The number one question we get from artists just starting out in acrylic pouring is, “how to mix acrylic paint for pouring?” In this guide we’ll cover all you need to get the right paint consistency no matter what materials you’re using.
To thin and mix paint for acrylic pouring you will use two main ingredients: acrylic paint and pouring medium. You mix the paint with the medium until your final mix runs like warm honey, motor oil, or chocolate syrup. If necessary add some water to thin further.
A disclaimer: the “right” consistency depends on a few different factors:
- What type of paint you’re using
- What type of medium you’re using
- What type of pouring technique you’re using
- What you’re looking for out of your finished product
Because of these factors and not knowing what you are specifically using, we’re going to go over the most common issues with consistency and give a few examples of what you should look for in your mixture.
What is Consistency?
When we talk about consistency, we’re talking about the flow and texture of your paint, medium, and additive mixture.
When it comes to acrylic pouring, which is fluid art, obviously the mixture has to be easy to pour! There are a few common household items you can compare your consistency to—sometimes this can help you to visualize what your paint should look like.
A few things that resemble a good pouring consistency:
- Warm honey
- Motor oil
- Chocolate syrup
Essentially, your mixture should be free flowing but not drippy. It should not drop heavily in clumps off of your stirring utensil, or run off quickly as if you had dipped your utensil in water. When you pull your stirring utensil out of the paint mixture, the paint should flow off easily and evenly.
On a side note, to complement your Acrylic Pours, I highly recommend using a Cricut Machine (my personal favourite is the Explore Air 2 machine) to design and print yourself beautiful crafts on all sort of supports. Check it out here! Now back to common consistency issues.
Common Consistency Issues
Very Thin Paint
If your paint is too thin and runny, you’ll want to add a bit more paint. Add just a little at a time and keep stirring in between additions.
Very Thick Paint
If your paint is too thick, more medium is needed. Again, add a little more at a time to arrive at the desired consistency.
It’s really crucial to only add a little paint or a little medium at a time. You can always add more, but you can’t take away what you’ve added, and it’s no fun doing the dance back and forth between adding paint and adding medium!
Common Brands & Ratios
- Liquitex Basics + Liquitex Pouring Medium: Liquitex states on their website that you should use about 5% paint and 95% medium. For example, if you’re using 10 total ounces of paint, you’ll want to use a half ounce of paint, and 9.5 ounces of medium.
- Liquitex Basics + Floetrol: You can use three parts Floetrol to one part Liquitex. For example, if you want four total ounces of paint, you’ll use one ounce of paint, and three ounces of medium.
- Golden Fluid Acrylics + GAC 800: According to Golden’s website, the maximum recommended ratio is 10% fluid acrylics to 90% GAC 800. Golden states that the optimal usage rate would be 1-5% fluid acrylics. They also explain that any paint concentration above 10% may “overwhelm the GAC 800’s resistance to crazing”. GAC 800 is wonderful for preventing those pesky cracks and crazes, so this is sage advice to follow.
- Nicole’s Craft Paint (or other thin craft paint) + Floetrol: Thinner paints require more medium and less paint typically. However, because craft paints aren’t always as pigmented as professional artist paints, you may need to mix at a one to one ratio with these paints to get the desired color.
Consistency can be frustrating, but not impossible to master. If you’re using one of these combinations and it’s just not working for you, come talk to us! We have a great group on Facebook (search for Acrylic Pouring), and there are thousands of artists who can help!
Sara Wagner is an author and artist from Upstate New York. She is the owner of Studio Blackwater and can typically be found covered in paint, cats, or her two young daughters. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as @studioblackwater.
32 thoughts on “Perfect Consistency Recipe: How to Thin and Mix Paint for Acrylic Pouring”
Is it necessary to prep canvas with gesso before applying paints?
The canvases I buy are already double primed so I don’t add anything extra. Sometimes I will paint the sides in advance if I’m doing a swipe so that the sides are covered and I don’t need to worry about tilting – but that’s all.
Have you tried with Daler-Rowney liquid acrylics? The colors are so beautiful!
No I’ve not tried that brand, I can’t get them here on the island.
Which island do you live on? I live in Guam
I am on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. Very nice here, although extremely expensive, and very hard to get supplies.
I’ve been watching you and others on YouTube since the beginning of the year. It’s been a fun journey watching, learning, practicing, and seeing the subscriber numbers grow dramatically! I am actually teaching my first class in September. With all I have learned, reading your information about pouring mediums taught me there is always more to learn! Just ordered the Sargent pouring medium to try. Thanks! You did a great job getting this together!
Hi Debie I liked your video how to mix the paint …but I I have a question….what should be the consistency for a tree ring pour?…because I just cannot obtain those nice “rings” … they get all mixed up… ???? thank you…
Check out this article here for some tips on how to keep the rings on tree ring pours: http://acrylicpouring.com/four-pro-tips-for-perfectly-crisp-tree-ring-pours/
Thank you so much for demonstrating correct paint consistency. It is a great help
Thank u. I was mixing my paint way too thick. And I have read and read and read hundreds of articles on the consistency. And it was yours that got me. I understood it and thank you. My art is turning out beautifully I’m only on my fifth painting
I’m new at this been watching a lot of videos but can’t make cells. Can you help
I would love to help. If you come and join us in the Facebook group it will be easier. Add a couple of pictures of your pours, along with the paints you uses, what other additives and what ratios, and we will all take a look and try to diagnose the problem. Usually, it is a paint consistency issue that stops the cells from forming, either too thin or too thick.
Do you have to use the pouring medium?
You could just thin your paints with water to get them runny enough to pour, but I don’t recommend it especially, because all of the paint manufacturers recommend that we don’t add too much water or we weaken the paint. If your paints need a lot of thinning, I suggest some kind of medium is better than just adding water.
Thank you for this really helpful video!????
What’s that liquid you add ?And where I can found it. I totally new on this.
What pouring medium are you using?
What medium do you use?
Thank you for your video on mixing paint , I am just setting out on this journey ,
What did you put the white stuff before adding poring medium and water. Please let me know. I’ll be grateful.
Hello. I’m really new at this, and appreciate your mixing video. How much paint do I need to use if I’m doing an 11×14 canvas (dirty pour) and don’t want negative space?
I live in Italy can’t find fluid is there anything else to work instead of fluid ?
I have had trouble on my last couple pours. The paint is not blending with other colors. I am using Floetrol. Any ideas?
My question is this. The bubbles in my painting enlarge keep enlarging as they dry, which l don’t want. Would my paint be to thin? Or should l barely use a drop?
Hi, Floetrol is not available where I live. What can I use instead of it?
Elmers Glue-All & water makes a good pouring medium. Videos on You Tube with the instructions
I have tried and tried to make cells but haven’t been successful. Any thoughts? Also, is there a truck in using florescent s. One time it came out beautiful with hair dryer, the next one all the colors muted to almost n nothing. I’m confused.
I live in Namibia and really struggling with pouring method, the make of paint we get here is Dala Acrylic but it never turns out like the videos I am watching.
I have done 5 pours using flortrol for 2 and elmers for the others and they cracked badly can you tell me why
Hi I make my own acrylic paints and want to use them for paint pouring but I’m not sure of how much medium I should to make my mixture. The paint I make is pretty thick ( almost to the consistency of Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics). Do you have any recommendations?
would the ratios be the same using mixed brands? example liquitex paint with Goldens gac 800? Or masters craft paint with liquitex med?