It’s common to experiment with different brands of acrylic paint to see which one you prefer. At some point you’re going to wonder if it’s okay to mix them.
The information that I’ve found from the manufacturers says that it’s okay to mix different brands of acrylic paint. However, you have to be aware that you’ll be averaging the properties of both brands. For example, mixing regular acrylics with slow drying acrylics will make them dry faster. Each brand of acrylics also have varying levels of surface sheen and this may show up in the finished painting.
Why Would You Want to Mix Different Brands of Paint?
If you’re a beginner, you may be wondering why you would want to mix different brands of paint. Why not just pick a brand and stick with it? That’s a reasonable question. Eventually, you may encounter circumstances where it will make sense to mix different brands of paint.
Your Favorite Brand Isn’t Available
It’s possible that you may run out of a color when you’re painting on vacation or at a workshop. What would you do if the local art supply store doesn’t carry your favorite line of acrylics? The logical thing to do is to buy another brand of the same color. Choose one that has a consistency closest to the paints you already have. If they don’t carry Golden Heavy Body acrylics then you could use Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics.
Another Brand Has the Perfect Color
Perhaps you love the line of acrylic paints that you’ve decided on and they work great. However, you’re just not happy with the Ultramarine Blue. Well, you can buy Ultramarine Blue from a different manufacturer use that instead. There shouldn’t be a problem with mixing them as long as they’re artist quality acrylics.
You’re Switching Brands
At some point in the future you may decide to switch brands. Maybe you’re switching from student body paint to a line of professional acrylics. But what do you do with the old tubes of paint? Paint is expensive so you probably don’t want to let them go to waste. You can use them up by mixing them with your new acrylics.
Can You Mix Professional Acrylics with Student Grade Acrylic Paint?
You can mix student grade paints with a professional brand of paints. The result will be a paint that behaves somewhere in between both brands. Some artists begin a painting using student grade paints just to block in the colors. Then they switch to the professional paints to finish it.
Student grade paint is less expensive because they use fillers or cheaper pigments. If you’re going to use a student acrylics then choose one that’s from a reputable manufacturer. Liquitex and Winsor & Newton both have a line of student grade paints. They’re both quality brands.
Avoid the cheap generic acrylic paint found at craft stores because they may contain pigments that aren’t lightfast or have other inferior properties.
Mixing Brands of Acrylic Paint Can Affect the Surface Sheen
As mentioned in the introduction, different brands of acrylics dry to different sheen levels. Liquitex acrylics dry to a satin sheen. Golden acrylics vary depending on the color. Atelier interactive acrylics dry to a consistent matte sheen. If you mix different brands you may notice some parts of your painting dry glossier than others. Some artists don’t mind this effect. Other artists varnish their paintings when they’re dry to unify the surface sheen.
Can You Mix Paints That Have Different Thicknesses?
You can mix heavy body acrylics with fluid acrylics without any problems, although it will obviously affect the thickness of the paint.
Liquitex marketing materials promote the “intermixability” of their paints. You can mix their inks, markers, spray paint, with their entire line of acrylics. The technical information from Golden states that their line of acrylics are mixable with most of their acrylic products.*
I sometimes use a bit of fluid acrylics to thin out heavy body acrylics instead of using water. I could thin the paint with water but that would sacrifice some of the opacity. For example, I may add a touch of white fluid acrylic to lighten the heavy body acrylic paint just to thin it out slightly.
Can You Mix Ink with Acrylic Paint?
As stated above, Liquitex promotes the intermixability of their products. This includes mixing their inks with acrylic paint. Golden also has a line of High Flow Acrylics which have an ink like consistency and they state on their website that they’re compatible with most Golden colors.
However, I don’t recommend mixing traditional drawing ink with acrylic paints. Traditional drawing inks don’t typically use acrylic emulsions as a binder. Some of these inks contain shellac and I’m not sure how well they would mix with acrylics. I would suggest using an acrylic ink that’s designed to be compatible with acrylic paint.
Can You Mix Slow Drying Acrylics with Regular Acrylics?
There are a few slow drying lines of acrylics that have recently appeared on the market. Open Acrylics are a slow drying acrylic made by Golden. Interactive Acrylics are made by Atelier although they’re technically not a slow drying acrylic. They can be misted with water to keep them workable. The “unlocking formula” can be used to open the the paint after it has dried.
Both of these paints have their own unique properties and have expanded what’s possible with acrylics. They can be blended for extended periods and many artists who are coming from oil paints tend to gravitate to these paints.
If you’ve experimented with these slow drying acrylics, you may wonder if they can be mixed with your regular fast drying acrylics. Golden and Atelier state that their products can be mixed with regular acrylics. The drying times will decrease by doing so. Whether this is a positive or negative outcome depends upon what you’re trying to accomplish.
Slow drying acrylics are appealing to artists who want to spend a lot time blending so mixing regular acrylics with them defeats the purpose.
On the other hand, I’ve found that the open acrylics don’t seem to dry fast enough for my preferences, so adding in a little bit of regular acrylics helps them to dry faster. Golden has a considerable amount of information about the drying times of open acrylics. This technical data covers how the drying times are affected by adding regular acrylics to the open acrylics.
What the Paint Manufacturers Say About Mixing Brands of Paint
Surprisingly, there’s very little information available that comes direct from the manufacturers, but the information that I did find agreed that there should be no problems with mixing brands. However they did warn against mixing them with cheap inferior acrylics paints.
I found the following response from Liquitex about mixing their acrylics with other brands.
“Liquitex Acrylic Paint should be compatible with most other acrylic products, however the lightfastness, flexibility, yellowing and UV protecting capabilities may vary from one product brand to another. Always do an adhesion test when using other products to determine compatibility. (Source: page no longer exists)”
They emphasize that you should avoid mixing their acrylics with inferior brands because it may affect the performance. For example, some pigments aren’t lightfast so they fade when exposed to UV light for extended periods. If you were to mix one of these inferior paints with Liquitex paints they may also fade in time.
Mixing different brands of acrylics should be okay as long as both brands are of a decent quality. I have been mixing Liquitex and Golden acrylics for years and I have yet to have a problem with it. Mixing low quality paint with your regular artist grade paints will affect quality in some way.
If you want to mix acrylic paint with ink then select an acrylic ink that’s compatible with acrylic paint.
As always, be sure to do some testing if you’re working on an important project. If you’re unsure, contact the manufacturers. They are usually eager to help with technical concerns.
Have fun with your painting!
* Golden Heavy Body Technical Information “The HB Colors can be mixed with all of our GOLDEN Mediums, Gels and other paint lines, including our High Flow Acrylics, Fluid Acrylics, High Load Colors, Iridescent Colors, Paste Paints, and Matte Acrylics.”