Rock painting has been practiced and applied since 40,000 years ago, and it’s mainly done to tell stories and entertain cave dwellers, and today, those paintings became essential parts of our history. In our modern times, rock painting is mainly done for education and decoration purposes. It can be fun for everyone, whether you are a beginner or a fine artist wanting to explore new mediums.
Selecting your Paint for Rocks
Grade matters the most when deciding what materials to get, especially with paint. Beginner grades are easy to use and require little to no preparations. While Artist-grade can get a bit complicated as it may need some practice or it might only work best with special paper or brushes, but Artist-grade materials often bring the best results.
Number of Colors
To know if a paint set is worthy of its price, you must look at how many tubes or bottles it includes and divide it by the cost to get the cost per bottle or tube. Only then you’ll find if a kit is worth your budget or not.
Permanence gives a bit of insight into how durable the paint’s pigments are. Grade A permanence paint brings the best performance as the pigments will not change color or shade even after 20 years. Prevent using low permanence grade paint unless you’ll only use it for practice or want your artwork to look aged after some time.
Viscosity is the most important characteristic you need to know about when you’re trying to make either detailed art or not. Thick paint might be harder to spread, but it’s better for drawing tiny details. In contrast, runny or light body paint is the opposite.
If your skin or breathing is easily irritated by certain chemicals, you should avoid paints not rated for non-toxicity. Some paints might state that they have a safe formulation, but that doesn’t mean they’re non-toxic. Better watch out for this, especially if you’re doing airbrushing or painting indoors.
Best Paint for Rocks in the Market
When rock painting, your project’s quality of detail and durability rely on your medium. To make your best artworks on rocks, you must use acrylic paints to get the proper quality of finish, pigmentation, and the highest level of durability. It’s easy to get terrible and low-quality acrylics since there are tons of them.
|Apple Barrel Matte Acrylic Paint Set
Best for Artists
|Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Classic Set
Best Budget Kit
|Arteza Craft Acrylic Paint Set
|Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylic Paint Tube Set
1. Apple Barrel Matte Acrylic Paint Set – Best Choice
This acrylic set is our top pick for the best paint for rocks, it brings an ample amount of varieties, has exceptional quality, and it’s durable. It comes in a pack with 18 colors. You can get a color set that consists of vivid and commonly used colors. At the same time, another pack of colors brings similar colors, only darker. Each color comes in a 2oz bottle with a short nozzle cap, and the bottle itself can be easily squeezed for an easy to use experience.
The whole kit is non-toxic, water-based, and can be used even on unconventional surfaces like Styrofoam, Tin, Wood, and Rocks. The color pack that we recommend is the one with vivid colors; those 18 colors include:
- Yellow Flame
- Bright Yellow
- Bright Magenta
- Flag Red
- Purple Iris
- Parrot Blue
- Bimini Blue
- Bright Blue
- Too Blue
- New Shamrock
- Holly Branch
Every color on this set is thick, opaque, and leaves off solid and bright colors. Acrylics tend to dry up inconsistently and become too thick to draw with, making it too damaging for your brush. That is not the case with this Apple Barrel set, as these are easily manageable since the acrylic slides and glides through your medium without many problems. It spreads easily, but it transforms into a matte and thick finish as it dries up.
When drawing on rocks, you need a medium with high opacity, some colors on this acrylic pack are not as opaque as the other colors, but it can still get the job done. Every color dries into a bright matte finish even if there is only a small amount applied, making this suitable with detailed artworks. These acrylics can also be layered, making texturing techniques possible. And when your work is done, the paint’s hue and pigment will not change over time, and the finished paint is also sufficiently durable, but it’s still advisable to put a protective layer on your artwork if you want it to last longer.
Pros and Cons
We picked this acrylic set as the best choice for one reason: It can work with everyone. Not only that, it can deliver the same quality and finish to most surfaces and materials. Its consistent and high opacity colors are highly beneficial for rock painting. This Apple Barrel Kit is fun and enjoyable to use and makes your work significantly better. Give it a try when you have the chance.
2. Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint Classic Set – Best Pro Acrylic Paint for Rocks
We have a professional-grade acrylic set made by Liquitex for our second-best paint. Liquitex is known for their expertise and dedication to developing high-quality acrylic paints, gessoes, and varnishes since 1955. With that, I think it’s normal to have high expectations, but let’s see the actual performance in a bit.
Each package comes in a box with a window allowing you to see the tubes and their colors. Each tube will also contain 2oz of acrylic paint. And since this comes in a tube, you can get every last drop, which lets you get the most out of your money. The Classic Set consists of colors used in the basic palette. Before we move on, here are the 12 colors included with the Classic Set:
- Yellow Light Hansa
- Naphthol Red Light
- Quinacridone Magenta
- Dioxazine Purple
- Phthalocyanine Blue
- Brilliant Blue
- Emerald Green
- Phthalocyanine Green
- Bronze Yellow
- Ivory Black
- 2x Titanium White
Each pack of a Liquitex Classic set costs significantly more than any other kits and sets mentioned here. And in this case, you get what you pay for. Each variant feels like magic to use; this Liquitex Acrylic is heavy and dense, but dragging it on a medium does not feel sticky, nor does it feel slippery. This trait results in precise handling, making very tiny details easy to draw.
The pigments used in each color are highly researched and improved to bring the best saturation and opacity. These high-quality pigments also cause the pigments to blend perfectly without changing any other aspect besides the color. The heavy viscosity also makes it easy to put textures on the surface. When your artwork is done, these will also dry up evenly on any surface, and since it’s of archival quality, your artwork won’t color shift over time.
This paint is also flexible and waterproof to protect your work while also eliminating any water damage and cracking chances. Although its toxicity is unclear, it’s indeed a safe formulation, but the strong sweet smell may be irritating to others, so make sure to use these in a well-ventilated room to make sure.
Pros and Cons
Now, this paint is perhaps overkill for some people, especially if you’re going to use it on rocks. But the great thing is you get what you pay for. All the research and development done by Liquitex shows in this product. So if you’re an experienced artist looking for fine details, then this might be the best choice for you if you’re looking to get into rock painting.
3. Arteza Craft Acrylic Paint Set – Best Budget Paint for Painting Rocks
Our third best for rocks is this acrylic kit from Arteza, a famous brand that provided affordable and high-quality art materials for millions of artists. Each package comes in a box, and each pack contains 20 bottles of different colors. Each bottle contains 2fl oz or 60ml of paint, and this bottle is also soft and easy to squeeze, letting you quickly get that last drop. And lastly, the bottles have a very secure snap-on cap, not giving the paints any chance to dry up accidentally.
The most impressive part about this acrylic set is the price you’re getting it for. Most beginners and students can afford this set and make great artworks. From its looks, it seems that these are not an archival quality, which is fine considering its price. And at first glance, it appears that you have every color you need to start learning the basics. The colors included in this set are:
- Titanium White
- Fluorescent Yellow
- Lemon Yellow
- Fluorescent Orange
- Rose Pink
- Mulberry Pink
- Royal Purple
- Ruby Red
- Arctic Blue
- Sky Blue
- Apple green
- Forest Green
- Sapphire Blue
- Koala Gray
- Espresso Brown
- Mars Black
Using this paint set is fun; it brings so many colors without needing to mix that much, which is another point of being beginner-friendly. And you can blend some colors and study secondary and tertiary color mixing. There are also some metallic colors in this kit that’ll bring out a bit more sheen to your artwork.
The manageability of these paints are good enough for beginners to learn how to control soft body acrylics, it’s slightly runny, but it dries up fast to compensate. Although as a result, you’ll take more effort to produce certain textures, and it takes more time to add several layers. Other than that, the opacity is also not as consistent among several colors. As a result of all these characteristics, you won’t get many details with these. On the other hand, this kit will be great for blending and mixing pigments to produce new colors. And it’ll also be great for paint wash, drips, airbrush, and staining.
Pros and Cons
We all have to start with materials that are not too intimidating, affordable, and gives you the most opportunities to learn, and the Arteza Paint Set does precisely that. And with a reasonable price, you can quickly get into rock painting without breaking the bank. Although, do not expect this kit to adhere perfectly and last long on unconventional surfaces like rocks, so make sure to put a protective layer if you’re finalizing your work. Although, since this Arteza Acrylic Set has a similar price to our best choice, I recommend giving the Apple Barrel Kits a try first unless you’re seeking more colors for your first set.
4. Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylic Paint Tube Set – Best Color Variety
Our last best paint suitable for rocks is a tube kit made by Winsor & Newton. And this is also the one with the best color variety as the colors included are not only the commonly used ones, but these different shades of colors also bring out a more artistic vibe. The included colors are:
- Azo Yellow Medium
- Lemon Yellow
- Naphthol Red Light
- Permanent Alizarin Crimson
- Phthalo Blue
- Ultramarine Blue
- Phthalo Green
- Olive green
- Yellow Ochre
- Raw Umber
- Mars Black
- Titanium White
These twelve colors all come in tubes, and each color comes in 20ml tubes except for the Titanium White Tube, which comes in a 60ml tube. The package comes in a box with no windows for you to see the colors included inside. While each tube is of high quality, easy to squeeze, and has a tremendous plastic cap that will effectively seal the tube, never allowing a drop to dry up. And you can also use it for the tube to stand while storing so the paint can remain near the tube’s hole.
Like Liquitex, Winsor & Newton is well known for dedicated Research & Development for their products. As a result, this paint brand has a unique formulation to improve its performance. In this case, the pigments have a higher quality when compared to other kits mentioned in this article.
The pigments are formulated to have a grade A permanence, which means the colors won’t shift hue or fade in any way once, which makes it archival quality. This paint also dries up quicker than with other brands, which is not too ideal for standard applications, but it’s useful for making tons of layers. And it is something that you can use to your advantage when using it on rocks. These paints are also a bit on the heavy side, making them useful for at least a bit of detail. And lastly, these paints also have shown good durability, especially with the archival grade pigments.
Pros and Cons
These kit show their excellent performance in the usual mediums like paper and canvas. Although, you might not see its true potential with rock paintings, especially if you’re using dark-colored rocks. Nonetheless, it still works great in terms of durability, adhesion, and archival grade.
Rock painting might be uncharted territory for most artists, but don’t let that scare you from doing it. Just try to get the best materials to make the job easier. In the end, rock paintings are fun projects, and it makes for incredible decorations. Try to experiment with different acrylic tools, try the standard acrylics, or try to use acrylic markers, or try to load your paint into an airbrush. The possibilities are endless. Go creative and have fun!