Acrylic paint is available in qualities, consistencies, and varieties. Local art supply establishments generally carry gouaches, student Grade paints, artist grade paints, craft acrylics, and specialty acrylics. These are the most popular types of acrylics.


Student Grade Acrylics:

Student grade is usually the cheapest of the acrylic paints. Their working quality is similar to the more pricey artists’ varieties. However,  they usually have less pigment content. Recently,  paint manufacturers have made an effort to improve the quality of student grade paints. It is still suggested that you use artists quality paint if you can afford to.

Artists Grade Acrylics:

These are sometimes referred to as “professional-grade” paints.  This type of paint is made up of a higher proportion of pigment and a reduced amount of filler compared with student grade acrylics. It is more expensive to buy, partly due to the extra costs involved in manufacturing. Although, it is possible to cover a greater area with the same amount of paint due to the greater intensity of color. In addition, the pigments used in the manufacturing process are also more expensive and superior to those used in student grade acrylics. Artists’ acrylics are the preferred choice if you can afford them.



In comparison to acrylics, gouache paint dries quickly but can be reworked on its surface long after the artwork is completed. Acrylics will dry quickly and permanently and can not be reanimated with water once they have dried. Gouache and acrylic paint are very comparable.

Gouache and acrylic can be mixed although certain gouache colors, (pinks and violets, can react with the alkaline acrylics. Gouache is designed for opaque methods of painting. Gouache paint is best used in thin layers. 


Specialty Acrylic Paints 

Specialty acrylic paints have a wide variety of properties and can be used to create unique painting effects.  They are available in professional grade and the lower priced craft grade. Some of the main types of specialty acrylics include Iridescent, Light Interference, Glitter and Fluorescent paints;

  • Iridescent Acrylics have a metallic appearance such as gold, silver, aluminum or copper. It is also possible to buy one which has a pearl-like appearance.  They can be used on their own to create a startlingly dramatic effect or mixed with other acrylics to create a sheen effect.
  • light Interference Paints appears to change color according to the viewpoint of the observer due to differing reflective qualities of the paint.  It occurs when light is both reflected and refracted simultaneously.  When this type of paint is applied over a dark surface it can have an even more dramatic effect. They are often used in the painting of a fantasy scenes or when depicting light interference qualities which are found in nature.
  • Glitter Paints contain large metallic particles and are available in a range of metallic colors including silver, gold and copper.
  • Fluorescent Acrylics reflect a high level of bright color and appear to glow. The glowing effect can also be achieved by backlighting a painting which has this type of paint.


Craft Acrylics

Craft acrylic paint generally comes in small bottles which have pop-up tops. This type of paint has a smooth consistency, resulting in the painted surface having a non-transparent and non-three-dimensional effect. Caution should be used when painting a vertical surface or wall because it does have a tendency to drip and run. Craft acrylics are generally inexpensive and are well suited to be used for creating murals and decorative paintings.


The rise in popularity of acrylics is mainly due to its extreme versatility as a painting medium and relatively low cost. With such a diverse range of acrylics paints available limitless creative possibilities are available to the artist.