Is it cheaper to make acrylic paint? (Price breakdown)

I got to know that many artists make acrylic paints. As I study more about making acrylic paint, I saw how interesting it can be. Then I wondered if it is cheaper to make acrylic paints than to buy them. Here is what I have found.

In general, making acrylic paint is an investment that costs around 250 USD for five acrylic colors. Making acrylic paint becomes cheaper over time, as more high-quality acrylic paint can be made for years after the initial investment.

There are many ways of making your acrylic paints, some being archival and others not archival and usually cheaper. I have gathered pricing details of most archival acrylic paint-making methods I have found so that you can pick the best one you like.

Is it cheaper to make your own acrylic paint?

Making acrylic paint that is very similar to the commercially available ones costs around 250 USD for 5 acrylic colors. Once the initial investment is made, you can make many tubes of the same 5-color acrylic paints. So if you are planning to use acrylic paint for many coming years, it will be much cheaper.

When making your acrylic paints, you need to consider the work and time that involves in it. You need to take extra care and wear safety kits when making acrylic paint due to powdered pigments. However, you can make very high-quality, acrylic paint when you are making them on your own.

If you compare buying high-quality acrylic paint to making your high-quality acrylic paint, buying costs 4 to 8 USD per 2 oz of artist-quality acrylic paint. So for 220 USD, you can buy around 25 tubes of acrylic paint. If you are using a limited color palette of 5, you can buy the same color for 5 times with 220 USD which is the initial investment for making acrylic paints.

But after investing about 220 USD for making acrylic paint, many tubes of good quality acrylic paints can be produced, possibly more than 25, 2 oz acrylic paint tubes.

If you are interested in a price breakdown of acrylic paint on the market you can read my article; Are acrylic paints expensive? (a price breakdown).

Price breakdown for making acrylic paint

Below is the price breakdown for the most archival method of producing acrylic paint. I have included the prices and links to the Blick Art Material store and Amazon for your convenience. You may find these ingredients for cheap prices at local stores. However, I suggest you buy high-quality pigments as they determine the paint quality more.

MaterialQuantityPrice (USD)
Color pigments (Gamblin Artist’s Grade Pigments)4 oz * 5(8.25 – 28.65)*5
Acrylic polymer binder (Amsterdam Acrylic Binder)1000 ml (33.8 oz)47
Acrylic retarder (Golden Acrylic Retarder)118 ml (4 oz)12.79
Thickening medium (Liquithick Thickening Gel)8 oz (237 ml)12.09
Calcium Carbonate or marble dust1 Lb8
Silica thickener/ fumed silica946 mL10
Distilled water 1 Gallon1.08
Isopropyl Alcohol 16 fl oz2.52
Glass Muller 2 pieces 40
Aluminum paint tube, large (5 oz)2529
Total (for 5 color pigments)Approx. 250
Materials involved in making acrylic paint and their cost

If you want to know more about making acrylic paint using these materials you can watch the entire paint-making process of Clive 5 Art on YouTube.

The other archival method of making acrylic paint is by using acrylic mediums. This process is rather simple and we only need two ingredients for this which are acrylic medium and pigment. Below is a price breakdown of materials needed for acrylic medium and pigment mixing method.

MaterialQuantityPrice (USD)
Color pigments (Gamblin Artist’s Grade Pigments)4 oz * 5(8.25 – 28.65)*5
Acrylic polymer medium (Golden GAC 100 Primer Extender)946 ml (32 oz)43.19
Glass Muller 2 pieces 40
Aluminum paint tube, large (5 oz)25 tubes29
Total (for 5 color pigments)Approx. 200
Acrylic medium and pigment combining method pricing

This method of combining dry pigments with the acrylic medium is relatively easy to do and costs less than making the paint just like manufacturers.

However, GAC 100 is a liquid and if you want it in thick consistency you will need to use a thick acrylic medium like Golden Extra Heavy Gel instead of GAC 100. It costs around 20 USD for an 8 oz jar. But with this method, you cannot produce as many acrylic paints compared to the complicated paint-making method above.

What is expensive about making acrylic paint?

The most expensive part of making your acrylic paint comes with the pigments used. As mentioned before they can cost anywhere between 8.25 – 28.65 USD for 4 oz of pigments. Different pigments have different densities, and thus different weights.

The prices of pigments change depending on how hard it is to make them into pure, fine particles version without impurities and how rare the pigments are. The acrylic polymer binder used in paint making is also expensive.

Once you get started with making acrylic paints, there will be no cost in the coming years for paints. So making acrylic paints will become cheaper over time.

How to make your acrylic paint? (summary)

There are two archival methods of producing acrylic paint. Both of these methods produce highly archival acrylic paints. However, there are many methods of making acrylic paints on the internet with inferior materials, like flour and talcum powder. I suggest you not follow them as they do not even use an acrylic binder to make acrylic paint and they make mostly nonarchival acrylic paints.

When following the below methods make sure to put on gloves and a mask or a respirator as you are dealing with powdered pigments. Some may even be harmful if breathed in such as cadmium pigments.

Method 1- More comprehensive

This method I have learned from Clive 5 Art on Youtube and it cost around 250 USD according to my estimation as mentioned above.

First, you need to mix the pigments with water. As water doesn’t mix with pigment readily, add a few drops of alcohol to break the surface tension of the water. This way pigments and water combine easily. After mixing well, add calcium carbonate or marble dust only a little bit to add more body to the paint. These are called fillers. The more you add fillers, the less vibrant and saturated the colors would be.

Artist’s pigments

Then mix well with a palette knife and grind well with a glass muller to make a fine pigment paste. Now you can add the anti-foaming agent made with silica and acrylic retarder. Grind well and add an acrylic binder. Grind again and mix with the acrylic paint thickener. If the paint got too thick add more anti-foaming agents or acrylic binders. Grind with glass muller again.

Now you can add the paint made into aluminum tubes and seal them from the bottom. Make sure to label the paint with the name of the pigments inside. You can also paint a swatch of the color inside the tube to recognize it better.

Method 2- Easy and less expensive

The second method costs about 200 USD which is less expensive than the first method. This method is relatively simple. You just need to add a little acrylic binder or acrylic medium with the dry pigment using a glass muller or a palette knife. The more pigment you add the more saturated and vibrant the colors would be. I recommend using the Golden GAC mediums for this method.

How to save money with acrylic paint?

There are many ways to save money with acrylic paints if you decided to buy them. I always recommend getting artist-grade acrylic paint as they make your paintings so much better.

Another way to save acrylic paints and save money is using a stay-wet palette. You will not waste acrylic paint as the stay-wet palette keeps your paint wet for a week or more. You can make a DIY stay wet palette to save money and it works perfectly.

If acrylic gesso is more expensive you can make your own by mixing 1 part PVA glue, 6 parts distilled water, and 2 parts calcium carbonate (chalk). If you are an acrylic pour artist you can make your pour medium by mixing Polymer Vinyl Acetate (PVA) or Elmer’s glue with 5 drops of vegetable glycerin.

You can also re-use your old canvases with paintings you don’t like. Paint a coat of gesso on the painting until it is completely covered with gesso. Then you can reuse the canvas for a new painting. This helps you to save more canvases for painting.

I have saved so much money with the methods mentioned here when doing acrylic paintings. When it comes to acrylic painting, pigments are the most crucial part that makes or breaks your painting. So I highly recommend you to use good quality paints with more pigments rather than going for cheap craft quality acrylic paint with fewer pigments and more fillers.

The best student-grade acrylic paint (low cost) I recommend is Liquitex basics. If you are interested you can read the full review I did for Liquitex Basics acrylic paint.

My recommendation

Making your acrylic paint is the best choice for an artist who is interested in the process and plans to paint for years to come. Use good-quality ingredients in the paint such as good quality color pigments. However, buying acrylic paints is cheaper at first but you will have to continue buying them in the coming years. I think getting artist-grade acrylic paints is the best choice for someone who does not want to get involved in making them.

About Dilini

Dilini Tharaka is the principal creator of, 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.