Best Acrylic Paint for Beginners – You Might Be Surprised!

Acrylic Paint for Beginners: The Basics You Need to Know

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used for a variety of different painting styles and applications. If you’re new to the world of painting, the vast array of brands, colors, and types of paint can be overwhelming. Today, I will share what my favorite acrylic paint for beginners is and why.

3 tubes of Liquitex Basics paint beside 3 bottles of Plaid Folk Art Paint on white background

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Types of Acrylic Paint

There are two main types of acrylic paint: student-grade and artist-grade.

Student-grade acrylics are typically less expensive and have lower pigmentation levels than artist-grade paints.

As a result, they may not be as opaque or have as much pigmentation as artist-grade paints.

However, student-grade paints are a great option for beginner painters or those working on smaller projects.

Some are listed as craft paints but work very well for beginner painters.

Read on to see a side-by-side comparison of a popular student-grade paint and a great quality craft paint.

Student Grade vs Plaid FolkArt Paint

Liquitex Basis is considered a student-grade acrylic paint and I see many beginner painting tutorials being created using them.

I started my painting career using Plaid FolkArt paint.

I have always enjoyed the affordability and the quality of the Plaid FolkArt matte and the Multi-Surface line of paints and use them in my tutorials.

My curiosity about the difference between the two lead me to conduct a side-by-side comparison as I want what works best for my students and to keep the price point of painting supplies affordable for most.

Plaid Folkart

Acrylic Paint Set

This 24-bottle set has a great selection of colors I often use in my tutorials. You can buy these at your local hobby/craft store or you can check out this set on Amazon. I have seen it for $29 so if today’s price is higher put it on a wish list and keep checking and wait for it to come back down.

The Test

To conduct the test I used my Canson Mixed Media pad and my favorite flat brushes.

I bought a Liquitex Basics paint set from Amazon, it has some basic colors that would work well for many painting lessons.

The size of the tubes in the set is .75 ounce. So that is just under an ounce in each tube.

I have loads of FolkArt Matte and Multi-Surface paints and tried to find a set you could purchase easily from Amazon that has many of the colors I use most often in my painting tutorials.

This is what I found and I ordered one. Even though I already have these colors I wanted to be sure that what you would get from Amazon was fresh and not old or gloppy.

When I ordered it the set was $39 with free shipping but the price fluctuates. The week before I was looking at it and it was $29 with free shipping.

So if you see it at a much higher price, save it in a wish list and wait for it to come down in price or you may get a better price buying the colors I often list in my lessons at Hobby Lobby, Michaels or JoAnn’s (watch their sale fliers, you can get some screamin’ deals)

DecoArt Americana is also a great brand that in my experience matches Plaid FolkArt in quality and opacity.

Note: Plaid also makes other paints like Apple Barrel which has less pigment and won’t work as well as the FolkArt.

I painted swatches side by side using each paint.

Though the color names are not the same I tried to find colors that were comparable to each other for a fair test.

paint swatches painted onto a canson multi-media pad

And here is what I found:

Brown Acrylic Paint Color

A brown I use extensively is Burnt Umber and the Liquitex set includes that color.

I painted a swatch of Liquitex Burnt Umber then painted Plaid Folk Art Burnt Umber and Real Brown to the right of it.

burnt umber acrylic paint

The Plaid FolkArt is clearly more opaque.

What does opaque mean? Opacity is lacking transparency. Less opaque is more transparent.

Can you see how the Liquitex Burnt Umber lets you see the paper beneath?

So the Plaid FolkArt has more pigment load and will not require as many coats to create good coverage. That is what you want.

Purple Acrylic Paint

Dioxazine Purple is a beautiful deep color and is hard to beat for many things.

Again I painted a swatch of the Liquitex on the left and Plaid FolkArt on the right.

dioxazine purple

The oranges were very comparable in coverage. Oranges and reds in acrylics are notoriously transparent.

Red Acrylic Colors

Starting left to right in these reds is Liquitex Primary Red, Plaid FolkArt Apple Red, Plaid FolkArt Engine Red, Liquitex Alizarin, and then Plaid FolkArt Cardinal Red.

Red acrylic paint colors swatches

The Plaid FolkArt Apple and Cardinal Red are much more opaque than either Liquitex and the Engine Red is slightly more opaque.

So the Plaid FolkArt reds have better coverage than the Liquitex.

Black Acrylic Paint Colors

The blacks were all about the same opacity to me.

The Blue Colors

The Liquitex blue that comes in the set is Primary Blue and as you can see it is very close in color to Plaid FolkArt True Blue.

True Blue is slightly more opaque while the Plaid FolkArt Cobalt Hue is much more so but is obviously not as close in color.

blue acrylic paint swatches, Liqiutex verses Plaid FolkArt

Green Acrylics

The Liquitex set came with the Light Green Permanent and the Pthalo Green and none of the greens I usually use are really that close in color.

The top right and bottom right are the Liquitex colors while the rest are the Plaid Folkart.

Green acrylic paint swatches on a white background

Since I did not dig out the FolkArt matching colors for the ones included in the Liquitex colors this may not be a fair comparison but most of the FolkArt greens were noticeably more opaque than the Liquitex.

Acrylic Paint Pricing

Since the Plaid FolkArt paints are easily comparable or better in coverage than the Liquitex now we need to look at the pricing.

Plaid FolkArt paint comes in 2-ounce bottles (some colors come in larger ones too) and the Liquitex Tubes were nearly an ounce, so about half the size.

The price I paid for the Liquitex set came to about $2.33 per tube.

I pick up Plaid FolkArt paints at hobby stores many times for under $2. Being the quantity of paint in each bottle is about double what you get in the Liquitex Basics paints I would say that the Plaid FolkArt is the better deal.

Add on top of that you will use less paint for coverage.

If you were to buy the larger tubes of Liquitex, which are 4 ounces, you would pay about $5.99 a tube. (unless you hit a wonderful sale)

Plaid Folkart

Acrylic Paint Set

This 24-bottle set has a great selection of colors I often use in my tutorials. You can buy these at your local hobby/craft store or you can check out this set on Amazon. I have seen it for $29 so if today’s price is higher put it on a wish list and keep checking and wait for it to come back down.


With that all being said, I am not here to trash anyone’s product.

I wanted to see if I was serving you best with the paint I have been recommending from the beginning of my acrylic painting tutorials.

Use the colors in the set!

Easy Color Mixing

Mixing colors is a great way to get a wider range of paint colors from a limited selection. This is called a limited palette. That is where it is great to know how color mixing can work for you to create a wide range of colors.

And now that I have tested it out and am reassured that using the Plaid FolkArt paints is just as good or better than the Basics, I will continue to use them.

laziest way to

Varnish or Seal a Painting

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned artist, learning how to properly seal an acrylic painting is an important skill. Thankfully, sealing your painting is a straightforward process that anyone can do.

I hope you found this helpful and enlightening.

Happy Painting!

FAQs about Acrylics

Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made from pigment suspended in acrylic resin. Acrylics were first developed in the 1930s but didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1950s. They can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, wood, metal, and glass. And one of the best things about acrylics? They can be thinned with water, which makes them very versatile. You can make them thinner, like watercolor, or add medium to them for impasto or layered effects.

Sealing your acrylic painting has so many benefits that my answer is yes. Some of the paints I use are self-sealing (multi-surface and enamels) yet I still will put a sealing coat on all my paintings. Since I often mix the acrylics I use this also will make the entire painting uniform in glossiness.

Priming your canvas is not absolutely necessary but take a look at this article that explains why it will make things easier. Gesso Your Canvas for Better Paintings!

There is some basic supplies to help you get started on your painting journey and this will tell you not only what you need but why. Basic Painting Supplies for Beginners in Acrylics.

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Acrylic paints on white background with text overlay: Acrylic Paints for Beginners, which is best? a side by side comparison, pamela groppe art

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