercolour painting with relief. You’ll need to use a thickening medium, and mix it into the colour so that you can create impastos with it. The medium gives more of a translucent finish than a transparent one. Keep in mind that it should only be used for works on very heavy paper, or rigid surfaces that don’t bend easily. There are many other mediums available to create effects such as granulation, texture and iridescence, as well as to slow drying time, soften colour separations, and make it easier to wash paint from a work even once it’s dry. Many of these are permanent and may affect the bristles of your paintbrushes, so you may want to use an older brush or a nib or shaping tool when applying them.