Pigments + Mediums = ???


There are various kinds of paints are sold in tubes at art supply stores, such as oil paints, acrylics, watercolors, etc.

However, do you know the difference between these paints?

In fact, all paints, including tube paints, are basically made from a combination of "pigments and mediums".

"Pigments" are the generic term for the colors in the bottles in our store.

Natural mineral pigments (Iwa Enogu), tinted pigments (Suihi Enogu) and effect pigments are all in the same category.

Some of you may think that, "Why does the store have so many different names for different paints when you're using the same pigment?"

As a matter of fact, it's not the pigments that determine the types of paint, but what you mixed the pigments with. In other words, it's based on what kind of medium (adhesive material) you use.

For example, when oil as the medium = oil paint; acrylic emulsion = acrylic paint; gum arabic =  transparent watercolor, etc.

There are two major kinds of mediums, water-based and oil-based. In this article, I will introduce some paints that can be easily used for beginners. If there are certain paints that you feel like you could use, go ahead and give them a try!

①Nihonga (Iwa Enogu + Nikawa)

Japanese Painting (Mineral Pigments + Animal Glue)

24 Color Pigments Set (Red)
OX glue liquid 20% concentrated

The combination of mineral pigments and animal glue is mainly used in Nihonga, also known as Japanese painting.

For convenience, we refer to them as "Japanese painting" at the beginning of this article, but in general, the mixture of powdered pigments and animal glue is also called "Iwa Enogu" in Japanese, which means mineral pigments. (In China, it is also called "岩彩" yán cài.)

The main advantage of this glue-based expression is that compared to other mediums, mineral pigment dries in its original color. Furthermore, mineral pigment comes in more than 10 shades of particles within the same color, and as the name implies, it excels at expressing the texture of powdered minerals.

Due to the limitations of the medium, mineral pigments are totally impossible to make them into a tube. Thus, you have to pick the amount of pigment you want and put in on a plate for each time you paint. 

For more information on how to use mineral pigments, please click on the following link.

If this sounds like a bit too hard for you, PIGMENT Tokyo also offers an online workshop where we will deliver a set of art materials and a video URL to your home!


②Acrylic Painting (Pigments + Acrylic Emulsion)

Acrylic Paint Cadmium Red Purple
Acrylic Paint Cadmium Yellow Lemon
Acrylic Paint Vermilion

Pearl Color Silver

These acrylic paints offer a wide range of options for your own taste and adjustment. You can customize the acrylic paints by mixing different kinds of pigments yourself.

The main advantage of acrylic paints is that it's completely water resistant when it dries. Therefor, you can apply layers of colors, as well as create various types of expressions by adding different kinds of medium, such as making the paint more transparent with gel medium.

Acrylic paints are highly recommended for painting crafts, coloring plastic models, or even just for fun!

Please check out the following instruction video if you are interested in concocting your own acrylic pigments!

③Transparent Watercolor (Pigments + Gum Arabic)

Watercolor Metal Box 12
Watercolor Metal Box 24
Watercolor Metal Box 48

Watercolor paints come in many different forms, for example, tubes, pans, homemades, etc. The key to this kind of ability, it's to not become water resistant when it dries, and able to dissolve in water again.

Therefore, you can apply the color once and then blend it by dripping water over the top to create a unique pictorial expression in watercolors.

In addition, although it is possible to paint it over and over, as mentioned above, it is not water resistant, so you have to imagine how the texture will look like and think carefully before you mixed with the new color.

④Oil Painting (Pigments + Painting Oil Medium)


VERNET Oil Color Set / 12 colors

Similar to acrylic paints, oil paints have a wide range of options, it can be in tubulars or you can customize your own colors.

However, it takes time for oil paints to dry, and since solvents are often used for thinning oil paints and washing the brushes, it is important to ventilate the room while drawing.

The biggest advantage of oil paints is the freedom for artists to express their art, which is second to none, even for acrylic paints. Plus, unlike water-based paints, oil paints harden by polymerizing with oxygen in the air, so it usually takes about a week for them to dry.

Instead, you can just take your time and enjoy drawing your work.

In addition, you can use a pig-hair bristle and run your brush through thick coats of paint as you wish, or you can consider calculating the drying time and oil absorption of the paint as you paint, as well as using water-based paints for the background before layering up the color.

If you are interested in making your own oil paints, this medium is a great option for you.

Oil Color Medium


Art Materials Expert of PIGMENT TOKYO


Born in 1989 in Tokyo Master of Fine Art and Design at Nihon University College of Art While working at PIGMENT TOKYO as an Art Materials Expert, he also continues his artist career composing visual art works.

Born in 1989 in Tokyo Master of Fine Art and Design at Nihon University College of Art While working at PIGMENT TOKYO as an Art Materials Expert, he also continues his artist career composing visual art works.