Different Types of Acrylic Paints NEW

Different-Types-of-Acrylic-Paints : A Detailed Discussion

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Acrylic paints have their charms! Therefore, from newbies to experts, all look for these paints. But among the plethora of options, it gets difficult to pick suitable types, especially the ones that fit your preferences. And for that, you first need to know the different types of acrylic paints.

Indeed, acrylic paints can be different in terms of their load of pigmentation and viscosity. In the former category, there are mainly three different paints. And in the latter, they are six varieties mainly for professional works. 

Once you get familiar with the varieties, it can be more challenging to choose a type. Because all of their features might seem attractive. To get rid of such a situation, I’ll also describe the factors needed to decide the best one.

Different Types of Acrylic Paint Based on Pigment Quality

Not all acrylic paint is the same in color quality. Ever wondered why? Because the pigments or core components of the paints provide them with different color quality.

After suspending the pigments or granular solids in polymer emulsion, they are used to produce differently pigmented acrylic paints. This is what I’m going to show you now –

1. Craft Paint

The name craft paint is self-explanatory suggesting that it is ideal for crafting purposes. Manufacturers do not add enough pigments to these paints. Therefore, the color depth of these paints is not high.

As the pigments or additive primates are less in amount, I found the paints kind of muddy and creamy in consistency. And such pigment consistency makes it extremely difficult to mix them to produce different colors.

Therefore, craft paints are available in a wider range of shades and colors. 

These paints are high in fillers or additive materials that bring out a thickness suitable for painting on almost any surface.

That said, this particular type is not fun to mix and play with! As they do not mix well, let alone blend them to come up with different shades. 

2. Student Grade Paint

When it comes to staying within budget and quality pigment load, I’d say the student grade wins the race. This acrylic paint is basically for beginners getting into the fine arts. 

The manufacturers use cheaper yet quality fillers to give the paints a vibrant pigment. Also, additives make the consistency more manageable in blending than craft paints. You do not have to look for or buy separate shades of these paints as mixing them is easier to create multitudes of colors. 

The amount of fillers used is dependent on the nature of the colors of these paints. Natural pigments like cobalt blue will contain more additives than secondary or synthetic colors. A more amount of pigment means a more uniform finish. 

However, the more this student-grade paint gives a smoother finish, the less shiny they look. So, the synthetic shades look more vibrant than the others. 

3. Professional Grade Paint

The Professional grade paints also go by the Artist Quality paints title, making it pretty obvious that they are for professional artists or advanced painters. The consistency, opacity, and texture are different depending on the varying colors or pigments.

So, it is difficult for newbies to experiment with these colors unless they have enough knowledge of color mixing. 

The ratio of pigments used in them is higher than the additives or extenders added. Also, the manufacturers use single pigment colors instead of multiple pigment colors in one shade. Therefore, the colors look more vibrant on the canvas rather than looking lifeless due to the huge amount of additives. 

After mixing the colors, the heavily pigmented ones do not overshadow the muted shades, unlike the craft and student-grade paints. Rather, this type of acrylic is infamous for letting each pigment shine through. 

Now that you can separate three basic types of acrylic paints based on pigment quality, let me take you on a detailed ride. Yes! The category list just does not end here as described below.

Different Types of Acrylic Paint Based on Viscosity 

Once you know all the nooks and crannies of acrylic paints, you will definitely want to explore more. Then, consistency or viscosity comes into play! And to produce versatile works with paints, choosing different consistency-oriented paints is crucial.

In order to make the process easy-peasy, here is what you need to learn –

1. Heavy Body Paints

Heavy body paints are thicker in consistency almost butter-like. They retain their texture on all surfaces. So, they are good for creating projects that can highlight brush strokes or peaks. 

Specifically, for artists that use the impasto technique a lot, the category nails the purpose.

For spreading the colors, not only brushes but also knives are ideal, which is not the case with other consistency types. The plus side is a minimum amount of fluid medium that can thin down the consistency of the paints. So, professionals can work on multiple textures with these. 

2. Soft Body Paints

Guess what? This type is exactly the opposite of the heavy body in terms of viscosity. The consistency is cream-like, which is almost similar to the craft paint ones. Soft body or fluid paints are thinner, that’s the reason why they are easier to deal with in color mixing.

Without heavy strokes, they can combine well. Making it fun for the artists that prefer the acrylic paint pouring technique to pour mixture over the canvas. Whether you pour the fluid in a zig-zag technique or circular motion, the consistency let it spread evenly.

Its capacity to keep the opacity intact works as an eraser. Not kidding, you can literally hide your previous layers of mistakes by adding another layer to it.

However, the paint does not hold peaks or brush strokes. So, making the layers stand out in strokes is difficult with this consistency.

3. Acrylic Inks

Acrylic inks or high-flow paints are the most fluid in consistency. Their ink-like flow makes a good pair with paint markers and airbrushing technique. So, if in need of adding splashes, drips, and watercolor effects on the surface, rely on this type without any worries!

Detailed linework can be hard to pull off for newbies. But with acrylic inks, it is nothing but a piece of cake! Nonetheless, as the surface soaks them quickly and they spread fast, blending can be a miss or hit depending on the speed of strokes. 

4. Acrylic Gouache 

Acrylic Gouache is a hybrid between acrylic and watercolor, different from the traditional gouache or water-based color used in the Renaissance era. It gives off a matte and velvety consistency. And as its pigmentation is intense, it has a vibrant look. 

This hybrid gouache does not require water to apply on every surface. However, mixing water with it can give it a more flowy consistency, like the acrylic inks. 

Adding a layer to the watercolor projects leaves room for smearing. But with this type, re-applying and overpainting is easier. Also, once it dries, it reactivates the layer for touch-ups and fixing, keep in mind.

5. Acrylic Markers

With the advancement in technology, the acrylic paint industry is stepping up its games with acrylic paint markers. This is almost similar to the acrylic ink type but with more vibrancy.

The term marker does not mean that you will have them in the form of pens or markers. But you can also get these water and oil-based paints in spray bottles. 

Since the consistency is flowy, the paints make a good choice to paint on posters, porous surfaces, and cardboard. Moreover, the markers and spray bottles help to create controlled and detailed line works even on glasses, unlike other acrylic paints. 

6. Slow Drying Acrylic

Slow-drying acrylic paints have the in-between consistency of soft and heavy body paints. As a result, it dries slower than the other types of acrylic. 

It is smooth to mix and create other shades. Also, overpainting upon the previous layer is possible without any significant smear. As they dry slowly, storing them in a wet palette reduces the chance of paint wastage. This type is suitable for trying out painting techniques impossible with oil-based colors.

What to Consider for Choosing the Best Type of Acrylic Paint?

The numerous options of acrylic paints can be intimidating to some, especially if you are just trying to baby walk with these colors! So, how will you find the best type for you? For that, note down the factors I’ve listed below –

Purpose and Level

First thing first, you need to figure out your level of skills and knowledge with acrylic paintings. There is no use of a professional grade type set if you have never painted before. Because with those, it can be almost impossible to hide the mistakes you have made on your canvas.

And it can be quite demotivating to carry on. If you are new to the acrylic world, student-grade, craft paint, and paint markers are enough to practice with. Once you level up, you are free to experiment with any type listed above. 

Then, keeping your purpose is a smart move before buying random paint types. For example, if the purpose is to try out different painting techniques, prefer to get a soft, heavy body, and gouache. Because these types and versatile techniques go together like milk and cookies. 

Also, if you want to get acrylic paints for your kids, specifically, for school projects, then choose paint markers, crafts, or soft-body paints. These types are easily manageable without making a big mess. 


Acrylic paints do not come at a cheaper cost. And based on their types, the price varies. If you do not have any breathing room in your budget, craft paint and acrylic markers can save you. They are easily available at different stores ranging from a dollar to $7. 

All the other paints are expensive as they are high in pigmentation and opacity. So, for quality paints that you can play along and explore, you need to compromise on your savings. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are All Acrylic Paints Suitable for Any Surface?

No, all types of acrylic paints are not suitable for every surface out there. For example, high-flow ink and soft body paints are not ideal for glass, A4 papers, and posters.

On the other hand, paint markers do not make a good pair with canvas. And thin surfaces are not good for professional grades. 

Why the Craft Acrylic Paint is Cheaper?

Craft paints are cheaper because they do not contain enough quality pigments. Most of their components are fillers or extenders that produce low-quality colors. The shine of each pigment is not visible in these colors. As manufacturers use cheaper substitutes, their price is also within budget. 

What Type of Acrylic Paint is the Best?

In terms of quality, the heavy body and the professional grades are the best acrylic paints. Because their pigmentation and compatibility with almost any surface are praiseworthy.

Moreover, acrylic gouache is best for giving the taste of the two worlds-acrylic and watercolor. 

How the Acrylic Gouache is Different from the Traditional Gouache?

Traditional gouache paints take time in drying, unlike acrylic gouache. And as the consistency of the former is runnier, it does not give a velvety look. And it is not ready-to-use paint without mixing water first.

However, the latter is velvety and you can use it right from the tube.

Does All Types of Acrylic Paint Smell?

Yes, the acrylic paints do smell, and once the paints dry out the odor subsides. However, if the manufacturers add fragrant additives as they do to the markers, the smell can be pleasant.

Wrapping Up

Sometimes, the dried paints become completely odorless within three days. 

Different types of acrylic paints are ideal for different techniques, surfaces, and preferences. So, while going paint shopping, you must note down why and how you would use the paints.

Still, if you find yourself in the ocean of confusion, I recommend choosing the craft paints for starting out with acrylic. But in case you do not want to compromise on quality, go for professional-grade heavy body paints without thinking twice!

No matter which type of paint you choose, make sure to buy them from trusted stores or sites. Or their replicas can give you a hard time!

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