A good acrylic gel medium is a studio essential. These substances have a feel similar to heavy-weight acrylic paint but lack the colorful pigments. You can simply mix them with your paints to extend their use without losing color; alternatively, you can use them to add volume, dimension, and thickness to your paint, which makes it easier to create exceptional textures. Our picks will help you decide which brand is best for your projects.
1. Liquitex Professional Gel Medium
Liquitex’s gel medium has a fantastic consistency, which helps it spread evenly while adhering well to paint. This is a slow-drying gel that adds depth to acrylic paints, making them behave more like oils. Once blended, your paints can be used to build up texture and high peaks that hold very well. Liquitex offers a variety of gel types, from a thick matte gel to an ultra-matte gel to a super-thick gloss gel. No matter your preference, these are excellent extenders that will give your work a beautiful finish.
2. Golden Regular Matte Gel Medium
Golden’s regular gel has the consistency of heavy-body paint and is easy to work with. The milky-white polymer is nice and soft but still slick, making it ideal for building up texture when painting with acrylics. In addition to improving the density of paint, this gel performs very well as an adhesive, particularly for collaging. The medium dries and doesn’t yellow over time, so you can even use it as a protective layer or sealant. If you prefer a different consistency, Golden also offers gels that are slightly more slippery and creamier, with each one available in gloss, semigloss, or matte sheens.
3. Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Medium
This high-viscosity gel is perfect for creating dynamic surface textures. Mix it with your acrylics without diluting their color vibrancy to create paints with increased brush mark retention. Smooth but strong, this gel can be used to build base layers that you can then paint over, even with oils. It dries transparent and has a satin finish to keep thick layers from looking too plasticky.
4. Handy Art Designer’s Palette Gel Medium
Handy Art’s gel medium is an economical choice for those experimenting with prolonging the open time of paints. It is wetter than Liquitex’s product, but it still thickens paint effectively. This medium’s syrupy consistency enables it to be spread and mixed with ease while keeping your acrylics moist for longer periods of time. While it also performs very well as an adhesive for decoupage, it should be noted that this medium does not dry absolutely clear when applied in thicker layers.
5. Artist’s Loft Slow-Dry Blending Gel Medium
Packaged in a squeezable tube, Artist’s Loft’s product is easy to dispense in controlled amounts. The addition of a small dollop to your acrylics can help slow their drying so you get extended periods of working time; it also improves their blending capabilities. Note that this is a very thick gel—it is slightly thicker than heavy-body acrylic paint—and might require some experimentation as you work with it. Depending on personal preference, you might want to water it down to your desired consistency.