The Best Acrylic Paint

Colore Acrylic Paint

Our Top Pick for 2016: Colore Acrylic Paint
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $29.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

When you were a child, you may have used watercolors to fill in those coloring books with flair. Experimenting with color begins when you’re a toddler and eventually develops into your artistic side. If you’re continuing with painting and other artistic pursuits, moving forward with other tools is natural. One material that’s popular among artists is acrylic paint. It offers a wide variety of colors while retaining its color in most cases. Explore the world of acrylic paints, and understand what makes one brand better than another. Dozens of attributes can make up just one color selection.

Table of contents

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Formulated For Use On All Surfaces
Complete Acrylic Paint Set
Works Equally Well on Paper, Canvas, Wood and Even Fabric
Colors Glide On Smooth
12 Vibrant Colors
Satiny Finish
Can Be Brushed, Stamped, Stenciled Or Sponged
Water Based, Non-toxic
24 Unique Colors
Easy Cleanup
Dries Quickly
Blends Very Well
All-purpose
Vivid, Rich Pigment
ASTM D-4236 and EN71-3 (CE) Certified

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Colore Acrylic Paint

Colore Acrylic Paint Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $29.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerOur pick for the best acrylic paint on the market today is offered by Colore. This brand is well-known among artists, but it doesn’t have a huge price tag like its competitors. Both amateur and professional painters can get their money’s worth out of this paint set that comes in an attractive black container. Keep the tubes in the container until you’re ready to use them. If you’re a painting enthusiast, it won’t take you long to pull out most of the colors and mix them to your heart’s content.

Colore offers their paint set in an ample quantity of 12. Crimson red, marine blue and raw umber are just a few of the colors that you’ll receive. They’re all relatively basic colors, such as the primary hues, in order to encourage blending. Pull out your painter’s palette, mix two or three colors and you’ll have a unique hue that’s all your own.

These paints are perfect for blending because of their thickness. Some consumers have described the paints as a soft-butter consistency. It takes some effort to squeeze them out of the tube, but that also makes them malleable for blending. Although it’s not as common, it’s possible to add a little bit of water to the paints. This strategy dilutes them, which makes them easier to spread across a canvas for a lighter texture. Consider water dilution when you want to create a widespread background in a specific color. You’ll only use a small amount of acrylic paint while optimizing your artistic endeavors.

The tubes come in small, 0.4-ounce sizes. If you’re an amateur painter, you might think that this amount is far too tiny. However, the small tubes allow the paint’s viscosity to remain as consistent as possible. The pigment will be just as intense at the end of the tube as compared to the tip. The small size also prevents excessive drying within the container. When you want more of one particular color, you can buy that hue separately instead of investing in an entirely new set.

This paint set reportedly dries in about 20 minutes when the acrylic isn’t altered with water. Use this 20-minute period to mix, blend and apply the color. Acrylic paint is known to show off the artist’s brush strokes. Perfect your image by going over it several times. Your initial brush stroke might be jagged, but subsequent strokes have a relaxed appearance to them. By the time you’ve perfected your stroke with that one color, the drying process will begin. Artists typically want some versatility in their paints’ drying times in order to alter any mistaken strokes.

Colore advertises this paint as a professional-grade product. Take a close look at the paint to see this quality. The color should be consistent as you squeeze it onto your palette. As it dries on your canvas, you shouldn’t notice too much of a color shift. Lower quality paints are known to significantly change in color as drying sets in. In fact, the color might be entirely wrong at that point. You want a professional-grade product in order to keep your project as true to life as possible.

One of the biggest questions that come up during paint selection is potential, paintable surfaces. These paints are incredibly versatile as they dry perfectly on foam, terra cotta, ceramic, canvas wood and countless other areas. If you’re unsure about a surface, test a corner with the paint. In most cases, it will adhere to the surface without any problems. The color shouldn’t shift too dramatically on alternative surfaces either, including fabric. Its reliable use on many surfaces makes this acrylic paint a top pick among artists.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Plaid Promoabi Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint

Plaid Promoabi Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint

View it on Amazon for $18.07*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerAn affordable acrylic paint option is the set offered by Apple Barrel. Although this brand isn’t as well known as others on the market, it stands out because of its low cost per color choice. In fact, each bottle within the set costs less than $1, and that price will probably remain low as more people buy and enjoy the product. Explore the Plaid Promoabi Apple Barrel paint that will make nearly any project a masterful design.

When you initially receive your acrylic-paint set, you’ll be dazzled by the 18 pieces that you encounter. You can read the color names across the bottles’ exteriors, such as fuchsia, jack o’lantern or pewter gray. Most paint sets that do come with a lot of color tend to be low quality or repeated hues, but Plaid wants to change that scenario. Each color is distinct, and they can be mixed and matched as the artist sees fit. You may want to group the paints according to their complementary or contrasting colors. It’s the artist’s mind that makes these paints a joy to work with each day.

Other paint sets come with tubes that are difficult to handle as you squeeze them out onto a palette. Plaid took an alternative direction with their paints by using standup containers. These cylindrical, plastic containers allow you to grab them whenever necessary. You might be in the middle of a work of art or just beginning the process, but you’ll never fumble with the paints as they’re spread out across your working surface. The containers stand tall with their threaded lids ready to be removed with just a turn of the wrist. With two ounces of paint in each container, you’ll have plenty of materials for that canvas, Styrofoam or other project surface.

If you compare these paints to others on the market, you’ll notice that they have a thinner consistency than most products. If you need the paint to be any thinner, adding water to it is an option. However, most artists enjoy the paints’ viscosity as they use it for basic brushing techniques. It’s possible to also use the paint for stenciling, sponging or stamping too. The versatile paint viscosity makes these alternative project types possible.

One concern voiced by some artists is the lids’ qualities. Some consumers report that the lids don’t close all the way after use, and the paint dries out quickly afterward. One way to combat this problem is cleanliness. When you’re finished with the paint, wipe the lids and bottles off with a rag. Removing the excess paint means that the lid can make a strong connection with the bottle. As a result, the paint won’t dry out when it’s perfectly sealed in the container.

You might be wary about buying 18 bottles of paint because of storage concerns. However, Plaid packages the paint in a strong, cardboard box. You can reuse this box for the paints because it folds together with no problems. If any paint gets on the cardboard, it’s not an issue because you’ll discard the box whenever you’re done with the colors.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Castle Art Supplies Acrylic Paint

Castle Art Supplies Acrylic Paint

View it on Amazon for $29.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardWhen you’re unsure of your artistic prowess, picking out an acrylic-paint set is daunting. For a relatively low cost with a quality return on your investment, consider Castle Art Supply’s paint set. This brand has been in the industry for many years, and they continue to serve both amateur and professional artists with outstanding products. When you want a rainbow of colors to decorate your next project, this acrylic-paint set is worth a second glance.

You’ll receive an astounding 24 colors with this paint set. Arrange the colors in a rainbow configuration, and you’ll see almost every hue that’s necessary for a project. You might paint a traditional landscape on canvas, or you’re looking to form images on some wood furniture. Regardless of your inspiration, you’ll have the colors to complete the concept.

Some consumers have been concerned about these colors’ sizes, but they’re an ample 12mL or 0.4 ounces in volume. This amount may appear to be minimal, but the set is meant to give you samples of each hue. If you realize that you need more of one color than another, it’s possible to buy the paint separately if necessary. The paint comes in durable, aluminum tubes. Metal construction protects the paint from any color fading or drying within the container. Every time that you open up the paint, you’ll be greeted by a perfect color that flows onto your project surface.

The paint has a smooth texture that’s appreciated by most consumers. It has a perfect viscosity for most projects. It’s not runny like watercolors, but it’s also not too stiff where painting becomes a physical chore. The paint flows from your brush, sponge or other tool and onto the project. It won’t dry with any cracking either. You’ll have ample time to spread the paint across the surface and blend it if desired.

You might think that this paint has a drawback with its cleanup because the application is so simple. However, consumers report that the paint cleans up with basic water. If you have an amateur artist in the household, such as a teenager, these paints can be easily bought for them and cleaned up afterward. There’s no need to use soap or paint thinner on these paints. However, their dissolution with water means that these paints aren’t meant for surfaces that will be washed, such as drinkware. Use it for decorative purposes only, and you’ll have a long-lasting art project. They’re nontoxic as well, which helps around a busy household with children and pets roaming around.

Keep the attractive box that the tubes arrive in. You can arrange them according to your color preferences and find them quickly during a project. The box even has a transparent front section in order to see your paints while they’re in storage. Organize your paint tools, and you’ll be able to enjoy the artistic process each time you pull them out.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint

Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint

View it on Amazon for $10.37*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickFor artists on a limited budget, take a look at the low-cost, acrylic paint by Liquitex. You’ll receive a compact box full of the top colors for any amateur painter. Start your new passion out with these basic colors, and then you can graduate to more complex hues. When you’re just discovering your talent, these paints are a smart option for sampling.

Your paint set comes with six colors. Green, white, black, red, yellow and blue are the colors that you can use with nearly any project. They can be blended onto your palette or used individually. When you want to paint a small, canvas surface, these paints will give you enough color for an outstanding project. Take a look at the painter’s complementary and contrasting color wheels in order to maximize your options.

This paint comes in a thick form so artists have several choices during their preparation period. They can spread the color as-is across the surface, or they can dilute it. This acrylic paint is perfectly soluble in water in order to make it thinner. Paint a striking background or blend the color into the foreground, for example. These paints give you many options as you create your artistic vision. In fact, thinning them makes the entire tube last longer than using the material as-is.

Unlike other paints that come in tubes with a one-half ounce size, Liquitex offers their products in about a three-quarter ounce container. You can see the color right through the tube because it’s transparent across most of its surface. When materials are getting low, you’ll always be aware of when a shopping trip is necessary.

Take a close look at the tubes’ lids too. Instead of basic, threaded lids, the tubes come with flip tops. Use one hand to access your favorite color as you continue to brush across the project surface. Simply wipe off the lid before you store the color away. Tube drying will occur when you don’t care for the containers. It’s also possible to use the original packaging as storage. Keep the box, and you’ll always know where all of your colors are when inspiration strikes.


Pre-purchase considerations

Color Simplicity

It’s easy to get misled by all of the paint sets that have two dozen or more colors. The color brilliance and sheer quantity make them attractive to any consumer. However, most artists need simple colors. Yellow, red and blue are the core colors that you should always have on hand. Upgrade your color collection with some earthy tones or bright neon selections. Part of the artistic fun is blending and creating your own colors. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on a hundred colors when you can blend most of those from a handful of hues.

Permanenace

Any paints that you buy from a legitimate manufacturer have to adhere to certain standards. The ASTM International rates paints based on their permanence or colorfastness. Ideally, you want a paint that doesn’t fade over time. Look for paints with a standard marked “AA” or “A.” These paints stay true to their original color. A “C” marking indicates that the paint will fade over the years. These paints are often referred to as fugitive colors. They seem to run away over time.

Fluid or Heavy Body

Every artist prefers a different type of paint to complement their projects. Heavy-body paints have thick consistencies. They might look like a paste or slightly softened butter. These paints tend to be the most versatile because you can dilute them to meet your artistic needs. Alternatively, purchase fluid acrylic paints that are thinner in consistency. When you prefer to stain a surface or work with a dry brush, fluid paints work better for your needs. They won’t show off any brush strokes either.

Pricing

If you’re on a limited budget, follow the color-simplicity rule. You really only need a few of the basic colors in order to fill your palette. In some cases, paint sets come with a discount price that reflects bulk charges. Because you’re buying many tubes at once, their individual prices are slightly lower than purchasing them as separate units. Ideally, purchase the paints with the highest quality pigments. Rare, pigment colors are always expensive so choose basic hues with blending possibilities. With your imagination, you might create a color that’s better than the expensive, tube version.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Although many artists might advertise their love of one particular brand, it’s ultimately up to your tastes when choosing an acrylic paint set. When you’re first starting out in the painting world, select a handful of colorful tubes from one brand. Try this brand out, and evaluate your work. If you aren’t satisfied with the results, you can try another brand. Your medium, stroke style and several other factors can influence your final painting project. When you finally discover the perfect paint combination, make a note of the products’ details. You can continue with this paint so that all of your projects have a consistent appearance.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Artists & Illustrators, Best Acrylic Paints, Artists & Illustrators, September 23, 2011
  2. Will Kemp, How to choose a basic colour palette for acrylic painting, Will Kemp Art School, 2016
  3. Nezzy (contributor), 5 of the best available acrylic paint brands for artists, Procartoon.com, October 31, 2015
  4. Amazon, Customer Reviews: Castle Art Supplies Acrylic Paint Set, Set of 24, Amazon
  5. Teoh Yi Chie, Review: Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint, Parka Blogs, July 14, 2015
  6. Will Kemp, The 8 key differences between Artist quality vs Student grade acrylic paints, Will Kemp Art School, 2016

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