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Heavy-body acrylics are vital for artists who love playing with texture. These paints feature a higher viscosity than liquid paint, which makes them act almost like buttery oils, with improved ability to retain brushwork and knife work once they dry. The very best heavy-body paints should contain no added extenders, opacifiers, fillers, or dyes. They should have outstanding lightfastness and show no cracking even when heavily built up. Achieve bold color and dramatic surface effects with our picks of the best, below.
Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Paints and Sets
Sumptuous, super buttery, and leaning on the soft side, Golden’s heavy-body paints are a favorite among artists of all levels. These professional-grade paints have a high pigment concentration so every mark is striking and stays true to color when dry. The pure acrylic can be built up into thick sections and will retain brushstrokes with clear and clean color. We like that Golden’s formula doesn’t rely on any flattening agents so the individual properties of pigments can come through, revealing nuances in body and finish. Golden offers an impressive range of 101 colors, the vast majority of which are single-pigment paints.
Purchase: Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Paints and Sets, $7.41—$143.66 on Dick Blick
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Holbein Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Paints and Sets
A close competitor of Golden’s, Holbein produces an even larger selection of heavy-body acrylics: 113 colors, to be exact. These are slightly less stiff than Golden’s, but they still excel at holding sturdy peaks, ridges, and voluminous strokes. Made in Japan, these paints are also especially good for artists who prefer that their colors all carry roughly the same viscosity and lustrous sheen. Heavily pigmented, they offer spectacular coverage while delivering on color vibrancy. They also have wonderful flexibility to guard against cracking, as well as a slower drying time than most acrylics, which provides more time for wet-on-wet painting.
Purchase: Holbein Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Paints and Sets, $8.94—$91.58 on Dick Blick
ANOTHER GOOD OPTION
Amsterdam Expert Series Acrylic Paints and Sets
Made in Holland, these paints stand out from the competition because they are alkali-resistant. The acrylic resin binder won’t break down from alkali in masonry, concrete, or stucco, making them particularly well suited for outdoor projects, such as painting murals. Whether or not you use these acrylics to paint walls, this is a highly spreadable heavy-body paint with flexible film that’s formulated to showcase intense colors. As with Holbein’s paints, different colors carry a uniform gloss finish, which helps to create a cohesive look if you’re painting large areas. We also like that these are packaged in clear, recyclable tubes, which give you an immediate view of what you’re working with.
Purchase: Amsterdam Expert Series Acrylic Paints and Sets, $5.19—$33.05 on Dick Blick
TOP OF THE LINE
Lascaux Artist Acrylic Paints and Sets
These are the crème de la crème of their class. Brilliant, opaque, and intensely pigmented, Lascaux’s acrylics actually feel almost like oil paint. The binder is stickier than that used in other formulas, yielding a paint that is slick and buttery. Pigments are finely milled and evenly dispersed, and colors look full of energy. All 54 hues dry to a silky, satiny finish with virtually no shrinking or cracking. And the tubes have a nice touch, with each label bearing a hand-painted band of color to display the exact shade inside.
Purchase: Lascaux Artist Acrylic Paints and Sets, $11.13—$85.50 on Dick Blick
Utrecht Artists’ Acrylic Paint and Sets
Developed and milled by Utrecht’s team of artisans in Brooklyn, these artist-quality acrylics are a little more affordable than others on our list. Whether you like to apply paint with a palette knife or a brush, these paints carry a rich, creamy consistency and remain pigmented no matter how you manipulate them. Our only gripes: Some colors aren’t as opaque as their counterparts in other brands, like Golden, and they tend to dry faster than other heavy-body paints, giving you less time to blend and build up texture.
Purchase: Utrecht Artists’ Acrylic Paint and Sets, $5.72—$224.09 on Dick Blick