Acrylic Paint Sets (Guide, Types, Mediums, and Grading System)

Last Updated on 6 October 2022 by Outmane

Are you looking for the best acrylic paint for beginners? Or maybe you’re wondering how to get started with acrylics? Then, you’re in the right place! 

In this guide to the best acrylic paint for artists, I’ll review some of the top acrylic paint brands. But we’ll also dive deeper into the different types of acrylic paint, grading, and more. So, it’s a comprehensive guide to beginner acrylic painting! 

By the end of this article, you should feel a lot more confident about starting to paint with acrylics. 

You’ll know how to choose the best acrylic paint for vibrancy and other crucial factors. And you’ll also have some recommendations for the best acrylic paint for beginners. 

If you already know what you’re doing with acrylics, I’ve got you covered too. I’ll also recommend the best professional acrylic paints below. So, there’s something for everyone, no matter how much experience you have. 

First, let’s take a look at what you need to know about acrylic paints before you buy. 

Buying Guide to the Best Acrylic Paint Set

Getting started with acrylic paint can seem a bit intimidating. But here’s a quick and simple guide to acrylic paint for beginners. First, I’ll cover the different types, mediums, and the acrylic paint grading system.

If you’re new to acrylic painting, I recommend that you don’t skip this section. You’ll understand so much more about acrylic paint if you stick with me for a few minutes! 

But if you’re already a professional artist, feel free to stick straight to the product reviews below. 

Types of Acrylic Paint

Did you know that there are several different types of acrylic paints? Knowing this can help you buy the right paint for your needs. 

But let’s go back to basics and answer the question, what is acrylic paint? The simplest definition is that it consists of pigments in a polymer suspension. It’s this acrylic polymer suspension that makes the paint even and smooth. 

There are other components, including preservatives, thickeners, and defoamers. These additives ensure that the paint has the correct thickness and is long-lasting. 

Although there are several types of acrylic paint, each has the same basic formula. Then, it may have specific additives to make it perform in a certain way when used. That makes it more suitable for a type of media or technique. 

Here’s a quick guide to the different types of acrylic paint:

Heavy Body Acrylic Paints

This type of acrylic paint is the most similar to oil paints. So, if you’re confident with oil painting, it could be a safe choice for any beginner acrylic painter. 

acrylic paint sets

Heavy body paint is one of the thickest types of acrylic paint. It creates a vibrant look on the page with visible brushstrokes. It’s also easier to mix colors and make unique shades, blending them together. So, you can create nice gradient effects with heavy body acrylic paint. 

Soft Body Acrylic Paints

In contrast, soft body acrylic paint is ideal for any intricate work. It’s much thinner, with a smooth consistency. So, you’ll find it easier to manipulate and use for tiny details. It also lends itself well to any dry brushwork or watercolor techniques

Fluid Paints 

acrylic paint sets

Fluid acrylic paint is the runniest consistency. As it’s thin, it’s not always easy to use, but it’s perfect for pouring. The colors come out rich and vibrant, thanks to the lightfast pigments used in the formula. You can also use fluid paints for spraying and dry brushwork.

Acrylic Ink

If you’re curious about trying new media, consider using acrylic ink. It’s a fun and versatile option that you can apply using a pen, paintbrush, or even pouring. That’s because acrylic ink is very thin, like fluid acrylic paint. But it dries with a smooth, glossy look and rich, vibrant colors. 

Interactive Acrylics

best acrylic paints

Interactive acrylic paint is like regular paint, with one key difference. It produces the rich, vibrant colors of acrylic paint. But you can use a special formula to keep this paint wetter for longer. That gives you more time to blend colors and create the perfect painting. So, you have a lot more control over your creative process.

Acrylic Gouache

best acrylic paints

If you’re familiar with regular gouache paint, you may be interested in acrylic gouache. This paint dries with a matte, water-resistant finish, unlike regular gouache. 

Acrylic Spray Paint

acrylic spray paints

Acrylic paint comes in all sorts of forms, including spray paint. The best thing about acrylic spray paint is how versatile it is. You can use it for all sorts of surfaces, but you’ll need to take care when using it. I would recommend working outside or in a well-ventilated area. 

Acrylic Paint Mediums

Mediums are similar to the additives already in the paint. But as you can add them to the paint, it gives you more control over the paint you use. 

You can use these mediums to create the perfect consistency, texture, or finish. It can even allow you to alter the drying time to give you more time to work on your painting. 

The best thing about paint mediums is that they’re pretty simple to use. Add a little at a time, mix, and test out the paint until you have the desired effect. That’s all there is to it. 

So, you don’t need to be nervous about using mediums in your acrylic paint. Anyone can try them out – you don’t need to be a professional artist! 

Retarding Medium

If you need more time to work on your painting, you could use a retarding medium. It prevents your acrylic paint from drying up, so you can work on it for longer. 

Modeling Paste

Modeling paste comes in handy if you want to create a multimedia piece. You can use it to build up a 3D effect on your canvas or even attach other materials. So, it can make your artwork stand out and become more eye-catching. You’ll need to mix it with your paint and then build up layers that will harden when they dry. 

Texture Gels

Do you want to create a different texture for your artwork? Then, you can use texture gels that contain materials like sand or glass beads. It’s a safer option than DIYing it with regular sand, as you’ll get a more consistent, cleaner result. 

Glazing Medium 

Glazing medium is another great addition to your toolkit. You can use it to make your paint more transparent, which is handy if you want to blend colors. But make sure you buy a glazing medium specifically for acrylic paint, or it won’t work. 

Gloss and Matte Medium

Acrylic paint naturally looks glossy when it dries. But if you prefer a matte finish, you can add a matte medium to your paint instead. Then, it will look less shiny and polished. 

But if you want your painting to look even shinier, you could add extra gloss medium. You can experiment with how much or even use a combination of the two for a different effect. 

How are Acrylic Paints Graded?

Acrylic paint is commonly divided into student-grade or artist-grade paints. So, what’s the difference?

Student Grade Acrylic Paint

Student-grade acrylic paint is a lot cheaper than professional-grade options. That’s because it has a lower saturation of pigment. 

While that makes these paints much more affordable, they’re also not as rich and vibrant. The colors aren’t as saturated. 

But you can still create gorgeous paintings with student-grade paint. So, don’t get put off if you’re on a tighter budget – it’s still a great option. 

When you’re starting out, you’ll be learning as you go. You’ll want to test things out, and you won’t always achieve your goal. In that case, it’s better to use student-grade paint. It will save you from wasting more expensive paint (and your money) on these experiments.

Artist Grade Acrylic Paint

Artist-grade acrylic paint contains the best materials and additives. These also happen to be the most expensive. So, it costs a lot more and is best suited to professional artists. 

This type of paint contains a lot more saturated pigments. So, the colors come out rich, vibrant, and bright. It will often have less binder mixed in with the paint. And you won’t get that chalky look that some cheaper acrylic paints can have. 

Pros and Cons of Using Acrylic Paints

There are a lot of positives to using acrylic paints for your artwork. For one thing, acrylic paints tend to have very bright and vibrant colors. So, they make your artwork look vivid and eye-catching. 

Acrylic paint is also very lightfast, which means your paintings won’t fade over time. And it’s versatile, so you can use it on a range of surfaces. Plus, you can play around with acrylic paint mediums to get a perfect consistency or finish. 

Another bonus of acrylic paint is that it isn’t toxic. So, it’s a safe media to use if you have pets or small children in the home. You don’t need an art studio to paint with acrylics – and they’re pretty easy to clean up once you’re done. You won’t need to use paint thinners to remove it from your brushes (or your surface!) so long as they’re still wet. 

But of course, there are some downsides to using acrylic paint. It dries very quickly, which for most people is a negative aspect. 

It means you don’t get much time to work on your painting before it dries. So, you’ll need to paint quickly and blend colors confidently before it dries. It’s harder to create smooth blended effects and gradients in a limited time. So, it can be a challenging medium for beginner artists.

And while I mentioned that it’s easy to clean, that’s only true if it’s still wet. Once acrylic paint dries, it can be a pain to remove. So, you should protect your clothing, surfaces, etc. 

Best Acrylic Paints

Now, you know a lot more about acrylic paint. But it’s still a lot of information to process. So, how can you narrow down the options and pick the best acrylic paint?

Here are my reviews of the best acrylic paint for beginners and professional artists. You’ll find student-grade and professional-grade paint sets reviewed below. So, there’s something for everyone, depending on your budget and experience level.

Liquitex BASICS 6 Tube Acrylic Paint Set

Best Acrylic Paint for Beginners

best acrylic paint for beginners

If you’re brand new to acrylic paint, this Liquitex set could be just what you need. The Liquitex Basics is a student-grade line by one of the best acrylic paint brands. Liquitex has been producing these paints since the 1950s, so they know what they’re doing. 

So, even though this paint is very affordable, it provides great value for money. This set of six colors is a great way to test acrylic paints without spending too much money.

And if you like what you see, you can invest in one of the larger sets. Liquitex sells its Basics range in sets of up to 48 different colors. So, you can paint gorgeous artwork with a range of vibrant shades.

Although this is one of the cheaper acrylic paints, it uses nice pigments. They’re not as bright and saturated as the professional range, but they still look great. 

These paints are suitable for any artist, regardless of your experience. The Basics acrylic paints are thin, making them easy to apply, blend, and layer up. 

But if you prefer a thicker paint, you can add a thickening medium for the right consistency. It’s easy to add to your needs, and Liquitex produces paint mediums you can use. 

One downside to this paint is that it comes in tiny tubes. So, you can get through them quickly and will need to replace them often. 

On the other hand, Liquitex also sells individual tubes. So, if you find that you’re getting through one color more than the others, you can stock up on it. Buying the individual tubes means you don’t have to buy a whole new set. That could save you money in the long run. 

Overall, the Liquitex Basics is a great choice for any acrylic beginners. But professionals can also use these paints for trying new techniques or ideas. 

Pros:

  • The best student-grade acrylic paint
  • It provides excellent value for money
  • It’s not too thick – nice and easy to blend
  • You can buy it in sets or individual tubes

Cons:

  • The tubes are quite small and can run out quickly

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Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylic Color 12-Tube Set

Best Acrylic Paint Set for Professional Artists

best acrylic paint set for professional artists

I recommend Winsor & Newton’s Artists’ Acrylic range for professional artists. It’s simply one of the best acrylic paint brands out there. 

The Winsor & Newton Artists’ range uses the best pigments, creating gorgeous colors. The paints are highly saturated for a fresh and eye-catching result. And you get a polished, glossy finish when the paints dry. 

In this set, you get 12 colors, including a range of the most commonly used colors. So, you’ll have an excellent selection to work with for almost any type of painting. 

These paints have a buttery smooth, thick consistency. But it’s not so thick that you’ll struggle to blend it. So, you can create realistic and accurate color mixes using this acrylic paint range. 

And that’s helped by the special formula that stops the paint from drying too quickly. The additives keep the paint wet for up to one hour. 

Even better, the color stays consistent as it dries. In this way, it’s unlike many acrylic paints that darken when they dry. So, you won’t get any unwanted surprises. Your canvas will come out just as you imagined. 

This set also comes with two brushes – a No. 2 round and a No.2 flat brush. Often, you’ll need to buy brushes separately, even if you buy an acrylic paint set. So, that’s a nice bonus, as it means you’ll have everything you need to start acrylic painting.

The Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylics make a nice present for a budding artist or a creative friend. It’s also perfect to gift yourself when you’re ready to move on from student-grade acrylic paints. 

While these paints aren’t cheap, they’re well worth the cost. So, buying a smaller box is a gentle way to switch from student to professional-grade paints. All without breaking the bank. 

Pros:

  • One of the best professional-grade acrylic paints
  • It has a nice range of 12 different colors
  • The consistency is rich, thick, and smooth
  • It has a slower drying time, giving you more time to work
  • It comes with two brushes – no need to buy anything else

Cons:

  • It’s quite expensive

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Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint

Best Acrylic Paint for Canvas

best acrylic paint for canvas

The Liquitex Professional acrylic paint is perfect for your best works. This thick and luxurious paint is highly pigmented, creating rich and vibrant colors. Liquitex uses only the purest pigments. So, they look stunning on the canvas and will showcase your skills and talents.

It’s not the cheapest paint, as this is professional-grade acrylic paint. But it’s slightly more affordable than Winsor & Newton’s acrylic paints. And it provides excellent value for money, so it’s not likely to disappoint. 

Unlike many professional acrylic paint sets, this is soft body paint. Many artists find this paint easier to use and manipulate. As the paint is thinner, it’s easy to blend shades and create a nuanced painting. You don’t need to add extra mediums or additives to get the consistency right. 

This paint is also of archival quality, meaning it will last up to 50 years without fading. So, your artwork will continue to look good for years to come. And they’re also non-toxic and safe to use at home, in the studio, or the classroom.

Liquitex is popular with many artists, and for good reason. If you prefer a thinner acrylic paint, you’ll love their Professional soft body range. 

Pros:

  • A fantastic choice for experienced and professional artists
  • The colors are rich and vivid, using the purest pigments
  • This paint is lightfast and long-lasting without any fading

Cons:

  • It’s one of the more expensive acrylic paint sets

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Blick Studio Acrylic Paints and Sets

Best Acrylic Paint on a Budget

best acrylic paint on a budget

This paint set manages to balance the cost while providing vibrant paints you’ll love to use. They’re designed for beginners and are very easy to use. 

You can take your pick from sets with six to sixty different colors. So, there’s the perfect set out there for anyone. If you want to test acrylic paints first, start with one of the smaller sets. 

But if you already know that you like the acrylic medium, the bigger set is ideal. It provides a wide selection of bright colors suitable for any kind of painting. 

Blick uses a unique process of mixing and grinding the pigments for a vibrant result. So, don’t be fooled by the low price compared to the high-end brands. These paints do not disappoint. They’re also permanent, lightfast, and suitable for all sorts of surfaces. 

So, the Blick Studio acrylic paints are a great option for students or anyone on a budget.

Pros:

  • Very cost-effective
  • You can buy them in sets of 6 to 60 paints
  • They have rich colors, thanks to the unique manufacturing process

Cons:

  • The paints are lightfast and don’t fade with time

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Golden Fluid Acrylic Paint and Sets

Best Fluid Acrylic Paint for Painting and Pouring

best fluid acrylic paint for painting and pouring

The Golden Fluid acrylic paint is perfect if you prefer to use thinner types of paint. It’s well suited to painting, doing detailed work, and even pouring. 

This paint is thin, easy to use, and has a nice creamy feel. It’s made from lightfast pigments for bright and intense colors. 

But it’s also durable and flexible, making it less likely to crack. It responds well to temperature and humidity changes. So, your paintings should continue to look amazing for a long time. 

If you need thicker paint, you can add some Golden Gel Medium to change the consistency. So, this paint is also versatile, allowing you to mix it to get just the right thickness.

The Golden fluid acrylic paint comes in sets of 8 or 10. You also have the option to buy individual colors, which is handy if you run out of your favorite shade. It’s also useful for creating a custom color scheme depending on the type of art you want to make.

I would recommend this paint to anyone who likes to work with a thinner consistency. Price-wise, it’s not the cheapest option but provides good value for money. 

Pros:

  • Fantastic if you like to use a thinner paint
  • You can use it for detailed work or for pouring 
  • The paint is lightfast, durable, and flexible
  • The colors are highly pigmented, bright, and vibrant

Cons:

  • It’s reasonably priced 

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Painting with Acrylics for Beginners – FAQ

How to Choose The Best Acrylic Paints For Artists

When choosing the best acrylic paint for canvas, there are several things to consider. First, you should consider the paint’s vibrancy, lightfastness, and consistency. For example:
Is it too thick or thin for how you’d like to use it? 
Does it use high-quality, lightfast pigments?
Do the colors come out bright and vibrant? 
Do the colors change when the paint dries?
And does it suit your budget? 
You’ll find artist-grade and student-grade paints at a range of prices. Check out the reviews above for my best recommendations! 

Are Acrylic Paints Waterproof?

When acrylic paints dry, you get a water-resistant finish. That means they are less likely to run or smudge if they get damp. However, they are not completely waterproof. So, you’ll need to use a sealer to ensure that your paintings are waterproof.

Do Acrylic Paints Dry Quickly?

Yes, acrylic paints dry much more quickly than watercolor or oil paints. That makes it harder to use wet-on-wet techniques and blend your colors. So, you’ll need to learn to work fast when using acrylic paints.

Can I Use Acrylic paint on Wood?

You can use acrylic paint on wood for a rich and vibrant result. Acrylic paint is one of the most versatile painting media, as it applies to most surfaces. You’ll need to ensure that the material is oil-free for a smooth and consistent look. Preparing the wood before you paint is also recommended for the best result.

Can I Mix Different Paint Brands?

It’s possible to mix paint brands so long as you use the same type of paint. So, if you want to mix acrylic paint with a similar shade from another brand, that’s fine. I would recommend looking for a similar consistency to make it easier for you to mix them. 
But if you try to mix acrylic paint with oil paint, it won’t work. These two types won’t combine, and you’ll get a cracked and ugly result. 

The Wrap Up

By now, you should be an expert on acrylic painting. And you’ll also have a good idea about which acrylic paint is best for your needs! 

That will depend on whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist and how you want to use your paints. Are you experimenting with a new format, or do you want to create a masterpiece? You should also factor in your budget and pick accordingly. 

For your best paintings, I would always recommend using professional-grade paint. For example, the Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylics produce consistently excellent results. They are vibrant, richly saturated, lightfast, and permanent. In my opinion, it’s the best acrylic paint for professional artists. 

But if you’re just getting started, the Liquitex Basics is one of the best acrylic paints for beginners! It’s very reasonably priced, with rich, bright colors. So, you can create some gorgeous paintings with this paint. 

Let me know if you have any questions about painting with acrylics below. Feel free to share your favorite acrylic paint brands, too! 

Follow Proactive Creative for all the latest content, tips, and reviews. And in the meantime, happy painting! 

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My name is Outmane, I'm the creative artist designer behind Proactive Creative

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