What Is The Liquid White That Bob Ross Used?

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With Bob Ross being such a huge influence and inspiration in the arts and crafts space, especially for oil painting, it is not surprising that we see so many questions constantly being asked about the equipment that he used and the techniques that he mastered. With more and more people recently getting involved in the arts and crafts space, we have noticed a spike in the number of questions that we have seen people asking about Bob Ross and his equipment.

One of the more commonly asked questions that we have noticed time and time again, month in month out is based on what the liquid white that Bob Ross used actually is. We often see a large amount of confusion around liquid white, what it is, and how it should be used for your arts and crafts for the best possible performance so we have decided to publish this article.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers understand the specific formula of liquid white that Bob Ross used, how it should be used in your own arts and crafts for the best possible performance as well as how not to use it. In the arts and crafts space, knowing how not to use your paints and accessories is just as important as knowing how not to use them and often an area overlooked, especially by beginners.

What Is The Liquid White That Bob Ross Used?

Liquid white is a unique white paint formula popularised by Bob Ross although very similar formulas are available under different names that serve the same purpose. Liquid white is a much smoother and fluid type of paint than regular paint directly from the tube tweaking its use case and the effect that liquid white has on your arts and crafts.

The more fluid nature of the liquid white makes it the ideal option for mixing with other paint colors both on and off the canvas with this being its main use case for many people. Although liquid white has a totally different consistency than normal white paint out of the tube, it maintains the same core characteristics to paint and will stick to a palette or your brushes with ease too.

The actual formula that Bob Ross used to use has now been branded and is for sale as Bob Ross Liquid White and although a number of different brands offer very similar produces under various other names for copyright reasons, the Bob Ross brand is one of the best options. It has an excellent reputation amongst the community while also having a very fair price tag with the formula having a minimal chance of yellowing with age too.

Is Gesso The Same As Liquid White?

Liquid white is not the same thing as gesso although many people do confuse the two. Gesso is an acrylic based product where as liquid white is an oil based product with both products usually having different use cases. Gesso is usually used as a base layer or primer for other paints to be applied on top of it where as liquid white is usually used to mix with other paint colors as required.

The slightly different textures of liquid white when compared to gesso both when wet and dry prevent it from being used in the same way as gesso. That said though, you are able to use gesso in a similar way to liquid white and mix it with some acrylic paints if required but there are almost always better options available in most cases.

Keep in mind that gesso and liquid white should not be used interchangeably though due to gesso being designed for use with acrylic or water-based paints where as liquid white has been designed for use with oil based paints. As many of our readers are beginners, we just want to make this clear as we often see people trying to use an oil based liquid white with acrylic paints and it causing a number of problems.

What Is Comparable To Bob Ross Liquid White?

A number of brands have very similar products on the market to liquid white that are named slightly different things. The best comparable alternative to Bob Rosses’ liquid white is “magic white” that offers very similar performance at a very similar price point. You are usually able to mix a white paint with a suitable oil medium to get similar results too but most people prefer to just purchase a pre-made liquid white.

The most popular homemade liquid white alternative is to take a titanium white oil paint and add in some linseed oil until you reach the consistency that you want. Once you are more advanced, you are able to start experimenting with using solvents instead of the linseed oil such as turpenting. This offers slightly different advantages but you are able to experiment with a number of the suitable mediums featured in our ultimate guide to oil paint mediums too.

Although magic white is the most popular pre-made alternative to liquid white that offers the best possible performance, there are a number of other alternatives too. The cheaper alternative to liquid white does tend to be a waste of time though with many of them just being weak white oil paint formulas that are essentially a waste of time and money. Due to this, we only recommend that our readers go with the official Bob Ross Liquid White or the magic white formula if you do need a pre-made option.

Can I Use White Paint Instead Of Liquid White?

You are able to use a white oil paint to mix with other oil paint colors similar to liquid white but it tends not to perform anywhere near as well as actual liquid white. This is due to the more fluid consistency of liquid white being ideal for mixing with other oil paints where as white oil paint has a thicker consistency making it harder to mix correctly.

As we touched on earlier in the article, you are able to add a suitable medium for oil paints such as linseed oil to the white oil paint if needed to make it have a more fluid consistency. This can make your white paint be a more suitable replacement for your liquid white but in our opinion, it is easier to just use liquid white rather than trying to perfect the ratios of white paint to linseed oil to get the correct consistency.

Keep in mind that your costs can quickly sky rocket if you choose to use white paint instead of liquid white in large quantities too. When purchased in bulk, liquid white can actually work out to be considerably cheaper than white paint and linseed oil while also offering much better performance for mixing with other oil paint colors.

Do You Need Liquid White For Bob Ross Style Art?

Although Bob Ross was well known to use liquid white on a regular basis for his oil paintings, it is not essential to get the same type of results for most people. There are a number of very similar alternatives to liquid white on the market or you are able to try make your own homemade liquid white alternative using white paint and linseed oil to get similar results.

On top of this, if you are a beginner, you can often ignore liquid white as there tends to be more important techniques that you should be focusing on perfecting before you try to integrate the use of liquid white. That said though, liquid white is very easy and straight forward to use in most cases and it also offers the ability to drastically improve the end result of some types of oil painting too.

Some people have other home remedy alternatives to liquid white too but in our opinion, they are a total waste of time and cost more money than they are worth while being very hit and miss. In addition to this, many of the people on social media or YouTube recommending these other alternatives to liquid white are using high quality, artist grade oil paint with excellent ingredients. Most of our readers tend to use entry level or intermediate level oil paints that can end up having a totally different consistency to what they would have if you had professional level oil paint.


That brings our article going over the liquid white that Bob Ross used to use for his oil paintings to an end. Although some people do consider a product like liquid white to be essential for high quality oil paintings, you are often able to get by without it, especially if you are a beginner and are focusing on developing your initial skillset. Thats said though, if you do have the budget available to pickup some liquid white and add it to your oil painting accessories then we would highly recommend it.

Using liquid white is very simple and straight forward so it does not cause problems for beginners with skill overload. It also tends to be considerably easier to mix than a white paint so in some situations, liquid white can actually end up making your arts and crafts sessions easier by allowing you to mix your liquid white with other oil paint colors much easier than you would be able to mix a white oil paint.