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Not only is acrylic paint a go-to for beginner and professional artists, it’s also a must-try for a variety of craft projects. “The best thing about acrylic paint is its versatility as a paint medium,” says Emily Clare, the publisher at Fine Art Tutorials. It can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, wood, paper, and more. This is because acrylic paint consistency and finish are easy to manipulate and painters can make it thick, thin, glossy, or matter with the addition of the right medium. Additionally, many acrylic paints come in different finishes, so you don’t have to put in the extra work and can choose what works best for your project.
We road tested and researched dozens of acrylic paint brands to narrow down the best ones, evaluating quality, pigment, consistency, lightfastness, and value. Our top pick, Liquitex, is a professional-grade acrylic paint that works well for many types of projects, is good for all skill levels, and has excellent consistency and pigmentation. Here are the best acrylic paint brands
Best Overall: Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paints
Paints have great consistency
Good for all skill levels
They aren’t as opaque as other brands
Our top pick for the best acrylic paint brand is Liquitex. This brand makes professional-grade paints that are ideal for beginners and professionals alike. The paints have excellent consistency, pigment, and lightfastness, too. Although they aren’t the most affordable paints on our list, a little goes a long way with these, which adds to their value factor.
Just note that if you’re looking for something a little more opaque, these might not be the best paints for you, as they are on the thicker side.
Best Value: FolkArt Acrylic Paint Set
It’s easy to mix colors
Vast color range
They aren’t professional grade
Whether you paint canvas or bird houses, FolkArt is one acrylic paint brand to add to your arsenal. The affordable paints boast an impressive collection of colors—there is literally a color for everything—so you don’t need to do a ton of color mixing. We love that they don’t sacrifice quality for price, and they come in lots of different finishes for all types of surfaces. While they aren’t professional grade (and not recommended for professional use), the quality of these paints for the price is hard to beat.
Most Workable: M. Graham Acrylic Paint
The paints dry slower
Produce a beautiful satin finish
Good alternative to oil paints
Colors aren’t as pigmented as other brands
If you love oil paints but want to give acrylics a try, M. Graham acrylic paint is a fantastic alternative to oil paints. These paints dry a lot slower compared to other acrylic brands, which makes them more workable. Plus, you can spray a little water on top of your artwork to get even more workability from them. While the colors aren’t as richly pigmented as some of the other brands on this list, they have a gorgeous satin finish and create beautiful works of art.
Best Pigment: Golden Artist Heavy Body Acrylic Paint
Rich and vibrant pigment
Thick, buttery consistency
The paints have great lightfastness
The price is high compared to other brands
Golden is one of the best acrylic paint brands because the paints are ultra-high quality with rich and vibrant pigment. In addition to pigmentation, the paints are excellent for professional use as they have fantastic lightfastness. These paints are so good that they were a top contender for our best overall pick—but the price point held them back as they are much more expensive, making them a better choice for more experienced artists.
Best Texture: Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Paints and Sets
Creamy and high-quality texture
The colors don’t shift as much
Provide excellent coverage
They dry a little fast
Texture is a personal preference in acrylic paint but, we find the ones that are ultra-creamy to also be of the best quality. We chose Windsor & Newton for this category because the paints have a beautiful texture and consistency that speaks to the quality of their formulation. Additionally, they offer great coverage, which gives them some points on the value front too. While the paints dry a little fast, the colors don’t shift too much, which is another bonus.
Best for Beginners: Blick Studio Acrylic Paints and Sets
Great pigment load
The paint is more transparent
For beginner artists who want something affordable yet high quality, Blick Studio’s acrylic paints are the way to go. While they are more budget-friendly, you wouldn’t know, since the paints still boast excellent quality in terms of pigment load. Keep in mind that the paint is a little more transparent, which might not be preferred by everyone.
Our top pick for the best acrylic paint brand is Liquitex. The professional-grade paints are high quality, have good lightfastness and pigment, and compatible with all skill levels. For a brand that is more affordable, we love FolkArt (and are long-time users of the brand). In addition to having great value, this brand makes acrylic paints in a variety of finishes for various types of projects. Its beginner-friendly, too.
What to Look for in an Acrylic Paint Brand
“The pigment load will affect the vibrancy of the colors,” Clare says. For the best pigment load, Clare recommends choosing professional quality paints—like many of the brands listed above, including Golden, Liquitex, and Windsor & Newton—to achieve optimum vibrancy.
Lightfastness of Pigments
“This will impact how long the colors will last without fading,” says Clare. “Look at the lightfastness rating on the supplier’s website or on the paint tube itself,” she explains. Clare also says most paints have an ASTM rating that helps you determine the quality with I being excellent and II being very good.
The paint consistency is important because it impacts how easy it is to work with and how much texture you can create. “Heavy body paint will hold its shape on the canvas, allowing artists to build texture and work with stiff brushes and palette knives,” says Clare. On the other hand, she explains, soft body paint is runnier than heavy body paint, making it a great choice for artists who enjoy painting in fine detail.
What acrylic paint do professionals use?
Professional artists use highly pigmented acrylic paint made from quality binders and lightfast pigments. Clare explains: “Artists who sell their work will be concerned with the longevity of the colors in their artwork, so they choose pigments that won’t fade over time." Golden and Liquitex are examples of the type of acrylic paint professionals use.
What is the most vibrant acrylic paint?
“Golden professional acrylic paints are a favorite brand amongst artists for their high pigment load,” says Clare. “The most pigment to binder ratio in the paint, the more vibrant the colors will appear,” she adds. The best thing about vibrant acrylic paints is that they are of greater value, as highly pigmented colors can spread a lot farther across the canvas, meaning a little goes a long way.
What paint is best for canvas?
According to Clare, acrylic paint is the perfect paint medium to use on canvas. “This is because it dries to a flexible film, which means that it won’t crack or flake off like other types of paint can,” she says. With that said, acrylic paint consistency also matters and is often dictated by the type of project. “If you are painting a portrait, you may want to use a thinner paint so that you can get more detail in the features of the face." Additionally, if you are painting a landscape, you might want to use a thicker paint so that you can more easily create textures.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a Bachelor’s Degree from Academy of Art University and, as the daughter of an artist, learned how to paint long before she learned how to write. Jessie’s love of painting has carried her throughout her life and is the one artform she always comes back to. Her favorite type of paint is acrylic, so she used her background in painting and experience with this particular type of paint to inform her research for this story. Jessie has personally tested all of these acrylic paint brands (plus others that didn’t make the cut) on her own projects and, after rigorously researching and considering factors such as quality, pigment, consistency, lightfastness, and value, she is confident in her top picks.