Unlock Your Inner Artist: The Complete Guide to Choosing the Perfect Acrylic Paint Set

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Have you been itching to dip your toes into the wonderful world of acrylic painting, but feel overwhelmed by all the options for acrylic paint sets? Choosing the right acrylic painting supplies for your skill level doesn’t have to be confusing!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to find the perfect acrylic paint set to match your artistic needs and goals. You’ll learn pro tips for selecting acrylic paints, brushes, canvases, and other essential accessories so you can start creating beautiful works of art in no time.

Get Ready for Acrylic Painting Fun!

Acrylic painting is a highly versatile art form perfect for beginning painters and experienced artists alike. The fast-drying acrylic medium allows you to layer and blend colors easily to create stunning effects. Plus, acrylics are water-soluble when wet but become water-resistant when dry, making them great for a wide range of painting techniques.

With so many quality acrylic paint sets available from brands like Liquitex, Winsor & Newton, and Artist’s Loft, it can seem nearly impossible to decide which supplies are best for you. Factors like your skill level, preferred painting style, and budget all come into play when selecting the ideal acrylic painting set.

In this guide, we’ll explore all of these variables in depth. You’ll find a breakdown of the different types of acrylic paints, brushes, canvases, and other essential gear beginning painters need in their toolbox.

By the end we’ll recommend the top 5 acrylic paint sets that offer excellent quality and value for artists of all levels. You’ll gain the knowledge to shop for acrylic painting supplies with confidence.

Let’s start by diving into the wonders of acrylic paint!

Choosing Acrylic Paints – Your Colorful Foundation

Acrylic paint sits at the heart of any acrylic painting set. Understanding the different grades of acrylics and properties of each color will ensure you select paints that suit your needs.

Here’s an overview of the key factors to consider when shopping for acrylic tubes or bottles:

Acrylic Paint Qualities

  • Viscosity – Acrylic paint comes in a range of consistencies from thin and runny to thick and buttery. More viscous paints typically have higher pigment loads.
  • Pigment Load – The higher the pigment concentration, the richer and more vibrant the paint. Professional grades have more concentrated pigment than cheaper student paints.
  • Lightfastness – This indicates how resistant a color is to fading over time. Colors rated I or II have excellent lightfastness.
  • Toxicity – Some pigments contain heavy metals and require extra safety precautions. Most acrylics today are non-toxic.

Types of Acrylic Paints

There are a few major varieties of acrylic paints:

  • Student vs. Professional – Student grade uses lower quality pigments and fillers. Professional paints have pure, concentrated pigment.
  • Fluid vs. Heavy Body – Fluid acrylics have a thinner, pourable consistency. Heavy body paints are thick, ideal for textured techniques.

Now let’s explore the specific colors you’ll want to look out for in your acrylic selection:

Important Colors for Any Paint Set

  • Primary colors – The essential pigment base for mixing other hues. Red, yellow and blue can create nearly any color.
  • Secondary colors – Green, orange and purple – formed by mixing two primaries. They are vital for color shading.
  • Tertiary colors – Made by combining a primary and secondary, these include red-orange, yellow-green, blue-violet.
  • Warm and cool versions of each major color allow more nuance and dimension.
  • Titanium white and mars black – Essential for tinting, shading and blending without dulling colors.
  • Cadmiums – Vibrant cadmium reds, oranges and yellows are brilliant mixing colors.
  • Pthalo greens and blues – These synthetic organic pigments offer amazing tinting strength.
  • Dioxazine purple – This deep violet is smooth and transparent for glazing techniques.

For the widest mixing flexibility, look for a set with a balanced selection of primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

Buying Individual Tubes vs. Paint Sets

You can purchase acrylic paints individually or as packaged sets:

  • Individual tubes allow you to fully customize your selection – great for specific projects.
  • Paint sets provide an affordable, convenient array of essential colors to get started. Sets can ensure you don’t miss key mixing hues.

Now that you know what to look for in acrylic paints, let’s explore the other artist’s essential – brushes!

Choosing Paint Brushes – Your Paint Application Tools

Having the right acrylic paint brushes makes blending, stroking, and detail work much easier. Brush qualities like shape, size, softness and durability all matter when it comes to controlling your acrylics.

Consider these factors when selecting acrylic painting brushes:

Brush Shapes and Their Uses

  • Rounds – The classic brush shape, great for details as well as blending. Sizes from 00 up.
  • Flats – Square-shaped bristles ideal for broad strokes, bold outlines, washes. Sizes from 4 up.
  • Brights – Shorter bristles give these utility brushes versatility; thicker paint applications.
  • Filberts – A rounded tip makes these ideal for softening edges and smoothing.
  • Fans – These spread out bristles texture grass, foliage, fur or hair well.
  • Angles – The squared tip allows superior control of edges and writing.

Brush Materials

  • Natural Hair – Sable, ox hair, goat hair brushes are soft and absorbent but costly.
  • Synthetic – Nylon and polyester bristles are affordable, durable. Can be stiff.
  • Blends – Mixing natural and synthetic hairs offers a compromise on feel.

Brush Sizes

  • Very small (000, 00) – Great for details, thin lines, precision work.
  • Small (0, 1) – Maneuverable for blending, smaller areas.
  • Medium (2, 4) – Versatile sizes for most painting tasks.
  • Large (6, 8) – Allow broad strokes; washes on bigger canvases.
  • Very large (10+) – For huge canvases and murals; thinner paint recommended.

Ferrule Types

  • Wood – Most economical option but can warp over time from moisture.
  • Plastic – Lightweight but may crack if treated roughly.
  • Metal – Heaviest duty for durability. Won’t warp or crack.

Removable brush guards are a wise add-on to prolong the life of your bristle tips.

Now that you know how to select top-quality acrylic brushes, let’s explore painting surfaces…

Choosing Canvases and Surfaces – Your Painting Foundation

The surface you paint on is crucial for good acrylic painting results. Factors like texture, absorbency, weight and size will determine how your paints look and behave.

Here are the most common painting surfaces and tips for choosing:

Painting Surface Types

  • Canvas – The classic painting support, comes pre-stretched or loose. Versatile for any medium.
  • Canvas pad/paper – Convenient sheets for practice pieces before stretching canvas.
  • Canvas board – Cardboard canvas alternative; inexpensive option.
  • Wood panel – Provides totally rigid, smooth painting surface.
  • Acrylic paper – Specialty paper takes acrylic thickness; stays flat.
  • Non-traditional – Get creative on wood, glass, rocks, recycled items!

When selecting canvases, consider these factors:

  • Fiber – Cotton duck cloth is the preferred canvas material for durability.
  • Weight – Heavier canvas better withstands warping when painted on.
  • Texture – Look for a slight canvas grain or “tooth” to grip paint better.
  • Primed vs. unprimed – Most canvases come pre-primed; some artists prime their own.
  • Size – Standard sizes range from 5″x7″ up to large 60”x72” murals.

For first canvases, multi-packs offer convenience and savings. Other tips:

  • Buy canvases an inch or two larger than planned art for framing leeway.
  • Proportional sizes like 8″x10”, 11″x14”, 18″x24” make grouping natural.
  • Loose canvas allows you to stretch on custom frames when needed.
  • Acrylic paper pads are great economical practice surfaces.

Now that we’ve covered the “big three” – paints, brushes and surfaces – let’s look at other handy acrylic painting supplies.

Other Useful Acrylic Painting Supplies

While quality paint, brushes and canvas will get you started, there are a few other studio tools that acrylic painters find extremely helpful:

  • Palettes – For mixing paints; disposable, reusable, tear-off pad, stay-wet and more options.
  • Painting knives – Metal blades with wood or plastic handles for mixing, texturing.
  • Water containers – Essential for wetting brushes and thinning/blending paint.
  • Rags & paper towels – For brush cleaning, blotting spills, wiping palettes.
  • Easels – Standing or tabletop versions help prop canvases while painting.
  • Apron – Helps protect your clothing from paint splatters, smudges.
  • Spray bottle – Mist brushes/paints to prevent drying out.
  • Adhesives – Glue and matte gel medium can collage clippings, objects.
  • Varnish – Provides a protective coating when painting is complete.

These studio helpers make painting more enjoyable by keeping your creative space and tools organized. Now let’s review some recommended acrylic painting sets for every skill level and budget…

Top 5 Acrylic Paint Sets Recommended for Beginners

Here are our picks for the best quality, most user-friendly acrylic painting sets for beginners:

1. Best for Beginners – Artist’s Loft Acrylic Paint Set

  • Top quality student grade acrylics
  • 24 versatile, vivid colors
  • 5 essential brushes
  • 10″x12” canvas, palette, easel
  • Carrying case
  • Very affordable starter set

2. Best Value – Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Paint Set

  • Artist quality paints
  • 10 most popular colors
  • 3 Galeria brushes
  • Instructional DVDs included
  • Exceptional quality for price

3. Best for Variety – Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint Set

  • 48 flexible paints
  • 7 popular brushes
  • Multiple canvas, papers, mediums
  • Great for experimenting
  • Customizable based on needs

4. Best Splurge – Schmincke ACRYL Gouache Set

  • Ultra-premium professional paint
  • 15 highly pigmented colors
  • 3 premium Kolinsky sable brushes
  • Beautiful wooden box
  • High quality art materials

5. Best Portability – Artist’s Loft Fundamentals Portable Set

  • 15 versatile paints
  • 5 useful brushes
  • Palette, canvas, easel
  • Carrying case with shoulder strap
  • Lightweight and compact

Acrylic Paint Set FAQs – Your Most Common Questions Answered

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about selecting the ideal acrylic painting set:

Q: What is the difference between student and artist grade acrylic paints?

A: Student acrylics use less expensive pigments and fillers, so have lower pigment concentration and brightness. Artist quality paints use pure pigments for richer, brighter color. Student paints are great for beginners, while artist paints are better for finished works.

Q: What colors should I look for in a starter set?

A: A good starter set should have the primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (orange, purple, green), titanium white, mars black, and some earth tones like burnt umber and yellow ochre. This allows you to mix a wide range of hues.

Q: Are acrylic paint brushes different than other types?

A: Acrylic paint tends to be thicker than watercolor or oil. Acrylic brushes are made from synthetic hairs that can withstand the thick consistency and fast drying time. Stiff bristle brushes are best for textured techniques.

Q: Can I paint acrylics on regular paper or cardboard?

A: It’s best to use heavier art papers and surfaces specifically designed for acrylics. The paint contains plastic polymers and dries quickly. Thin papers may wrinkle. Canvases or acrylic paper pads are good starter surfaces.

Q: How essential are mediums and varnishes for acrylic painting?

A: Mediums like gloss or matte gel and flow improver are optional. They help modify acrylic’s consistency and appearance. Varnish provides a protective layer on finished pieces. For beginners, paint and brushes are enough to get started.

Unleash Your Inner Artist with the Perfect Acrylic Supplies

We hope this complete guide has taken the guesswork out of choosing an acrylic painting set as a beginner.

The key is to start with quality student grade paints, natural hair brushes, and canvases in a portable set. This gives you all the essentials to learn acrylic painting techniques without a huge investment.

Once you’ve experimented and gained experience, you can upgrade to professional acrylics and more specialized brushes to refine your skills. The artistic journey is meant to be gradual and enjoyable.

Remember to choose acrylic paint colors that offer a balance of primary, secondary, and neutrals. This gives you endless mixing possibilities.

Most importantly, focus on the joy of self-expression. Be patient with yourself as you learn. Art is creativity in action, so make the most of every colorful brushstroke!

Let us know if you have any other questions as you select your acrylic supplies. We hope you’ll share your acrylic painting experiences. Now get ready to unlock your inner artist! Happy painting!

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