How To Thicken Your Acrylic Paint for Dotting

The consistency of the paint you use matters when making dot art with acrylics. You can change the flow of the paint to get flat dots or ones with peaks; what you prefer is up to you. However, you’ll want to know how to thicken the acrylic paint to get the best results.

How To Thicken Your Acrylic Paint for Dotting

You can thicken your acrylic paint for dotting by adding a homemade cornstarch mixture to the paint or using an acrylic gel medium. Once you have your thickening ingredient, add it in small amounts to your acrylics until you achieve the texture you want.

This article will provide everything you need to know to thicken your acrylic paint for dotting. Once you have a consistency you like, it’s easy to replicate it with your future projects. Let’s begin!

Choose Your Thickening Ingredient

First, you’ll want to consider how you plan on making the paint thicker. You have a few different options that can give you slightly different results. Many people make a homemade cornstarch mixture because they already have the ingredient at home. However, you can also purchase an acrylic gel medium at an art store or online.

If you want to go that route, I recommend the Liquitex BASICS Gloss Gel MediumOpens in a new tab. from It thickens the paint nicely, increases adhesion, and offers a shiny finish that looks great in dot paintings. It’s easy to use, too, since all you need to do is mix a few drops with your acrylic paints.

Liquitex BASICS Gloss Gel Medium, 250ml (8.4oz) Tube Opens in a new tab.
  • Thickens fluid/medium body paints, giving more prominent brush and knife marks. Increases surface...
  • Slows drying time so you achieve better color blends. Makes your color go further without affecting...
  • Maintains paint adhesion, durability and archival quality. Fully intermixable with all Liquitex...

Last update on 2024-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The cornstarch won’t increase adhesion, so you’ll want to use gel on surfaces that don’t hold acrylic paints well. For instance, if you’re painting on plastics.

Both options have benefits, so you’ll want to think carefully before choosing one.

Prepare the Thickening Ingredient

If you choose to use an acrylic paint gel, you don’t need to do very much to prepare. Simply squeeze some paint on your palette and use a palette knife to combine the two. Add a few drops of the gel at a time, so you can see how it changes the consistency of the paint.

However, you’ll need to do more if making a DIY thickening agent. Here’s what you can do if you’re using the cornstarch mixture I mentioned above:

  1. Mix 1.5 cups (355 ml) of water with two tablespoons of cornstarch in a small pot.
  2. Heat the mixture on low heat.
  3. As the mixture slowly thickens, stir it occasionally.
  4. Then, take the pot off your stove after the mixture turns into a thick paste.
  5. Allow it to cool completely before handling it.
  6. Scoop the mixture out onto your palette.
  7. Slowly combine slight amounts of the cooked cornstarch with your acrylic paint using a palette knife until you get the thickness you want.
  8. Store the leftover thickening mixture in an airtight container where you keep the rest of your paints.

Know What Consistency You Want for the Paint

Once your thickening agent is ready, you’ll need to consider how thick you want the paint to be. It mustn’t be too thick or too runny, so you can easily make dots–either extreme will cause problems.

Most store-bought acrylic paints are already thinner, so adding a thickening agent helps. You want your dots to form slightly raised centers when you put them on your canvas. Otherwise, the paint’s too runny, and the drops will drip.

It’s worth noting how you plan to put the paint on your canvas also matters. You want thick paint when you’re using a tool, like a q-tip or a paintbrush, to apply the dots. This painting method is known as stippling or pointillismOpens in a new tab., depending on how many colors you use. It’s also great for creating bright, colorful Mandala designs.

However, if you’re pouring the paint on the canvas to make dots, it needs to be fluid and runny. If you want to thicken the paint, apply the drops using a painting tool.

How Thick Should Paint Be for Dot Painting?

For dot painting, the paint should be slightly thick, at a spreadable consistency. You don’t want it too thick, but liquid paint is messy when making controlled dots. You should test the paint’s viscosity before you use it, then adjust it.

I recommend testing the paint on a piece of scrap paper or canvas first. The consistency should be fine if the dots form a raised peak when you lift the painting tool up. However, if the paint runs or sits flat on the surface, you’ll want to add more of your thickening agent.

Adjust the Paint Consistency

Making your paint as thick as needed isn’t an exact science. You’ll probably need to spend a few minutes adjusting the consistency until you get the desired results.

You can make the acrylic paint thicker Opens in a new adding more of your thickening agent and make it thinner by adding water or a pouring mediumOpens in a new tab..

What Can I Use To Make Dots With Paint?

You can use various paint brushes to make dots with paint. Many artists also use q-tips and the eraser end of pencils to create their dots. If you want a tiny dot, then a toothpick is best. You can also find nail art tools with different tips for making various dot sizes.

Overall, there are tons of tools that you can use to make dots with your paint. You might be surprised what you can do with what you already have at home. 

Final Words

To summarize, you can thicken your acrylics for dotting by combining the acrylics with a gel medium or creating a DIY cornstarch mixture and combining it with your paints.

Many people use the cornstarch mixture because they already have it at home, and it’s more cost-efficient. However, both options work wonderfully, so you can choose the one that’s more convenient for you.

If anyone knows, it’s Mark Mandalas

Marks MandalasOpens in a new tab.
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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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