Viscosity Printing with Gelli Arts® by Marsha Valk

Hi there! It’s Marsha here today!

One of the most frequently asked questions is what paint is best for Gelli Arts® gel plate printing.

Unfortunately (or luckily!), there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

The best paint is the one you love, and that creates the look you are trying to achieve in your prints.

There’s only one way to find out which paint works best for your personal needs and preferences and that’s trying lots of different kinds of paints and brands.

To determine what you like, it helps to know a bit about the different paint viscosities that are available.

Acrylic inks or high flow paints have a very low viscosity. They are very thin and fluid.

Acrylic inks tend to bead up on the surface of the gel printing plate. You can try washing your plate with soap and water, rinse and pat dry for better results.

On the gel printing plate, they are suitable for creating watercolour looks or for mixing in with thicker paints.

Fluid acrylics have a low viscosity. They are highly pigmented, and you only need a few drops to cover your gel plate.

The colours are often transparent or translucent and mix well directly on the gel printing plate. They are perfect for detailed prints and printing lots of transparent layers.

Soft or medium body acrylics have a medium viscosity. This means they have a creamy consistency. 

You only need a small amount to roll out an even and relatively thin layer of paint on your gel printing plate. They are easy to mix directly on the plate.

Medium viscosity paints are suitable for most gel printing techniques.

Heavy body acrylics have a high to very high viscosity. They’re thick and stiff like oil paint.

Sometimes the thick consistency makes them harder to roll out and mix directly on the gel printing plate. You can use the tackiness of high viscosity paint to add texture to your prints.

Heavy body paint is perfect for pulling previous layers of paint off your gel printing plate, so a white or light coloured heavy body paint is a must have if you looking to create ghost prints.

There’s a fun technique that uses the principles of viscosity to print multiple colours at once. It’s called viscosity printing.

Let me show you in this video!

Give yourself time to practice with viscosity printing. 

You’ll need to get a feel of how much ink and paint are required, how fast you have to work on your design before the first layer of ink dries and how much pressure you need to use when rolling on the second layer of paint.

There’s always an element of surprise with viscosity printing.  Some viscosity prints will turn out much better than envisioned, and others won’t succeed no matter how many times you try. 

Just remember that a “failed”viscosity print is never lost. You can always enhance it with coloured pencils, markers or more print layers!

Please share your viscosity gel prints on Instagram using #gelliarts and #gelliartsmade. We love to see your work!

Have lots of fun experimenting!



Gelli Arts® Gel Printing Plate 5×7″

Gelli Arts® Mini Printing Tools

4″ Roller


Acrylic Ink/High Flow Acrylics

Heavy Acrylics

Paper (A5 size)

Cotton Buds, Shapers, Scrapers, Brushes, Empty Tape Rolls

Grafix Matte Dura-Lar

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