10 Ways to Make Your Acrylic Paint Opaque

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Acrylic paints come in three versions, transparent, translucent, and opaque. Transparent paint allows more light to pass through, translucent paint allows only a little amount of light to pass through, and opaque paint completely blocks the light, allowing the audience to focus on the paint rather than the light.

Translucent acrylic paints have stunning effects; however, most artists prefer them opaque to increase their attractiveness and value. Making acrykic paint opaque can be a big challenge, but it is achievable through various techniques.

How do you make your Acrylic paint Opaque?

How do you make your Acrylic paint Opaque?

Most artists are only aware of at least three ways to make the paint opaque. This article exposes you to 10 various methods to ensure you obtain a perfect, unique, and attractive opaque painting.

Let’s list some of the easiest ways to create opaque acrylic paint.

1. Mix the paint with white to increase the opacity

Mixing acrylic paint with white is the most common method of making it Opaque. It is also the preferred method since it is easy.

However, many do not get an attractive opaqueness since they use the wrong white paint. The best white to use is titanium white.

ARTEZA Acrylic Paint, Titanium White Color, (120 ml Pouch, Tube), Rich Pigment, Non Fading, Non Toxic, Single Color Paint for Artists & Hobby Painters

It produces the best outcome, however, you need to be patient enough and practice before using it to understand how to apply it appropriately.

Titanium white is the best paint because it is the opaquest white. Using an excess of it will make the paint too opaque and less attractive. It should be applied in a small bit until you obtain the desired outcome. If you use too much, it will tint the color you’re painting and turn the end product into a pastel.

NOTE: Once you add a white color to your paint, the effects can never be reversed no matter how many colors are applied after that. 

You can add other white paints, but the effects won’t be as attractive as adding titanium. Use zinc white when you want to create a translucent painting or a transparent one.

This is the simplest method yet very consequential, especially to amateur painters with little knowledge of achieving the desired opacity using the appropriate white.

2. Use white paint under your colors

Using white under your painting will also help you achieve acrylic paint look opaque. Many double how effective this method is but I believe in most cases they just used wrong type of white.

Make sure you use an opaque white or any other color underneath the transparent or translucent color you plan to layer. This method gives an illusion of opacity by stopping the color underneath from influencing the overall paint.

Example:

You can paint blue underneath, followed by a yellow on your paint wheel to see the outcomes. If you do not desire it, try an opaque white followed by a yellow. You will realize that the opaque white gives an opaquer paint than the blue so.

To use this approach, you should follow the following rules:

  • You should ensure the paint underneath is dry before you begin painting over it.
  • Apply a second layer of titanium white to the area where you want to paint. You can use opaque blue as a base for your painting, but you’ll need to add opaque titanium white over the area you want to paint on. Allow them to dry after.
  • Proceed to paint over the opaque white.
NOTE: This method is unique since it does not give the results instantly, and most people who are too observant consider it less effective. 

3. Use color to make the painting opaque

Another way to make transparent Acrylic Paint Opaque is, to mix them with opaque or semi-opaque colors. You can have a blend of two or more colors depending on the opacity desired. You will have to create the opaque color for this method before you begin painting.

Example:

When you mix lemon yellow with cobalt blue, you get an opaque color. If you paint with this mixture over the black painting, you’ll get a perfect opaque result.

PRO TIP: Quinacridone Magenta and Cobalt blue are two opaque colors that can be combined with lemon yellow to create complete opacity.

4. Using mediums to make acrylics opaque

There are a few acrylic mediums that you can add to your paint to increase its opacity. The challenge with the mediums is that they do not work well for all acrylic paintings. They are designed for use on a few ranges of acrylic paintings.

Liquitex manufactures some of the best mediums to make Acrylic Paint Opaque. The mediums can be used on paintings, underpaintings, and for large area coverages.

The mediums are effective because they economically extend the opacity of the acrylic paint without interfering with the color or the acrylic painting’s stability. You can also apply them when you are running out of the original paint, and they will still give you the desired outcome.

The mediums also slow down the drying process of acrylic paint, resulting in a more nuanced color blend that is both adherent and long-lasting. You should first read and understand the following instructions before using the product:

  • Using acrylic paint with Liquitex products will get you best results. You can thin the opacity by adding a little water if the outcome is too opaque.
  • You should only use a small amount of it because too much will make the acrylic paint transparent.
  • To avoid bubbles, swirl it constantly and wait until all of the bubbles have dissipated before using it. Use When wet.

5. Using layers to increase opacity

Another method is by using layers to increase opacity. You need to make sure that each layer builds on the previous one and creates a varied degree of opaqueness to make this strategy work. Ensure the layers blend perfectly and complement each other without creating any visible disparity.

Example:

You can try out layering phthalo green, lemon yellow, and Quinacridone magenta to see the outcome. This combination will help you make yellow more opaque.

TIP: This method is perfect for beginners; however, you must consider the range of colors you intend to use. Certain combinations will end up destroying the desired painting.

You should also focus on using gessos such as gesso white or black, which are considered opaque. Adding the different gesso layers before the final color creates an opaque layer enabling you to achieve the opaque painting.

This method is time-consuming but very effective. It requires patience since you have to wait for the layers to dry before adding another on top. You must also select the paints carefully before deciding on the best pick.

6. Use Schmincke Aero opaque medium

This medium is designed for use with only Schmincke Aero colors. The medium is effective for use on heavy fluids and inks but works best on inks. The Schmincke Aero inks are more sensitive; adding the medium makes them opaque, producing the desired outcomes.

Use medium in small quantities. It works perfectly without interfering with the final color. Add about 5% of it to the fluid to get the most desirable outcome since excess will cause too much lightness.

TIP:  Shake it well before combining it with other fluids since it is a water-based dispersion of the particles, and the particles tend to settle at the bottom of the bottle.

It works with a perfect range of Aero colors enabling you to make any paint opaque without worrying about the outcomes.

7. Swapping the paint color brand

Distinct brands have different versions of the same hue with varying degrees of opacity. You can replace one color with a similar color from a different brand that is more opaque. This method is considered a risk or a trial and error method, but it is a viable option for individuals who have a strong grasp of color.

TIP: You can visit different manufacturers and check on the containers to understand the opacity levels of different colors. Some manufactures make more opaque paints, as indicated by the letters and symbols in the bottles.

8. Paint dilution

Most paint manufactures advise painters to dilute with water before usage. The dilution helps create a usable viscosity and makes the outcome less thick and attractive. Even though paints have a given scale of transparency, translucency and opacity, adding water makes them more transparent or translucent.

Water may not create much difference, but it lowers the opacity levels as it lowers the thickness. Using the paint before dilution can make the painting opaque that it could be when diluted with water.

TIP: To make it stronger, you can combine it with a touch of semi-opaque or opaque white, and the final paint will be more opaque. This method works and eliminates the need for layering.

9. Use artist paints or high pigment paints

There are paints with high pigment levels suitable for achieving high-level opacity called Artist paints.

Different companies use different methodologies to manufacture the colors.

  • Most colors are manufactured from carbon-based pigments manufactured in laboratories or factories. These colors are more transparent but chromatically powerful.
  • Some Colors can also be manufactured from mineral pigments derived from rocks and metals. Such colors are opaque and have little tinting strength and capabilities.

You can obtain a perfect opaqueness by mixing the two different type of acrylic artist colors together. The mineral will opacify the carbon-based colors, and the carbon-based color will make the paint appear more powerful.

10. Use heavy body paints

Heavy body paints are viscous and opaque due to their pigmentation. They will help you obtain opaque paint; however, they do not resolve the problem completely. They help a lot by minimizing the excess transparency.

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint, Twelve 22ml Tubes, 8 Fl Oz

The challenge with heavy body paints is that they do not easily mix nor blend with other colors. You should use them as under paints or carefully select a range of colors that can blend with them.

NOTE: Heavy Body paints do not easily blend with mediums; instead, they become more transparent when exposed to them. 

Conslusion

Acrylic paint pigments come in a variety of transparency levels. This explains why certain paints are opaque while others are not. If you are unable to obtain the desired opaque acrylic paint, you can use these techniques to improve the final result to acceptable levels.

Related questions

How can I obtain a perfect opaqueness without mixing colors

Mixing colors is a bit challenging, and you can easily make a mistake. The perfect and simplest solution to your worries is to have a base color before you begin painting. A base color creates the opaqueness before you begin painting. Adding more layers to it will improve the opaqueness.

Where can I get the perfect medium to make my Acrylic Paint Opaque

A few companies manufacture high quality mediums. The market is currently flooded with different brands, but most do not perform as promised. One of my favorites is Liquitex.

In what ratios can I mix my colors to get the perfect opaque

There are no defined ratios to mix the colors to get the perfect opaqueness. It is more of a trial method. As you mix, start with smaller quantities and try on a painting until you achieve the desired results.

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