How to Choose Best Acrylic Paint for Beginners, Advanced and Professionals


Acrylic Paint Guide

Painting is one of the most popular hobbies in the USA. If a little Pablo Picasso is also lost on you, you will need appropriate paints in addition to an easel and brush. Acrylic paints are usually sold in tubes or jars. A set usually contains between 8 and 24 different color containers.

In addition to the opacity, the products differ primarily in terms of the scope of delivery. For example, some acrylic paint sets are equipped with a practical case for transport. Find the best acrylic paints for your artistic ambitions in our test or comparison table.

Acrylic Paints Buying Guide:

How to choose acrylic paints

The most important things in a nutshell:

  • Painting with acrylic paints is a very popular alternative to oil or watercolor, and it also has some advantages. Acrylic can be applied to any solid and grease-free surface in virtually unlimited thickness. You can even paint wooden letters with them.
  • You can buy an acrylic paint set with tubes or jars of different colors and in very different numbers. Some sets come with a case and a whole range of accessories.
  • Pay particular attention to the proper care of your brushes. Acrylic paints in particular dry exceptionally quickly – compared to oil paints.

What makes acrylic paints special and what painting techniques are there?

Acrylic paints are among the most popular colorants. They can usually be diluted with water and then harden to form a waterproof coating. The special thing about these paints is their origin – they were originally developed for industrial purposes and only later developed in such a way that they could find their way into art.

The acrylic painting uses different painting techniques, and we have summarized the most important ones for you in the following table:

Painting techniqueDescription
Alla prima technique (Wet-on-wet)The wet-on-wet technique, also known as prima painting, is also called a direct painting. In principle, it means finishing a painting as quickly and spontaneously as possible in one session, and at best being able to consider and integrate all the elements of the picture. In addition to the size, shape, and position of these also include light, shadow, and modeling.
Glaze paintingIn glaze or layer painting (also known as transparent painting), one works with highly diluted acrylic paints. By superimposing individual layers of paint, the underlying layers of paint shimmer through, resulting in a blending of the overall image. Important: In the glazing technique is always painted from light to dark.
Granulation techniqueIn this technique, the painting ground plays a special role. Sand is added to certain pastes, gels, pasty acrylic paints, and so-called granulating paints. This ensures that the acrylic paints adhere only to certain areas of the painting ground, while at the same time creating brushstrokes that appear to be openworked.
AirbrushLiterally translated, the term means something like “airbrush”, and in principle, this is already part of the explanation of this technique. Acrylic paint is sprayed onto the painting surface with the help of compressed air through the nozzles of a spray gun. It is important here to dilute the colors with water to an appropriate degree. Best suited is approximately the consistency of condensed milk.

Acrylic paints – like other stains – consist of three main components:

  • Pigments: organic, inorganic, and effect pigments.
  • Binders: These serve to bind the pigment particles to each other and to the painting substrate. Acrylic binders consist of synthetic resin particles that are present in high concentrations in the solvent (usually water).
  • Solvent: Here the binders are dissolved, and their evaporation leads to curing. The color mass usually loses some of its volume in the process.

Related post: Acrylic paints tips for beginners

Advantages and disadvantages of acrylic paints compared to oil paints


  • can be applied in almost unlimited thickness;
  • hold on to any solid and grease-free surface;
  • do not require a primer;
  • relatively odorless;
  • dry up waterproof, acid and alkali resistant.


  • color volume decreases during drying;
  • final color shades are sometimes difficult to predict (acrylic dries up darker);
  • Glazes allow little depth of light through.

Which acrylic paints suit me?

Before buying, you should consider which presentation you like the colors best. For example, acrylic paints in a tube are ideal for mixing, while they are cheaper in a jar or saucer.

Acrylic paints in the tube

Acrylic paints in the tube are especially common. Here you have a wide selection of brands and colors. Also, if you need the colors for the children’s school, tubes are common. Be careful not to confuse acrylic with oil paint.

Especially if you work with larger brushes, the tubes are very convenient. This way you can pre-mix the colors on a palette. You don’t have the problem that your brush doesn’t fit into the little cup. In addition, the colors from the tube can be dosed very well.


  • Well suited for mixing on the palette.
  • Easy to dose.
  • Particularly large selection.


  • Colors can dry out.
  • Difficult to squeeze out.

Best acrylic paints in tubes

Liquitex BASICS Tube Acrylic Paint Set

Liquitex BASICS Tube Acrylic Paint Set


  • dries quickly and can be cleaned up with water while wet;
  • matte finish.

Acrylic paints in a bottle

Alternatively, you can purchase jars and tins with the colors. Similar to chalk paint, these are well suited for direct application with a brush. In addition, the containers are easy to close and keep the paint fresh. Unlike the tube, you can easily use even the last remnants of paint.

However, not every brush fits into the can, as it often has only a small circumference. For mixing, the cups are also rather less suitable. The reason for this is that the color can not be removed quite as easily as in the tube. In addition, you have to dissolve the paint here with water, which means you absorb less pigment. However, this is desired for watercolor paintings and certain color tones.


  • The paint stays fresh longer.
  • The paint can be removed directly with the brush.


  • Not every brush fits into the tin.
  • You have to dissolve the paint with water and is, therefore, less intense.

Best bottle acrylic paints

Arteza Craft Acrylic Paint Set

Arteza Craft Acrylic Paint Set


  • perfect for plastic, canvas, wood, fabrics, metal, paper, ceramics, and glass surfaces;
  • quick-drying and easy to clean up with water.

Acrylic paints in the spray can

The third variant of paints comes from the spray can. These acrylic spray paints are well suited for priming and painting walls. For single-color, larger areas, the spray can is ideal. With a few pump strokes, you can achieve a uniform result and also save paint.

You can get wall paints, but also affects such as acrylic paints in gold or metallic. With the spray can you can apply the paint even on unfamiliar materials such as glass and on wood. However, the spray cans are less suitable for children.


  • Good for the monochromatic painting of larger areas.
  • Ideal as a primer or facade paint.
  • Uniform result.


  • One-color.
  • Not suitable for children as the paint does not remove well.

Best Acrylic Spray Paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint


  • low-odor;
  • uses on almost any substrate, including canvas, wood, masonry and glass.

Buying criteria for acrylic paints: What should you look for?

Number and size of tubes or jars of acrylic paint tubes

Acrylic paints are usually sold in small tubes, sometimes in jars. With the latter, however, it is often criticized that these are not only very cumbersome to open, but even paint is lost in the process. Since the opening is naturally larger in a tin than in a tube, acrylic paint tends to dry out more quickly here.

Most acrylic paint sets come with about 12 to 18 paint tubes; however, the contents of the respective tubes vary greatly – relatively small tubes (approx. 12 ml) are just as common as large ones (from approx. 75 ml). Look for a large color selection with tends to be lighter shades, as these tend to appear darker in finished acrylic paintings.


Some acrylic paint sets have more to offer than just tubes or jars, but also include brushes and are also supplied in a large case, which also has enough space for other accessories.

Tip: In addition to the paint tubes, some paint sets also include many practical accessories such as a manikin, chalk, crayons, a spatula, and a sharpener. Do not expect miracles from these features, however, because sometimes more emphasis is placed on quantity than on quality.

What are the best brush care and cleaning tips?

In addition to the right paints, you will of course need the appropriate painting tools to begin your “career” as a hobby artist. Your brushes can accompany you for a long time – however, the prerequisite is that you also care for them properly. The following important principles must be observed:

  • As long as acrylic paints (and other water-soluble paints) are still wet, they can be washed out with water without any problems.
  • However, as soon as the acrylic paint has dried, the use of special cleaners becomes necessary to actually get the paint out of the brushes.
  • Do not use degreasing soaps, as the natural hair, in particular, can break easily when brushing, should the protective grease coating be missing.
  • Rub the affected brush well when washing it out so that all paint residues really disappear – in most cases, these are not visible at first glance.
  • After rubbing, you must of course restore the brush to its original shape.
  • Use as fine a dry cloth as possible for this purpose.

Important: Never leave your brushes on a heater, as this will cause the hairs to become porous. Also, always use the same technique with the same brush and the same colors, and do not switch wildly between watercolor, oil, and acrylic.

Which painting surface is best suited for acrylic painting?

For painting with acrylic paints, in particular, virtually any absorbent surface can be used – always provided that it is clean and free of grease. The most common types of substrates include canvases, wood and chipboard, paper and cardboard, metal, glass, and also plaster.

Also, important is the primer for acrylic painting and one of the cheapest is the chalk primer. This is important to better secure so-called “open pores” in the fabric.


Additional Questions

Which acrylic paint is best for beginners?

The choice of acrylic paint for beginners can be quite daunting due to the numerous brands available. It is advisable to start with a student-grade paint which is more affordable and provides a range of basic colors. As one gains more experience and skills in painting, they can then transition to artist-grade paint which boasts a superior pigment load and lightfastness.

What is the difference between artist grade and student grade acrylic paint?

**Artist grade and student grade** acrylic paints differ mainly in terms of the pigment load and the quality of ingredients used. Student grade paints are relatively cheaper as they contain a lower amount of pigment and are often made from more affordable materials. On the other hand, artist-grade paints have a higher pigment load, resulting in more vibrant and durable colors. These paints belong in different pricing series ranging from 1 to 5, with artist-grade paints generally costing more due to their superior quality.

What are the different grades of acrylic paint?

There are essentially **two grades of acrylic paint**: the artist quality and the student quality. Paints of artist quality, also known as professional paints, come with a wide variety of colors and are made of finely ground pigments. They are highly permanent and preserve the color quality even under light exposure. Student quality paints are more affordable and provide a more limited color range.

What is the best quality acrylic paint for artists?

Choosing the best quality acrylic paint largely depends on the individual artist’s preference and painting style. Some popular brands among artists include Golden, Liquitex, and Winsor & Newton. Applying my personal experience, I would recommend these brands for their outstanding color vibrancy, selection, and quality. Cheaper brands might be more suitable for beginners who are still finding their style, whereas established artists might find more enjoyment and success with premium-grade paints. It’s also worth noting that different brands and colors can coexist harmoniously on the same palette, allowing artists to mix and match based on their specific needs.

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