Have you ever looked at an impressive watercolor painting with crisp white highlights and wondered how to pull that off? You’ve probably already tried working your way around the areas you need to stay white and haven’t had much success.
Well, the best watercolorists rarely use white paint. Perhaps they paint carefully evading the white spots. With watercolors being superfluid, it takes a certain degree of expertise and finesse to overcome this challenge, something beginner artists do not have yet.
However, any artist of any skill level can always use a watercolor masking fluid to obscure those specific areas you want to stay protected. Who knows? It could be the top artists’ best-kept secret.
But what’s the best watercolor masking fluid? The best watercolor masking fluids have a thin creamy consistency and are easy to apply precisely and consistently. Choose a fluid with a removal method, wait time, and color that works well for you.
If this seems like an option you’d love to try, then you’ve come to the right place. In the next part of this post, we will help you with your purchase by highlighting key things to consider when shopping for watercolor masking fluid.
We also recommend the best brands for the product from our intense unbiased research. Have a look.
Watercolor Masking Fluid – What to Look For
Masking fluid is latex in a liquid state applied to parts of the artwork that an artist desires to be white. It works by drying into a rubberlike water-resistant film that prevents the absorption of paint by the paper. It is later removed to reveal a perfect white patch or outline.
This is especially important with watercolor paints, as they are naturally prone to spreading out. Although the fluid, organic look of watercolors is what makes it special, sometimes you just need a clean break of white.
To get the best watercolor masking fluid for your needs, you must consider a few things because they come in all sorts of shapes, consistencies and colors. Here are some factors we found to be essential:
Watercolor masking fluids come packaged in bottles, tubes, jars, etc. Some bottles and tubes have an affixed nozzle that allows artists to apply it directly on to the paper. Others take the help of a brush, stick, or sponge to transfer it to the paper. Last but not least, there are masking fluid pens.
Each of these forms of application has its advantages and drawbacks. Pens are convenient and more precise but can easily clog and become useless. If you use paint brushes, the masking fluid will ruin them very fast. Although, you can always use old brushes.
Nozzled bottles eliminate the use of brushes, but you’ll have less control of the amount of fluid being dispelled. These can also clog if you are not careful to clean them before storing.
The best watercolor masking fluid has a thin creamy consistency. When you choose something too watery, it will run everywhere. Confining it to the desired space can prove difficult. A thicker consistency, on the other hand, makes it difficult to do intricate details.
You have to wait for the masking fluid to dry completely before you can actually begin painting with watercolors. This is perhaps the most annoying thing, especially if you do not have the luxury of time.
Pay attention to the drying time indicated and whether it will work for you. It also helps to apply it thinly.
How do you want to remove the dried film of watercolor masking fluid from the paper? You can choose between a peel-off formula or one that rubs out with fingers or an eraser, which will be bought separately.
The color of a masking fluid may not be that important because you will eventually get rid of it. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that most brands make them in white. Though, you can opt for a darker color like blue or a bright orange for better visibility. If you opt for a tinted masque, make sure it is non-discoloring.
The 5 Best Watercolor Masking Fluids
With a myriad of watercolor masking fluids available, you might feel overwhelmed deciding which one to go with. You should be able to find the best from this top 5 list:
|1.||Winsor & Newton Art Masking Fluid||Yellow, 75 mL|
|2.||Grafix Incredible White Mask Liquid Frisket||White, 4.5 oz|
|3.||Fineline Masking Fluid Pen||Blueish, 1.25 oz|
|4.||Grumbacher Miskit Liquid Frisket||Orange, 1.2 oz|
|5.||Dr. Ph. Martin's Frisket Mask Liquid||Clear, 1 oz|
Let’s look at each one more closely, shall we?
1. Winsor & Newton Art Masking Fluid
This bottle of watercolor masking fluid is the best you can get your hands on, there’s no competition. It is a latex-based watercolor medium that offers liquid-proof cover when dry. Your protected areas remain free of paint when doing broad watercolor washes.
The liquid frisket is off white, but there’s a pale yellow tinted version to provide some contrast. Do not worry about staining your paper, either. You can peel it off with no discoloration whatsoever.
This mask is formulated as per the ASTM D4236 standards and is, therefore, safe to use. It has a nice thin consistency that can be applied using a brush (not your expensive ones of course), sponge, or whatever tool you find handy.
The best thing about this particular brand is that it has a long shelf-life. You get your money’s worth because it will not solidify at the bottom after a single use or months of storage. The liquid is engineered to remain stable as long as you cap it on tightly. Also, cleaning the edges of the cap and bottle after use helps a great deal.
Another reason to love this product and perhaps why it is a favorite for many watercolorists is the quick drying. It dries within a few minutes; other brands just can’t beat this.
You don’t need much to remove it, either. You can rub it off with a dry finger to get an edge then peel it off the paper. It doesn’t adhere to and rip your work. This is a top-shelf quality product that works as it should. No paper bleeding, no waiting for hours, and no paper shredding. We can’t recommend it enough.
2. Grafix Incredible White Mask Liquid Frisket
This smooth flowing, latex-based masking fluid is made in the US with the highest quality standards for your watercolor painting needs.
You only need to use an old brush that’s past its prime which you don’t plan to reuse for any fine paintwork anymore. The thin formula is quite a performer. It is quick-drying and can be removed effortlessly with finger rolling without damaging the watercolor paper.
Like any other watercolor masking fluid, it has a strong odor. The good thing is that the fumes dissipate rapidly as you apply the formula.
There’s 4.5 oz of liquid frisket in every bottle. That’s a lot of product compared to other brands and should last you a long while. And for the reasonable price, it has got to be the best watercolor masking fluid for value.
3. Fineline Masking Fluid Pen
Fineline is one of the best watercolor masking fluids for precision detailing. The bottle comes with a 20 gauge (0.5mm) fine tip with an easy to control flow for intricately detailed illustrations.
It is cleverly designed with a non-clogging system and airtight cap that ensures fluid flows through unobstructed.
You will also love that it is a versatile choice. The bottle is refillable, and you can also interchange the applicator to a different gauge size depending on your needs.
Fineline is a smooth flowing, quick-drying easy to lift made in the US brand that will be a joy to work with. The quality of the formula is superb. It dries with a pale blue tint to give a little bit of visual contrast but leaves behind no dye residue when you peel it off.
4. Grumbacher Miskit Liquid Frisket
If you’ve been having trouble finding your masked spaces because most liquid friskets come in white, then you will love this product from Grumbacher.
The latex-based formula is fluorescent orange, so you will have no trouble finding the high contrast film exactly where you applied it.
You don’t have to worry about the bright dye leaving a residue on your paper or brush, however. The fluid is made to be non-staining, so white spaces will remain white once you remove it. But you can paint over it, too.
Once completely dry, the film lifts off with relative ease, but an eraser works even better. You might need to practice with the consistency a bit before putting this on your actual work as it is thin and can be bubbly too.
The US-made brand conforms to the ASTM D4236 standard of safety and it is non-toxic. There’s a noticeable odor, but it goes away very quickly.
If you are looking for the best watercolor masking fluid for visibility, go with the Grumbacher Miskit.
5. Dr. Ph. Martin’s Frisket Mask Liquid
This liquid frisket offers a fool-proof water and paint resistant film, unlike low-quality masking fluids that will be leeching and bleeding underneath.
It comes with a dropper cap that applies the fluid smoothly, but it is best to use some other tool, such as a brush, for better control.
Peeling is easy, too. It lifts off the paper without being sticky. For large areas, you need to be extra careful. Also, ensure it doesn’t stay there for too long.
One downside is that the fluid mask dries white and does not provide any visual contrast against the watercolor paper. However, we feel these are small annoyances that can be overlooked as you get an excellent product at the most reasonable price.