The new Schmincke Opaque Medium works great for making transparent acrylic inks opaque, which is what it was designed for. I was hoping it might also work for heavier acrylics but my experiments got mixed results.
Some pigments are naturally more opaque or more transparent because of the nature of the particles from which that colour is made. But what if you want a certain colour but a different opacity? Can you change the opacity of a colour?
A common solution for artists if they want the hue of a certain pigment which is transparent, but they wish it to be opaque, is to add a small amount of Titanium White. The key is to add enough to add some opacity without lightening the colour too much. It is never perfect, the colour becomes more pastel as it becomes more opaque and you choose where on that spectrum is acceptable for what you are trying to achieve in your painting.
Schmincke have created a new product that adds opacity without adding pigment. Schmincke Aero Opaque Medium is specifically designed for use with their Aero Colours which are the very fluid acrylics (acrylic inks). But I wanted to see if it would work as a general opacifier for other acrylic colours. I tested it with three consistencies of acrylic: heavy body, fluid and ink. But it works best with the inks, which is what it was designed for. You only need to use very small amounts with acrylic inks as compared to the other consistencies of acrylics as well.
Making transparent acrylic inks opaque
Characteristics of the Schmincke Opaque Medium
- It is a water-based dispersion of opaque particles, so it needs to be well shaken before each use.
- It does not contain any binder, so it cannot be used on it’s own, there is no acrylic to hold the opaque flakes together, and you should be wary of adding too much to your paint as it could become powdery when it has dried, the recommended maximum amount of opaque medium to add to your acrylic paint is 50%.
- I found the 50% to cause too much lightness, similar to adding white, but fortunately it didn’t take nearly that much to get some opacity, 5% gave a fair amount of opacity without changing the colour overly much.
- It is non-yellowing and age-resistant.
- It was designed for, so is “ideal for all 36 Standard colours of Aero Colour Inks.”
- It reduces the shimmery effect of iridescent, pearlescent and interference colours.
- The amount the colour becomes lighter and the amount of opacity are both not fully visible until the colour is dry. This is a downside as it means it is harder to control the values in your painting if there is a colour shift so you don’t know what your colours will look like until they are dry.
- Available in two sizes: 28ml glass bottle with dropper and 125ml squeeze bottle.
Experimenting with other consistencies of acrylics
I used heavy body acrylic in Phthalo Blue, fluid acrylic in Quinacridone Magenta and acrylic ink in Dark Green.
I wanted to know about:
- the colour shift from wet to dry
- if it is different in each of the three consistencies
- how much can you add before it goes pastel
- how much do you need to add to create opacity
- is it superior to adding a bit of Titanium White
- do the opacifying agent flakes act like matting agent flakes and show as white flakes in dark colours
- will it add opacity to watercolours to make gouache, and is it of advantage
Overall – the Opaque Medium works best with acrylic inks, and it only needs small amounts. The inks are very sensitive and you get a big change for a small amount of medium. You can get opacity with just a little bit added and without much colour change. My experiments with using it to add opacity to heavier acrylics were not all successful, but you may find using a very small amount will give better results than using white.
Click on the underlined link to go to the current offer on the Schmincke Aero Opaque Medium on the Jackson’s Art Supplies website.
Postage on orders shipped standard to mainland UK addresses is free for orders of £39.