If you've been following me on Facebook or Tumblr, you'll know that I've taken up using a new, magical, wonderful medium- Acrylic Paints! These are a lot more fun than pencils (Whoops! Don't tell my pencils that!) because of this beautiful phenomenon called layering. What that means is simple: you can pile layers of paint on, choosing the intensity you want, and depending on the consistency of the paint, you can partially or completely hide the layers underneath. In even simpler terms, no erasing! If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is!
So I decided I'd write a review on the very first set of acrylic paints I bought: the Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic set of 24. If we're being completely honest, I picked these because "Daler Rowney" sounds a bit like Robert Downey Jr. and boy, is that an incentive!
Iron Man aside, here's what the box looks like.
The box contains 24 tubes, each with 12ml of paint. The tubes are arranged in two plastic trays that slide completely out of the box, which is good because it means that you can reach for a colour quickly when you need to.
Before we go any further, let me give you the down-low on acrylics.
- Any kind of paint is made of two parts- the pigment and the medium. So oil paints use oil as the medium, and acrylic paints use this substance known as an acrylic polymer emulsion.
- Said emulsion is a translucent white which turns transparent when it dries. As a result, acrylics dry to a shade slightly darker than what they appear like when wet. The higher the amount of medium, the lighter it appears when wet, and thus, greater the colour change when it dries.
- Acrylic paints are available in two grades: Student/Studio and Artist/Professional. The "Artist" grade paints have a higher proportion of pigment and thus show a smaller amount of colour change as compared to the "Student" grade ones. Due to this, Artist grade paints are typically more expensive than Student grade ones.
- Finally, whereas oil paints need a separate medium to "thin" them, acrylics can be thinned using water. After they dry (and these babies dry at the speed of light), however, they are water resistant and do not budge! Trust me, my palette is a complete mess!
Alright, back to the Downey Jr.'s.
Here's a swatch of what they look like on paper.
(Do pardon the handwriting. It's been a while since I've written anything!)
As I mentioned before, the Black and White are missing, but those look like any other black and white, so nothing to see there. Also missing on this swatch is the shade "Dark Brown"- a colour I'm very angry at! My tube of Dark Brown has been an oddball since the very beginning. The paint was clumpy and partially dry when I first bought it, and today it just wouldn't co-operate when I tried to squeeze some of the paint out on to the paper!
Alright, back to the swatch. As you can tell, there are three shades of yellow, red and blue, and four of green. While I do appreciate a variety, I thought of the reds as unnecessary, and can barely tell the difference between Light, Medium and Dark green- all three seem the same to me! When wet, Scarlet is slightly warmer than Brilliant Red, and Crimson is slightly cooler. Dry, however, you can hardly find any difference at all between the three. The yellows and blues, however, are rather lovely and work really well with the other colours. Cream and Portrait Pink work well when rendering skin, but Cream darkens quite a bit when it dries, which makes it slightly annoying because then I have to blend white in and it's just twice the work. Ultramarine Blue is definitely my favourite colour in the set.
These are clearly Student quality paints, given the difference in the colours when they are wet as compared to when they are dry. That may not seem to be such a big issue theoretically. However, it can get on your nerves a little bit because you need to work really fast with acrylics since they dry quickly, but you can't tell the actual colour unless they are dry! Bit of a vicious cycle, that. What bothers me is the fact that some colours darken a lot more than others- that makes it difficult to gauge a standard amount of white to add! To be honest, I went in completely blind when buying these and learned the hard way how much quality matters. If you're only beginning, however, these could actually work pretty well, since it teaches you a lot about judgement! Silver linings, I guess.
Another very important factor while judging acrylics is their consistency- how easy are they to spread? Most of these tubes have a brilliant consistency, in that they go on opaque, but can easily be watered down. Leaf Green, however, does this strange thing where, no matter what you do, it is never completely opaque. If you take a closer look at the swatch, you'll see that it shows brush marks a lot more clearly than the other shades. Then, of course, there was that issue with the Dark Brown and its clumps. Hmph!
When it comes to paints, blending is more about the water and brushwork than about the paint itself. I have had very little trouble blending these, except for when they dry very fast, but then such is the nature of acrylics.
The picture above was a WIP shot of one of my paintings. You can see how well the blues blend into each other as well as the black and white.
Quick tip: When blending acrylic paints, use layers of watered-down paint, rather than opaque layers straight from the tube. Also, I find that filbert brushes work better for me as compared to round or flat brushes, when it comes to blending.
Value for Money
I bought the entire set for around £9.13, although prices online can go up to £14.95. Given the amount of paint in the tubes and the quality, I'd say it was reasonable, except that three of those greens and reds appear the same to me, and the Dark Brown, I shall never forget! So I'd deduct a few points for that.
Okay, let's crunch some numbers.
Here are a few ratings from 0 to 10, 10 being the best at any particular aspect.
Price: 4.5/10.0 Expensive, considering the quality as I said before, but given the shade range, I'd say it was almost worth it.
Range of tones: 6.0/10.0 Again, some of the colours seem unnecessary, while others are really good.
Finish: 7.0/10.0 It would have scored a stellar 8, if only there was an equal amount colour change in every shade.
Layering: 8.0/10.0 Yes, I'm very pleased with how well these layer. Once they are dry, there is no moving them, so each layer holds its own without mixing into the one above or below, and that makes me very, very happy!
Final Verdict: 6.0/10.0
While these can create some high quality master-pieces, there is certainly room for improvement. However, given that they are Student quality paints, I'd say they're actually pretty good!
Finally, here are some pieces where I've used the Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic paints:
As always, I have tried to cover all the aspects about these that I could think of, but in case I've missed something, do pop a comment below and I shall get to it!
I hope this has been helpful, and do feel free to share your own experience with these, or any other paints!
Thanks so much for reading! Have an amazing week!