How to Use Masking Fluid

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I wanted to do a quick post about masking fluid as a follow-up to my post about using masking film. Both have their purposes and can be used together to help you create amazing work. 

What is masking fluid?

Unlike masking film, masking fluid is liquid and needs to be applied with a brush. I suggest using an older brush that you don't care about because the masking fluid will 100% ruin the bristles. Once it gets on your brush, there's no saving it because it will dry into a rubber texture. It's so cool and really fun to play around with!

What You'll Need

Masking Fluid (Miskit)
Water
An old paintbrush

Masking fluid is a lot less work up-front than masking film. So yay!

The Process

  1. You'll need to shake the masking fluid before using it. It usually has some pigment in it so you can see where you lay it, so you want to make sure it's well mixed so you don't get a concentration of pigment on your page.
  2. Wet your paint brush before dipping it into your masking fluid. Make sure to soak up the excess water on a paper towel so your brush can still soak up some of the masking fluid.
  3. Use a painting technique to apply the masking fluid to your paper. Move quickly because it will start to dry! And if you go over a piece that's already starting to dry it will stick to your paintbrush and pull up off of the paper. 
  4. Once you've finished masking off your work, let the masking fluid dry completely before painting over it.
  5. Make sure you let your painting dry before attempting to pull off the masking fluid. It will be very rubbery and should come up easily. If you're having trouble picking up some of the smaller pieces, use a rubber edge to 'rub' the section off the paper. 

There are some other cool techniques you can use when using masking fluid. To create a snowfall effect, dip a toothbrush in the masking fluid and rub your thumb over the bristles to spray the masking fluid over the paper. You can also use stencils to paint patterns onto your paper. Just make sure you don't put too much fluid down or it will run when you more the stencil.  

Masking fluid is also great for masking off small details, like highlights in the eye or cuts of glass. You can also create more organic shapes with masking fluid then with masking film because you have more control over it with the painting method. However, you wouldn't want to use it to cover large sections because it would take a LOT of fluid and you'd be racing against the clock to cover the space before it started to dry. 

In Conclusion

You can create a lot of cool textures with masking fluid and there are so many neat techniques. You definitely have more control and creative license with masking fluid vs. masking film. Both are amazing and serve their purpose to help you keep more control over your work. Especially when you're working in watercolor you don't have a lot of control where the paint goes. So if you have an area you need to keep white and don't want to carefully work around those edges, masking them off is a life-saver. Have fun playing with both masking film ('Friskit film') and masking fluid ('Miskit' or 'liquid Friskit')!