Top 5 Best Masking Fluid for Watercolor: Top Picks for Artists

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Watercolor art is cherished for its translucent layers, delicate washes, and vibrant clarity. The medium allows for a great degree of creativity and expression but often requires a precise control over the flow and application of paint. Masking fluid, also known as liquid frisket, is a vital tool for watercolor artists aiming to preserve white spaces or protect previously painted areas from subsequent washes. It acts as a removable barrier, applied to the paper before painting; once the fluid dries, artists can paint freely over it, safe in the knowledge that the masked areas will remain untouched by the paint.

The selection of the right masking fluid can significantly influence the final outcome of a watercolor piece. When shopping for masking fluid, one must consider the fluid’s composition, ease of application, and removability. It’s important to find a product that applies smoothly, without damaging the paper when removed. Some masking fluids come tinted with a color, making it easier to see where they have been applied, which can be particularly helpful for intricate designs. Additionally, the toxicity and odor of the product are also considerations for many artists, especially those who prefer to work in well-ventilated or shared spaces.

In our quest to find the best masking fluid for watercolor artists, we scrutinized various products looking at these critical factors, as well as performance and value. We believe that the right masking fluid can be a game-changer in elevating the quality and precision of watercolor painting.

Top Watercolor Masking Fluids

We’ve carefully selected the best masking fluids that can help you achieve pristine edges and fine details in your watercolor paintings. Our choices are based on the product’s ease of application, precision, and removal, ensuring that your artwork remains clean and free from damage.

1. Pebeo MAGIC! Drawing Gum

We recommend this product for anybody looking for an easy-to-use, effective masking fluid for watercolor projects, especially for young artists or those sensitive to latex.


  • Doesn’t contain latex, making it suitable for those with allergies
  • Visible bluish tint aids in precise application
  • Peels off easily without damaging the paper


  • Thinner consistency may require an adjustment in application technique
  • The drying time can vary depending on the surface and layer thickness
  • Price may be a consideration for those on a tight budget

When we tested the Pebeo MAGIC! Drawing Gum, the first thing we noticed was its brilliant blue hue, which really helped in visualizing where we had laid down the mask. This feature is particularly handy when you’re working on intricate watercolor pieces and need to protect specific areas with precision.

During our use, we were pleasantly surprised by how effortlessly the masking fluid went on. Whether we used a brush or a fine-tip pen, the application was smooth. Once our watercolor was dry, removing the fluid was a breeze. A simple rub with our fingers or an eraser and we were left with crisp, clean lines where the color hadn’t penetrated.

Although the Drawing Gum’s thinner consistency was noticeable, it didn’t hinder our work. In fact, after a few strokes, we adjusted our application technique and continued without any issues. However, we did observe that it took a bit longer to dry on heavier paper, which is worth remembering if you’re working on a time-sensitive project. Despite the price point potentially being a hurdle for some, the overall quality and performance of the Pebeo MAGIC! Drawing Gum made it a valuable addition to our watercolor supplies.

2. Holbein Masking Fluid Pen

If you’re in need of a reliable masking fluid for your watercolor projects, this product might just be a fit for its ease of use and clean removal.


  • Precise application with its pen design
  • Dries to a visible light pink
  • Does not tear paper upon removal


  • Can clog if not used regularly
  • Packaging and instructions not in English
  • Requires practice for consistent line work

After trying out the Holbein Masking Fluid Pen, we were pleased with how simple it was to map out fine details on our paintings. The pen’s tip allows for precision, which is ideal for our intricate designs.

We enjoyed working with it mainly because of the ease of peeling it off once dried; it left our paper intact without any tearing, a common issue with some other brands. The fact that it dries in a light pink hue is a plus, as it stands out against the paper making it easy to see where we’ve applied it.

However, we did encounter a few hiccups. Continuous flow is important as the pen can clog, which happened to us when it wasn’t used for a while. And, while the pen itself is quite user-friendly, mastering the control for even lines took us a bit of practice, so be prepared for a learning curve.

The labeling not being in English was a slight setback. But once we figured out how to use it, thanks to some tutorial videos, this became a non-issue. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Holbein Masking Fluid Pen has earned its place in our toolkit for its reliability and quality.

3. Winsor & Newton Masking Fluid

We’ve found this product to be a reliable choice for preserving the white spaces in our watercolor artwork with precision.


  • Creates a strong barrier against watercolor
  • Easy to peel or rub off without residue
  • Transparent and doesn’t stain the paper


  • Can be difficult to remove from brushes if not cleaned promptly
  • May emit a slight odor upon application
  • The bottle’s cap can be challenging to open

When working with watercolors, it’s essential to protect the areas you want to leave untouched. We’ve applied Winsor & Newton’s Masking Fluid to our projects, and it impresses us every time. The barrier it forms is robust, preventing paint from seeping into the protected areas.

Upon drying, the removal process is satisfying. Gently rubbing or peeling off the film reveals crisp, clean lines that enhance the quality of our artwork. While applying, we did notice a faint smell, but ensuring adequate ventilation made the experience more pleasant.

We’ve also learned it’s crucial to clean the brush immediately after use. If ignored, the fluid can set into the bristles, making cleaning difficult and potentially ruining fine brushes. So, we make it a habit to keep some soapy water on hand.

Admittedly, opening the bottle cap can sometimes test our patience. However, transferring the fluid into another container with an easier cap has simplified our workflow. Despite these minor inconveniences, the benefits have outweighed the drawbacks significantly.

4. JOFOOK Masking Fluid

We recommend this masking fluid for any artist wanting a tool that delivers crisp edges without the wait.


  • Peels off effortlessly, leaving no residue
  • Pleasant scent makes for a more enjoyable painting experience
  • Versatile application across multiple mediums and surfaces


  • Can pick up some printer ink during application
  • Initial application might be tricky without additional accessories
  • Hardened product on arrival can be a concern

When we laid down the JOFOOK Masking Fluid, it spread smoothly with a brush, setting the stage for precise watercolor work. Its aptitude for creating clean lines without bleeding became quickly apparent. The aroma was lightly floral, a refreshing change from the harsh chemical smells we’ve encountered with other brands.

In our application phase, we noted that the masking fluid adhered quickly. This saved us precious time, allowing for a speedy transition to painting. However, care was essential during application over printed materials as it tended to lift some ink.

Upon completion of our art pieces, removal was a breeze. The fluid came off in one piece without damaging the underlying work. It’s worth mentioning, though, that some bottles may arrive unusable due to solidification, so be sure to check the product promptly upon delivery. Overall, JOFOOK delivered where it mattered, despite a few hiccups that were easily remedied or avoided.

5. Schmincke Liquid Frisket

Given its impressive performance on watercolor paper, we find this masking fluid by Schmincke a valuable tool for detailed watercolor work.


  • Creates a dependable barrier for watercolor
  • Odorless and ammonia-free, providing comfort during use
  • Dries quickly for an efficient painting process


  • Not suitable for long-term application on paper
  • May not work as well on highly textured or soft papers
  • The small bottle might seem insufficient for large-scale projects

Working with Schmincke’s Liquid Frisket, we’ve discovered it offers a sturdy shield for preserving bright whites or areas free from paint. The application is smooth, and it dispenses effortlessly from the bottle’s precision tip, allowing us to execute finely detailed masks with minimal hassle.

We were pleased to find the odorless nature of this masking fluid; it made our painting sessions much more pleasant compared to other, more pungent alternatives. The absence of ammonia is a welcome feature for those of us who are sensitive to strong chemical smells.

The frisket dries to a rubbery consistency which we found easy to peel off without damaging the paper – as long as we followed the recommended two-day limit. However, we noted that it’s not the best choice for every type of watercolor paper. Highly textured or very delicate papers might not fare well, limiting its versatility somewhat.

As seasoned watercolor enthusiasts, we see the size of the bottle as a double-edged sword. While it’s perfect for smaller projects or those with fewer areas to mask, more extensive pieces might require a larger or multiple bottles. Despite this, its performance has been consistently reliable, and it holds up as an imperative in our watercolor toolkit.

Buying Guide

When we’re looking to purchase masking fluid for watercolor, it’s crucial that we focus on specific characteristics to determine the most suitable product for our needs. Here, we provide a straightforward guide to help make an informed decision.

Type of Fluid:

  • Liquid: Offers precise application with a brush or applicator.
  • Pen: Allows for fine lines, ideal for detailed work.

Application and Removal:

  • Ease of Application: Should flow well and allow for smooth coverage.
  • Ease of Removal: Look for fluid that peels off without tearing the paper or leaving residue.

Color and Drying Time:

  • Color: Masking fluids can be colorless or tinted; choose based on personal preference and the ability to see where you’ve applied the fluid.
  • Drying Time: Should be fast enough to maintain work pace but allow for adjustments as needed.

Quality and Performance:

  • Non-Staining: Ensure it doesn’t leave any color on your paper upon removal.
  • Non-Damaging: Should not damage the paper surface when removed correctly.


  • Paper Compatibility: Some fluids work better with certain types of watercolor paper.
  • Resistant to Watercolor: Make sure it adheres well and doesn’t allow paint to bleed underneath.

Capacity and Longevity:

  • Size: Consider the size of the bottle in relation to how often you use masking fluid.
  • Shelf Life: Verify that the product doesn’t dry out quickly and can be stored for later use.

By carefully looking at these attributes, we can choose a masking fluid that will meet our artistic requirements and contribute to successful watercolor projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

In our experience with watercolor painting, choosing the right masking fluid and understanding its application are crucial for achieving clean edges and preserving areas of the paper.

What are the best brands of masking fluid for watercolor enthusiasts?

We’ve found that Winsor & Newton, Pebeo, and Schmincke offer some of the best masking fluids available. They are highly regarded for their consistency and ease of removal without damaging the paper.

Can beginners use masking fluid, and if so, which type should they start with?

Yes, beginners can certainly use masking fluid. We suggest starting with a brand like Winsor & Newton or Daniel Smith that offers a fluid with good flow and control. It’s also beneficial to choose fluids that come with an applicator or brush.

Are there specific masking fluid pens that work well with watercolor paintings?

Masking fluid pens, such as the Molotow Grafx Art Masking Liquid Pump Marker, are excellent for watercolor paintings. They allow for precise application and are particularly useful for fine lines and small details.

Is masking fluid also suitable for use with acrylic paints, or is it exclusive to watercolor?

While primarily used for watercolors, masking fluid can be used with acrylic paints. However, it’s important to ensure the paint is not too thickly applied as this might make the removal of the fluid more difficult.

Besides traditional masking fluid, what alternative materials can be used to resist watercolor?

We have found that alternatives like rubber cement or liquid latex can be used as a resist in place of traditional masking fluid. However, they may not perform as well or be as easy to remove.

How does one apply masking fluid with a ruling pen for precise lines in watercolor artwork?

To apply masking fluid with a ruling pen, we first adjust the width of the pen to the desired line width. Then, dip the ruling pen in the masking fluid and draw along the area to be masked with smooth, steady strokes. It’s key to clean the pen promptly after use to prevent the fluid from clogging.

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