Acrylic Gel Medium – Uses and Tips

Acrylic Gel Medium - Uses and Tips from Smart Art Materials

Acrylic Gel Medium is one of the acrylic mediums that create texture and act as an adhesive. Essentially, the gel has the same formulation as acrylic paint but without the color pigment. It's dedicated to adding body to paint for impasto technique so that the paint retains brushstrokes and knife marks.

Acrylic Gel Medium - Uses and Tips from Smart Art MaterialsThe gel helps in extending the color volume and adding transparency to the paint without compromising the consistency and adhesive properties (otherwise after a certain ratio of water to paint, the paint will lose its adherence properties, causing uneven coverage).

This medium enhances the adhesive properties of the paint and durability. Gels also add “open time” as heavier paints dry slower than thinner ones.

Finish. Acrylic Gel is available in different finishes -  Gloss & Matte.

Consistency. Gel mediums come in different consistency - Gel, Heavy gel, Super heavy gel, which helps to adjust the body of a paint and create some unique textures.

Acrylic Gel Medium Uses

1. Adding Body. Just like I've mentioned above, gel medium is great when it comes to adding the body to the paint for impasto technique. And the heavier (thicker) gel is, the more textured painting you'll get.

2. Increasing Transparency. There are many ways to increase paint transparency - you can add water, glazing medium, fluid medium etc. When and why use gel? You'll want to use it when you want to achieve transparency without compromising the texture. You can dilute the pigment(color) significantly by adding the more and more of it the gel, which is especially great when you work in layers.

Tip. Gel medium is milky white when wet, but clear once dry, which makes color mixing kinda tricky, and you need to consider that. For example, if you mix gel with red, you are going to get pinky red when wet and transparent red once dry.

Acrylic Gel Medium - Uses and Tips from Smart Art Materials
Gel applied over the paint

3. Adding Glossy/Matte finish. Acrylic paints usually have a satin finish, and if you want to add some shine or get rid of it on top of adding body/transparency to the paint, even a small percentage of gel in the paint will make a huge difference.

4. Adhesive. Not only gel medium enhances the adhesive properties of the paint, but it can also be used on its own as a great adhesive base for collage or mixed media.

Tip: Use matte gel if you glue on the matte surface like paper/canvas.

5. Image/Photo Transfer. Wait, what? Transfer images or photo with the acrylic gel medium? Oh yes! And this is a very exciting aspect of it. I'm not going to go too deep into how this right now, but in a nutshell, gel as a great adhesive picks up the printer ink from the paper and locks it into the canvas or any other painting support. This creates numerous creative possibilities for anybody

I hope you've learned something interesting and useful today and ready to experiment. Let me know if you have any questions, and please share how do you use Acrylic Gel Medium!



4 thoughts on “Acrylic Gel Medium – Uses and Tips

  1. Oshea says:

    Hello Olga,

    I didn’t know that you can actually use acrylic gel medium, to transfer images. I’ve always used acrylic gel medium to, I guess give some life to my paintings, if that makes any since?

    In my 2D design class I did a lot of landscape paintings with repetition and rhyming. I was wondering though, you mentioned all the different types acrylic gel mediums; including: Liquitex matte, Golden matte Gel, and Gloss gel.

    My goal is to bring more life and energy to my paintings, so I was wondering, do you have any recommendations?

    I looking for something that would be icing on the cake, so to speak.

    I also have one more question, do think it is possible for me to use the acrylic gel medium to transfer drawings and other paintings?

    Thank for the tips!

    • Olga says:

      Hi Oshea, 
      thanks for stopping by and for great questions! Yes, the possibility to transfer images is a great advantage of acrylic gel medium, but unfortunately, this method is not suitable for drawings or paintings. If you want to duplicate drawing, I would recommend Light Box tracer  like this one.

      What about icing on the cake… this is a very good question 🙂 Each artist has his own thing. I like to use symbolism in my artworks and to experiment with different mediums,

      but for a start, I would highly recommend to everybody body to study the composition and color theory because it really does make a huge difference! 

      Good luck experimenting,


  2. Linda says:

    Thanks for sharing!
    It was interesting to read. I love to paint and use acrylic colors so this was useful! I didn’t know much about the acrylic gel. But now I will definitely give it a try! And photo transfering – wow!
    Thanks for this information, Olga!
    Best regards!

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