Heavy Body vs. Soft Body Acrylics

By Nicole Tinkham

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If you’ve ever been art supply shopping, you know there’s always a ton of options (especially at Keeton’s!) including canvas, paint, brushes, medium, etc. Acrylic paints are no different. Even if you have it narrowed down to the brand and colors you’re looking for, you will also have to think about grade (student vs. artist) and body. In this post, we’ll focus on body and how each type differs. Typically you have heavy body (thick) and soft body (creamy), but Liquitex also offers super heavy body and ink, which we will also discuss. Let’s take a look at the amazing things that can be done with acrylic paints!

Heavy Body

WHAT IT IS:
Thick, smooth, highly pigmented, artist grade paints.

IDEAL FOR:
Mixed media
Collages
Experimental pieces
Printmaking
Impasto techniques (thick application with brushes and knives)

PAINT QUALITIES
Retains brush/knife strokes, creating interesting effects
Good surface drag
Long working time
Great for blending
Produces flexible film when dry

COLORS
100 Liquitex colors available (see color chart)

Soft Body

WHAT IT IS:
Creamy, even leveling, fluid artist grade paints.

IDEAL FOR:
Canvas/panel painting
Murals
Fabric
Glazing
Printmaking
Ceramics
Underpainting
Decorative painting
Collages
Scrapbooking
Mixed media

PAINT QUALITIES:
Great coverage
Even leveling
Versatile for any type of project (large areas or fine details)
Leaves little to no brush marks

COLORS:
89 Liquitex colors available (see color chart)

FUN FACT:
Soft body acrylic paint was the original formula made by Liquitex in 1955.

Super Heavy

WHAT IT IS:
Extra thick structural paint.

IDEAL FOR:
Texture and sculpture techniques
Thick painting
Experimental painting
Mixed media
Collage

PAINT QUALITIES:
Shape retention: great for holding peaks
Flexible when dry, preventing cracks and chips
Low shrinkage when drying
Long working time

COLORS:
27 Liquitex colors available

Ink

WHAT IT IS:
Super fluid acrylic paints with fine pigments

IDEAL FOR:
Stamping
Calligraphy
Watercolor
Collage
Airbrush
Pouring
Stenciling
Screen printing

PAINT QUALITIES:
Quick dry time
Water resistant
Permanent

COLORS:
30 Liquitex colors available (see color chart)

In this post, we focused on Liquitex paints but Golden offers a range of options as well such as heavy body, fluid, Open acrylics (slow drying formula), and airbrush colors. Next time you’re shopping for supplies, instead of picking up the usual heavy body acrylic paint, try something new and experiment. For application advice, just ask one of our art experts – they are always happy to help!

We want to hear from you! Have an exciting topic you’d like us to feature in our next blog post? Just leave your suggestions in the box below or connect with us through Facebook or Twitter.   

2 thoughts on “Heavy Body vs. Soft Body Acrylics

  1. I tried looking for the liquitex super heavy body acrylic paint but the only thing i found was super heavy body gel and super heavy body gesso. Do you know where i can find super heavy body acrylic paint?

    1. That’s a great question Matt. We only carry the heavy body paint here at Keeton’s. But it looks like you can go onto the Liquitex website and search for stores that do carry it in your area. Here’s a link to their page: http://www.liquitex.com/SuperHeavyBody/ You’ll just want to click the “buy” button from there.

      Hope this helps you find what you’re looking for!

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