Acrylic Paints Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Acrylic Paints Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Acrylics Paint Guide - Artist Paints

Acrylic paint is one of the most popular materials among beginners and professionals as it offers a multiplicity of advantages. They are composed of the mixture between pigments and synthetic resin that allow them to be soluble in water and not emit unpleasant odours, the latter means that when applied to certain support, it dries quickly.

It also means that it is not necessary to use solvents to dilute the paint or to clean the tools. All you need is an idea to be instantly captured and this is very convenient considering the accelerated times in which we live.

Once dry, acrylic is resistant to moisture and even the effects of sunlight so the color and gloss remain for decades. It is also ideal for transporting a work as it can be rolled up - in the case of a canvas - without the paint breaking. However, the most important thing is that they are not toxic.

But above all, the popularity of acrylics is due to their incredible versatility which allows them to easily change their consistency and create a wide variety of painting effects making the experience much simpler and more exciting. This product is often used to perform mixed techniques with other elements such as spatulas, rollers, different types of brushes, sponges, or varnishes. In this way, textures can be created, a satin or gloss finish added or diluted and used as watercolors.

In addition, it has adhesive properties so that it can be used on various surfaces, not just the canvas. Acrylics can be applied to wood, metal, paper, fabrics and glass, among others.

Unlike other techniques such as watercolor, buying acrylic paint the gaps between the artist and the student are more diffuse. It all depends on what one wants to do with them. In this post, we will review the main criteria you should take into account when choosing your acrylics.

Choosing Acrylic Paint Colors

Colour - What colours do I need?

The number of colors available can be overwhelming to a beginner. In that case, it is advisable to limit yourself to colors and start with the basics. This will familiarize you with the techniques and textures. As well, it is very important to learn how to mix and understand their effects. You must consider that the same colors may vary in brightness according to the brand.

The essential thing is to start with the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Only with these three colors can you build the secondary colors and even the whole color circle except for black and white with which you can obtain an almost infinite variety of shades either by darkening or lightening the color. But first, we must take into account that the mixing of colors can quickly end up in a brown. To avoid this, you should start with the lightest color and gradually add the darkest one until you get the desired color or shade.

Global Colours student acrylic range 75ml

As you expand your palette with new colors, try to have at least one cold color (such as cadmium red, vermilion, ochre yellow or ultramarine blue) and one warm color (such as Phthalo blue, lemon yellow, crimson, pink Quinacridone). In any case, consider getting more of the essential colors: the primary colors, black and white.

For professional use, our gel mediums are thick consistency products that when applied to the paint slightly affects the color intensity. The more medium is added, the less intense the color becomes. This product comes in glossy and matte mediums, the former simulating the effect of gloss varnish and the latter softening the natural gloss of acrylics and resulting in a more opaque appearance.

There are also fluid mediums that are thinner than gel. Glazing mediums maximize flow as they are sensitive to water and consequently dilute the color intensity to produce smooth glazes.

There are plenty of options!


Quality - How do they vary?

The quality of acrylic paints is often a determining factor for many. Artist Paints currently offers several qualities that vary between Student Acrylics, Artistic Acrylics, and Professional Acrylics from the Global Colors brand, a product distributed in Australia of high quality guaranteed for more than 25 years.

Acrylic paints for students are generally the most accessible option as they are composed of a slightly lower pigment but this does not prevent outstanding results. They tend to be more fluid than professional acrylics so they are easier to handle, especially for small areas, and to expand the paint smoothly and evenly without leaving brush marks. However, they have sufficient viscosity as it does not sacrifice quality. They are viscous enough to spread properly and have a good covering power while being thick enough to create textural effects.

They come in a wide range of colors with bright pigments that you can play with creatively. They can be used for any artistic activity and due to their versatility they can be used with varnishes and gels.

On the other hand, Fine Art Acrylics are premium quality products that offer great versatility and open the door to a multitude of artistic creations. Use it with artists' media to create magic spills, mugs, and marble techniques. Available in opaque, semi-transparent, and transparent, this range is distinguished by its unrivaled intensity and brilliance. The components of this product are of the highest quality. They are semi-permanent, flexible, water-resistant, and fast-drying.

As for Professional Acrylics, they can have a higher viscosity than the previous products and are normally richer in pigments which means that they will have more color variety and look better and more saturated once applied. As they are more solid, a large number of effects and textures can be obtained but they require more skill. They currently come in flow and high flow, which vary according to the degree of viscosity.


Lightfastness/ Permanence: Will my colours fade?

Due to the chemical composition of acrylics, they keep their colors and gloss intact for decades because they are resistant to moisture and the effects of the sun. The permanence through time will depend on the quality of the product. The fastness to light of each color has been tested according to the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D4303 standard and can be checked on the back of the package. The scale starts with a small zero corresponding to the fastness of fewer than 10 years. If it has a + sign, it will have a strength of 10 to 25 years. If it has two ++ symbols, the paint will have a strength of 25 to 100 years and if it has three ++ symbols, it indicates that its excellent resistance to light is over 100 years. In the last two cases, the painting will only be effectively preserved under the lighting conditions of a museum.

Also, the color pigments have specific properties that vary between transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque, and opaque. In other words, they are classified by their total or partial covering power (opaque) or their transparency (which leaves the underlying color totally visible) with intermediate values. This information is usually relevant for consumers when performing certain techniques and, of course, it also influences the thickness of the layer.



Viscosity is a fundamental parameter for acrylics since it is the measure that determines how a liquid flows or resists a flow. Learning its characteristics will lead to better use of the paint and you will take better advantage of its benefits, such as incredible effects. If the acrylic is too thick, it will take longer to flow and therefore take longer to dry, but it will completely cover the surface. The opposite happens with a product of low viscosity. In both cases, it is not a question of positive or negative qualities but depends on the use you want to make of it. High viscosity acrylics are suitable for achieving texture, dry brush, and three-dimensional effects.

Our professional acrylics come in Flow and High Flow. The Flow line is a medium viscosity premium product available in 37 colors (opaque, semi-transparent, and transparent) from Global Colors. Its pigments are of the highest quality offering bright, pure, clean color tones, and all have the highest lightfastness. This product is ideal for decorative and artistic use as its versatility allows for various techniques on different surfaces. Compared to a high viscosity acrylic, it can be diluted with water and achieve a watery effect like watercolors. It is a lightweight, fast-drying, flexible and permanent item.

The High Flow paints are intensively pigmented low viscosity paints of professional quality. They can easily be mixed with a wide range of high-flow paints such as Global Flow and Global Professional Impasto. When applying this product, the colors are integrated due to their overlapping as the layers are ultra-thin. Thanks to its fast-drying and light density, it can be used in a wide range of applications such as liquid art, drawing, airbrushing, mixed techniques, etc. Therefore, the materials that can be used are surprisingly varied like refillable markers, brushes with ultra-fine to thick lines, airbrushes, spatula, immersion pens or simply pouring it over the work. As a result, professional artists can freely create all kinds of painting genres. However, this line is ideal for use with pouring medium and chain gel medium for those who wish to pour, puddle, and drip their acrylic paints to create a liquid art effect.

As an alternative to this line, we have modelling paste which is a gel medium whose function is to increase consistency. It can be sculpted using a spatula or the same brush. It is the best option for creating pronounced impasto effects. Fluid mediums, on the other hand, serve to increase the fluidity of the acrylic. Glazing mediums allow the paint to spread easily or Pouring mediums that when added to paint creates a thinner, more fluid consistency, ideal for pouring paint, an increasingly popular technique.


Drying times. Why might I need longer drying times?

Although the slight drying of acrylic is considered a great advantage, many artists need to slow down the drying to have more handling of the paint for the floating and shadowing techniques. The product known as Drying Retarder is a translucent gel that serves to extend the drying time. It is also water-soluble and dries by evaporation of the water which forms an elastic film. This product must be applied in small quantities; otherwise, it can ruin the film and negatively affect the qualities of the paint. After testing, this gel will become an indispensable complement.