Student vs. Artist Quality: What to Know When Buying Acrylic Paint
Many of you have wondered: what exactly is the difference between student grade and artist grade paint. Here's the skinny on why you might choose to pay the big bucks on paint or opt for the economical version.
Student grade paint, as the name implies, is often recommended to students. It's great for practicing painting and you can buy many colours right away without paying too much. Artist grade paint is very high quality paint. After painting for a while you will notice the characteristics of paint more and the high quality paint can't be beat ... except (of course) on price!
Pigment saturation in student quality paint is quite low. A small amount of pigment is used and then mixted with the acrylic polymer. Their are other fillers that are used in student grade paint that are a cheap way to "bulk" it up OR "fill the tube". A popular material that is used to bulk up paint is calcium carbonate. This will give your paint a chalky, flat finish.
In a tube of artist grade paint the pigment is at the highest quantity which will give you very saturated colour. The quality of the acrylic polymer is higher in artist grade paint and so it forms a strong film with excellent clarity that further enhances colour.
When mixing colours the artist grade colour will be much stronger than the same colour in student grade. I have found that an artist grade Titanium white will be much more saturated and opaque than a student grade because of the meek pigment load.
Certain colours are too expensive to make in student grade lines of paint. Take for example, cadmium red. This pigment is expensive and won't appear in student grade paint. Student grade paint lines will often mix a colour that looks slightly similar to cadmium red but they call it "cadmium red hue". Don't be deceived because they aren't the same colour and won't behave in the same way.
When buying student grade paint all of the tubes are usually the same price and cheap at that when compared to artist grade paint.
In artist grade paint the pricing is more complex. Some of the pigments used in artist grade paint are quite expensive and so certain colours will be higher priced than others. Many times the colours will be grouped into categories of prices usually referred to as series. Series 1 colours are usually the least expensive and series 7 colours are the most expensive.