Guide to Different Paint Types

Anastasia Koutsogiannis September 28 2021


For beginners or artists looking to switch up their technique, here is a guide to the most popular paint types.

Painting can be a pleasant pastime, an activity with friends, or a stimulating career choice. Regardless of why you do it, painting has proven to be one of the most rewarding forms of artistic expression. However, if you’re looking to pick up painting, you may be a bit overwhelmed trying to decide what paint type to start with. There are various options, each of which produces different results. If you’re looking for some guidance to help make the right choice, fear not! We’ve compiled a list of different types of paint, along with some helpful information about them to get you started.


Acrylics are one of the most popular types of painting medium. Mainly made up of water, the pigments are easy to work with. Both kids and masterful artists enjoy acrylics, and they are usually readily available online and in store. They’re also commonly included in starter paint kits.

“Golden Day” by Vera Kisseleva

Best for:

- Beginners.

- Fixing mistakes. You can smoothly paint over a hiccup once the layer is dry.

- Synthetic brushes; acrylics can be rough on natural-haired ones [1].

- Painting on different materials (canvas, wood, metal, paper, etc.).

- Easy clean-ups.

- Painting on a budget.

Keep in mind:

- Acrylic paint dries fast, so you may need to work quickly when mixing colors.

- Pat your brushes with a paper towel regularly. Excess water between color changes will easily drip on the canvas [2].


As the name suggests, oil paints are oil-based. Unlike acrylics, they can be a bit harder to work with, but the results can be truly stunning.

“Every Single Chain” by Aimee Ruoff

Best for:

- Painting on different materials (canvas, wood, metal, paper, etc.).

- Blending colors since they dry slowly.

- Painting in one sitting.

- Vivid color payoff; this may be extra beneficial for those who are into realistic art.

- Resilient brushes that can hold their shape and add a bit of resistance in your hand with each stroke [3].

Keep in mind:

- You’ll need to apply a primer called gesso. This will create a wall between the paint and the surface to prevent seeping.

- Layering: Do your best to start with thinner paint and gradually use thicker paint as you add layers. This will help the drying process and ultimately avoid any cracking [4].

- Oil paints tend to be more expensive.

- Oil paints contain toxins that are harmful when ingested. Make sure to clean up well and keep them away from kids and pets [4].


Known for their fluid lines, watercolor paints create an elegant effect. Activated by water, these are fun for exploring color mixing and gentle textures.

“Frangipani and Humming bird” by Gilly Gobinet

Best for:

- Watercolor paper; it’ll absorb the water and prevent leaking.

- A softer image; this is not a paint type you’ll want for harsh lines.

- Mixing colors; you won’t need a huge range of shades.

- Watercolor brushes and sable-haired brushes [5].

Keep in mind:

- Test out the colors while both wet and dry. This will give you an idea of how dark or light the color payoff will be before you get to work [6].

- You’ll definitely need plenty of paper towels for this paint type! Keep them close for clean ups, erasing mistakes, and redirecting paint.


Think of gouache as watercolor’s younger sibling. They’re almost identical in composition, so you can apply some of the same tips to both types. The key difference is that gouache paint allows for a much more opaque finish [7].

“Morning has Broken” by Sandi Bassett

Best for:

- Watercolor paper to prevent leaking.

- Watercolor brushes.

- Bright, yet soft lines.

Keep in mind:

- Once again, keep those paper towels handy!

- You can play with the opacity by adding more or less water to the gouache, but always keep your brush wet [8].

- Add a base layer first for more vibrancy. You can do this by mixing the gouache paints with water to form “a thin watercolour-like consistency”. Cover your paper with it and get to painting! [8]

We hope that this list has been informative for you. Hopefully with these tips, you will be able to select the perfect paint for your own personal craft.

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Sam replied 2 years, 4 months ago Thanks for sharing! :)
wlande199925 replied 2 years, 4 months ago So helpful, love this!