How to Mix Pigment Powders With Acrylic Paint

Written by sofi soloman
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How to Mix Pigment Powders With Acrylic Paint
Mixing pigments and acrylics for vibrant colour. (arty farty 11 image by Antony McAulay from

Acrylic paints are water-based and contain an acrylic polymer emulsion that acts as a binder with organic and inorganic pigments. Organic pigments, which are man-made and provide translucent colour, include Hansas, Phthalos and Quinacridones. Inorganic pigments are opaque and include earth colours from natural ores and minerals such as Umbers, Oxides, Cadmiums and Cobalts. Titanuims, such as Titanium White, also contain inorganic pigments. Inorganic mixtures appear matt when dry.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dry pigment
  • Glass muller
  • Water
  • Methyl or grain alcohol
  • Painter's spatula
  • Acrylic paint base
  • Dust mask
  • Rubber gloves

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  1. 1

    Place dry pigment on the work surface and create a well in the middle to act as a reservoir. Add a small amount of water to the reservoir and slowly mix the water and pigment using a painter's spatula.

  2. 2

    Continue to add water to the pigment while mixing to create a thick paste. Ideally, the amount of paste should equal the amount of acrylic paint used as a base. When using organic pigments, add a small amount of methyl or grain alcohol to the paste to aid in dispersion. Organic pigments have an electrical quality that repels water.

  3. 3

    Grind the paste gently with a glass muller while adding small amounts of water until all particles are well mixed and the paste has a creamy texture. In place of a muller, you can use a small drinking glass with a thick heavy base. Wear gloves and hold the glass close to the base while grinding to prevent breakage.

  4. 4

    Add the paste to acrylic paint and mix thoroughly until paint has an even tone. Avoid mixing organic and inorganic pigments to prevent muddy colours. Use organics if you're unsure about the pigment content in the acrylic paint.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a sieve to remove clumps from pigment before mixing with water. Pigments usually come pulverised when purchased from an art supplies store but may clump together due to humidity or improper storage.
  • Wear rubber gloves to avoid skin contact and use a dust mask when working with dry pigments. Fine particles may contain lead or other toxic materials that can be inhaled or absorbed through skin.

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