Studio artists and hobby artists can spend a chunk of money on artist paint. I prefer acrylic paints over working with oil or watercolor based products due to their flexibility, convenience, and quick drying time. My brand review focuses on acrylic brands that I have used extensively or frequently enough to review fairly. Before you spend your precious dollars on paint or stock up your studio, read this review. All of the brands I am mentioning here are worth buying, but some are better than others. I personally use acrylic paint for murals and works on canvas, including my wood art box work. Here are 8 brands worth buying and several honorable/special mentions.
If you are a beginner you might want to start with craft paint until you get the hang of it, since they are available in small bottles and an array of colors at low cost- usually $2-3/bottle. This is the most cost effective paint, but you get what you pay for, as in all things. If you have some painting under your belt and you want to get away from the liquid paint bottles (consistency of milk), you are ready for paint with a little thickness. You can start with paint in tubes which come in many colors and cost between $3-6/tube at most hobby stores. When you are adept with that paint, you can try your hand at the nicer brands I'm reviewing here. Start at the lower end with a few tubes in basic and primary colors, or buy a starter set to play around with.
Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic Artist Paint
Cheapest: This is very inexpensive acrylic artist paint available in tubes of different sizes. This brand is about the texture of mustard. It goes on thin and can be a bit splotchy, requiring extra layers for full coverage. It's available at Walmart and is a good beginner paint for crafters and those learning to work on wood or canvas. You can also use it on art paper. This paint does not have a high UV rating, so it will fade quickly in the sun. Consider this when planning your projects.
Liquitex Basics Acrylic Artist Paint
This is a great and affordable brand for taking that leap from cheap paint to better tube paint. It also comes in jars for larger projects. This is a student level paint that gives you better coverage, higher pigmentation, and it can be blended much better than liquid craft paint. It also performs much better for graphic paintings with clean lines . It doesn't drip when working on an easel. It will start your journey with artist acrylic paint, and you can practice skills with this brand. It goes on somewhat thin, so it may require more coats, depending on your project. It's also good for posters and crafts. If you like layering, you can get away with using this paint in your work. The canvas will show right through a single coat, so consider that. Amsterdam is a similar brand .
Windsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Artist Paint
This paint has a bit more body than Liquitex Basics and goes on in a similar fashion. I find it blends a little better too. It's worth paying that little bit more and it will improve the look of your work. It's very smooth and lasts a long time if you're good about capping off your tubes promptly. If you forget to cap the tubes between use, it will dry up like a rock. The UV rating is decent.
Grumbacher Academy Acrylic Artist Paint
This paint is very similar to the Windsor & Newton brand. It has slightly more pigmentation and very nice body which stays on the brush and goes where you want it to, not where you don't. Highly blendable. Great value for a moderate price. Keep those caps on and it will last. It also has a decent UV rating.
Lukas Cryl Studio Soft Body Fine Art Acrylic Artist Paint
This paint is available in tubes or economical bottles of 250 or 500 mls. It has a good UV rating for such an affordable paint. It's the consistency of pudding, blendable, and smooth. I like to use this paint with certain techniques I often use in murals and on canvas. It works well with matte medium for creating layers, which I love to do in my work. (I have a slight addiction to Liquitex matte medium, not gonna lie.) Applied in layers/coats, this paint produces lovely effects and comes in many colors that can be mixed into endless shades. For this it gets my personal award for economy of budget and flexibility of application. I keep a lot of this around with gallons of matte medium when doing sheer layering work. It brings me such joy!
Chroma A2 Soft Body LIGHTFAST Professional Acrylic Artist Paint
I literally hoard this paint and I love to use it. The colors are rich, the UV rating is high, the texture is dreamy, and it blends so perfectly. Even the tubes are beautiful. I always have this in my studio. I can only gush over this paint. Buy yourself some as a treat.
Derivan Matisse STRUCTURE Professional Acrylic Artist Paint
Oh my! Matisse is another star paint brand in my book. It has excellent body and pigmentation, UV rating, and performance on paper or canvas. I have not used this one in murals yet, but it's only a matter of time before I do that special mural where I'm willing to spend the money on this glorious paint. It can be used in many techniques with much success, producing color from sheer to bold. Love it!
Liquitex Soft Body Professional Acrylic Artist Paint
I use Liquitex Soft Body acrylic artist paints on a very regular basis. This is excellent paint. It also comes in the heavy body version and many sizes from small tubes to large jars. I have done entire murals, a full series of paintings, and individual works on canvas with this paint. It is my go to paint brand, and I'm not getting any pay for saying this. It's just my love for the brand and how it has served me in my work. It's absolutely reliable and worth the price. I favor the Liquitex professional matte medium and varnish as well. For the price it has excellent coverage on the first coat and enough body to create texture, depending on the method of application. The UV rating is high and the colors and texture hold up , even in outside murals.
Here's a visual of how these paint brands compare on artist paper in shades of green. You can see the variety of pigmentation even though they were applied with the same brush in one coat. Remeber that if you paint in layers you can combine different paints for different levels of pigmentation in your work.
Other Acrylic Artist Paint Brands to Consider
If you are an abstract artist you might like to try Sennelier Acrylic Pouches which you can find here. They also sell pouch tip sets for a variety of effects working directly from the pouch. I have not yet tried this brand, but it's become very popular and the colors look luscious.
Arteza is gaining in popularity as artists are finding it to have very good coverage and body. I've only dabbled with it so I can't say. Next time I restock I will try it out with regularity.
Golden Acrylic Professional Acrylic Artist Paint is among the best of the best acrylic artist paint products on the market, and some artists use it exclusively. It is worth the price if you can afford to buy it. You will find that the more expensive paints go on like a dream and make your work easier. Other higher end brands are Charvin, Nova Color, Holbein, and Ultrecht. The best way to try out these brands is to watch for a sale from an artist paint supplier, and try out a few or buy a set on sale when they run specials. The holiday season and January are a good time to plan these purchases because that's when the sales happen most frequently. I stay on the mailing list of Jerry's Artarama and Dick Blick Materials so I can watch for these sales. I also visit the Jerry's location in Greensboro, NC whenever I can to catch sales, and it's like a fantasy land for artists in there. Schedule a trip if you can.
There are many brands designed exclusively for street art, so look into these if you are doing exterior mural work by hand: Chroma mural paint, Nova Color Mural Paint, and Soho. Mural spray paint brands are a whole other story, and I have yet to do a spray paint mural, so I won't be reviewing those products.
Ultimately, you want to purchase the best paint your can afford for your budget, and at the best price so you can buy more. Who doesn't want more paint? Nobody I know! Rather than walking into an artist supply store unprepared and ready to binge shop - we all know how easy it is to do that - make a plan according to what is best for your art practice. Pick the colors you use most and make a list, then shop for the best brand and the best source depending on where you live. Once you have a supply, you are ready to get into your new paint and make some art. Enjoy the process!