These are the acrylic painting supplies that I personally use. For me, the airbrush is a must have item for the type of acrylic painting that I use, so I will be including my airbrushing supplies on this list as well. I want to add that these are not the end all of painting supplies, they are just what I personally enjoy working with.
- Liquitex Basics – While these have the added bonus of being fairly inexpensive, the price has nothing to do with why I love them. These paints have a nearly matte finish, which allows for the airbrush paint to stick quite well to it, and it allows me to draw my next layers out with a white charcoal pencil, or use transfer paper if I’ve drawn my project out on another piece of paper. Glossier paints like the heavy bodied Liquitex don’t work great for this. These paints blend well for how I work. If you prefer a glossier finish (like I do), you can use a gloss varnish when you’re done to give you a more oil painting look. The set I linked are tiny little tubes that don’t last that long, but it’s a great start. You can purchase the larger tubes as you run out.
- Liquitex Heavy Bodied – While I rarely use these because of what I mentioned above, they are a nice paint. They dry faster than the liquitex basics but they have some beautiful colors that just aren’t available in the liquitex basics. The main two reasons I might choose to use this paint are 1) the pigment/consistency of certain colors. Some of the yellows, magentas, and oranges in the basics are almost gooey and don’t work well for some types of blending I need. In those cases, I switch to the heavy bodied paints. 2) If I am painting with texture. This paint is much thicker so if you want heavier brush strokes like you would see in impressionism or in a looser style of painting then this paint works better. You will want more colors than the 6 pack I’ve linked, but it’s a start!
- Holbein Airbrush Paint – This is my favorite airbrush paint right now. It doesn’t need to be thinned with water like the createx I previously used. It does cost more than createx but it’s worth it!
- Createx Airbrush Paint – I love how this paint works with acrylics but it is THICK so you will need to thin it. I use water to thin my paints. If you’re new to airbrushing you may like a paint that doesn’t need to be thinned like ComArt. The thing I don’t like about ComArt for how I work is that it lifts off the canvas when wet (this can get you awesome effects, it’s not a flaw in the product it just isn’t ideal for how I work), and it is quite shiny so it is hard for me to photograph over my acrylic paints. It is MUCH easier to start with though.
- Liquitex Gloss Varnish If you’re unfamiliar with varnishing your work, I show you how in this video!
- Krylon Matte Spray Depending on the situation, sometimes I find it best to spray this onto my canvas first to prevent smudging of the paint when applying the Liquitex Gloss Varnish.
The brands aren’t as big of a deal for me with the brushes I use. As long as they work I’m happy. Many of my current brushes are the generic Masters Touch from Hobby Lobby. They go on sale for half price every few weeks so you can stock up then if you have a Hobby Lobby near you.
Generally speaking, you want to avoid brushes with short bristles. These don’t last long and they don’t allow you to get nice long brush strokes before having to reload the brush, which can create a rougher look than you may want.
You will want several sizes of each of these brushes.
- Taklon Bristled Filberts
- Taklon Bristled Rounds
- Taklon Bristled Flats
- Synthetic Hog Hair Flats – The synthetic hog hair brushes are stiffer than the taklon bristles which means they will create more brush strokes, but sometimes we want that.
- Synthetic Hog Hair Rounds – I get the ones that have rounded tips, not the pointed like the photo above of the taklon bristled brush. Michaels carries a tube that contains all of these stiffer brushes (both rounds and flats) in a canvas holder that is a decent price.
- Mop Brush – My current favorite mop brush isn’t a paint brush but a make-up brush. It doesn’t shed like actual mop brushes do. You will want a couple of these.
After a lot of bad experiences with generic canvases (most big chain art stores now only carry their own generic canvases and they are absolute crap, warping stretcher bars, badly primed etc), I only use Fredrix canvases now. If you are in north Texas, check out Asel art supplies. They have Fredrix canvases in their stores for half price all the time. This is where I purchase my canvases. You can purchase them through their website too. This is definitely worth it if you’re placing a large order
- Fredrix Blue Label Ultra Smooth
- Fredrix Pro Series Belgian Linen
- Fredrix canvas pads – if you’re just practicing you can tape these to a board to paint.
- Fredrix Convexo Canvases – These are the round ones you see me paint on that have the curved edges. While I prefer the smoother surface of the blue label and Belgian linen listed above, you can add a coat of Liquitex Gesso then sand it down when dry for a smooth painting surface.
- Fredrix watercolor canvas boards – Not just for watercolor, these have a super smooth surface that are great for painting in acrylics.
- Fredrix Belgian Linen Nature Core Paint Board – These paint boards are 3/4″ thick so they are similar looking to a stretched canvas, but solid. They are very very smooth, great for detail work. The Belgian Linen has a slicker surface, I like it for effects where I’m lifting some of the paint back off the canvas.
- Fredrix Mixed Media Nature Core Paint Board – The mixed media paint board is one of my favorites when I’m airbrushing backgrounds. It is REALLY smooth. It doesn’t have the slick feel of the Belgian Linen paint Board.
- Water well – To clean your brushes
- Palette – I wrap this in tin foil. If you let the paint dry between sessions you can use the back of the tin foil the next time.
- White Charcoal Pencil
- Water Soluble Graphite Pencil – If you like to draw things onto your canvas before you paint (which I don’t recommend in most cases with acrylics given how fast it dries. I like to paint from my background and work forward drawing/painting in the subjects as I go with the white charcoal pencil or transfer paper), use a water-soluble graphite pencil. This way you don’t end up with graphite lines you can’t cover up later on.
- Tracing Paper – If you want to keep your work really clean, draw your subject onto tracing paper first, then use transfer paper to transfer it onto the canvas after you paint your background.
- White Transfer Paper – Loew Cornell – Use white on dark backgrounds. Your tracing paper needs to be as big as your canvas, but the transfer paper does not, you can move smaller pieces around as you trace it out.
- Grey Transfer Paper – Loew Cornell – Use grey for lighter backgrounds
- Badger Single Action Airbrush – This one is single action which means you have no control of how thin or thick your lines are. I only use it for misting water for wet into wet blending. You will need a can of air to go with this.
- The Masters Brush Cleaner
- Liquitex Glazing Medium Usually I just use water to thin my paints, but depending on certain factors I will sometimes use a glazing medium. This is my go to brand! You can see how I use it in this video!
If you’re going to go farther into using the airbrush, then these are some of the supplies I use:
- FX Texture airbrush stencil – This is the one you see me use for my space backgrounds
- Iwata Neo gravity feed airbrush – This is not the best airbrush ever, but it is an inexpensive way to get started and because they sell it at Hobby Lobby it’s easy to get parts for it. For the way I use the airbrush (mostly just special effects) it works fine for me, but if you are going to get more serious into airbrushing you may want to research better ones.
- SimAir/StormForce air compressor – People send me links all the time asking about other air compressors and whether or not they will be good. I honestly can not tell you because I’ve had this one for the past 17 or 18 years and it has been awesome. I’ve had to replace some hoses on it but that is all.
I’ve linked my amazon affiliate links for the supplies on this page, but please price check before you buy! Often the prices are great on amazon, sometimes out of the blue one of these items will be listed at 10x what you would spend at an art supply store.