Liquin Original versus Liquin Fine Detail

As many have come to know I have been using Liquin as a final coat on my paintings for many, many years. While this is not something that I recommend anyone SHOULD do, I indeed have very specific reasons as to why I do. Those reasons can be found here:

In any case, I recently I have been asked if I have ever tried Liquin Fine Detail as a final coat instead of Liquin Original. I had not and became quite curious myself. As such, I decided to explore the materials a bit.

First lets take a look at the two materials and how they differ:

Overall, Liquin is a durable, non-yellowing alkyd resin medium that is used for thinning oil and alkyd colors, and speeding drying time. It is also used often to create “layer barriers” that are useful in some painting procedures (some refer to this technique as the creation of “save” layers. This technique allows the artist to scrape or wipe back work down on top of a “sealed” or “save” layer while preserving all work beneath.)

For those interested, an alkyd resin is a complex oil-modified polyester that serves as the film-forming agent in some paints and clear coatings. The term alkyd is a modification of the original name “alcid”, reflecting the fact that they are derived from alcohol and organic acid s. The inclusion of the fatty acid confers a tendency to form flexible coating. Alkyds are used in paints and in molds for casting. They are the dominant resin or “binder” in most commercial “oil-based” coatings. Alkyd resin medium for artists was first invented in the 1970s by Arthur DeCosta, a professor at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Structure of an idealized alkyd resin derived from glycerol and phthalic anhydride.

As to the two forms of Liquin:

Liquin Original (formerly known simply as “Liquin”) is a general-purpose low gloss medium that improves flow and transparency. It mixes easily with the brush or knife, smoothes brushwork, and is also suitable for textured oil techniques. Liquin Original approximately halves the drying time of oil colors, resulting in a drying time of anywhere from one to five days, depending on climate, colors used, and film weight. It is not recommended as a varnish or final coat.*

Liquin Fine Detail — The most fluid of the Liquin family of products, this gloss medium is ideal for fine detailed work, for producing a smooth surface picture, or in smoothly blended areas where brush marks are not desired. The modern alternative to traditional copal mediums that were based on natural resins and offered fast-drying properties to artists, Fine Detail approximately halves the drying time of oil color, depending on the proportions added. It is touch-dry in one to five days, depending on the climate, colors used, and film weight. It is not recommended for use as a varnish or final coat.*

*Again, you can learn more about why I use Liquin Original as a final coat in the above link.

For our testing here we used a relatively new bottle of Liquin Original, one from a bottle of Liquin Fine Detail that was months old (donated to us by colleague Nanci France-Vas) , and a new bottle of Liquin Fine Detail. While it seems pretty shocking how dark the Liquin Fine Detail became as it aged, it is important to remember that Liquin Original also darkens and yellows (shown far left). However, the Original version does not seem to transform anywhere near as drastically as the Fine Detail does.

Here we applied three strips of Liquin to an older alla prima study. The Original is on the far left (a.), the aged Fine Detail in the center (just out of curiosity)(b.) and the new Fine Detail on the right (c.)

When applied, Fine Detail was darker right from the get-go. The gloss level seemed the same when wet and as you might suspect, the Fine Detail was able to be applied much quicker.

As they dried, the Original lost much of the sheen that it had when wet–arriving at a “satin” finish when dry. Fine Detail held it’s gloss and unfortunately, continued to darken (far right.)

As I am not a fan of high gloss finishes, nor excessive darkening, I will not be using Fine Detail as a final coat anytime soon. Hope this helps!

Happy Painting!


Great experiment Tony! I like the fact that you used my older medium in comparison to a new bottles of medium. I did not like using Fine Detail as it was a big dust attracter due to a sticky quality. My paintings that have that as a medium have darkened in value over a year and a dark yellow:(
A good lesson learned, and a terrific demo above!
Currently I am trying Chelsea Classical Medium. I like it allot and less toxic!
Oleigel is good but if you oil out too much with it the film layers can attract dust and feel wet! So not sure i will stay with it! Have you tried either of the anove?