DIY Tutorial: How to Easily Make Your Own Gesso at Home

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 21 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

Gesso is a wonderful material for creating a smooth surface for painting, and it can be easily made at home with some simple ingredients. To make your own gesso, you’ll need white glue (such as Elmer’s or craft glue), white acrylic paint, and a thickening agent such as plaster of Paris or talcum powder.

Begin by combining the white glue and white acrylic paint in equal parts in a bowl. Then add the thickening agent to the mixture until you reach desired consistency; this will depend on how you intend to use your gesso. For example, if you are looking for a thin coat of gesso, then you should use less thickening agent than if you are looking for a thicker coat.Paintbrush

Mix the gesso well until it is smooth and free of lumps, then apply to the surface you intend to paint. If desired, thin coats can be applied over a period of time to build up the desired thickness. Allow each layer to dry before applying the next layer; this will help ensure that your gesso adheres properly and evenly. Once your gesso has dried, you are ready to begin painting! Enjoy!

How do you make Gesso at home?

Making Gesso at home is easy and only requires a few ingredients.

To make your own Gesso, you’ll need the following items:

  • 1 cup of white glue
  • 2 cups of plaster of Paris (available at any craft store)
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon acrylic paint in black or titanium white (optional)
  • A large bucket or container for mixing the ingredients together.

Once you have all of your materials ready, it’s time to start making your Gesso! Here are the steps:

  1. In the bucket or container, mix one cup of white glue with two cups of plaster of Paris.
  2. Slowly add in the cold water and mix everything together until it forms a thick paste.
  3. If desired, add in ¼ teaspoon of acrylic paint (black or titanium white). This will give your Gesso an additional color tone that you can later use to enhance your art pieces.
  4. Stir all the ingredients together until they form a smooth, creamy consistency.
  5. Spread the mixture on to any surface such as canvas, cardboard or wood using a brush or knife and let it dry for 24 hours before using it for painting purposes.

Making Gesso at home is easy and inexpensive! With just a few simple ingredients, you’ll have your own Gesso to use in your art projects. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to help!

Happy creating! 🙂

What can be used instead of Gesso?

Aside from making your own Gesso, there are a few alternatives that can be used instead of traditional Gesso. Mixed media artists may opt to use heavy bodied acrylics or even white glue as a cheaper alternative. Acrylic mediums are also an option, and they can provide the same protective layer that Gesso does while still allowing the colors of your painting to show through. You can also use joint compound, which is widely available at hardware stores. This provides great coverage and protection for your work, but it will not add any extra texture like Gesso does. Another popular choice for mixed media artists is matt medium, which offers some flexibility in terms of coverage and textures without sacrificing any color vibrancy from your work. No matter what method you choose, make sure to test out a small area of your canvas or paper before applying the medium on the whole surface. This will help ensure that you get the desired results from your artwork.

Finally, remember that there are many other ways to achieve great effects in painting and mixed media artwork without using traditional Gesso: experimenting with different products can be a fun way to discover new techniques and textures for your work! Who knows—you may find yourself loving a new material that works just as well as Gesso (and probably cheaper too!). Good luck, and happy creating!

What are the ingredients in Gesso?

Gesso is traditionally made from a combination of pigment, chalk and binder. The most common ingredients used in Gesso are:

  • Chalk – This provides the body and bulk to your gesso. It also gives your gesso a matte finish. You can use white or colored chalk as desired.
  • Calcium Carbonate – This helps to create a hard, scratch resistant surface when combined with chalk.
  • Acrylic Polymers – These bind the other components together so that they form an even, solid layer when applied to any surface.
  • Titanium Dioxide – This is an ultra-fine white powder that increases opacity and brightness of colors applied over it.
  • Pigments – These are the coloring agents that give Gesso its range of colors. While you can buy pre-made colored gesso, it’s also possible to make your own custom pigments.

By mixing these ingredients together in different ratios, you’ll be able to create a customized Gesso that suits your needs. Whether you need a matte finish or a glossy one, an opaque layer or something more transparent, you’ll be able to tweak and experiment with the ingredients until you get it just right!

Is homemade Gesso as good as store bought?

When it comes to making your own gesso, the answer is a resounding yes! Homemade gesso is just as good as store bought. You will get the same great finish and application with both kinds of gesso. The main difference between homemade and store-bought gesso is that you can control the ingredients and quantities used in your homemade version. This makes it possible to tailor your mixture for specific needs or projects.Paintbrush

It’s important to note that when making your own gesso, you should use quality products like acrylic paint, white glue, and plaster of Paris. This will ensure that you achieve a professional looking finish with excellent adhesion properties. Additionally, if you’re creating a larger batch of gesso, it’s a good idea to mix in some fine sand or vermiculite for extra durability.

Although making your own gesso may seem intimidating at first, it is actually quite easy. With a few simple ingredients and tools, you can create a great homemade gesso in no time! Whether you’re an artist looking to save money or just want to explore the fun of DIY projects, homemade gesso is definitely worth trying out.

For more detailed instructions on how to make your own gesso, check out our article: How To Make Your Own Gesso At Home. It offers step-by-step guidance and recipes that will help you get started with making your own gesso.

See also
Revive Canvases: Reuse Without Gesso Guide

Good luck and have fun!

Is Gesso just acrylic?

No, gesso is not just acrylic. It is a combination of pigment, chalk or gypsum, and an acrylic binder. This makes it more flexible than regular acrylic paint and less likely to crack over time. Additionally, it provides better adhesion for other paints and mediums to adhere to the surface that you are working on. Gesso also dries much faster than traditional acrylics, making it ideal for quick turnarounds in art projects. With all these advantages, it’s no wonder why many professionals prefer using gesso when preparing their canvases!

Is Gesso really necessary?

Gesso is an important part of any artist’s materials list. It serves as a base for paints and other mediums, providing a smooth surface that is easy to work on. Gesso also helps preserve artwork by providing protection from dust, dirt, and grime. The question remains – is gesso really necessary?

The answer depends largely on the type of art you are creating. If your artwork requires a lot of blending or intricate brushwork then gesso may be absolutely necessary. By applying several layers of gesso over the surface of your canvas or paper, you ensure that your paint application will not get distorted due to too much texture or uneven surfaces. This can make all the difference when it comes to achieving the desired result.

On the other hand, if you are working with thicker mediums such as acrylic paints, gesso may not be necessary. This is because acrylic paints are self-leveling, meaning that they will spread evenly over a rough surface without requiring any additional base coat.

In conclusion, it really comes down to personal preference and the type of work you are doing. If you are creating artwork that requires intricate brushwork or blending, then it is probably best to use gesso. However, if you are working with thicker mediums such as acrylic paint then gesso may not be necessary. Ultimately it’s up to you!

Is Gesso just a primer?

Gesso is more than just a primer. It’s a versatile surface preparation product used to add texture, create an even and absorbent surface, and provide a protective barrier between the canvas or other support and the paint. Gesso can also be used to create special effects such as a crackle finish or sand-like texture. It comes in two forms: traditional white gesso made from calcium carbonate, talc, gypsum, pigment and binder; and clear gesso which is formulated without pigment and is completely transparent. In both cases, it can be tinted with acrylic colorants to match your project.

Can I use white acrylic instead of Gesso?

It is possible to use white acrylic paint instead of Gesso, however it won’t provide the same level of protection and texture that Gesso does. Additionally, you may need to add additional binders or fillers to make it more durable and less prone to cracking. Acrylic paints are not usually as flexible as Gesso so it won’t be able to stand up against wear and tear for very long. It can be a cheaper alternative in the short term but will likely end up costing more in the long run due to needing frequent repairs or replacements. It is best used for small projects or practice canvases where durability is not a major concern. If protection and longevity are important, then using traditional Gesso is the best option.

Overall, Gesso is still the preferred choice for most art projects and will provide the best possible result when used correctly. It’s easy to make your own Gesso at home with just a few ingredients, so if you’re looking to save money, this can be an attractive option as well!

Can I paint acrylic on canvas without Gesso?

Yes, you can paint acrylic on canvas without applying gesso. However, it is recommended that you apply a layer of gesso before painting to protect the canvas from the acidity of the paint and to provide an even surface for your work. Gesso also helps to increase adhesion and provides a better quality finish.

If you choose not to use gesso, make sure that your canvas is clean and free of dirt or debris. Brush off any dust particles with a soft brush, as small particles can cause uneven textures in your painting. Acrylic paint will adhere directly to the canvas; however, if there are visible lumps or bubbles on the surface of your painting these cannot be removed once dry.Paintbrush

Gesso is usually applied as a white, chalky substance that dries to create a protective and even surface. If you choose not to use gesso, you can apply an acrylic primer instead. Acrylic primers are available in a variety of colors and will provide the same protection for your canvas as gesso does.

If you choose to make your own gesso, mix together 1 part acrylic paint with 4 parts water and 2 parts PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue or joint compound. Apply this mixture directly onto the canvas using a brush or palette knife, being sure to cover it completely on all sides. Allow it to dry before painting on top of it with acrylics; this will usually take around two hours.

Whether you choose to use gesso, acrylic primer or not at all, make sure that your canvas is prepped and ready before painting on it with acrylics. This will ensure a smooth and even surface for your work, as well as protecting the canvas from any possible damage.

Can I use house paint instead of Gesso?

It is possible to use house paint instead of Gesso, but it is important to note that there are some key differences between them. House paint will not provide the same level of adhesion and absorbency as Gesso does and can be more difficult to work with when painting on canvas or other surfaces. Additionally, house paint may contain lead or other hazardous substances which could be dangerous if inhaled or consumed – so it’s best to avoid it for art purposes. If you do decide to use house paint in place of Gesso, make sure it is a water-based acrylic type which doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. Most importantly, remember that using house paint instead of Gesso could potentially ruin your artwork – so always proceed with caution and test a small area before attempting to cover an entire canvas. With the right technique and materials, you can create stunning works of art. Good luck!

Is Gesso oil or acrylic?

Gesso is typically made from a combination of an acrylic polymer and calcium carbonate. It can also be modified with natural or synthetic pigments, depending on the desired effect. Gesso is usually used as a primer for oil painting, but it can also be used in acrylic painting. When you make your own gesso, you can customize the recipe to fit your needs and control the quality of materials that go into it. To create your own gesso, start by gathering the necessary materials: white glue like Elmer’s Glue All, water-based paint (acrylic or latex), calcium carbonate and a mixing container (such as a bucket).

Mix one part glue to three parts paint in the container. The amount of glue and paint you need depends on how much gesso you want to make.

Slowly add calcium carbonate to the mixture, stirring constantly until it forms a paste-like consistency. The ratio of glue to paint will determine how white or opaque your gesso turns out; for a more opaque gesso, use more glue and less paint. For an off-white color, use more paint and less glue.

Once your desired consistency is reached, apply it to the surface that needs priming with a brush or roller. Allow the gesso to dry completely before painting over it with oil or acrylic paints. With homemade gesso, you have complete control over the quality of materials used and the desired finish. Enjoy creating a personalized gesso that is perfect for your artwork!

See also
Create Texture with Gesso - Easy Guide

Can you use white paint as Gesso?

Yes, you can use white paint as a substitute for Gesso. However, it is not the same as traditional Gesso and therefore will not provide the same qualities or benefits. White paint may be better suited for less precise painting techniques or projects that do not require high quality results. To make your own Gesso using white paint, mix together equal parts of white acrylic paint and water in a bowl until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency. Then apply the mixture to your desired surface using a paintbrush or roller and let it dry before adding any additional layers of color or texture.

What happens if you don’t Gesso your canvas?

If you decide not to use Gesso on your canvas, your artwork won’t have a uniform surface and you may find that particles of dirt or dust stick to the canvas. The paint won’t adhere well, meaning it will be more likely to crack or flake off over time. Without Gesso, the colors may also appear dull or muted. Additionally, if you choose to skip this step when painting with acrylics, the paint can soak into the canvas fibers, making it difficult to cover up mistakes or build up additional layers of color.

It is important to note that certain types of paints such as watercolors don’t require a primer before application. In general, oil paintings and acrylic paintings benefit from having Gesso applied to the canvas before painting. This will help create a solid foundation for your artwork and ensure that your masterpiece stands the test of time.

Using Gesso is an essential step in preparing a canvas for painting. Once it has been applied, you can then begin creating your work of art with confidence knowing that it will have a uniform surface, vibrant colors and be more resistant to damage over time. With just a few simple ingredients and steps, you can make your own gesso at home or purchase it from any art supply store. Whether you are an experienced artist or new to the craft, don’t forget this important step when creating your next masterpiece!

Why do artists paint canvas red first?

Painting a canvas red before painting on it is an old practice called preparing a “ground”. By doing this, the artist ensures that their painting won’t discolor over time due to pollutants in the air. The traditional method of preparing a ground was to apply several layers of rabbit-skin glue and then paint onto it with watercolor or oil paints, usually something red like Venetian Red or Indian Red oxide.

Today, many artists use gesso instead of rabbit-skin glue as the base for their paintings. Gesso is similar to white acrylic paint but much thicker and more absorbent. It dries quickly when applied to a surface, creating an even “tooth” and providing a perfect base for painting. In addition to providing a better surface, it also serves as a sealant and protectant against dust, moisture, and other contaminants that could damage the artwork over time. By painting with gesso first, artists create a strong foundation for their work that will last for years.

You can make your own gesso from scratch using a few simple ingredients: white glue or rabbit-skin glue, white pigment (such as chalk or titanium dioxide), water, and an acrylic medium. To make the mixture, simply mix together the desired amounts of each ingredient until you reach a thick paste-like consistency. Then, apply multiple coats of the mixture to your canvas using a brush and let it dry completely before painting on it. By making your own gesso, you can control the texture and color of your canvas to best suit your artwork.

Gesso is a versatile medium that can be used for many different kinds of art, from oil painting and watercolor to mixed media projects. It provides superior protection against dust and moisture while creating a perfect foundation for any kind of art project. Whether you’re just starting out in the world of art or have been creating paintings for years, adding gesso to your supplies will help ensure that all your works are protected and last for years to come. Making your own gesso is an easy way to get started creating beautiful pieces of artwork with a solid, long-lasting base.

Should Gesso be dry before acrylic painting?

Yes, gesso should be applied and allowed to dry before acrylic painting. Gesso creates a smooth, non-porous surface that seals the canvas or board and ensures good adhesion of paint. If you begin painting on an unprimed surface with acrylics, it can cause the paint to sink in and become absorbed by the fibers of the material. This will weaken your artwork as well as make it more prone to cracking or damage if not properly prepped beforehand. Allowing your gesso to dry completely before starting to paint also prevents “lifting” of any areas that have already been painted. It provides a strong foundation for all subsequent layers so that each one is able to adhere properly and remain intact for many years to come. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your artwork is properly prepped and ready for acrylic painting by allowing your gesso to dry completely before beginning.Paintbrush

In addition, if you are going to be using a medium such as a gel or paste in conjunction with acrylics, it is recommended that you wait until the gesso has fully dried before applying any of these mediums. Mediums can often cause lifting of pigments or colors applied to the canvas prior to their application, so taking this extra step will help prevent this from occurring. Applying gesso and then waiting for it to dry thoroughly is an important part of creating a stable painting surface before starting any kind of artwork – whether it’s in acrylic or any other medium.

Once your gesso has dried, you’re ready to begin painting! Enjoy the creative process and remember to take the necessary steps to ensure that your artwork is built upon a strong foundation. Happy painting!

How do you make Gesso with baking soda?

Making a homemade gesso using baking soda is an easy and inexpensive way to create your own painting surfaces. To make your own gesso, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of white glue
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • A large bowl for mixing
  • A paintbrush or other tool for applying the gesso.

To begin, mix together the glue and warm water in the bowl until it’s completely blended. Then add the baking soda and stir until it forms a thick paste. If necessary, add more water or baking soda as needed until you have achieved the desired consistency of your gesso.

Once you have the desired consistency of your gesso, use a paintbrush or other tool to apply it to your chosen painting surface. Allow the gesso to dry completely before using it for painting. Once fully dried, your homemade gesso is ready to be used for all kinds of artistic creations!

Making your own gesso with baking soda is an easy and inexpensive way to create custom surfaces for any kind of art project. With just a few simple ingredients, you can make enough gesso to cover multiple surfaces and create beautiful works of art!

How do you make homemade paint primer?

Making your own homemade paint primer, or gesso, is easy and inexpensive. All you need are three basic ingredients: white glue (such as Elmer’s Glue-All), white paint (acrylic or latex paint works best), and plaster of Paris.

To make the gesso, mix one part white glue to one part white paint in a bowl. Then add just enough plaster of Paris so that the mixture has the consistency of toothpaste. Mix together until there are no lumps visible.

See also
DIY Gesso for Acrylic Painting – Quick Guide

Once it’s ready, apply your homemade liquid gesso onto your painting surface with a brush, roller, or sponge in thin layers until you get the desired finish. Let each layer dry before applying the next.

After the primer has dried, you can start painting! Your paintings will have a smooth, even finish and be much more vibrant with this homemade paint primer as your base. Enjoy!

Is Gesso water or oil based?

Gesso is typically water-based, meaning that it is made with a combination of an acrylic paint binder and white pigment. When applied to a surface, the gesso will form a hard, protective layer. Depending on the recipe used, some oil-based mediums may be added to create smoother finishes or add more flexibility. However, water-based gesso should be preferred for most applications as it dries faster and provides a more consistent finish than oil-based alternatives. Additionally, water-based gesso can also be thinned with water if needed.

Environmental Protection & Energy Saving

Making your own Gesso is a great way to save on resources and protect the environment. You can use ingredients such as flour, salt, and water, which are all natural and easy to find. The process of making Gesso takes less energy than purchasing it pre-made in stores, since you don’t have to transport the materials or power any equipment. Additionally, you can store extra Gesso for longer periods of time without worrying about it expiring. Ultimately, making your own Gesso is an excellent way to cut down on costs and protect our planet at the same time!

Safety Tips

  • Wear protective gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals in the gesso
  • Wear a face mask, as some of the components used may be toxic and hazardous when breathed in
  • Work in a well ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes or dust particles
  • Make sure you are not working near any open flames or heat sources while mixing or coating your surfaces

Basic Terms

Gesso is an acrylic medium used primarily as a ground for painting on any surface. It serves many purposes, such as providing tooth and adhesion to the surface being painted, creating texture, protecting the substrate from outside contaminants like dust and dirt, filling in areas of unevenness or cavities on the underlying surface, and adding body to thinned down paints and other mediums.


The primary ingredient in gesso is white pigment mixed with an acrylic polymer emulsion to create a paintable mixture. The pigment can be titanium dioxide (TiO2), zinc oxide (ZnO), calcium carbonate (CaCO3), or clay; all of which are colourless compounds that will add opacity as well as texture to the gesso.Paintbrush

In addition, other additives can be added to the gesso mixture such as preservatives, defoamers, and binders. Depending on the desired effects of the finished product, small amounts of colour pigments or waxes may also be mixed into the gesso base.

Making Gesso

Making your own gesso is a simple process that requires only a few basic ingredients: pigment (usually white), an acrylic polymer emulsion (or medium), and water. The following steps outline a general procedure for making your own gesso:

  1. Mix together 1 part pigment to 10 parts medium in a bowl or container.
  2. Slowly add water to the mixture, stirring constantly until a thick paste is achieved.
  3. Adjust the viscosity of the gesso by adding either more medium or water as needed.
  4. Apply the freshly made gesso evenly to a surface with a brush, roller, or trowel.
  5. Let it dry completely before continuing with other painting activities.

Making your own gesso can save you money and give you complete control over its quality and consistency. With some practice and patience, you can customize your own unique blend of gesso that will meet all your creative needs!

Best Practices for Making Your Own Gesso

Making your own gesso can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to get the perfect base for your paintings, drawings, or other creations. When making your own gesso there are a few best practices you should follow to ensure that your project will turn out exactly how you want it.

  1. Start with clean surfaces: Before starting to make your own gesso, make sure that the surface you’re working on is completely clean and free of any dirt or dust. This will help ensure that the gesso sticks properly and doesn’t have any lumps or bumps in it when dried.
  2. Choose the right ingredients: You can make gesso with a variety of different ingredients, but it’s important to choose the right ones for your project. For example, if you’re working on a canvas or paper surface, you should use white glue and acrylic paint for best results.
  3. Mix thoroughly: Once you have all the ingredients together, make sure to mix them together really well until there are no lumps and it forms an even paste-like consistency. This will help ensure that the gesso spreads evenly across your project surface when applied.
  4. Apply in thin layers: When applying your gesso, do it in thin layers rather than one thick layer. This will help create a smoother finish overall and will also help the gesso dry faster.
  5. Let it dry thoroughly: Make sure to let your gesso dry completely before adding any other layers or painting over it, as this will help ensure that everything adheres properly and won’t smudge.

Following these best practices when making your own gesso will help you get great results every time! Just remember to take your time and be patient; homemade gesso does take some practice to perfect but with a little work you can create amazing pieces of art. Good luck!


How should I store the Gesso after I make it?

It's best to keep your homemade Gesso in an airtight container, such as a plastic or glass jar, and store it in a cool and dry place. To help extend its shelf life, you can add a few drops of preservative to the mixture. Alternatively, you can also pour your Gesso into ice cube trays and freeze them for future use. This will keep the Gesso from drying out quickly and allow you to have pre-measured amounts ready to go when needed!

Can I make Gesso with other types of paint?

Absolutely! Although traditional Gesso is made with white paint, you can add various colors and types of paints to produce different effects. Just keep in mind that adding different types of paint may change the consistency of your Gesso, so be sure to adjust the amount of medium and water accordingly.

How long will my homemade Gesso last?

It really depends on how you store it! If stored correctly (in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dry place), then your homemade Gesso should last between 1-3 months. Adding a preservative can help extend its shelf life even further.


Making your own gesso is a relatively simple process that requires few materials. It is an economical solution for artists who want to protect their canvases and surfaces from damage, as well as creating a consistent surface for artwork. Gesso also provides a great base layer for acrylic paints and other media. Although there are many recipes available, it’s important to remember that none of them will produce the exact same results as store-bought gesso. When making your own gesso, experimentation is key to finding the right recipe that works best for you and your art projects! For more information on how to make gesso, check out our previous article! Thank you for reading!