Thursday, June 24, 2010

Art Masking Fluid - A few tips and hints for you!

Happy Art Day! 

I promised I would give you a little bit of information about art masking fluid, also known as liquid friskit, liquid drawing gum, and a few other things.  This is a gooey substance that you can paint on your paper to preserve the white areas while you are painting larger washes in watercolor.

Okay, here I am - all ready to start putting my masking fluid on my little ACEO painting.  Remember when I said this stuff was gooey?  Add sticky to that.  Or call it 'glue-y', if you want.  I am using a product made by Sennelier - so if you are trying to read the upside down label, think French and it will be easier.  Gomme Liquide A Dessiner.

Upside down.  That is the way you should store this bottle, but make sure you cap it tightly first.  This little trick also works on liquid acrylic paint, too.  Storing your masking fluid upside down will allow the heavier 'stuff' to settle in the lid where it is easier to shake or stir to mix it.  And that is what you must do before you use this - so shake it up and get ready!

The little black gizmo is not a brush - it is an Original The Incredible Nib by Grafix.  Masking fluid will eat your brush alive.  Do NOT use a good brush for this stuff...  at least not one you ever want to use again.

Dip the nib in the masking fluid and then paint the masking fluid on fairly thickly wherever you want there to be white paper.  You can also spatter it on the paper, if you want a pattern.  Just remember that this stuff will leave a very sticky mess on whatever tools you use. 

The moment you are finished painting your masking fluid on the paper, race to the sink and wash your nib with soap and warm (not hot) water.

As soon as your masking fluid is dry, you can begin painting!

Take a close look at the "T" in the fence in my drawing. You can see where I have used permanent india ink to draw the bird and I have gone right over the masking fluid where I drew the tail. Masking fluid will work with ink as well as with watercolor paint. All of the washes were done over the paper and on top of the masking fluid.

Notice how the masking gum is a lovely bright color?  Different brands come in different colors, and you can also get colorless masking fluid.  The colorless is harder to see when you need to remove it.  If you leave colored masking fluid on your paper for a long time, it may stain some papers.  That's one reason why some people use colorless masking fluid.  Also, watch out because the longer you leave masking fluid on your paper, the stickier it gets and the more likely it will be to tear your paper when you remove it.  Mine came off really easy, but it was only on for a few hours. 

Okay, time to remove our masking fluid! 

There is a 'rubber cement pick-up' that you can use if you have large areas to remove, but since I have just a little bit of masking fluid on this ACEO I just rubbed it off with my fingers.

Well, and I couldn't resist seeing if I could pull a whole piece off at one time (after I got it loose on the end).  Look how nice and white the paper is under the masking fluid!

Okay - let's take a look at the whole little painting with all the masking fluid off of it.

Remember that little black line I drew across the masking fluid with the permanent india ink?  The one where the fence makes a "T"?  All you see now is white paper!
Now I can finish up the fence and paint his little eye and this little guy will be all ready to fly to a new home.

Masking fluid can really make it easy to keep your paper white where you have fine lines or an intricate pattern.  It can be a bit pricey, but maybe you can find someone who will share a jar with you?

Happy painting!


  1. Well, isn't that the most clever thing ever! I had no idea they even made such a thing as masking fluid!

  2. Your paintings are beautiful and this is a great tutorial! I enjoyed watching the progress!

  3. Thanks Kathy. I love masking liquid, it makes painting so much easier and fun.

  4. Great demo, Kathy! I love doing large washes and splattering paint all over knowing that the masking fluid is protecting the white paper.

  5. Now I get what everyone has been talking about. Neat!

  6. This stuff is really cool! I will definitely have to try it one of these days!

    Thanks for the cool tutorial and tips!

    And love your crow!

  7. that stuff rocks! I was never very good with watercolor, so never reached a level where this would be needed. Nice to know it works with ink too :)

  8. Thanks, everyone =)

    So glad you enjoyed my little bird and the fun with masking fluid!

    I enjoy sharing the hints and tutorials, so keep an eye out for some more!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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