The Best Acrylic Paint for Your DIY Projects
Bring your project to life with color! These acrylic paints will help you create vibrant works of art for your home.
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- Best OverallLiquitex BASICS 12 Tube Acrylic Paint SetCheck Latest Price
- Runner-UpReeves Acrylic Paint 10ml Tubes, Set of 24Check Latest Price
- Best for StudentsGolden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory SetCheck Latest Price
Whether you plan to dabble in fine art or need a trusty set to add a splash of color to your crafts, it’s always a good idea to find the best acrylic paint you can. Choosing an acrylic paint set can be daunting. Not only are there many companies to choose from, but you need to take into consideration the type of pigments, viscosity, and price. We’ll help you demystify paint vocabulary and find the ideal acrylic paint set for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Liquitex BASICS 12 Tube Acrylic Paint Set
- RUNNER-UP: Reeves Acrylic Paint 10ml Tubes, Set of 24
- BEST FOR STUDENTS: Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory Set
- BEST FOR PROS: Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint
- KNIFE PAINTING PICK: Golden Artist Colors Heavy Body Acrylic Paint
- GLAZING AND MIXING PICK: Golden Fluid Acrylic
- VIBRANT COLORS PICK: M. Graham 5 Color Acrylic Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint
What to Consider When Buying Acrylic Paint
Buying acrylic paint can seem overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner. There are many different brands, colors, and variations from which to choose. Fear not—we are here to help you navigate acrylic paints and find the perfect set that matches your needs and budget.
Like many art products, there’s a difference in quality. Sure, you can find acrylic paints in almost every big-box retailer because they are easy to use and have myriad applications. However, acrylic paints come in two grades: student and artist (or professional). The difference between categories is more than just price.
- Student grade: Student-grade paints are less expensive and not as vibrant. They also do not give you as much coverage. However, they are suitable for large-scale painting and under-painting.
- Artistic grade: Artist-grade acrylic paints are a superior product. They have more color offerings available, and the pigments will be more saturated and look better once applied. However, they cost considerably more than student acrylics.
Color Selection & Saturation
Acrylic paints offer a variety of colors, but the color selection and saturation varies considerably by brand. For specific colors and deep pigmentation, you’ll have to look at professional level sets. Student sets and inexpensive craft sets will be limited in color selection and saturation. It depends on the coverage you are looking for and the type of application for the paint. It’s not a bad idea to have a mix of student- and artist-level paints. Consider purchasing large tubes of student-grade paints in base colors like black, white, and gray, and buy artist-grade paints in specific colors. It’s the best of both worlds.
The consistency or thickness of acrylic is often referred to as ‘body.’ Artist-grade paints often come in several bodies for different applications. Body is not an indication of quality—the difference is the formulation of the binder, not the amount of pigment in the paint. There are three types of body for acrylic paints:
- Heavy: These are thick paints with the texture of soft butter. They retain brush marks when applied to paper or canvas. They are similar to oil paints and work well for knife painting or use on rougher canvases.
- Soft: These paints are smoother and have a consistency similar to yogurt. They are ideal for mixing with mediums and will retain enough thickness to paint smoothly and responsively on their own.
- Fluid: These paints resemble the consistency of honey and are perfect for smooth brushing or staining effects. They work well for glazing and fine detailed work.
The consistency of acrylic paint that’s best for you will be determined by the techniques and surfaces you plan on using.
The best thing about acrylics is that they dry quickly, and there are no solvents required for painting or clean-up. Acrylics feature a water-mixable formula that adheres to many surfaces and creates a stable ground for almost all wet and dry media. Heavy body paints will take longer to dry than fluid body paints. Drying time varies depending on how many layers of paint you have on your project. Acrylics are also customizable. There are many types of additives you can mix in with acrylic paint to change the texture and drying time. The best one to use depends on the project.
Permanence is also known as lightfastness, referring to the pigment in the paint’s ability to resist gradual fading when exposed to light. The good news is that most acrylic colors have much higher permanence ratings than oils or watercolors. Each paint tube is labeled with an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) rating for permanence. The rating classifies artists’ colors based on a test that simulates 20 years of gallery exposure.
ASTM Permanence Standards:
- ATSM I = Excellent Lightfastness
- ATSM II = Very Good Lightfastness
- ATSM III = Not Sufficiently Lightfast
Low-permanence paints are referred to as fugitive colors. Try to pick paints with excellent or very good lightfastness. Fugitive colors are good for kid projects or crafts.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best acrylic paint for your DIY project.
1. BEST OVERALL: Liquitex BASICS 12 Tube Acrylic Paint Set
Liquitex is the go-to brand for students and artists who need quality paints at an outstanding value. All Liquitex paints use the highest-quality pigments. Their Basics line uses a lower concentration of pigment than what you’ll find in professional paints. This brings the price point down for beginners, but you still get pretty good vibrant colors.
The set of 12 features all the basic colors to get you started: Primary Yellow, Cadmium Orange Hue, Alizarin Crimson Hue Permanent, Primary Red, Dioxazine Purple, Primary Blue, Phthalocyanine Green, Light Green Permanent, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Titanium White, and Mars Black. The paints have a medium viscosity that is highly versatile and easy to work with.
This set is the top pick due to its high pigment quality, variety of base colors, and versatility. It sticks to almost any surface, including canvas, paper, wood, masonry, metal, styrofoam, stone, ceramics, and textiles. It’s the perfect set to add a splash of color to your DIY Projects.
2. RUNNER-UP: Reeves Acrylic Paint 10ml Tubes, Set of 24
If you are not ready to dive into color theory and mixing your colors, this set has you covered. Featuring 24 vibrant colors, this set should more than satisfy your color needs. It is perfect for anyone who wants to experiment with a new medium without investing in an expensive set.
This acrylic set falls into the “heavy” body category. It’s versatile, too—water it down to have a watercolor-like consistency or pile it on thick to resemble oil paints. It works on a variety of surfaces, including paper, fabric, and more. For a wide color selection that’s great for beginners, crafts, and decorative pieces, you can’t go wrong with Reeves.
3. BEST FOR STUDENTS: Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory Set
If you want to experience the superior quality of artist-level paints without spending a lot of money, Golden’s intro set is the perfect pick. Golden makes top-quality acrylics for professional artists. Their paints are rich in color, creamy, and smooth consistency.
This heavy body intro set only features six colors: Naphthol Red, Light Hansa, Yellow Medium, Titanium White, Mars Black, Permanent Green, and Light Ultramarine Blue. But don’t be intimidated by the lack of colors. This set comes with a guide that will show you how to create new colors from the set’s six colors, helping you learn and understand color theory. Golden’s intro set makes it exceptionally easy for a new painter to get started or for a more experienced painter to replace core colors.
4. BEST FOR PROS: Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint
Superior pigmentation is what sets artist-grade paints apart from student grade. Since 1955, Liquitex has focused on providing all of the tools needed by the professional artist. This heavy body paint set features acrylic resin technology that offers open working time and colors of great clarity and vibrancy, with a minimal wet-to-dry shift, or change in tonal values when dried.
The set of 12 delivers intense color in the ideal consistency for a range of techniques. The paints can be combined with a wide range of mediums and binders that let you seamlessly layer, blend, and mix with stable, archival results.
5. KNIFE PAINTING PICK: Golden Artist Colors Heavy Body Acrylic Paint
Palette knife painting, also known as impasto, is a technique of applying paint to canvas using a painting knife. The effect is created by applying thick daubs of paint on canvas. Only heavy body paint is thick enough for this technique.
The paint’s consistency is quite buttery but sticky, so it will have no issues adhering to surfaces—which is a must for palette painting. The set features quality pigments. Although there are only seven colors in the collection, the superior pigments produce clean, bright mixes that won’t muddy or gray when layered.
6. GLAZING AND MIXING PICK: Golden Fluid Acrylic
A glaze is made by adding a translucent medium to acrylic paint. To get an effective mix, you need a high pigment, blendable paint. This fluid set by Golden features 10 vibrant colors that you can mix, tint, or shade with ease. The set is ideal for spraying, brushing, or mixing with all Golden color sets.
Glazes feature a small amount of paint blended with a much larger amount of medium. So, if you want your color to pop, it needs to be highly pigmented. Golden paints are known for their professional-level pigments, and this set won’t let you down. As a bonus, the collection includes an application guide to get the most out of your paints. Pair the set with Golden’s glaze medium for best results.
7. VIBRANT COLORS PICK: M. Graham 5 Color Acrylic Set, with 1 Bonus Tube
If you are looking for a high-pigment paint, M. Graham & Co.’s set is a worthy option. M. Graham & Co’s paints are all about color. They fill their paint with the highest pigment loads possible and apply traditional milling techniques to achieve outstanding tinting strength and mass tone. The result is a truly intense color that’s more brilliant and vibrant than its competitors.
This paint does not contain fillers, wax, retardants, bulking agents, or whiteners. The colors are acrylic emulsion containing 60 percent solids—instead of the usual 45 percent found in artists’ color. While the set is a bit costly for only five tubes of paint and one bonus tube for a total of six tubes, you can create almost any color imaginable with the base colors of Azo Yellow, Naphthol Red, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green, Mars Black, and Titanium White.
8. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint
Winsor & Newton is a respectable and recognized company, producing fine arts supplies since 1832. Their Galeria line of acrylic paints delivers professional results and quality color at an affordable price.
The set of 10 features a high level of pigmentation with a buttery consistency for quick and easy coverage. The paint features a soft body but does retain brush strokes. These acrylics can be used on a variety of surfaces. They are versatile—use them directly from the tube, diluted, or mixed with other acrylic mediums and gels. It’s perfect for adults and kids alike who would like to dabble in acrylic paints without a considerable investment.