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How to Make a Glazing Medium for Acrylic Paints

Applying glaze to your acrylic artwork brings it to life.
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An acrylic glaze is a thin layer of subtle color applied to a painting to make it vibrant and more life-like. When it is used on a painting, the glaze allows the color to stand out, giving the piece of art more depth. Mixing your own glaze is easy to do and allows you to get a precise consistency and color for your painting. The materials needed are available at paint supply or craft stores.

Place a dime-size amount of acrylic gloss medium in a clean dish. Using a small amount at a time allows you to keep it at the right consistency as you work with it. Larger paintings may require mixing several batches of glazing medium.

Add the retarder. This product extends the drying time of the acrylics, allowing you to work on them at a slower pace. Santa Fe Creative Tourism recommends using 15 percent retarder.

Use a knife or paint stirring stick to mix the two products together. Completely mixing the acrylic gloss medium and the retarder will produce the best results.

Stir in a small amount of water, if needed. A glaze is most effective when it is very thin, so a few drops of water can thin your glaze to the desired consistency.

Tint the glaze with color. Mix in a few drops of the desired color for your glaze and stir well with a knife or stirring stick. You may want to start with a small amount of color and add more after mixing, if needed, to prevent making the glaze too dark and having to start over. Santa Fe Creative Tourism recommends using 1 part paint to 10 parts medium.

Things You'll Need:

  • Acrylic gloss medium
  • Retarder
  • Stir stick or knife
  • Paintbrush
  • Acrylic paints


Apply the glaze with a soft brush. Wipe it clean often to keep your glaze thin and prevent it from building up on some parts of the painting.

Once the glaze becomes sticky, allow it dry completely before adding another coat.

If you prefer not to mix your own glaze, some products are sold that contain the right mix of gloss medium and retarder, taking the guesswork out of the right ratio of the two. You simply add the color before using.

Some paint supplies contain strong chemicals; you may want to work with them in a well-ventilated room.

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