artist and student quality feature

What Is The Difference Between Artist And Student Quality Paint?

Artist And Student Quality Paints.  How Do They Differ?

Artist and student quality paints do differ and your choice of paint can affect not only the painting itself but your enjoyment of the painting process.  Many beginners think that artist’s quality paints should only be used by professional artists.  While it is understandable to worry about wasting your paint and money especially when learning it would be pointless to buy the most expensive paint and be so anxious about using it that it sits in your toolbox for years!  It should be simple but the vast amount of technical information on artist and student quality paint tubes these days can be mind boggling.  Painting should be fun and by understanding a bit more about the difference between artist and student quality paint you can make the best choice for you.


artist and student quality paints golden

The Lowdown On Artist And Student Quality Paints

Artist or Professional quality paints offer the widest colour range and vary on price depending on the pigment used.  There will be little colour shift and greater coverage.

Student quality paints are cheaper with colours usually being the same price. They have a limited colour range and greater colour shift.  Their coverage will be less.

The following terms help to explain the differences between artist and student quality paints.

Coverage is how well a paint colour covers another.

Hue is used in a paint name when a cheaper imitation pigment is used to replace a pure one. The colour saturation will not be as strong in a hue colour as it would in a pure pigment colour.

Colour shift is the difference you see in colour once the paint dries. This is due to the binder in the paint, which is usually white, becoming clear when dry and the paint colour darkening.  In student quality paints more binder will have been added and there will be greater colour shift.

Common Problems

Artists Colours have higher pigment load and when mixed with painting mediums keep their intensity.  Student grade paints contain more filler and use imitation pigments in smaller quantities.  You will find that it takes more paint to cover your canvas.  It can be false economy to buy student grade with its low pigment load and you will use more paint. Having said that student quality paints are very popular for painting murals and large scale pieces where longevity or quality of pigment may not be the priority.

Many students and painting beginners find colour mixing with student quality paints very frustrating.  They don’t always mix together as hoped and the colours will never be as vibrant as in artists colours.  This alone can hinder your enjoyment in learning to paint and puts many beginners off altogether.  Of course even student brands vary in quality and it is worth trying a few. Amsterdam Acrylic, below, is a great high quality student acrylic.


artist and student quality paints amsterdam

Top Tips

If and when you choose to upgrade from student quality paints to artists professional quality you can use your leftover student colours in the primary layers of your painting saving you some money.  Many artists also swap their student colours for artist colours gradually to ease the cost or use student quality earth colours while choosing the more exciting cadmiums, cobalts and quinacridones in artist quality.

Buy the best you can afford and enjoy painting without worrying about the pennies going down the drain.

Buy your artist and student quality paints and other Art Supplies online with Pullingers Art Shop.  We have great prices on your favourite brands including Golden, Liquitex, Amsterdam and Winsor & Newton.

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