For particularly intensely radiant colors, artists like to use oil paints. But prices are a range – so which product is right for you?
The first point of reference is the number of colors: If some sets offer only ten colors, others are convincing with 24. For impatient people, colors with a short drying time are also recommended. What else do you need to look out for?
Oil Paint Buying Guide
How to choose oil paint sets
The most important facts in brief:
- Oil paints surpass all other types of paint, such as acrylic or tempera paints, in luminosity and color brilliance.
- Painting with oil paints has been known since the 13th century and is considered the supreme discipline among artists.
- Oil paint sets are available in a wide variety of designs with and without accessories.
How to find the best oil paints?
A jungle of offers, a multitude of manufacturers, and mysterious signs on the tubes: The search for suitable oil paint can be a challenge, especially for painting beginners. Our buying guide shows you which basic criteria you should definitely consider when choosing the right paint.
Quality: Studio or artist paint?
Oil paints are basically available in two qualities: studio quality and artist quality. Artists’ paints are extremely luminous and lightfast, but their firm consistency makes them very challenging to work with and therefore only recommended for painting professionals.
If you are not aiming to leave your works in a museum for an astonished posterity, you are well-advised to use studio-quality paints. They are not only significantly cheaper than the high-priced artists’ paints, but also easier to work with thanks to their creamy consistency. Studio paints are therefore particularly well suited for beginners. But artists also use studio-quality paints as a base for large-format paintings.
For use in schools and kindergartens, very inexpensive hobby paint is also offered, but with which you will achieve less beautiful results.
Opacity: Three gradations for different painting techniques
Depending on the desired effect, you can use more or less opaque oil paints for your painting.
The opacity of color can be seen on tubes of sizes 20-400 ml by a square that is either filled (opaque), half-filled (semi-opaque), or empty (glazing). Depending on your painting technique, you will need different levels of opaque paint.
Lightfastness: The criterion for long-lasting color brilliance
Since light has a decisive influence on works of art, you should pay particular attention to the criterion of lightfastness, which depends on the pigment and the overall formulation of a color.
As an objective quality criterion, lightfastness indicates the time a painting will survive without color change. This is determined using the so-called “wool scale” in a test procedure. The manufacturers print stars or crosses on the tubes, the number of which indicates the lightfastness.
The best quality is indicated by 5 stars or 3 crosses: This color is lightfast for 100 years under museum conditions.
Color brilliance: artists’ inks are front-runners
Oil paints outperform all other paints, such as acrylic paint, because of their unique luminosity. Nevertheless, there are differences between the types of paint from different manufacturers and brands.
Generally speaking, you will achieve the highest color brilliance in your painting with artist-quality oil paint. In the individual categories of our oil paint test, however, it has been shown that good studio paints can also score with high color brilliance!
Tube size: More content does not have to be better
In our oil paint test, we have considered a wide variety of tube sizes. Whether 12, 40, or even 150 ml, you should make the choice of tube size primarily dependent on your painting habits.
If you paint frequently and especially in large formats, you can paint undisturbed and persistently with large tubes without getting annoyed by empty paint tubes. You can confidently live out regular bursts of creativity with medium-sized tubes and always have the right amount of paint on hand.
Since oil paint can also dry out if it is stored for a long time and the tube is opened frequently, occasional artists who only paint a picture now and then should go for small tubes.
Accessories: A brush does not make an artist
Oil paint sets come in countless sizes and styles. In addition to tubes of paint, they may include brushes, palettes, painting supplies, and other useful paraphernalia.
Keep in mind that in addition to canvas and brushes, you’ll also need a palette, an easel, and – if you’re not painting with water-soluble paints – turpentine or turpentine substitute to thin the paint and clean your brushes. If you still lack accessories for the pleasure of painting, you should therefore definitely take this into account when making your purchase decision.
Compared to other types of paints, oil paints have many advantages, but you should also consider some possible disadvantages before you reach for the brush:
- oil paint has a special luminosity and color brilliance;
- the light resistance is particularly high;
- smooth transitions can be created when painting;
- the colors can be mixed and thinned easily;
- many surfaces can be painted;
- oil paint dries waterproof.
- oil paint dries very slowly;
- the paint cannot be applied in unlimited thicknesses;
- the solvents used to give off an unpleasant smell;
- correct use requires some practice.
Related post: Oil Painting – 7 Tips for Beginners
Best Oil Paint Set for Beginners
Arteza Oil Paint Set
- ACMI-Certified & safe for all ages;
- slow drying allowing ample time to work.
Best Oil Paint Set with Glossy Finish
MyArtscape Oil Paint Set
- excellent coverage;
- lightfast & heavy body.
Best Oil Paint Set with Traditional Range of Oil Colors
Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Color Basic Set
- high-pigment content.
Best Introductory Oil Paint Set
Gamblin Artist Oil Colors Set
- pigment-rich colors;
- eith gel-primed wood panel.
Best Student Grade Oil Paint Set
Gamblin 1980 Oil Color Exclusive Set
- painting panel included;
- solvent-free gel.
Best Professional Oil Paint Set
ZenART Non-Toxic Oil Paints for Professional Artists
- eco-friendly paint;
- exceptional pigment and lustrous sheen.
What are oil paints, and what are they used for?
Even the old masters knew about the special features of oil paints and their expressive effect; after all, no other type of paint can surpass their brilliance, intensity, and luminosity. The characteristic of oil paints is their special surface structure, which shows the brushstroke of the painter even after drying.
Painting with oil paint has been known since as early as the 13th century, and little has changed in its production for over 500 years. As the name suggests, the paints are based on oil (usually linseed oil), into which a pigment is rubbed. In addition to these basic substances, some manufacturers add additives to the paint, for example, to increase lightfastness. Turpentine or turpentine substitute are used as thinners and solvents, and more rarely there are also water-soluble paints.
Oil paints are typically used for landscapes, portraits, or still, lives, which appear particularly lively due to the high luminosity of the colors.
Practice makes perfect: oil paints are demanding to work with and require some experience from the artist before he can enjoy a successful painting. Those who persevere will be rewarded with unique color intensity and luminosity!
How does painting with oil paints work?
Oil paints are usually sold in tubes, more rarely in cans. A characteristic feature of oil paints is their consistency, which in its pasty form is reminiscent of viscous toothpaste. Oil paints can be easily diluted with painting agents such as turpentine oil so that a wide variety of effects can be achieved.
Depending on your choice of subject and the size of your painting, you can use different-sized brushes or other painting tools to apply the paint. On a palette, the oil paints are previously portioned and can thus also be mixed.
The traditional base for oil paintings is canvases, which are drawn on stretcher frames. As is so often the case, however, also and especially in art: Allowed is what pleases. So you can also paint many other surfaces with oil paints, such as wood or cardboard, and even decorate your handicrafts.
The drying process of oil paints:
- until a layer of paint dries, it takes 1-12 days, depending on its thickness and pigmentation;
- 8-12 months is needed for a whole painting to really dry through;
- oil paints dry much slower than acrylic or gouache paints;
- if the painting dries in a bright place and is not turned to the wall, the colors get their luminosity faster.
What are the painting techniques?
For oil paint, there are the most diverse application possibilities and painting techniques. These are the most popular ones:
|Technique||How does it work?|
|Painting in layers||According to the principle “fat over lean”, individual layers of paint are applied on top of each other. In the process, each next layer must contain less turpentine oil than the previous one. The bottom layer of paint must always be thoroughly dry so that the colors do not mix.|
|Wet-on-wet (Alla Prima)||New paint is applied to the still-wet paint on the canvas. The color tones are mixed either beforehand or directly on the painting. With Alla Prima, smooth transitions can be created with a soft brush.|
|Glazing||A transparent layer of paint is applied to a dried layer of paint. Since painting is done in layers, the principle of “bold over lean” also applies here. The glaze must be painted smoothly so that the brushstrokes of the underlying layer are visible.|
||A painting knife or spatula can be used to apply the paint in the desired width and with plastic structures. The colors can be mixed directly with the knife-edge beforehand.|
Remember: If you use solvents when painting, they can emit an unpleasant odor. Therefore, when using turpentine, make sure there is sufficient ventilation and do not dry the oil paintings indoors.
How does painting with oil paints work?
Here are the most common and important steps that you should follow when painting with oil paints:
- First, you should prepare well, choose a room that offers you enough space and light, ventilation is also important here.
- Set up your painting space so that all your painting utensils are within reach.
- Also, on the underground is to be paid attention here as well as on your clothes, because the color can splash and drip when painting.
The basic equipment of colors
Your basic equipment of oil paints should consist of 7 basic colors. From these colors, you can then mix more different colors.
And if the mixing of the colors does not work out, you will of course find a very wide selection of different oil paints on the Internet.
Tip: You will need more of the white paint to mix or lighten your colors. This is where purchasing a larger white tube comes in handy.
FAQ – Oil Paint
How toxic is painting with oil paint?
Painting with oil paint itself is not toxic, but the solvents often used, such as trepentine. Due to the trepentine, vapors are relatively aggressive and can attack the mucous membranes. However, short-term inhalation does not pose a danger to most people and can be reduced by regular ventilation.
On which paper do you paint with oil colors?
Any stronger paper such as watercolor paper or similar can be used for painting with oil colors.
Are oil paints waterproof?
Yes, oil paints always dry waterproof, but the drying time of oil paints is very slow.