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Guide to Understanding Information on Acrylic Paint tubes

Guide to Understanding Information on Acrylic Paint tubes

Table of Contents

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when entering an art store? With the wide variety of brands, types, colors, and finishes, it’s easy to feel lost. But don’t worry, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will provide you with a practical guide to understanding the information we can find on acrylic paint labels. With this guide, you’ll be able to make informed decisions when selecting the right paint for your specific project. So, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about acrylic paint before making a purchase!”

Types of Acrylic Paint

There are different types of acrylic paint, each with a unique composition and characteristics. Some examples include traditional acrylic paint (medium viscosity), heavy body acrylic (high viscosity), and soft body or fluid acrylic paint. This information is not always found on the packaging; generally, brands give names to their different lines, and detailed characteristics can be found in the product descriptions. For instance, I use the brand Amsterdam and their Standard Series. On the brand’s website, it is detailed that this paint has a medium viscosity. I’ll leave the link for you to see it for yourselves. Amsterdam all acrylic page.

Types of Acrylic Paint viscosity
Types of Acrylic Paint viscosity

The same applies to the final finish of the paint when it dries. Traditional acrylic paint has a glossy finish. However, many brands offer opaque or satin finishes (which is why I love Amsterdam so much; I’m not a fan of glossy finishes).

I want to clarify that Amsterdam does not pay me, and I don’t gain anything from mentioning the brand; I am just being honest with you. The reality is that each person needs to try different brands available in their country and find the one that best suits their project or personal preferences. 

final finish of the paint when it dries.

Quantity of Paint

The quantity of paint contained in a tube of acrylic paint can vary significantly depending on the size and manufacturer (you may encounter diferents packaging type  tubes, bottles, jars,  pot, etc.). Most tubes indicate the amount of paint in milliliters (ml) or ounces (oz).

It is essential to check the quantity of paint to ensure you have enough for your project. Painting a 10 x 10 cm canvas is not the same as creating a mural. If you are just starting out or are unfamiliar with the brand, I recommend purchasing smaller tubes (around 20 ml). This way, you can try the paint without making a significant expense of money.

Quantity of Paint Acrylic painting

Names and Numbers of Colors

Each brand assigns unique names and numbers to their colors. They have their own color numbering system, which facilitates the identification of a specific shade. Typically, the numbering consists of a series of numbers and/or letters.

You may feel confused because these names can vary between brands. For example, the same shade of blue may have different names in two different brands. Alternatively, two brands may have the same name, but the shades are different. For this reason, it is essential to check the pigments used to create the paint (we will discuss them below) since this tends to be somewhat standard among acrylic paint brands.

Names and Numbers of Colors Acrylic painting

Some acrylic paint brands offer color charts online, which include the name and numbering of each color. These charts can be useful for comparing colors between brands and identifying specific tones.

Nomenclature of Pigments

Pigments are the materials that provide color to acrylic paint. Professional lines often use pigments of higher quality. The nomenclature of pigments is used to describe the colors used to create a particular hue. 

For example, PB29 (P for Pigment and B for Blue) refers to the series 29 of blue pigments, which is a blue pigment used to create ultramarine blue. Understanding pigment nomenclature can help better comprehend the composition of the paint and allow for greater precision when mixing colors. I will create a more detailed post about color mixing and how pigments influence the outcome.

Nomenclature of Pigments acrylic painting

Opacity Range

The opacity of acrylic paint can vary from transparent to opaque. The opacity is often indicated on the container label with a square and can be “transparent,” “semi-transparent,” “semi-opaque,” or “opaque.” It is important to know the type of opacity a color has before using it. For example, if it is transparent, several layers will be needed to achieve an even color.

Opacity Range acrylic painting
Opacity Range Acrylic painting


Lightfastness refers to the ability of acrylic paint to resist fading and color change when exposed to light. Most containers and tubes of acrylic paint indicate lightfastness using a scale from I to IV, with I being the most lightfast and IV being the least lightfast. If the artwork is expected to be exposed to direct sunlight, it is essential to use acrylic paint with high lightfastness.

Every brand has its own unique way of expressing this, but the plus symbol is commonly employed for this purpose.

Lightfastness refers to the ability of acrylic paint to resist fading and color change

Color Charts

Color charts are useful tools for understanding the color ranges available in a line of acrylic paint. These charts often include a sample of each available color, along with information about the type of pigment used, opacity, and lightfastness. Color charts can also help choose complementary colors and plan the color palette for a specific project. Some acrylic paint manufacturers also offer color charts online, making it easier to select colors before purchasing.

Here are several examples for you:

Color chart amsterdam standard series 

Color chart Liquitex heavy body

Downloadable color chart Alba Profesional


When purchasing acrylic paint, it is essential to consider the quantity of paint, types of pigments, opacity, lightfastness, and available colors. This information can help make informed decisions when selecting the right paint for a specific project. Furthermore, understanding pigment nomenclature and lightfastness can enhance the comprehension of the composition and quality of acrylic paint.

I hope this article has been useful and interesting for you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Do you have any tips or tricks for choosing the right acrylic paint? Share them with me! And if you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends!

And f you want and can, you can also help me by buying a coffee.

Happy painting! See you in the next post!

Guide to Understanding Information on Acrylic Paint tubes



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