Acrylic Water Based Paint Options for Students and Professional Artists

Acrylic water-based paints are great for artists for several reasons. It is one of the most flexible paints available and has a lot of other benefits. For starters, acrylic water based paints can be used to paint on just about any surface from paper to canvas board. One feature of acrylic that some consider a con is the fact that acrylic water-based paint dries very quickly. Some artists use no more than 15% of a retarder to slow down this quick drying process. Others use a stay wet palette while they paint.

Different Kinds of Acrylic Water Based Paint for Artists to Choose From

As previously stated, acrylic water-based paint offers up a lot of flexibility including the different kinds that are available to artists, from students to professionals. Although similar in grade to the kind of acrylics used by professionals, student acrylics tend to be lower in pigmentation, have less colors to choose from, and formulas that are less expensive than acrylic water paints used by professionals. Professional acrylics have more options and are as a rule more expensive. Professional water-based acrylic paint options also are more resistant to chemical and water exposure.

Additionally, water-based acrylic paints are classified by their ‘body’, which is a term used to indicate its consistency. Some are soft or medium bodied, others are heavy-bodied, and others still are super heavy or extra-bodied. Below we look at some of this acrylic water based paint varieties and grades and what they mean for student and professional artists alike.

1. Pigments, pricing, and color range

True paint pigments are expensive. Hues, which are an imitation of the authentic pigment are much more affordable. Student grade acrylics are usually available as hues. As for professional acrylics, pigments are grouped into series by numbers (counting from 1 onwards) and letters (moving from A upwards). The higher the series number, or farther away from A the letter is, the richer the pigment and the more expensive it is likely to be. As a rule, professional artist grade acrylic water based paint will have more real colors available in their range, and will be more expensive than those available to student artists.

2. Opacity

Acrylic water based paint options that are more opaque are easier to cover and be covered over by other colors. As such, these options are great for students who may be more prone to making mistakes that they will need to cover up.

3. Consistency or body of the available options

As mentioned before, water based acrylic paints are available in different consistencies including mediums and heavy paints. Professional artist grade acrylic paints will have a wider range of consistency available, while the student options will have less. Importantly, there are binders that can be mixed with the different consistencies, allowing the artist to control how thick or thin the paint is, without losing the richness of the pigment.

4. Tinting Strength and Color Shift

Tinting refers to how much paint is needed in order to alter the color of white paint. The higher the tinting strength of the paint, the less paint is needed to change the color of the white paint. This is something for student artists in particular to bear in mind.

Color shift is something that naturally takes place when using acrylic water based paint. This is due mainly to the fact that the paint goes darker after it is dried. The acrylic emulsion becomes clear as the paint dries (it is white when wet) and in this way darkens the color of the paint. In student quality acrylic water based paint, the binder used is white, as such the color shift from lighter to darker is usually greater than in professional grade paint options. The cheaper the student artist acrylic paint option, the whiter the binder used, and therefore the greater the color shift.

All the above characteristics serve as a rule of thumb guide for both student and professional artists alike. They should be considered when deciding which acrylic paint to use or not use to get the job done. Remember that acrylic water based paint is very flexible, but student grade options less so. The more you wish to do with the paint, including using binders and different chemical mixes, the more necessary it will be to get professional grade options.