Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylic Paint: Comprehensive Review

Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint has been there for a long time. Daler Rowney is one of the pioneers in introducing artist-quality acrylic paint to Europe. In this article, I will be reviewing the student grade brand of Daler Rowney called System 3 acrylic paint.

Is System 3 acrylic paint good? System 3 acrylic paint is impressive acrylic paint among other student-grade acrylic paints. It has good coverage, can be applied thickly to create textures, can be used to create archival quality acrylic paintings, can be purchased in different sizes, and can be applied on different surfaces.

I ran some experiments with cadmium red hue from Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint. I have used canvas as the surface to do the experiments as it is the most common surface we will be painting. I will be discussing in detail consistency, application, pigment, coverage, drying qualities, finishing, price, etc.

Following are the pros and cons of System 3 acrylic paint.


  • Good choice for impasto techniques
  • Have impressive coverage and opacity
  • Permanent and lightfast colors/pigments
  • Can be applied on a variety of surfaces (canvas, paper, wall, glass, textile, etc)
  • Can be purchased in different sizes and sets


  • Slightly overpriced
  • Don’t have excellent coverage as artist-grade acrylic paint
  • There are fewer single pigmented opaque colors
  • Most colors are a mixture of pigments
  • Daler Rowney acrylic mediums are less accessible

Key takeaways:

  • Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint is a student-grade acrylic paint brand that has been there a long time.
  • It has good coverage.
  • Can be used on most surfaces like most other acrylic paints.
  • The colors are lightfast and permanent meaning the art created will be archival.
  • There are fewer single pigmented colors and most colors are semi-opaque or transparent
  • However, it is a bit overpriced for a student-grade acrylic paint brand.
  • Buying a Jumbo Process Set of 5 Colors will give the best value for money

Who should buy Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylic Paint:

  • Beginner artists
  • Experienced artists who want affordable good quality acrylic paints
  • Those who want to create archival quality artwork
  • Those who want to use acrylic paint on different surfaces

Student grade or artist-grade?

Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint is a student-grade acrylic paint brand meaning it has less pigment load when compared to artist-grade acrylic paints. Due to less pigment load, student-grade acrylics have less coverage compared to artist-grade acrylics.

However, student-grade acrylic paint brands are affordable when compared to professional-grade acrylic paint. They are best for beginner artists if you cannot afford professional acrylic paint yet.

I have also written a whole article comparing affordable 5 student grade acrylic paint brands. You will find what is the best acrylic paint that is the least expensive and offer the best quality.


The medium thickness of System 3 acrylic paint

System 3 acrylic paints have a medium thickness or medium body viscosity. It does not feel runny but it can hold the shape when wet to a certain extent. If you apply it thickly on canvas, it will dry into the thick shape you initially applied.

Holding texture after drying

Because it can hold the shape of the paint even after drying, it will be an affordable option for impasto techniques.


The paint application is thick and very smooth at the same time. The application is less streaky and paint can be applied evenly. You can mix System 3 acrylic with water for an even and smooth application. However, as the paint is thick and well pigmented a little paint goes a long way.

I have written an article about mixing acrylic paint with water. You will also get to know different ways of thinning acrylic paint from the article.

In the below image you can see the effect of applying acrylic paint after mixing it with water. you can thin down the paint and it will still have better coverage and thickness. But if you add 60% water you will get a watercolor effect to the paint.

Thinning of System 3 acrylic paint


Pigments are what give color to paint. The colors of system 3 acrylic paints are vibrant and bright. Colors can be made from either a single pigment or a mixture of pigments. The best choice is to purchase single pigments of primary colors and mix them to create all other colors.

In system 3 paints you can find quite a few single pigmented acrylic paints unlike in other brands. The cadmium red hue color I have also chosen has a single pigment with code ‘PR112’. So it is a good choice if you need red color.

Pigment information of System 3 acrylic paint on the label

As it is named as ‘cadmium red hue’ it does not have cadmium pigment. As cadmium can be toxic, colors named ‘hues’ have safer alternatives to their real color. So the actual pigment in cadmium red hue is naphthol red (it is indicated at the back of the paint tube).

Naphthol red (PR 112) for cadmium red hue

Daler and Rowny’s website says that they are using high-quality pigments to create System 3 paints. But as they currently do not have a professional acrylic paint line we cannot compare the quality of student grade and artist-grade acrylic paint pigments of Daler and Rowney.

The following are some of the single pigmented acrylic colors that are worth buying if you are into system 3 acrylic paint.

  • Yellow: Lemon yellow, Cadmium yellow deep hue, yellow ochre
  • Red: Cadmium red hue, Vermilion Hue
  • Blue: Ultramarine blue, Phthalo Blue
  • Titanium white
  • Burnt Sienna

System 3 acrylic paints have a quite impressive pigment load. You can learn that in the coverage section below.


coverage refers to how well a paint can cover what is underneath. I have checked the coverage of the cadmium red hue in two ways. They are total coverage and detailed coverage.

Total coverage

To check the total coverage, I have filled a square with black paint and let it dry. Then I have checked how well System 3 acrylic paint can cover that black square. Following are the results I have got.

System 3 acrylic paint full coverage with two coats of paint

As you can see the full coverage of paint is very impressive. But this coverage is not only with one coat but two coats of paint. When compared to other student-grade brands, System 3 acrylics have very impressive coverage. This means the pigment concentration in System 3 paints is also high.

Detailed coverage

To check the detailed coverage I have painted 3 thin black stripes on the canvas and painted a cadmium red hue over it. I have only painted a single coat of paint. The detailed coverage of System 3 acrylic paint is also good for student-grade acrylic paint.

System 3 acrylic paint detailed coverage

Although the coverage of System 3 acrylic paint is best for a student-grade acrylic paint brand, it is not the best when compared to professional or artist-grade acrylic paint brands. When determining coverage of paint opacity is an important metric to look at. Next, let’s look at opacity information.


Stem 3 acrylic paint comes in 3 opacities. They are opaque, semi-opaque ad transparent. You can find the opacity information on the label of a paint tube. They are indicated in the following signs

opacity signs on the label

There are 11 opaque, 24 semi-opaque, and 19 transparent colors in the System 3 acrylic paint line. You can check this information from this downloadable sheet. The sad news is that there are only a few single pigmented opaque colors in the paint line. All the other opaque colors were mixed in with opaque colors such as titanium white.

The few single pigmented opaque colors of System 3 that are worth buying are as follows:

  • Phthalo Blue
  • Oxide Of Chromium Green
  • Mars Black
  • Titanium White

To check the opacity (similar to coverage) I choose the semi-opaque color cadmium red hue. The following image shows you what kind of coverage and opacity you can expect from semi-opaque acrylic paint from System 3 acrylic paint. It is very good and satisfactory for a student-grade acrylic paint brand.

The opacity of system 3 acrylic paint

Drying qualities

Acrylic paint is characterized by its fast drying qualities when compared to oil paints which take from days to months to dry. Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paints take around 10 to 20 minutes to dry, like most other acrylic paints.

You can also increase the drying time of acrylic paint by mixing it with an acrylic paint retarder. System3 Slow Drying Gel can be used with system 3 acrylic paint to increase the working time or open time. But its availability is very low. However, you can try mixing with slow-drying mediums of another brand such as Liquitex.

Following is the link to Liquitex slow dri medium on Blick Art Materials: Liquitex slow-dri medium

You might also wonder about the water-resistance of acrylic paint. Is System 3 acrylic paint waterproof?

System 3 acrylic paint is waterproof after drying like all other acrylic paints. After evaporating or absorbing water into the surface, the paint layer dries into a waterproof plastic layer. However, if you did not prepare the surface well there is a risk of paint peeling off.

I have written several articles about how to stick acrylic paint on glass, metal, and plastic. You can check them out and learn the correct process of sticking acrylic paint on these unusual painting surfaces.


System 3 acrylic paints have statin finishing. Also, the finishing of the paint is even and not streaky. The paint is thick and has a good concentration of pigment. So the paint finishing is very good for student-grade acrylic paint. You can check the finishing from the below image.

System 3 acrylic paint finishing


System 3 acrylic paint can be used on a variety of surfaces such as canvas, paper, glass, walls (murals), textile, and interior /exterior surfaces. As mentioned before be cautious when painting on unusual surfaces.

How do you use System 3 acrylic? System 3 acrylic paint can be used on its own or mixed with some water for smooth application. Apply it to the prepared surface for better adhesion. Layers can be built after drying each layer and the finished work needs to be cured for at least a week. To protect the work, finish with varnish.

Lightfastness/ permenace

System 3 acrylic paint is made from lightfast pigments. They have a lightfastness rating of 4 stars, 4 being the maximum. Following is the lightfastness or permanent scale used by Daler Rowney acrylic paint.

  • 4 stars (****)- Permanent
  • 3 stars (***)- Normally permanent
  • 2 stars (**)- Moderately permanent
  • 1 star (*)- Fugitive

36 four-star System 3 colors are meaning they are permanent. All other System 3 acrylic paints have 3 stars, meaning they are normally permanent. However, the fluorescent system 3 acrylic paints are fugitive and have a one-star rating.

The cadmium red hue I have has 3 stars, meaning it is normally permanent and good to go. So you can use system 3 acrylic paint for archival quality art pieces as they will not change or fade over time.


System 3 acrylic paints are very accessible. However, the acrylic mediums from Daler and Rowney are less available. But you can use acrylic mediums from a brand like Liquitex.

System 3 acrylic paints are available in different sizes. They are available in 59ml, 150ml, 500ml, 1l, 2.25l, and sets. Each color from System 3 acrylic paints can be purchased individually.


There are different price points for different paint volumes. Below I have put down a list containing the price for one oz of paint for each size.

Type of System 3 acrylic paintQuantityPrice (USD) per 1 oz of paint
Jumbo Set of 8 Colors150 ml (5.07oz)1.28
Jumbo Process Set of 5 Colors150 ml (5.07oz)1.62
Intro Set of 10 Colors22 ml (0.74oz)3.89
Starter Set of 6 Colors22 ml (0.74oz)4.21
Studio Set of 1037 ml (1.25 oz)3.00
Single color tube 59 ml(2 oz)3.125
Single color tube150 ml (5.07oz)2.15
Single color bottle500 ml (16.90 oz)1.59
Price comparison of different sizes of System 3 acrylic paint

When looking at the different price points, I think System 3 acrylic paints are slightly overpriced when compared to other student-grade acrylic paint brands. The best way to get the most value for your money is to buy the Jumbo Process Set of 5 Colors unless you want to buy 500ml bottles of System 3 acrylic paint.

Final thoughts

System 3 acrylic paint is a student-grade acrylic paint brand from a well renowned Daler and Rowney brand. These paints have good coverage for a student-grade acrylic paint. They have lightfast permanent paint that can be used in archival quality paintings. The finishing is also even and less streaky. However, I find System 3 acrylic paints a bit overpriced.

About Dilini

Dilini Tharaka is the principal creator of PaintingGal.com, a website dedicated to answering painting questions and providing helpful resources.Painting has always been Dilini's hobby. She has created dozens of paintings that she is proud of. She loves to share her painting experience with you.