While watercolor and oil paints have been around for hundreds of years, acrylic paint is a fairly recent invention. The first blend was created in the 1940s, combining the thicker feel of oil paints with a water-based formula. Since then, a wide number of brands have been created, but the best acrylic paints are the professional or artist level paints. Each of the brands here was selected based on their quality as a professional level acrylic paint, lightfast ratings, and a wide selection of colors.
Some of these brands also offer student-level paints. Student-level paints can be a good choice for anyone on a strict budget, but they generally have less pigment and lower quality materials; the professional or artists’ paint is the best choice whenever possible.
A number of artists consider M. Graham Acrylic Paint to be the best brand available. It’s one of the most expensive, but the quality of the materials the brand uses ensures paint has a smooth, thick consistency. Read Full Review
Considered by many to be the best acrylic paint available, M. Graham Acrylic Paint has an outstanding reputation for quality and intense color. This acrylic paint is creamy with strong colors and a slightly thicker consistency. The paint is one of the most expensive brands available, but this is because M. Graham avoids using fillers or artificial thickeners other brands use to cut costs.
The paint is made in the U.S. and produced in small batches to ensure consistency and quality. M. Graham offers dozens of colors with excellent lightfast ratings and high levels of pigmentation. Like other acrylic paints, this type will dry fairly quickly, but it has a slightly longer working time, staying moist for up to half an hour after application.
Thicker than most of the brands and offers one of the widest selections of colors, this paint palette includes several iridescent metallic colors and fluorescent colors. Golden also offers soft body paint with the same level of pigments in a more fluid body. Read Full Review
While Golden has created other lines of acrylic paint in recent years, the Heavy Body Acrylic Colors is their original formula and remains a popular paint among professional and amateur artists. The paint is very smooth, thicker than most acrylic paints, and has intense pigment saturation. This thicker paint is a great choice for impasto or other techniques relying on heavy paint, but Golden also sells Fluid Acrylic paint featuring a more liquid formula.
The Heavy Body Acrylic Colors comes in a wide array of almost 90 standard colors, as well as an extra assortment of grays, iridescent and fluorescent colors. The fluorescent pigments are not lightfast and are not recommended for archival-quality painting but most other colors have excellent lightfast ratings. This paint is one of the cheaper brands available, costing significantly less than similar top-quality paints.
Liquitex Acrylic Paints are a favorite bargain brand among artists. They are inexpensive but still made for quality, with paints available in an unusual variety of styles from ink for airbrushing to the thick Super Heavy Body paint. Read Full Review
Liquitex Acrylic Paints, an original brand of acrylics, are one of the best bargain brands of acrylic paint available to artists. Compared with other brands they are fairly inexpensive but offer high-quality paint with a creamy texture and clean, vibrant colors. Most brands offer both heavy body paint and soft body paint, but Liquitex comes in a broad range of styles from extra-thick Super Heavy Body paint to an ink made ideal for airbrushing or watercolor-style painting techniques. The number of colors varies depending on the style but both the Soft Body and the Heavy Body paints are available in over 80 colors.
Winsor & Newton is one of the best brands in painting supplies and this paint offers artists around 80 colors with bright colors and creamy textures. The paint is moderately expensive but high quality and has minimal color shift as it dries. Read Full Review
A high-quality brand, Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylics offer artists clean, brilliant colors and a soft, creamy texture. There are about 80 colors available with a wide range of tones and several gold blends. Many of the colors are made with a single pigment, allowing artists to blend their own colors freely, without worrying about the paint muddying.
The paint is fairly expensive but the brand also promises color-fast paint which retains its original hue after drying without fading or changing. The paint has an estimated working time of 20-30 minutes, allowing artists slightly more time before the paint dries.
Unlike most acrylic paints, Chroma Atelier Interactive Acrylics can be moistened as they are worked, allowing artists to paint slower and longer. The paint comes in a good range of colors, and are available in both tubes and jars. Read Full Review
While most acrylic paints begins drying once they’re squeezed out of a tube or applied to a painting, Chroma Atelier Interactive Acrylics are formulated to allow artists to moisten the paint. This allows artists to work slower or longer, by letting them to mist the paint or applying water with a brush to keep the paint workable. Once the artist is finished and stops adding water, though, the paint dries the same as other brands. The paint runs about mid-range on price and comes in 75 colors for a great selection of hues and tones. It’s also available in tubes or jars for artists who prefer either version.