The Complete Guide to Various Art Mediums

The Complete Guide to Various Art Mediums

People have used different materials to express themselves throughout history in art. Artists have always selected topics and techniques that are appropriate for their abilities and artistic expression. This journey began with colored powder used for sketching on Altamira cave walls and has progressed to the use of modern technology in the creation of art.

Our art mediums guide will teach you about the numerous art materials that people have used throughout history. It will also highlight what you should consider when selecting a suitable medium for your fine work. Whether you're starting an art career, choosing an art school, or seeking to change your artistic style, the preceding information will help you choose the art media that best suits you.

What is the definition of an artistic medium?

The substance used to make a piece of art is referred to as an artistic medium. If you go to an art museum, you'll almost certainly see a little display card next to a piece that indicates the title of the artwork, the artist's name, and the medium in which the piece of artwork was created.

What is an art medium, exactly?

"Art medium" pertains to the art materials or artist tools used to make a work of art in a fine art context. It's anything you use to leave a mark on a surface.

Is it true that I can only make art with pencils and paints?

There are numerous art mediums with which to create and explore. We've addressed many of the artistic mediums accessible to use in today's art mediums list, from the ancient ways of charcoal and chalk to the modern age of digital mediums.

Today, we are lucky to have access to a wider range of art mediums than ever before, and we may anticipate even more changes to the medium art definition in the future.

Where can I get mediums to use in my art?

As we can see from the list of mixed-media mediums above, many artists get their supplies from shops. Many styles reuse discarded materials, so if you're resourceful, you won't even need to go to your local arts and crafts store.

What kind of art medium should I use?

That depends on the appearance and feel you want to achieve. Because each media has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, picking which paints to use might be difficult for a beginner.

Certain types of paint dry quickly, and it can be difficult to correct mistakes or make modifications once they've been put onto the canvas. Watercolor is lovely because of the many color hues available, but it's difficult to correct if you make a mistake. Because oil paint takes longer to dry, you can apply more as you go to tweak and adapt your painting.


Traditional Painting and Drawing Styles


Tempera is a phrase that denotes a painting style and medium in which paint is blended with cohesive ingredients such as egg yolk. Tempera is a fast-drying and long-lasting art medium, with evidence of tempera paintings reaching back to the first century A.D.

Painting In Acrylics

Acrylic paints dry quickly, especially when compared to oil paints, and once dry, they remain water-resistant. To achieve the impression of gouache or watercolors, dilute acrylic paint with water before applying it to canvas.

Acrylic painting allows the artist to add layers or textures to their work, increasing glossiness and depth. They can also use water to give their paintings a matte finish.

Oil Painting

This is a historic art method that became known as an artistic medium in Europe during the 15th century. Oil paints, as the name implies, include linseed oil, which causes them to dry more slowly than other paints.

Oil painting as an art medium has the advantage of a longer drying time. It allows painters to change parts of their work or paint a completely other scenes by applying another layer of paint on the canvas.


Artists have always made art using the materials available to them. Because fire has long been a cornerstone of human evolution and society, charcoal has been one of the most widely available forms of creative medium throughout history.

The organic powder can be bound with a waxy material to make charcoal sticks. Because charcoal is a unique medium in art materials because it may be quickly wiped, do some study on how to add fixatives to your works of art to extend the life of your artwork if you plan on using it.


For beginners in the art world, using watercolor pigment as an art medium might be difficult. Watercolors are popular among painters because of their seemingly limitless color palette. You won't be able to change the outcome once you've applied them to paper.

Watercolors, on the other hand, give works a translucent aspect and are perfect for depicting changes in light.

Pencils Made Of Graphite

Since the 17th century in France, they have been used as an art medium. Graphite can be used for sketching, outlining, and shading. You can use graphite pencils of various hardnesses to create exquisite art.

This is a useful art medium since it allows you to redo a drawing or a complete piece by erasing portions of it.


These painting mediums are made up of paint pigments similar to those found in oil paints, as well as a binder. In the 18th century, pastels were popular for drawing and painting. Depending on the impression they wish to achieve, artists might mix and match different pastels. Soft pastels, for example, are wonderful for blending, while hard pastels are great for creating precise outlines or sketching the bigger composition.

Pan pastels, a modern variant of this art media that is applied with a soft sponge, are also available. You can use oil pastels to create thicker layers of semi-transparent colors that blend easily, or water-soluble pastels to create thinner layers of semi-transparent colors that merge readily.


Since the Paleolithic era, artists have been using this organic medium for drawing. Depending on the substance, artistic chalk is available in three colors: black, white, and sanguine.

Black chalks are created up of soft black stone, white chalks are produced up of limestone, and sanguine chalks are made up of red ochre. Chalks were initially used for drawing, but throughout the Renaissance, they became a stand-alone creative medium.

Ink & Pen

This is also a well-known art media in which a pen is used to outline and color in art forms such as pen painting, hand lettering, and calligraphy. Depending on what you want to do with it, you can choose from a variety of pens, such as graphic pens, fountain pens, or drafting pens.

Because ink is a powerful but forgiving creative medium, you must first master ink drawing abilities before attempting to create with it. The ratio of vacant spaces to ink-filled spaces on paper is what makes pen and ink works so expressive.

Colored Pencils

When you were a kid, you used colored pencils to sketch and color, and it was one of the first ways you attempted to show yourself creatively. Colored pencils have progressed from being a children's toy to a professional art material. Because of the multiple benefits they provide, they have earned tremendous attention and respect in the modern art world.

The artwork created with colored pencils is expressive, rich, and luminous. At the same period, this art medium allows artists to create photographs that are as realistic as possible.


Three-Dimensional Art's Evolution

The most frequent definition of three-dimensional artwork is a work of art that has height, width, and depth dimensions. Sculptures have been created from the dawn of time employing a variety of concepts, techniques, and creative materials. Along with sculpture, which is the pinnacle of three-dimensional art, this category includes installations, musical theater, and decorative art.

A Historical Overview of Three-Dimensional Art

A sculpture of Venus by Berekhat Ram is the oldest item of three-dimensional art. 230,000 years ago, this stone-carved figure was discovered. It is one of several such statues found throughout Europe and represents a symbol of feminine fecundity.

These early specimens of prehistoric sculptures are said to have played important roles in rites and festivities. Modern substances, such as glass, foam, and plastic, can now be transformed into actual works of art. To create a three-dimensional representation of their artistic vision, artists employ a variety of approaches. The art world acknowledges three standard sculpture types:

  • A free-standing sculpture that you can walk around and look at from any side or angle.
  • High relief forms are carved out to stand out prominently against the background of the original material.
  • Bas relief forms are carved out to shine out somewhat against the background of the original material. Wood and stone were the most common materials utilized to make three-dimensional artworks in the past.

Carving and Sculpture

You can carve chunks out of a raw object like a stone or a piece of wood. You can also opt to smooth them out using a variety of techniques to achieve the appropriate shape.

Another technique is casting, which entails putting a liquid into a pre-made cast of the shape you want to make. The mold can be removed once the liquid has solidified, and the residual creative medium polished off.


Modeling three-dimensional artworks with art substances such as plaster or clay is another option for creating three-dimensional artworks.

This media is fantastic to work with because it stays malleable and ductile while drying, allowing you to construct the shape you want. If your clay is drying too rapidly, you can easily add extra water to it, and you may use various tools to scrape and chop at it to create textures and patterns to the surface.


Many contemporary artworks go through a construction process that is comparable to modeling but includes additional elements like wire mesh, glue, and other building supplies that aid in the framework and design of the piece.

Glass blowing and glass molding, which are done by expert glass artists, are also included in modeling. These procedures necessitate the use of a furnace or kiln to heat the glass and shape it using methods such as fusing and slumping.


Modern Three Dimensional Art

Three-dimensional art has taken on new forms in modern times. Glass, for example, has grown in popularity as a sculpting and decorative art media. Glass artwork's type is determined by the concepts and techniques utilized in its creation.

Hot glass processes are used in a variety of glass art forms, including blown glass, molded glass, and cast glass. Artists work with heated glass, sculpting it by blowing or pouring it into molds, as the name implies.

  • The warm glass artistic process begins with the glass being heated in an oven or kiln. Slumping and fusing are the two most common methods for reshaping warm glass.
  • Cold glass can also be used to produce works of art. To achieve the required effect, you can shave, polish, or engrave glass. In glass art, you may also use an etching process to change the texture of the glass. Sandblasting or acid etching can be used to accomplish this.
  • Installation art is another of these modern variations, in which artists use audiovisual effects and other materials to emphasize important themes that affect them. For example, art installations could be about politics, human rights, or the environment. The most frequent type is light installation art, which combines light and sculpture to produce a stunning visual impact.
  • Performance artists use their bodies, or the bodies of others, as a suitable vehicle for expressing their basic principles and communicating their distinctive message to audiences.

Unconventional Artistic Expression and Mixed Media Techniques

Art keeps evolving, ushering in a slew of avant-garde artistic styles. Artists that wish to stand out look for alternative art mediums that will allow them to convey their aesthetic ideals while also challenging traditional conceptions of great art.

Mixed media art is based on the concept of using anything and everything to create a beautiful work of art. As great instances of mixed media art, Picasso and Braque originally employed numerous materials and everyday things to create instinctual collages.


Spanish Cubist painter Pablo Picasso and French artist Georges Braque were the first to use the term collage, which originates from a French verb that means "to glue."

Collage art is done by mixing fragments of everyday objects like newspaper scraps and cloth in a way that depicts a distinct notion using current visual components. It is now easier than ever to create digital collage art because of the widespread availability of royalty-free photos and user-friendly tools.


Assemblage art is a three-dimensional collage that consists of seemingly random fragments of material and objects arranged on a flat surface to make something innovative out of nothing. In the 1950s and 1960s, artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns popularized this style.

Found Objects

These mixed medium artworks are similar to assemblage in that they consist of everyday materials reassembled on a canvas to create anything profoundly beautiful from recycled garbage. Many graffiti artists in South Africa employ found things to create inventive art that depicts township life, such as soda cans and wire.

Other Art Medium Techniques

The technique of altered books is physically altering a book and using it as a medium in an art world. You can rearrange the pages of a book or use the cut pages as a basis for independent artwork. By adding an aesthetic touch to your record of multiple events, memories, and ideas.

Art Journaling

Art journaling is a method to enrich an art notebook, you can utilize a wide range of creative themes and techniques, or you can step up your stuff and start with mixed media journaling, often known as trash journaling.

Postcards, concert tickets, washi tape, colorful paper, and magazine photographs are all included in this kind of art journaling. As art journal prompts, you can utilize a variety of repurposed items. If you're a big admirer of digital technologies and want to learn more about how to use them to make art, you may start with digital art journaling.

Photography as a Form of Expression

Photography has had a tremendous impact on how people see history and everyday life since its beginnings. This strong media captured some enthralling moments throughout time to commemorate significant social shifts.

People now have a plethora of options for expressing their aesthetic ideals through photography, thanks to technological advancements. Before taking a photo, artists can alter the final presentation by using alternative cameras, lenses, or films, as well as setting criteria for framing and timing.

The subject matter, tone, and original impression the artist intends to generate with their work all influence the photographic equipment and techniques employed in the creative process. Portrait photographers, for example, who want to capture single subjects, will use larger cameras with the depth of field to preserve the focus on the subject. Landscape photographers will use a camera and method that are diametrically opposed. The same may be said for working in black & white rather than color. Lines, texture, and tone are all highlighted in black and white photographs, leaving a memorable impression.

Documentary Photography

Documentary photography tries to capture major events in history or daily life to accurately portray an era. This form of photography is closely tied to reportage and is used to draw attention to pressing social concerns.

Landscape Photography

Landscape painting gave rise to landscape photography. Photographers here concentrate on the environment, shooting images of natural and urban settings and using lighting and cropping techniques to produce unique compositions.

Portrait Photography

Since the creation of the daguerreotype, portrait photography has existed. As a far speedier and more cheap technique of capturing someone's image, this artistic photography style supplanted portrait painting.

Artistic photographers were able to combine natural surroundings and light to create stunning images as a result of technological advancements.

Nude Photography

Nudist photographers aimed to recall the traditional ideal of beauty by portraying their models as nymphs or ancient heroes when they first created this art form. In contrast, avant-garde nudes portrayed the human body as a self-contained entity free of all art traditions.


Art in Video

Another prominent form of digital multimedia employed by today's artists is video art. Today's artists are no longer limited to the tape medium, and with modern electronic tools, they can produce exciting visual stories that convey graphic ideas, thoughts, and reflections of the contemporary age through a modern medium, as Andy Warhol did with actual videotape.

With the advancement of digital technology, digital photography has emerged, presenting a plethora of new opportunities for creating wonderful works of art. With the use of technological programs and apps, photographers can now produce, edit, and retouch their work.

Art Mediums Made Possible by Advanced Technology

In terms of digital technology, we are living in unprecedented times. With the first instances of digital art in the 1960s, the idea of harnessing modern computer technology to create art was born. Later on, some tech and art lovers wanted to integrate digital technology into their artwork.

The introduction and rise of the internet in the 1990s, on the other hand, was a watershed moment for digital artists. This allowed artists to make work and share it with a global audience via a variety of social media platforms.

Artists are increasingly incorporating digital technological innovations into their artworks to communicate their concerns about important concerns in the modern art scene. Some artists employ lasers to create stunning multimedia projects that uniquely combine light and sound. Others utilize 3D printers to bring their artistic dreams to life and stage unforgettable shows. As a result, technological technology is reshaping the art world by bringing remarkable art materials as new ways to express oneself.


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