The Various GOLDEN Mediums Explained

By Nicole Tinkham

 ImageIn a previous blog post “How to Transfer a Printed Image”, we discussed how GOLDEN’s Soft Gel (Gloss) and GAC 800 can be used to transfer a printed image. GOLDEN carries various mediums, each having different uses. Wading through the sea of options can make it difficult to choose the correct medium for your next project. Luckily, we were able to gather information on the following GOLDEN mediums to help you differentiate them! Before we get into that, let’s talk a little more about GOLDEN mediums.

Since mediums are made with similar polymers as acrylic paint, they are often thought of as colorless paints. They act as a “glue” or binder which dries into a durable film.

What do mediums do?

  • Extend paint – When added to GOLDEN acrylic paint, medium will extend the paint. This can also be used to increase the transparency of the paint.
  • Thin paint – When mixing a fluid medium to thicker paint, the medium can thin the paint and increase its flow. For more body, paints can be mixed with heavy gels.
  • Control sheen – GOLDEN fluid and gel mediums come in various sheens including Gloss, Semi-Gloss, and Matte. Mediums can be used to reduce the higher gloss of many GOLDEN acrylic colors or increase the gloss on matte colors.
  • Adhesive – Just about any medium can be used as an adhesive (perfect for scrapbooking!) when using porous materials. Other materials (glass, plastic, metal) should be avoided.
  • Primer – Many mediums can be used like an Acrylic Gesso, acting like a primer allowing the surface to show through.
  • Binder for dry pigments – When using dry pigments to create paint, gels and mediums can be used as a binder.

Now that we understand what mediums are, let’s take a look at the various kinds (gels, pastes, fluid and GAC polymers) and their unique properties.

Gel Mediums

Gel mediums offer many different ways to build texture. They can also be used to extend paint, create glazes, and change finishes. Gels range from soft to extra heavy (soft gels being the thinnest and extra-heavy being the thickest) and come in gloss, semi-gloss, or matte. High solid gels come in both gloss and matte and are similar to extra-heavy gel mediums but have a thicker consistency. Keep in mind that the thicker the medium is, the better it will hold peaks.

To see gel mediums in action, view the video below:

  • Pumice gels dry to a hard film and are great for creating bumpy, rough textures. These come in fine (little texture), course, and extra-course (most texture).
  • Self-leveling clear gels are used to create a clear film which increases the sheen and can be blended with acrylic paint to create glazes.
  • Clear tar gels create a tar-like feel with a stringy consistency. This type of gel is great for detailed lines.
  • Glass bead gel produces a course bead-like texture that’s thick (like Heavy Body gels) allowing it to hold great peaks. When mixed with enough paint, glass bead gel often resembles course pumice gel.
  • Clear granular gel is yet another type of gel used to create textured surfaces that dry to a hard film.
  • Silk screen fabric gel can be mixed with acrylic paint to produce a silk-screen ink which can be heat-set.
  • Gel top coats w/ UVLS are gel mediums with ultra violet light filters and stabilizers, which protect from fading and deterioration. These are available in both gloss (dries clear) and semi-gloss (translucent finish).


Like gels, pastes are a way to build texture and effects. The difference between the two lies in the fact that pastes are opaque whereas gels are not.

  • Molding pastes come in extra heavy, molding, hard, and light forms. Extra heavy paste is great for building surfaces and dries to a semi-opaque surface. Molding paste is used to build surfaces and create textures, drying to a hard, opaque film. Hard molding paste is used to create tough, durable finishes. This type of paste dries to a very hard, opaque film. Light molding paste produces a lighter film which is helpful when creating large pieces. This will dry to an opaque, matte finish.
  • Course molding paste is stiff and has a fine sandpaper-like texture. This paste allows for the use of both wet and dry media and is translucent up to 1/8”.
  • Fiber paste produces a handmade paper texture. Since this paste is highly absorbent, it works great with acrylics and watercolors.
  • Crackle paste is a thick paste that produces cracks as it dries. The size of the cracking texture is determined on the thickness of application.

Fluid Mediums

  • Acrylic glazing liquid has a longer work time than other mediums, making it perfect for decorative painting techniques.
  • Polymer medium (gloss) is used to extend paint, create glazes, increase film integrity, and enhance gloss.
  • Fluid matte medium decreases gloss and increases film integrity. This medium also extends colors.
  • Matte medium decreases gloss, increases film integrity and extends colors. This pourable medium can also be used as a ground (like gesso).
  • Super loaded matte medium is great for reducing gloss. Since this medium is not intended to be used by itself, it should always be blended with acrylic paints or mediums.
  • Airbrush transparent extender is made to be used with airbrush paints to increase the transparency and hardness.
  • Airbrush medium transforms fluid acrylics so they can be used in airbrush application. This will help decrease clogging and tip buildup.
  • Silkscreen medium blends with acrylics for silkscreen application. This increases the working time so the paint doesn’t dry on the screen.

GAC Polymers

GAC (Golden Artist Colors) polymers are used to extend paint, create glazes, increase gloss, regulate transparency, and reduce viscosity.  They differ from other mediums in that they are thinner. This means GAC polymers have the ability to reduce the thickness of acrylic paints. Please note that GAC polymers are slightly thinner than fluid acrylics. When shopping for a GAC polymer, you will notice seven different options, each with a unique purpose.

  • GAC 100 is able to wet out solids better than other GAC mediums (perfect for creating your own paints). GAC 100 also extends colors and increases flexibility.
  • GAC 200 is used to increase film hardness and increase bond to non-porous surfaces. Please note that some surfaces (like glass) will not have a permanent bond.
  • GAC 400 is used to stiffen the support of fabric (cotton, linen, silk). This transforms fabric into a form that holds its shape.
  • GAC 500 creates a hard, glossy film. This is the hardest polymer that can be used on flexible supports.
  • GAC 700 is great for glazing with its excellent clarity and gloss.
  • GAC 800 does not craze meaning the surface dries the same as when wet (no shrinkage or crevices) unlike other GAC polymers.
  • GAC 900 becomes very soft when heat-set making it ideal for painting on clothing. When GAC 900 is mixed with acrylic paints, it becomes a fabric paint which can then be silkscreened on or applied with an airbrush or paint brush.

And that pretty much sums up the various mediums by GOLDEN! We realize this is a lot of information to take in all at once which is why we recommend saving this blog post for future reference. If you’re still unsure which medium to use on your next project, please leave a comment below or stop in our store for expert advice!

Which GOLDEN product do you want to learn about next? Comment below!

For more information about our art supplies stop in, give us a call (941-747-2995) or visit! For a list of our upcoming workshops, check out The Artist’s Corner.


18 thoughts on “The Various GOLDEN Mediums Explained

  1. I have to say having tried ALL the acrylics on the market, yours are the best. The colors are vibrant, and the paint texture is amazing. I get stunning results using your products. Thanks !!

  2. Great summary, and now I understand better when making a decision down the aisle, when I felt totally overwhelmed by the choices. Wondering if you know if any of these work similar to the liquitex pouring medium? Thank you.

    1. Hi and thank you for your inquiry. The simple answer is YES you can. Both of these products contain a retarder which slows the drying time of your paint. The glazing liquid can be used by itself or by mixing with paint in any ratio and is available in a gloss or satin. The airbrush medium was specifically designed to make fluid color sprayable and should not be used on its own. I would caution you on the ratio used of the airbrush medium with a max of 2:1 ratio as it will take an extended period to dry if used beyond that ration.

  3. I’m looking for a transparent medium that does not level out, so if I want to make something look like ripples in water and physically feel that way, what would I use

    1. We did a little research and this is what we found out from Golden:

      Polymer Medium is an acrylic liquid medium useful for creating glazes, extending colors, enhancing gloss and translucency and increasing film integrity. It has an oil-like feel and resinous nature that promotes flow and leveling.

      Matte Medium is a pourable medium useful for extending color, decreasing gloss and increasing film integrity. It is also used as a nearly clear ground on canvas instead of gesso.

  4. Hello, does Golden Silkscreen Medium work well with other brand acrylic? And do you know what the diference between medium+acrylic and silkscreen acrylic?

    1. Gold silkscreen medium was formulated to work with Golden acrylics specifically but will work with any acrylic paint to increase the working time and slow paint from drying in the screen. We have not been able to discover a silkscreen acrylic but do see silkscreen inks that can be used in the same way as a silk screen medium added to acrylics. The silkscreen medium, however, is not designed for clothing application. (GAC-900 from Golden would be).

      1. For thicker applications, Golden recommends using their Silkscreen Fabric Gel. Not the same as their Silkscreen Medium, it is specifically designed for textile use. You can also brush it on. It seems to be a bit hard to find, but you can Google it and find it on ebay and some smaller artist’s shops.
        Make sure you are getting the Fabric Gel, some places say they carry it, but actually have the more easily found (non textile) Silkscreen Medium!

        Good Luck!

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