Best Heavy-Body Acrylic Paints for Students and Beginners

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Whether you’re new to acrylics or looking for a set for practice and experimentation, purchasing low-priced paints can be a smart route to take. You can save money while feeling less worried about the amount of paint you’re using, and it can also be fun to buy colors from different brands to figure out your favorites. Heavy-body acrylics, as the name suggests, have a high viscosity and are ideal for artists working in the impasto technique to create highly textural artworks. High-end products tend to feel almost like luxurious, buttery oils, but entry-level or hobbyist acrylics can actually get quite close to this consistency. The main drawback is that these paints don’t offer the same degree of longevity. Still, if your main goal is to learn or to hone your skills, we can recommend a number of solid choices.

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Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Paints and Sets
The Galeria line is an incredibly popular student-grade acrylic paint, and for good reason. The quality of these paints has long remained consistent, keeping people loyal to the brand for years, and there’s a broad range of 56 colors to choose from. Workable right out of the tube, Galeria paints are full-bodied yet easy to thin or further thicken using the brand’s mediums; they’re also very blendable without muddying and are heavily saturated. They aren’t as buttery as a higher- grade acrylic like Golden, but they’re still stiff and thick, and thus highly capable of retaining brushstrokes.

Grumbacher Academy Acrylic Paints and Sets
If you’re a student seeking a bit of an upgrade, consider Grumbacher’s acrylics. These have a higher pigment load than Winsor & Newton’s paints—in fact, colors showcase the most saturation out of all the paints on this list. They are thick but not sluggish, with pigment gliding on in response to the pull of your painting tools. Grumbacher offers an excellent selection of 48 colors made with thoughtfully sourced pigments, including several pure cadmiums. They blend together without looking dingy, and they dry to a subtle, soft sheen.

Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paints and Sets
Liquitex’s paints are another great option, especially for artists who have no experience with heavy-body paints and want something that’s both user-friendly and economical. Being slightly thinner than our top two picks, they are highly responsive to brushstrokes and are superbly easy to blend. Paints also go on smoothly and dry true to color. These aren’t the most vibrant acrylics, and they have a slightly plasticky feel when dry, but this is a low-stakes paint to experiment with as you familiarize yourself with building texture.

Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Paint
A medium-viscosity paint that’s a little heavier than Liquitex Basics, this option from Utrecht is ideal for classroom settings, group activities, and other projects that call for high-volume use. Paints are available in 32-ounce jars—the largest size on this list—which is the best value for those who want to spend less while getting a lot more. In terms of performance, this acrylic is easy to build up to produce sculptural effects, and a little does go a long way. The colors are highly opaque, but they don’t show the sort of interesting nuance you’d observe when using Galeria or Academy paints. Utrecht also offers just 32 colors to choose from.

Blick Studio Acrylic Paints and Sets
Blick too produces a very affordable line of heavy-body acrylics with colors that are dependably consistent from tube to tube. Each paint is made from pigment that is ground using a triple-roll mill, a process that aids in pigment dispersal. The resulting paint presents a uniform, buttery texture that’s easy to work with and has good adhesive properties. However, the color intensity is not as strong as that of the paints we have rated more highly.


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