Every artist needs to go through a long process to discover which type of paint they like to work with the most.
When looking for there are many things to consider (vibrancy, light-fastness, color range) and you need to be familiar with terms such as “high flow” and ” heavy body”.
This can make it difficult to find the best acrylic paints, even for artists that have a good amount of experience already.
In this article you will discover what to look for, which acrylic paint brands are the best, and our recommended beginner sets
Best Acrylic Paint
#1 Best Acrylic Paints For Beginners
For anyone new to acrylic painting we recommend the 48 piece acrylic paint set by Liquitex. This paint is developed for students and beginning artists and made to give a good performance. The ink contains a good amount of pigment despite its relatively low price.
The paint is relatively thick and creamy, so it feels a little similar to working with oil paint. Every tube contains 22 ml of paint and different colors can be easily mixed together to create new ones.
#2 Best Budget Option
If you don’t have much money to spend on paint, then the Galeria line by Winsor & Newton is a good choice. You can buy a set of 6, 10, or 15 different colors.
Although the colors are pretty vibrant, the Galeria line is still student grade. This means it will be very difficult to pull off some of the more advanced techniques like adding textures to your painting.
However, if you still need to learn how to use acrylic paints properly, you might be willing to trade some quality for a cheaper price.
#3 Best Acrylic Paints For Artists
The acrylic paint by Schmincke is one of the best I have tried so far. Their paint has a very high pigment load which makes the colors very vivid.
They also have very good lightfastness so the colors don’t change over time and they are nearly odorless.
Moreover, you can easily modify the viscosity of the paint from a paste to a watercolor consistency by using water or a thickening agent. So you always have the right thickness you need.
If you really want to get serious about acrylic painting, these are the ones I would recommend.
How To Choose?
It probably comes as no surprise that there can be a lot of difference in quality between acrylic paints from different suppliers. So you might be wondering how you can choose a new set of acrylic paints if all of them look the same on the outside.
To play it safe, you can buy from a well-known acrylic paint brand or go with one of the acrylic paint sets recommended above.
But if you can’t find them in your local store or online, here are a few things you want to keep in mind when buying acrylic paint.
As with many art supplies, acrylic paint comes in two different kinds: student quality and artist quality. The main difference is the amount of pigment in the paint. Artists quality acrylic paint has a higher amount of pigment, and is therefore more vibrant, has better consistency and provides good coverage. Although artist quality is a little more expensive, I would still strongly recommended it even to beginners.
Lightfastness, also known as permanence, indicates how well the paint will retain its original color over time when exposed to light. Paint with a low rating will slowly lose color and start to fade. Compared to oil and watercoler paints, acrylics normally have pretty good permanence ratings.
Most acrylic paint brands use the standardized ASTM label, with I being excellent and III being very bad. Some brands also use a different scale ranging from AA (extremely permanent) to C (fugitive color). Unless you are practising some basic techniques, I recommend using paints with a high rating.
Among brands, the viscosity of the acrylic paint can change a lot. Heavy body acrylics are most popular and are characterized by a very thick consistency, similar to oil paint.
Fluid acrylics behave more like watercolor paint and are relatively thin. Due to their different viscosity, thick paint is normally better for mixing and blending colors while thin paint is easier to use when painting details.
As mentioned before, you can thicken or thin out your acrylic paint by adding in some gel or water. However, since everyone has water at home already, it’s easier to buy acrylic paint that is slightly more on the viscous side and add water when needed.
4. Color Range
Additionally, buying acrylic paint in sets instead of individual colors is a great way of keeping the price down. Moreover, these sets normally come with all the standard and most used colors, so you don’t have to choose yourself.
A set of paints normally comes with at least 6 or 10 different colors. Although having a lot of different colors is definitely convenient, it is not necessary. For example, if you are looking for orange just mix your red and yellow to get the exact tint of orange you like.
5. Drying Time
One of the unique properties of acrylic paint is that is has a relatively short drying time. This is ideal when you are layering different colors on top of each other, as you don’t have to wait very long.
On the flip side, the colors you have mixed on your palette will dry just as fast and mixing colors on canvas is also pretty difficult. Sometimes it might feel like you are fighting the clock a little. Some people prefer their paint to dry a little slower. In that case, you can look into retarding mediums that can be mixed into the paint to make it dry slower or use a stay-wet palette.
Best Acrylic Paint Brands
If you don’t want to be bothered with all the factors mentioned above, you can just opt to buy from one of the best acrylic paint brands. These brands are known for producing high-quality acrylic paints, so you can’t really go wrong with them.
However, most of these brands offer both artist-quality and student-quality paints. As mentioned before, I would normally recommend people to use the artist-quality.
The list of brands in no particular order is:
- Winsor & Newton
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Acrylic Paint?
Acrylic paint consists of a pigment dispersed in a suspension of acrylic polymers. Since this suspension is water-based, it’s much easier to use than oil paint and by mixing the paint with other products you can control the consistency.
For example, you can simply add some water to acrylic paint to dilute it and make it behave similar to watercolor paint. Or you can add a special gel to make the paint more viscous to make it behave more like oil paint does.
Additionally, it’s very easy to clean your brushes or palette when the acrylic paint is still wet by simply washing them with water.
What’s the difference between acrylic paint and oil paint?
To choose between oil and acrylic paint, you will have to try to experience both yourself. But it does help to have a general idea beforehand how they are different.
In general, oil paint contains more pigment and therefore has a more rich and vivid color. Moreover, oil paint maintains the same color when fully dried, whereas acrylics tend to become slightly darker as they dry.
Another important difference is the drying time. Acrylic paint will normally dry within a couple of minutes to an hour, whereas oil paints can stay wet for several days.
When it comes to the paint on the canvas, this can be either a blessing or a curse. A slower drying time lets you work slower, which can be beneficial to beginners. But on the flip side, most beginners don’t want to wait a very long time for the paint to dry either.
But when it comes to the paint left on your palette, a slower drying time is always better. Mixing the exact same color twice is pretty much impossible. So if you are working with fast drying acrylics, you can’t take a break until you are absolutely sure that you don’t need that color again. With oil paints, you can just walk away and come back 2 days later and continue painting right where you left it.
Finally, acrylic paint is generally cheaper than oil paint. This makes acrylic paint the preferred option for most beginners and students. Since many painting techniques that you learn for acrylics can be applied for oil painting as well, you can always transition to oil paints later on.
Is Acrylic Paint Washable?
As mentioned above, acrylic paint is water-based. This means that while it is still wet it can be easily removed from most fabrics through a combination of thorough flushing and putting it in the washing machine.
However, time is of the essence here!
As the acrylic paint dries, it becomes water-resistant and more difficult to remove. Sometimes acrylic paints are even used to decorate fabrics on purpose because once dried they bond pretty strongly with the fibers.
When dried, you can try to remove the acrylic paint by rubbing it with nail varnish remover, rubbing alcohol, or alcohol-based hairspray. However, this doesn’t always work and can sometimes even damage your clothing. So it’s best to try washing it out while it’s still wet.
Also read our article on how to make acrylic paint waterproof.