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What are the Best Acrylic Paints?

What are the Best Acrylic Paints?

Unlike watercolours and oil paints, which have been used by artists for centuries, acrylic paint is still a comparatively young medium. Paint manufacturers had been toying with a pigmented polymer suspension as early as the 1930s, but it was Henry Levison, pioneer of Liquitex, in 1955 who came up with the first commercially viable acrylic paint as we understand it today. By the early 60s, acrylic paints had rapidly become 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 paint—in terms of colour translucency, opacity and body—without the need to use toxic solvents for mixing and cleaning. Its versatility can be extended further with the use of mediums that increase the drying time, change the finish, and alter the viscosity or fluidity of the paint largely without affecting the colour strength.

Typically, acrylic paints are divided into 2 broad categories; professional grade and student grade.

Professional-grade acrylic paints often contain pure pigments and—depending on their availability—manufacturers group colours into various price bands, generally called series A or series B, or numbered through series 1 to 9 (series 9 being the highest price, series 1 the cheapest price). The higher the letter or number, the more expensive the colour is to produce. Higher prices often lead 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 counterparts, being made to resist reactions with water, UV light and exposure to the elements. The artist’s quality acrylic paints intermix well and are more vibrant due to the strength and purity of the pigments. If mixed with mediums they should also maintain their intensity of colour.

Student-grade acrylic paints can be made from the same pigments, but dispersed in more binder and filler. Alongside this, some of the more expensive pigments may have been replaced by a combination of alternative colour mixes to simulate the pure pigment. These synthetic pigment alternatives are called “hues”. The less expensive formulas don’t tend to mix cleanly, but make up for it in handling very similarly to artist quality. Being more economically produced also means they are great for situations where high quantities are required. Student quality paints are great for covering large areas as a base coat, and a the perfect choice when you are just starting out as an acrylic painter. Student quality paints only come in series 1 and series 2.

So, which are the best acrylic paints we stock?

Best Economy Acrylic Paint? -  ARTdiscount Acrylic

If you’re looking for a great choice of colours at economical pricing, then our own brand ARTdiscount Acrylic Paint offers incredible value, with more paint for the price and quantity than other student-grade paints in comparison. Our paint is made by one of the UK’s leading art supplies manufacturers and is available in 28 of the most common colours found in any artist’s tool box. The acrylic paint has fantastic colour strength and stability, and can be used on a variety of primed surfaces, paper, wooden panel, canvas, primed plaster, and more.

Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylic

Considered by many to be the gold standard for student quality acrylic paints, Daler-Rowney System3 is characterised by its strong colour stability, slightly satin finish, and excellent body. System3 is arguably the most popular student acrylic paint on the market, available in tubes or pots to suit every artist; 59ml, 150ml, 500ml, and the huge 2.25ltr in selected colours.

Boasting a plethora of colours to match even some artists’ quality paints, System3 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 yet distinct metallic shimmer.

ARTdiscount STUDIO Heavy Body Acrylic Paints - 200ml Tubes

Heavy Body Studio Acrylic Paints are made from high-quality, eco-friendly, water-based pigments and finest acrylic emulsions. Ideal for established artists and students of art, it provides a thicker consistency that can be used with a palette knife, silicon wedge, or brushes. Impasto applications retain knife or brush marks. With excellent blending and mixing characteristics, it has a high pigment load providing rich, brilliant colours. Our heavy body acrylic paints offer 31 lightfast & durable colours. Highly versatile, these paints dry waterproof to a low gloss surface on high impasto areas and a soft satin finish on thinner applications. 

Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic

Liquitex heavy body acrylic paints

It is fitting that the pioneers of the first modern acrylic paints should find a spot on our list. Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Paint delivers a superb thick and smooth consistency of acrylic, fit to be used straight from the tube right onto the canvas if it suits you. Richly pigmented and wonderfully viscous, this heavy body paint offers artists the capacity to create strong peaks and deep brush marks used in impasto techniques.

Liquitex uses artist quality pigments in the formulation of these paints, giving them fantastic staying power and the ability to last. Perfect for use with a palette knife, silicone wedges, and large brushes. Additional Liquitex mediums, gels and varnishes are also available.

 View range of Liquitex products here.

Liquitex BASICS Acrylic

Liquitex Basics Acrylic paint tubes are available in 72 brilliant colours. These paints are perfect for all painting techniques, including underpainting and sketching. This is a lightfast medium viscosity paint made with artist quality pigments, offering artists a satin finish with a range of opacities available. They are incredibly versatile, retain peaks and brush strokes, and are completely safe for educational use. Great performance at a more affordable cost.

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. GOLDEN offer 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.

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic 60ml, 120ml tubes, 250ml, 500ml bottles

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic is a range ideal for artists who require large quantities of good quality acrylic colour at an economic price. There are 60 strong and vibrant colours to choose from in the Galeria range. They are extremely versatile and are suitable for a variety of techniques. They can be used on most surfaces, but are NOT recommended for use on shiny or greasy surfaces (i.e. glass, unprimed metal or surfaces painted with oil colour). As with all acrylics, equipment should be cleaned with water immediately after use. The full range is available here.

Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic

Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic 60ml

Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Paint colours are unrivalled in their richness, intensity, and depth of colour. These acrylics come in 60ml tubes. The colours appear brilliant when wet, and they remain as bright when dry. Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic paint is available in 79 colours.

Daler Rowney Artists’ acrylic Heavy Body Cryla Acrylic 75ml Tubes - Series A to D

Cryla Acrylic 75ml Tubes

The professionals' choice since 1963, the Daler-Rowney Cryla Artists’ Acrylic range now has 87 colours. The new combination features colours used by the old masters, specific primary shades, and contemporary colours containing the most modern pigments available.

Daler Rowney Graduate Acrylic Paint 120ml

Daler Rowney Graduate Acrylic Paint 120ml

Daler-Rowney Graduate Acrylics offer a very affordable range of acrylic colours, perfect for students. The range features strong, bright colours that are easy to brush onto surfaces, such as any paper surface, primed board or canvas. Able to be used indoors or outdoors, they are so versatile that they can also be used with a variety of acrylic mediums, also available from Daler-Rowney. There are 48 colours in the range, including metallic colours. A good quality acrylic paint offering fantastic value for money ! Ideal for schools, colleges and all artists.

View whole range of Daler-Rowney products here. 


Sennelier Abstract Acrylic 120ml and 500ml pouches.

Sennelier Abstract Acrylic 120ml

IMAGINE A WHOLE NEW WAY OF PAINTING THAT COMES IN A POUCH WHICH IS INNOVATIVE, ELEGANT, HANDY AND JUST FEELS RIGHT.

A Heavy Body, multi-media acrylic paint with high pigment concentration. The paints come in an ultra-strong pouch which is waste free among other benefits.

Benefits of new packaging: The pouch is so strong that you can take it with you wherever you go and, unlike a tube, it can stand up to pressure even if you accidentally step on it. The paint is better preserved because air cannot get inside the pouch. You can use every last drop of the paint, there is no waste and no air bubbles which could cause the paint to spill out. With Abstract acrylics, there are no surprises when choosing a colour. There's no difference between the colour you can see from the outside of the pouch and the inside.

About the paint: Abstract is the result of three years of research and development by the Sennelier expert lab team. It is a fine acrylic paint which meets all the stringent quality demands that are a guarantee of Sennelier paints. It's pigment concentration (quite amazing for this segment of the market) gives it a creamy to thick consistency which we've called 'heavy body', along with incomparable covering power. The paste is a pleasure to handle with a brush, a palette knife or straight out of the soft pack. It's ease of application onto multiple surfaces makes it very popular with students, professional painters, street artists and many more creative people.

Single Pigments: Abstract is composed of 34 single pigment colours among the range's 60 shades. Range includes: 36 Satin finish colours, 12 High Gloss colours, 6 Iridescent colours and 6 Fluorescent colours.

View more Sennelier products here


Read more about acrylic paints on our blog

Ben Platt
Ben Platt


7 Responses

cyd
cyd

April 30, 2024

where’s the non toxic ranges

Scott Stewart
Scott Stewart

May 11, 2021

@ Trevor Halliday: 2 Windsor & Newton acrylics were described -??

ARTdiscount
ARTdiscount

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

-ARTdiscount

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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