Which brand of acrylic paint should I buy

The best artist acrylic paints

A report by Franz-Josef Bettag

Is there the very best acrylic paint? There are some artist acrylic paints that stand out in terms of pigmentation, opacity and darkening and can be recommended without reservation. They are of very good quality, the main differences are in price, color consistency and paintability. Our small overview is based on the availability in German specialist retailers and on our personal experience with brands that have been tried and tested for decades.

The. Offers an extraordinarily good color quality Primacryl - Finest Artists`Acrylic by Schmincke. It is impasto and hardly noticeably darkens when drying. The paint can be applied impasto or glazed and dries to a hard paint film with almost no loss. The color palette includes 84 shades with 4 and 5 star lightfastness. The titanium white is the best and best that is available today. The pure open time when painting is approx. 4-5 minutes, depending on the layer thickness. The color is Made in Germany and currently my favorite.

In the range of the Swiss artist paint manufacturer Lascaux you can find the Lascaux Artist, with whom you can create excellent fusions and glazes. The impasto, silk-matt artist acrylic paint is available in 54 colors from opaque to translucent. With the range of colors offered, practically all nuances can be mixed. All colors dry evenly to a semi-gloss finish to form a hard, resistant film and hardly darken. The open time is approx. 3-5 minutes, depending on the strength of the paint application. Lascaux Artist complies with the American ASTM standards and can be recommended without hesitation.

The acrylic paint from Luke - Luke Cryl dries very quickly (approx. 1-3 minutes, depending on the layer thickness and painting surface) and forms a hard, inelastic film. It is therefore difficult to merge them or paint them inside one another. It is particularly suitable for spatula techniques and opaque, impasto paint applications and less for glazes and alla prima painting. The range includes 70 shades that cannot always be mixed cleanly. Although a traditional German brand, the paint is manufactured in England by Daler Rowney.

Liquitex Heavy Body is very smooth and hardly darkens afterwards. This is achieved by using a crystal clear acrylate, which dries relatively quickly and does not crack. The consistency is buttery and smooth in composition. The 100 different colors are tailored to the American customer and are sometimes very colorful. The open time is 2-4 minutes. The paint film dries into a hard even layer. The American quality brand has been produced under license for the EU market in France for years.

The Professional Acrylic from Winsor & Newton is also an acrylic paint for the highest demands and is characterized by a high level of color brilliance. The range comprises 80 colors, 69 of which are single-cell pigment colors that can be mixed well with one another. It can be used for impasto, but also for glaze techniques. The pure open time is between 4-5 minutes, depending on the painting surface. The paint film remains elastic (silicone-like) after drying. Although Winsor & Newton is officially sold as an English traditional brand in advertising, so the paint is believed to be produced in England, the acrylic paint has actually been made in France for a number of years.

Golden Artists Acrylic Heavy Body
offers a soft and homogeneous consistency. The pure pigments are mixed in a 100 percent acrylic emulsion. Golden acrylic paints contain no fillers, extenders, opacifiers, toners or dyes. Each color is prepared differently depending on the pigment properties. It can be applied impasto or glazed and dries in a smooth, firm film. The open time is 2-4 minutes, depending on the painting surface and the thickness of the paint layer. The paint is made exclusively in the USA and corresponds 100 percent to the American ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D4236 standards for toxicity and safety, and its good lightfastness corresponds to ASTM standard D5098. Unreservedly recommendable!

For some time now, Golden Open has been offered as a replacement for oil paint. The color is not bad and has an extremely long open time, but I don't necessarily want to recommend it to a beginner. Although the color remains paintable on the painting support for a long time, it can be dissolved again with water after it has dried. Direct glazes are not possible this way. The layers of paint mix and smear, because you cannot control the drying through, the paint is only suitable for alla prima technology and is therefore reserved for professional artists.

The traditional French manufacturer Sennelier With its acrylic paint, it offers a smooth and homogeneous consistency and the strong, bright colors are intended for artists who want to achieve different results with one and the same color. Pigments of the best quality are selected so that a maximum of purity and clarity is achieved in the color tones. With 120 color nuances, Sennelier offers a large selection of colors, including four interference colors and 6 iridescent colors. The consistency of the paint corresponds to a buttery paste, it is creamy, smooth and brushstrokes or knife marks remain visible. A change in the color rendering after drying can only be seen very slightly and with some basic colors not at all. The paint film remains elastic (silicone-like) after drying. The colors meet the requirements of the American ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D4236 with regard to toxicity and safety, and their good lightfastness corresponds to ASTM D5098.

Of course there are other artist acrylic paints on the German market, such as B. from Daler Rowney, Kreul, Vallejo, Royal Talens or Maimeri, but on the one hand the varieties are not always available without restrictions and on the other hand there is not always artist quality included.

There are 178 different brands of acrylic paints worldwide. However, some manufacturers also provide brands for other suppliers, such as B. the own brands of mail order companies.

I use myself for my own artistic work mainly the Schmincke Primacryl Finest Artists` Acrylic, the Golden Acrylic and Liquitex Heavy Body. But there are also some tubes Lascaux Artist and Professional Acrylic from Winsor & Newton in my color box.

I recommend the Schmincke Academy Acryl Color or the Galeria Acrylic from Winsor & Newton to those who cannot afford high quality art.

60 ml tubes are ideal for beginners, because the larger the container, the faster the colors dry up and become bad. Many a bargain in a 1 or 5 liter bucket quickly turned out to be sham packaging and rotten in the cellar. In principle, I keep my hands off the mail-order companies' own brands or colors that are verifiably not made in Europe or the USA. I miss the transparency of the mail order companies, where are the own brands manufactured and, above all, what is inside and in what quantities? Because the acrylic paint for the professional bulk consumer does not always have the properties that you want.

Test results

60 ml tubes of the best brands


How long does acrylic paint last?
Opened tubes or bottles that are tightly closed and stored in a cool place usually last between 2-5 years, depending on the manufacturer and quality. After that, the colors become tough, rubbery and dry up relatively quickly. But I also have paint tubes that are over 10 years old and still usable. If the tubes are left in a warm environment for a long time, they will dry noticeably after 1-2 years. Most of the time, the buyer does not notice that the paint is already spoiled and is amazed at how difficult it is to paint. If a tube is really refilled, well sealed and stored for between 4 and 8 months, it can remain usable for 5-7 years if it is stored in a cool place (9-15 degrees). I have found that frost or heat is not good for acrylic paint. Even new tubes can suffer damage during transport in winter, because below 0 degrees the water freezes in the paint and separates from the acrylate and pigment. In summer it can get really hot in the truck during transport, then the water in the plastic bottles and tubes evaporates and the color becomes rubbery. That's why I only order from mail order companies in spring or autumn. It would be ideal if you could get the tubes directly from the manufacturer, but unfortunately that is wishful thinking. Acrylic paint should not be placed in the refrigerator, the cold removes the water from the acrylate and the paint loses its painting properties. A cool dark room is better!

Make sure that the tubes and bottles are always tightly closed. No liquid (water) must escape, otherwise the colors will be tough. For this reason, metal tubes are also better than plastic tubes - or bottles.

Why artist quality is better.

Before, much earlier than I went to university over 40 years ago, there was only artist quality. You didn't have to search for a long time or test, there was only one quality and 3-4 manufacturers. No distinction was made between a hobby and a professional. If you wanted cheap, you could fall back on so-called emulsion paints in paint shops. Due to lack of financial means, I also sometimes painted with the paints.
Today there are acrylic paints in many different qualities, from basics, study, academy to artist paints. And that is exactly what makes choosing the right color so difficult. What should I buy for my purposes and the quality of studies is not enough for my first attempts at painting?
Not everyone has the opportunity to test several varieties in detail and then has to rely on the judgment of a seller or he has already heard of one or the other variety. There are supposed to be people who rave about a brand even though they have never used anything else.

The cheap brand clearly shows its weaknesses, little pigment and strong darkening during drying. The artist qualities can convince through optimal painting properties - glaze and pastose.

So that you can get an idea of ​​the quality, I made a small test spread. He shows you how easy it is to see the differences. I chose cadmium yellow and titanium white because you can't mix these hues together.

In the first spread you can see the cadmium yellow of a cheap color on the left. In the case of the cheap brand from China, the black background clearly shines through in the glaze. The impasto application also remains rather transparent and dull. In contrast, the artist qualities of Liquitex, Winsor and Newton, Schmincke, Lascaux, Sennelier and Daler. With you, the application of paint is stronger and brighter, and yet you can still see subtle differences here too. With Sennelier and Daler, the color of the glaze is almost completely opaque and with Daler there is hardly any difference between glaze and pastos. The brushstroke flattens out! Too many fillers and coverings are probably used in both brands, which makes them unusable for the glaze. Unfortunately, Lukas and Daler dry out much too quickly. The paint is hard after just 1-2 minutes. Even on the pallet - despite being wetted with water - it becomes tough after 10-20 minutes. Although both brands do very well in terms of pigmentation and opacity, they only get 4 points because they dry too quickly.

As a rule, titanium white should be opaque, but here, too, there are serious differences between inexpensive and artist quality. Outstanding is the titanium white from Schmincke, the whitest and most opaque white on the market.

In the case of titanium white, the differences are even clearer, on the left again the cheap brand, then Galeria from W & N, which is already more opaque, and then the artist brands. Schmincke Finest Artists Acrylic has the strongest titanium white and beats all other brands by far. If you mix cadmium yellow and titanium white together, you should usually get an opaque color. This is not a problem with Schmincke Finest Artists Acrylic, but the low-cost brand clearly shows the weaknesses. If you compare cheap brands with artist quality, you can see very clearly where the differences lie and why artist quality is always the better choice, even for a beginner.
Cheap brands cannot really be controlled due to the poor pigmentation, the milky acrylate and the many additives, as they darken strongly and do not cover. I don't even want to talk about clean mixtures with one another.

Coverage is not the same as coverage. The Schmincke titanium white covers the black background well, with the cheap brand the background clearly shines through and makes the color gray and dull.