Binders The vehicle for the color
Not all drawing and painting media have binders to hold the pigment particles together before use. Charcoal for example is naturally already in stick form, and Chinese stick ink is often no more than just soot particles suspended in water. This ink when it is applied loses all of its vehicle (the water) and consists entirely of soot particles that are caught in the fibers of the paper. All paints however have as an essential component a vehicle that is a binding agent, that both binds the pigment particles together before use, and once applied (and the liquid component has evaporated) has a solid component which remains behind both binding the pigment particles together and also binding the film of color to a surface. There are several binders in use, each with their strengths and weaknesses, they are listed here with links to further pages giving detailed information on the varieties available and their suitability for making paint.

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Extenders, fillers, and driers

Oils The favorite for 500 years
Both Linseed and Poppy oils are commonly used by artists to grind pigments in. The defects of oil as a binder are many, yet the characteristics of oil as a painting medium are well suited to the needs of many if not most artists. Egg Tempera and Oil Paint are the two most popular mediums for the artist making paint in the studio and the demonstration in this web site is centered around these two media.

Click here for detailed information on the various oils suitable for making paint.

Alkyds Fast drying oil paint
Alkyds have added the choice of speed to the oil painter's arsenal. Making the paints as conventional Oil Paints and then using Alkyd mediums is probably the most popular option, although there are those who like the raw speed of the colors ground in Alkyd oils in the first place. As there are limited color choices for Alkyds in stores the Alkyd paint user can benefit from expanding the choice with their favorite new pigments and grinding colors in the studio.

Click here for detailed information on Alkyd Mediums suitable for making paint

Eggs The easiest paint to make
Egg Tempera is the easiest paint for the artist to make in the studio. With no major defects as a medium there is no need for any additives other than the egg and the pigment. Included here is helpful advice from Cennini who wrote a book on the subject almost 600 years ago.

Click here for detailed information on eggs as a paint binder.

Acrylics The most versatile paint
Acrylics are easy to use but can be problematic to make in the studio from base ingredients. There are ways though of simplifying the process and some practical advice is given here on grinding pigments into Acrylic mediums.

Click here for information on using Acrylic mediums for making paint in the studio.

Gums Water based simplicity
Watercolor and Gouache Pastels and Chalks are all based on the binding properties of gums. Gum Arabic is the best known, but there are others, and this is your guide to finding the best for your purposes.

Click here for detailed information on Gums for making water based paint in the studio.

Waxes and natural resins Ancient but modern
Waxes are used as stabilizers in Oil Paint, but in Encaustic it is a mixture of wax and resin that is the binder in the medium. All the important waxes and resins you are likely to need are described in detail. In addition the role of Damar as a varnish is described briefly with an introduction to making varnish.

Click here for detailed information on Waxes and Natural Resins including Damar.

Fresco The ultimate binder
Fresco is unique in that it is the surface painted on which is the binder and before application the pigment particles are merely suspended in water. They are applied to wet lime plaster which sets rock hard and in so doing incorporates the pigment particles as an integral part of the plaster surface and as such no binder is required as with a surface coating like oil paint. As it is outside the bounds of making paint the application of the pigment to the plaster surface is not discussed here.

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