What are the best acrylic paints?

January 15, 2020 4 min read


What are the best acrylic paints?

Acrylic paint is still a comparatively young medium unlike watercolours and oil which have been used by artists for centuries. Paint manufacturers had been toying with a pigmented polymer suspension as early as the 1930’s but the company Liquitex came up with the first acrylic paint as we understand it today, and by the 60’s acrylics were becoming widely accessible to artists around the world.

Nowadays painting in acrylics has been adopted by many artists as their medium of choice having many of the strengths of oil in terms of colour opacity and body without the need to use solvents for mixing and cleaning. Its versatility can be improved with the use of mediums that increase the drying time, change the finish and tweak the thickness or fluidity of the paint largely without effecting the colour strength or breaking down the pigments in the paint.

Typically, acrylics are divided into 2 broad categories; Artist grade and Student grade.

-Artists grade acrylics often contain superior pigment load and naturally occurring pigments leading to greater colour intensity meaning there’s less change in the colour once the paint is dry. They are also formulated to last longer than their student counterpart being made to resist reactions with water, UV light and exposure to the elements.

-Student grade acrylics are made from mostly synthetic pigments and mixes of colours called “hues” which imitate more expensive pigments. The less expensive formulas don’t tend to mix a cleanly but make up for it in handling very similarly to artist quality. Being more economically produced also means they are great for when quantity is required.

So which are the best acrylics we stock?

Best Economy Acrylic Paint? -  ARTdiscount Acrylic

If you’re looking for more bang for your buck then our own brand ARTdiscount paint offers more paint for the price and quantity in comparison to another other paint we stock. Made by one of the UK’s leading art supplies manufacturers and available in 28 of the most common colours found in any artist’s tool box. The paint has fantastic colour strength and stability and even be used outdoors for mural painting on concrete and brickwork which can last even longer with a good coat of clear acrylic varnish.

ARTdiscount acrylic paint


Best student grade acrylic paint? -  Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylic

Considered by many to be the gold standard for student quality acrylic paints, the Daler Rowney System 3 is characterised by its strong colour stability, slightly satin finish and excellent body. System 3 is arguably the most popular student paint on the market, available in tubes or pots to suit every artist; 59ml, 150ml, 500ml and huge 2.25ltr in selected colours. Boasting a plethora of colours to match even some artists’ quality paints, System 3 has all angles covered, including some unique colours like the antique looking grey-blue Wedgewood and the rich and regal Velvet Purple. A superb choice for an artist looking to match quality with a highly affordable paint. Daler Rowney also offer a selection of mediums for use with their acrylic paints such as iridescent and pearlescent mediums for giving your acrylic paints a subtle and distinct metallic shimmer.

System 3 500ml Acrylic Paint


Best Unique Acrylic Paint? -  Atelier Interactive Acrylic

One of the intrinsic qualities of acrylic paint is that it dries swiftly, sometimes in minutes sometimes in seconds depending on the thickness of the application and to extend the work time you usually have to use a slow drying medium of some sort. Atelier Interactive scoffs at this notion with its unique binding formula, the special binder in the paint slowly cures as it dries and unlike standard acrylics work time of the of the paint can be easily extended by adding a little water using a damp brush or water spray bottle without diluting the colour or breaking down the paint. That being said once the paint is completely dry it can be reactivated with use of Aterlier’s Unlocking Formula which reawakens layers of paint so they can be reworked and blended into as if it was freshly applied up to a few days after the painting’s initial drying.

Using high quality pigments Aterlier Interactive can be used with standard acrylics as well but when mixed with them loses some of it’s re-wetting ability meaning it works best for top layers and finishing touches where extended blending time is key.

Atelier Interactive Acrylic Paint


Best Heavy Body Acrylic Paint? - Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic

It is fitting that the pioneers of the first modern acrylic paints should find a spot on our list as Liquitex Heavy Body paints delivery a superb thick and smooth consistency of acrylic fit to be used straight from the tube right onto the canvas it if suits you. Richly pigmented and wonderfully viscous for those strong peaks and deep brush marks used in impasto techniques.

Liquitex uses artist quality pigments in the formulation of these paints meaning they have fantastic staying power and are made to last. Perfect for use with palette knifes, silicone wedges and large brushes.

Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Paints


Best Artist Quality Acrylic Paint? - GOLDEN Heavy Body Acrylic Paint

GOLDEN are a particularly highly regarded brand when it comes to acrylic paints and mediums, their uncompromising approach to colour formulation in their paints leads to superior quality colours across their generous range of 101 colours across a variety of primaries, tints, neutral tones and metallic encompassing cadmium, cobalt and quinacridone pigments. To quote GOLDEN themselves;

“These colours offer excellent permanency and lightfastness. There are no fillers, extenders, opacifiers, toners, or dyes added.”

If price is no exception or you cannot compromise on quality, then we can recommend precious few alternatives to GOLDEN heavy body.

Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Paint


Learn more about acrylic painting

  • We have partnered with the online learning platform, Bluprint who provide online learning in many creative disciplines including painting with acrylics. Explore more than 20 essential acrylic techniques and add inspiring richness and professional quality to your paintings as you plumb the depths of modern acrylic mediums. Find out more.


Ben Platt
Ben Platt

5 Responses


January 20, 2020

@Trevor Halliday, Winsor & Newton offer a great range across the board from both student to professional acrylics, we just gave our personal recommendation.

@Jonathon Leigh, Cryla acrylic is heavy body, meaning it will work well with oil painting techniques, adding a fluid retarder can also slow the drying time of acrylics by up to 50%.

@Pops Whyte, Thank you for recommending us, we have many hobbyists who regularly purchase their supplies from us.

@Freda Gormley, There are many brands that offer professional artist quality acrylics which can be found here: https://artdiscount.co.uk/collections/acrylic-paints/professional-quality-acrylics


Trevor Halliday
Trevor Halliday

January 17, 2020

Why no Winsor&Newton. I find it the best most like oil colour texture and it’s British (made in France) ??

Jonathon Leigh
Jonathon Leigh

January 17, 2020

As a professional artist teacher and demonstrator, I often get asked how do you paint acrylics like oil paints? I have found that the best brand to use, which have the closest texture to oils that are the most affordable are; Cryla by Dalek Rowney (especially If you wish to try your hand at the Bob Ross painting technique).

Pops Whyte
Pops Whyte

January 16, 2020

I found your brilliant store a few months ago and have bought some really exciting stuff not available through my normal channels.
May I offer some input to a potentially huge market you may be missing out on? Worldwide there are millions of people who use acrylics to paint their miniature models for competitions, e.g., the Golden Demon Award; they also paint for display and, of course, for war-gaming and tabletop games, e.g., Warhammer 40k and other Games Workshop models, and the iconic role-play miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings, Western and armies across all famous battles and wars. I promote your acrylics to friends who paint these miniatures for the fantastic savings they can make rather than purchase the small 17ml bottles from the main model paint manufacturers. My models that I paint on my Facebook page show the excellent results from using your acrylics. Perhaps a foray into this ever expanding marketplace would be beneficial? The latest trends coming to my hobby have been announced – colour shift acrylics for stunning effects on curved surfaces. If I could buy these in larger quantities from Art Discount it would be brilliant

Freda Gormley
Freda Gormley

January 16, 2020

Thank you that was very educational and helpful. Bar “Professional white”. It is the only acrylic that I have been absolutely sure about. It covers a canvas much more expertly than ordinary white. I now know that Golden Acrylics are the truest colour.
I am presuming, hopefully correctly, that there are other makes of thiese professional colour acrylics?

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