A Beginner's Guide to Choosing Paint

There are many different types of paints available for artists, and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. That’s why Artist’s Academy is here to provide a brief overview of three popular choices: acrylics, gouache, and oils.


Acrylics are a versatile paint that can be used on a variety of surfaces. They are water-based, which means they are easy to clean up. However, they dry fast, so it is important to work quickly or use a medium to slow down the drying time.

Quality: Look for professional-grade acrylic paint. It will be more expensive, but it will give you better coverage and consistency.
Types: Heavy body acrylic paint is a good choice for beginners because it is thick and opaque.
Pigments: Acrylic paints are made up of three parts: pigment, binder, and filler. Pigment is the most expensive part of the paint, and it is what gives the paint its color. Binder is the substance that holds the pigment particles together. Filler is a substance that is added to the paint to give it body and opacity.


Gouache is a water-based paint that is similar to watercolor, but it is more opaque. It is a good choice for creating flat washes of color.

Colors: A basic gouache palette should include a muted red, yellow, and black, as well as a cool gray and warm brown. You can also add brighter colors such as cadmium red, yellow, and ultramarine blue.
Mediums: There are a number of mediums that can be used with gouache to change its properties. For example, you can use a medium to increase the flow of the paint or to make it more transparent.
Layering: Gouache is not very transparent, so you can use watercolor pigments to create glazes over your gouache painting./p>

Oil Palette Set Up

Oil paints are a versatile and time-tested painting medium loved by artists for centuries. They are known for their rich colors, smooth blendability, and ability to create a variety of effects, from thin glazes to thick impasto textures.

Rich Colors: Oil paints offer a wide range of vibrant colors, due to the high quality pigments used.
Blending and Layering: The slow drying time of oil paints allows for smooth blending and creating layers of color. This is a technique used by many classic oil painters to achieve depth and realism.
Versatility: Oil paints can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, wood, and metal. They can also be applied in thin layers for glazes or in thick impasto strokes for a textured effect.
Durability: When properly cared for, oil paintings can last for centuries. The dried oil film is a strong and protective layer.
Setting Up a Basic Palette: Katie’s basic palette starts with lead white, then cadmium lemon, yellow ochre, alizarin permanent, sap green, ultramarine blue, raw umber, and Van Dyke brown. Oleo gel, a linseed oil gel, completes this core selection.

Mineral Pigments vs. Modern Pigments

Mineral pigments are pigments that have been used for centuries. They are made from natural materials such as rocks and minerals. Modern pigments are synthetic pigments that have been developed in recent years.

Lightfastness: Mineral pigments can sometimes fade over time. Modern pigments are generally more lightfast.
Chroma: Modern pigments often have a stronger chroma than mineral pigments. This means that they are more vibrant and saturated.
Mixing: It is important to experiment with different pigments to see how they mix together. Some pigments will become muddy when mixed, while others will retain their vibrancy.

Ultimately, the best type of paint for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Experiment with different types of paints to see what you like best.

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