How to Make Liquid White for Oil Painting

Liquid white is a traditional oil color that can be used to add highlights and sparkle to an oil painting. It’s typically made by mixing calcium carbonate with linseed oil, although it can also be purchased in ready-made form. In addition, there are several ways you can make your liquid white at home if you don’t want to buy it or would like to experiment with different ratios of ingredients. 

How to Make Liquid White for Oil Painting

In this blog post, we will discuss how to make liquid white for oil painting. The following items are required to complete this project: linseed oil, calcium carbonate powder, a mixing jar, an eyedropper for measuring tiny quantities of liquid white, paper towels or rags for a clean up, and disposal reasons. Read on to know more!

Five Ways on How to Make Liquid White for Oil Painting

1. Lead White:

Lead white is the original ‘white’ of traditional oil painting. Lead white was widely used in the earlier oil painting days, but it has since fallen out of use due to its toxicity. However, with proper safety precautions, lead white can still be used in oil painting today.

Lead white makes a chalky-looking paint that dries to a matte finish and slowly becomes more transparent. Due to its opacity, it can be used as a good ‘filler for large areas of the painting and is excellent as an underlayer.

2. Titanium White:

Titanium white is currently the most widely used ‘white’ of traditional oil painting. It’s brighter than lead white and has more tinting strength, so less is needed to achieve the desired color. In addition, it dries to a matte finish and slowly becomes more transparent with time.

3. Zinc White:

Zinc white is a relatively new and non-toxic alternative to titanium white. It has similar characteristics to titanium, but it has less tinting strength, so it needs to be mixed with other colors for painting. In addition, because zinc is much more expensive than lead or titanium, many painters choose not to use it as their white.

Use Zinc White

4. Aluminum White:

Aluminum white is a more pure version of zinc white, so it is sometimes referred to as ‘purer’ or ‘cleaner’ than other whites. It’s slightly brighter than zinc and titanium, so less is needed for the same color intensity. However, it has significantly less tinting strength compared to zinc and titanium, so it needs to be mixed with other colors for painting. In addition, aluminum white has a powerful drying time, so it can cause the paint to become brittle or crack if used by itself.

5. Kaolin White:

The characteristics of kaolin white are very similar to titanium, but it’s less bright and more transparent. In addition, it has excellent tinting strength, so it can be used in the place of titanium when white is called for in a color mix. Kaolin can be found in all oil painting mediums because it helps reduce cracking and yellowing.

Instructions: How to Make Liquid White for Oil Painting 

Step 1:

Using powdered white pigment and a little bit of gum, Arabic mix together (about 1:3 or more powder to gum, but not too much). Mix the ingredients with water until it is thoroughly mixed. This will be your liquid white paint.

Step 2:

There is a special technique in oil painting called glazing. This means that you apply paint to your canvas and then wipe away some of it, leaving a thin layer of paint on the surface. Glazing allows for more layers of color without making the picture look muddy and thick with pigment because you can see through it (sort of). Keeping this in mind, thin your paint with a small amount of linseed oil.

Step 3:

We’re going to glaze the ground layer of our picture today. Let’s start with something simple like white and black mixed together. We will need three separate cups for this: one for black paint, one for white, and one for linseed oil. Using a small paintbrush, make your mixture of black and white, and then add three drops of linseed oil. Don’t add too much, or you’ll ruin it! Mix it to make a glazing medium.

Use a Small Paintbrush

Step 4:

Paint the mixture where you want the brightest color in your picture. Let mix a small amount of linseed oil into the black paint until it is thoroughly thin. Using your paintbrush, apply the mixture to your canvas in an area that needs some ground cover (more on this later).

Step 5:

Mix some white and linseed oil and do precisely what we did with our last color layer. Let it dry, then repaint the mixture. This time, don’t let it dry first and leave a bunch of brush marks, or else your picture will look like crap!

Step 6:

Maintain this cycle for as long as you want (the more layers you do on top of each other, the deeper and richer the color appears) with different layers of white and black, each time thinning down the paint a bit more.

Step 7:

When you’re finished painting your picture, you can seal it by putting a finish on top of it. We do this because we will be handling our paintings a lot and don’t want them to bubble up and get messed up from the oils in our hands.

You Can Check It Out to Mix Sky Blue Oil Paint

Some Tips and Suggestions

1. White is a logical place to start a painting, as it can be introduced into the color scheme of your oil painting at any time. A simple touch of white can have an amazing effect on colors and relationships throughout a composition.

2. It is best to thin oil paint with white spirits or “matt” mediums; this will dull the sheen of the oils, so your white will not have a shiny appearance once dry.

3. Do try working on toned grounds as this will give an excellent subtle quality to your work and work out some initial ideas.

Work on Toned Ground

4. Use pure white sparingly, as it may be too bright and disturb the viewer if used too much or too soon within a painting.

5. White paint can be easily mixed with colors by adding a touch of their opposites (ex. red/green, blue/orange, etc).

6. Mixing paint with white tends to ‘lighten’ or open up other mixed colors; thus, it is great for isolating the other color onto the canvas.


The ultimate way to improve the quality of your painting is by adding white. This can be done with many different mediums, but for this blog post, we will focus on how to make liquid white for oil painting. After reading it, if you want some help with creating your paint colors or other materials like canvas panels, we’ve got a list of online art stores that would love to hear from you!

We hope that our recommendations have been helpful and you can find what works best for you! Let us know if you need any help picking out a color or getting started making your custom recipe in another article. Happy Painting!

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