Choosing the best acrylic paint brand can be difficult as there are many options. I have reviewed 5 popular student-grade acrylic paint brands that are affordable. With my experiments, I have determined what is the best acrylic paint brand for a beginner.
The best affordable acrylic paint for a beginner is Liquitex Basics. It has the best coverage, lightfast pigments, and many single pigmented colors. It is a good choice to use with artist-grade acrylic paint or alone itself as a beginner. The next best option is Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint.
I have done several tests on canvas on the paints to determine the best acrylic paint. For this, I have used red colors; Liquitex Basics pyrrole red (PR254, opaque), Winsor and Newton Galeria cadmium red hue (PR112, semi-opaque), System 3 acrylic cadmium red hue (PR112, semi-opaque), Graduate acrylic cadmium red hue (PR112, semi-opaque), Pebeo acrylic cadmium red hue (PR112 + PR22 +PW6, opaque).
In the following table, I have given a rating (5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) on different acrylic paint brands for each aspect tested.
|Aspect||Liquitex basics acrylic paint||Winsor and Newton Galeria acrylic paint||Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint||Daler Rowney Graduate acrylic paint||Pebeo acrylic paint|
- The best affordable acrylic paint brand for a beginner as well as for an experienced artist is Liquitex Basics
- The next best option is Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint
- 3rd place goes to Winsor and Newton Galeria, and Pebeo acrylic paint
- Do not consider buying Graduate acrylic paint if you have access to other acrylic paint brands
Although other brands are more expensive than Liquitex Basic acrylic paint, the quality does not increase simultaneously. Therefore the best quality acrylic paint for the least money is Liquitex Basics.
I have written individual reviews of these paints in more detail. Following are the links to those reviews. They will help you to know your acrylic paints the best.
- Liquitex Basics review
- Winsor and Newton Galeria review
- System 3 acrylic paint review
- Graduate acrylic paint review
- Pebeo acrylic paint review
Below I have compared each aspect of different acrylic paint brands in detail.
Liquitex Basics is a high viscosity, thick paint. Winsor and Newton’s acrylic paint has a flowy nature to it. It has a creamy consistency and not a stiff one. System 3 acrylic paints have a medium thickness or medium body viscosity. It does not feel runny but it can hold the shape to a certain extent.
Several acrylic paint brands such as Liquitex Basics, System 3 acrylic paint, and Winsor and Newton Galeria paints can hold the texture and brush strokes after drying. Thus they are best to create textures and different techniques like impasto.
The rating(5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I gave to each acrylic paint for its consistency is as follows; Liquitex Basics- 5, System 3 acrylic-4, Pebeo acrylic- 4, Winsor and Newton Galeria- 3, Graduate acrylic paint- 3.
All 5 acrylic paint brands had excellent paint application. All the paint applications are thick and smooth. But some paint applications are very thin. Daler Rowney Graduate acrylic paint and Winsor and Newton Galeria had a thin paint application. All 3 other paint brands have thick and even paint applications.
The rating(5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I gave to each acrylic paint for application is as follows; Liquitex Basics- 5, System 3 acrylic-5, Pebeo acrylic- 5, Winsor and Newton Galeria- 3, Graduate acrylic paint- 3.
Coverage refers to how well paint can cover what is underneath. Different paint brands had different coverages. Excellent coverage was offered by Liquitex Basics followed by system 3 paints. All other 3 paint brands had less coverage.
Coverage is important when building up layers. It is important when painting details. The best coverage a paint has of vibrant and saturated colors, it is easier to work with that paint.
The rating(5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I gave to each acrylic paint for coverage is as follows; Liquitex Basics- 5, System 3 acrylic-4, Pebeo acrylic- 4, Winsor and Newton Galeria- 3, Graduate acrylic paint- 2.
Opacity refers to how well you can see through paint. It is the same measurement as coverage. Opacity or coverage is important when building layers in the painting especially when you want to cover an area underneath.
Again Liquitex Basics has the best opacity followed by System 3 acrylic paint and Pebeo acrylic paint. Winsor and Newton and Graduate acrylic paint are less opaque.
The reason I choose semi-opaque colors from paint brands other than Liquitex Basics is that others did not have an opaque red color like pyrrole red. Most of the colors of the rest of the acrylic paint brands are semi-opaque or multiple pigmented colors.
Almost all the colors from Winsor and Newton Galeria are semi-opaque or transparent. There are very few opaque single pigmented colors in Winsor and Newton Galeria. Most Graduate acrylic colors are transparent and semi-transparent.
I choose mostly single pigmented red colors as they have the best concentration of a single pigment compared to multiple pigmented paint. Most Daler Rowney acrylic paint and Pebeo acrylic paints have a mixture of pigments and have very less single pigmented opaque colors.
Following is the rating (5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I gave for each acrylic paint brand based on the opacity of their color range and the availability of single pigmented opaque colors. Liquitex Basics-5, Winsor and Newton Galeria- 3, System 3 acrylic paint- 4, Pebeo acrylic paint- 4, Graduate acrylic paint- 2.
Finishing is how acrylic paint looks after drying. it can be matte, satin, or glossy. Liquitex Basics and Pebeo acrylic paint I have tested have a matte finishing. This may change for different colors of the same brand. Other brands, Galeria acrylic, System 3 acrylic, and graduate acrylic paint have a statin finishing.
Some of the brands have streaky finishing while others have an even finishing. Liquitex Basics, System 3 acrylic paint, and Pebeo acrylic paint, graduate acrylic paint has a even finishing without streaks. But Winsor and Newton Galeria acrylic paint has a slightly streaky finishing but overall a nice finishing.
Galeria acrylic color streaks can be reduced by applying multiple thin layers after letting them dry between each layer.
Following is the rating (5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I gave for each acrylic paint for its finishing; Liquitex Basics- 5, Winsor and Newton Galeria- 4, System 3 acrylic paint- 4, Graduate acrylic paint- 3, Pebeo acrylic paint- 4.
There are different lightfastness categories according to the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) scale. All the acrylic paint brands I have tested are approved by ASTM and have a lightfastness rating. Lightfastness refers to how well a paint can resist fading or changing when exposed to sunlight.
However, lightfastness is rated differently for each acrylic paint brand. You can find the lightfastness categorization of acrylic paint in the review of that paint brand I have done.
Liquitex basics, Winsor and Newton Galeria, and Pebeo acrylic paint have lightfastness I or II which means excellent and very good lightfastness respectively. All System 3 acrylic paints are permanent and all Graduate acrylic paints are normally permanent and the rest are permanent acrylic colors (Permanence is a better indication of a painting’s ability to not fade or change over time when exposed to light and atmosphere.)
Following is the rating (5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I gave for each acrylic paint for its lightfastness or permanency; Liquitex Basics- 5, Winsor and Newton Galeria- 5, System 3 acrylic paint- 5, Graduate acrylic paint- 4, Pebeo acrylic paint- 5.
All the 5 acrylic paint brands are available in most art stores, especially in the US. You can Get them from Blick Art Materials for the best price. However, the availability of acrylic mediums is low for some brands. You can get Liquitex, Winsor and Newton, and Pebeo acrylic mediums easily. But Daler Rowney’s acrylic medium availability is low.
All 5 acrylic paint brands are available in different sizes from small to large. Liquitex basics are available from 0.34 fl oz tubes to 32 fl oz tubs, Winsor and Newton Galeria from 0.4 fl oz to 16.9 fl oz, System 3 acrylic paints are available from 0.74 fl oz to 16.9 fl oz, Graduate acrylic paint from 1.28 fl oz to 16.90 fl oz and Pebeo acrylic paint from 3.38 fl oz to 16.9 fl oz.
Except for Pebeo acrylic paints all 5 brands have a good range of size options. Following is the rating (5= excellent, 4= very good, 3= good, 2= bad, 1= worst) I have given for each paint brand for its accessibility. All 4 brands except Pebeo acrylic paint have a rating of 5 and Pebeo acrylic paint has a rating of 3.
Price is one of the important aspects to consider when giving the best value for your money. Here I have picked the best value option from each brand and compared them between each brand side by side. All the prices mentioned here are current prices from Blick Art Material.
Liquitex Basics 4 oz (118 ml) tube cost 0.86 USD/oz, Winsor and Newton Galeria 60 ml (2 oz) tube costs 1.35 USD/oz, System 3, 150 ml (5.07oz) costs 1.62USD/oz, Graduate acrylic 120 ml (4.05 oz) costs 1.72 USD/oz, and Pebeo acrylic 100 ml (3.38 oz) costs 2.29 USD/ oz.
According to these prices, I have rated them from lowest price to highest price by giving the highest rating of 5 for the lowest price and the lowest rating of 1 for the highest price. Therefore Liquitex Basics- 5, Winsor and Newton Galeria – 4, System 3 acrylic paint- 3, Graduate acrylic paint- 2, Pebeo acrylic paint- 1.
As there are many acrylic paint brands out there it can be a challenge to choose which one is the best. The best acrylic paint for a beginner with full scores for all the aspects I look there is Liquitex Basics. The next best option is Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint.
All the paints tested are student-grade acrylic paints and are affordable compared to artist-grade acrylics. However, if it is possible go for artist-grade acrylic paints. You can also use both student-grade and artist-grade acrylic paints in your paintings. However, Liquitex basics is the best option for a beginner as well as a artist who wants affordable best quality paints.