How to Mix Paint Pigments

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Paint pigments are dry powders, added to base paint mediums to create any color imaginable for application to the surface of your choice. The base mediums are liquids that act as a carrier for the paint pigments, providing a liquid to spread the pigment across a surface and bind it there. Unlike a dye, paint pigments do not dissolve into the medium, instead it disperses throughout the liquid, remaining as small particles. To get an equal level of dispersal, the pigment must first be mixed into a solution that combines with the medium easily. This prevents clumping of the pigments which would otherwise create unevenly colored paints.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint pigments
  • Methyl alcohol
  • Wooden stirrer stick
  • Solvent
  • Paint medium base
  • Sealable jar
  • Mix the pigment in a solution of equal parts water and methyl alcohol until you form a paste of the mixture for adding pigments to water-based painting mediums. Use a clean, wooden stirrer to mix the pigments. Make certain the mix is evenly colored throughout, as this is an indication that the pigment is full disbursed and ready for use.

  • Mix the pigments with a solvent of the same amount if adding to an oil-based, alcohol-based or solvent-based painting medium instead; using the solvent that’s compatible with the particular medium you have in mind.

  • Combine different pigments to achieve a color mix, using ready-made formulas, or experimenting with mixing ratios yourself to achieve the color desired. Maintain the overall pigment to solvent or water ratios when mixing though, to make it easier to combine the finished pigment mix with the paint medium.

  • Pour the paint medium base that you intend to use into a jar, clear or white base is best for gaining the full effect of the added pigments. Linseed oil serves as a base for oil painting, or use an acrylic medium for paints you can thin with water.

  • Add the pigment mixture to the base medium, mixing the two with the wooden stirrer until completely mixed. Examine the paint mix for any streaking or concentrations of color, then continue mixing until all signs of color differentiation in the mixture are gone. Use the mixed paint as soon as possible, or cap the paint jar tightly for later paint usage.

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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