Is Acrylic Painting Expensive?

It’s exciting to think about starting acrylic painting as your new hobby. However, many people are put off because they are worried about the cost. Its something that concerned me when I started. So it’s a good idea to know what you need to buy and how much the outlay is likely to be.

Acrylic painting can be expensive, however, it doesn’t have to be if you make a few smart choices. You can start acrylic painting for as little as ($29) £24 to ($44 ) £37 for a basic student range. This includes paint, brushes and a painting surface. As you improve and want to upgrade or buy a larger range of the more expensive tools you can spread the cost out.

Many people thinking of starting acrylic painting pick paints and tools that are the cheapest or recommended by artists selling their own range. This often leads to students either buying inferior paints and brushes or buying too much-unneeded equipment or courses. There are several things to know before you buy which will help to keep prices down and prevent it from becoming expensive.

Acrylic Painting Expenses, Cost & How To Keep Them Low 

Your initial outlay is your biggest expense. To keep this to a minimum. You don’t want to buy too many things you don’t really need. You can always add or upgrade your materials & tools later.

The basics you need to have so you can paint are the following:

  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Painting surface
  • A pencil 
  • Tracing/Baking paper
  • Pallette 

Acrylic Paint

Things you need to consider when buying paint to get the best paints but keep the cost down are:

  • The quality of the paint
  • The colors needed
  • Sets or individual paint tubes

Quality of the Paint

There are two things to consider when looking at paint quality. The first is that the paint comes in student quality and professional or artist quality. Professional quality is more expensive. There are lots of really great student quality paints you can buy. 

Using a good quality student paint can easily half the price you pay for artist quality paint. 

Make sure you get art paint and not crafting paint. 

The second is the actual quality of the brand of paint you are thinking of buying. The super cheap ones tend to be poor quality and dry to way too fast in my view. Yet many are very popular. I based the prices above on the student paints I actually use. These are good quality but not the lowest price.

What Color Acrylic Paints Do You Really Need to Buy 

Next is the money pit – color. If you buy every color you think you need or that is recommended it will cost a small fortune. Buy the basic colors and don’t be afraid to mix them.

You can keep the price right down by only buying only 4 to 5 paints, one color of each primary and white. If you do this buy a warm color, not a cool one.

  • Titanium White
  • Warm – Cadmium Yellow
  • Warm – Cadmium Red
  • Warm – Ultramarine
  • Yellow Ochre

I don’t recommend you buy only one color of each unless absolutely necessary. It’s worth the extra investment to buy 8 paints for the added flexibility you get. These few colors can mix literally hundreds

  • Titanium White
  • Warm – Cadmium Yellow
  • Warm – Cadmium Red
  • Warm – Ultramarine
  • Cool – Lemon Yellow
  • cool – Blue like Phalo or Cerulean
  • cool – Crimson red

In addition to the main colors discussed above I recommend that when you get a chance you also buy the following.

  • Yellow Ochre*
  • Burnt Umber*
  • Raw Umber
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna

*Get these 1st

Although you don’t need them to start with they are vital colors to get at some point in the future.

Acrylic Paint Beginner Sets Are A Good Way To Start

You can usually buy your paint in sets or individually or in tubes, bottles or pouches. Whether you decide to buy them as sets or individually will depend partly on your budget and where you live. Sets are more easily available in some areas than others.

It will also depend on your own preferences. You may prefer the convenience of buying a set or you may prefer to buy the exact colors you want.

Where I am located it is less initial outlay to buy the sets in tubes then individual acrylic paints. Once you are up and running then switch to individual paints and add any extra ones you feel you need. Bigger tubes and bottles of paint often work out more economical in the long run.

Example Of Pricing For Essentials

Basic One Color Kit
Acrylic Paints
(Example by Daler & Rowney)
6 22ml Colors£12/US $15/
Can $21/AUS $23
Brushes£6/ US $7.50/
Can $10.50/AUS 11.50
Painting SurfaceCanvas Boards£6/ US $7.50/
Can $10.50/AUS 11.50
TOTAL £24/$30 US/
CAN $42/AUS $46
Basic Two Color Kit 
Acrylic Paints
(Example by Daler & Rowney)
10 colors £20/US $24/Can $35/AUS $40 
Brushes – (Example – Royal and Langnickel)5 Piece White Set£10/US $12.50/Can $17.60/AUS $19.50 
Painting Surface12 x Canvas Boards£12/US $15/CAn $21/AUS $23
TOTAL (Rounded)£42/US $51
CAN $74/ AUS $83

Important Note on the Chart. Please note that this chart is for guidance only and the prices change as do the currency rates. It is designed to give an overall cost comparison rather than a concrete price as they are subject to change frequently.

When you buy a set they may have slightly different colors than recommended, this is fine as they will still cover all your needs to start with.

The Advantages of Buying Acrylic Paint Sets

  • Cheaper initial outlay than buying each paint separately.
  • You don’t have to worry about getting the ‘right’ colors. There is a confusing variety of colors available in any brand you can buy. Buying a set takes away the need to know about them until you have had a chance to learn a few basics.
  • Years of experience have gone into the colors selected for the sets.
  • They stop you from buying unnecessary colors.

The Disadvantages of Buying Acrylic Paint Sets

  • You can’t choose your paint colors which means you may end up paying for a color you don’t need or want.
  • You get all the same size tube when you use more of certain colors than others.
  • They nearly always include black which you don’t need.
  • They don’t always include all the colors you think you need.


Brushes are difficult because they are so personal and there are so many recommendations. They also depend on the size and detail of the painting. There are also different brushes for different jobs. 

You can easily pay for one brush that you can for a pack. 

I recommend that you get a small starter pack of acrylic brushes for between £5/$6 and £10/$12.

Painting Surface

Next, you need something to paint on. I recommend getting canvas as acrylic paints work well on it. 

  1. Canvas paper pad
  2. Canvas Board
  3. Canvas stretched – narrow
  4. Canvas Stretched – wide

These are in order of their cost.

You can get a special acrylic paper. It comes at about the same price if you prefer to try that. I prefer canvas but everyone is different. 


If you want to draw your picture onto your canvas you need either an HB (#2) or B (#1) pencil. Or a chalk or watercolor pencil as many artists don’t recommend pencils..

Tracing, or Baking Paper

You need this to transfer your drawing onto the canvas.


I haven’t included a pallet in my overall costing. This is because if you buy one they bump the price up, and make starting up painting that much more expensive.

When I first started acrylic painting I bought a stay wet palette. These are £17/$20 to buy a small one now. I bought a large one. And that doesn’t include all the expensive refills.

Stay wet palettes are essential to acrylic painting because the paint dries out so fast. (There are now paints on the market that don’t). 

You will probably want to get one at some stage. But to start you can use a shallow plastic container with a lid, kitchen roll, and some baking paper.

Tuition Is Necessary But Need Not Be A High Expense

All the expenses I have discussed so far is the cost of setting up so you have everything you need to paint. However, there are other related costs. The major one is the cost of tutorials. If you want to learn to paint with acrylics you will need some kind of tutorial. Tutorials can be expensive but this need not be the case.

Types of painting tutorial.

  • Private face to face
  • Group face to face
  • Books and DVDs
  • Online Courses
  • Free online courses

Local teachers that give lessons either face to face or in a group will cost the most as a rule. This is a good way to learn as you have a teacher there to correct you. The cost of this will vary a lot depending on your location. It’s difficult to give a guide as even within one country the price can change dramatically. Where I live is much cheaper than in the main cities as locals tend not to have such high incomes.

There are a lot of online courses. These start from as little as $12/£10 per course. I have paid more for individual courses. You can easily pay $100 or so for a course. 

There are also subscription sites like Skillshare. At the Time of Writing this is £7/$8 per month if you pay yearly which is a bit of a chunk or £13/$15.31 PCM if you pay monthly.

Great places to look for courses online are:

  • Skillshare
  • Udemy
  • Society of All Artists (SSA) 
  • Art Apprentice Online

In addition to YouTube sometimes artists offer free intro courses and Skillshare has a free trial period.

Learning to paint with acrylics can also be relatively free. YouTube is a wealth of knowledge and has many fantastic artists teaching you to paint or just how to mix colors. Experiment with the ones you like.

Don’t forget your local library they may have books or DVDs either off or online that you can borrow for very little or nothing.


Easels are another high outlay that can make painting more expensive. Once you have them you don’t have to keep buying more although some artists will have more than one depending on how or where they paint.

Easels can be anything from a few $/£ about 20-30 for a tabletop one right up to hundreds.

When starting out you don’t have to have an easel. You can rest on something if you want to paint at an angle or you can get a cheap tabletop one.

I recommend that you don’t get one even if you want to until you have researched them as there are many different types. 

Buying the wrong one or a cheaper one can be a waste of money. I did this when I started out and bought a lightweight one to try and save money that It was just not sturdy enough to hold the canvas.

Another option is to see if you can get a second hand one.

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