Product Retailing Guide
- Understanding our Product Labelling
- Finding the Right Colour
- Handling Product Returns
- Product SDS Information
- Colour Charts
- Glossary of Terms
- Storing Acrylics
- Liquid Glass vs. Epoxy Resin
- Why we Recommend Unprimed Canvas
- Acrylic Product Level Guide
- Acrylic Purchasing: Rules of Thumb
How to read a Tri-Art colour label.
ASTM 4236: Symbol
ASTM is an internationally recognized acronym that stands for “American Society for Testing and Materials”. ASTM 4236 compliant means that this label is in accordance to ASTM label standards for Health and Safety and has the required label warnings.
This small white sticker indicates the specific batch number from which this paint was made and filled. This number is important for tracking purposes for our lab. It is a unique identifier for any questions or alerts regarding a paint produced in a single manufacturing run. Receiving this batch number is imperative if there is a quality control issue that we need to investigate.
This is the pigment identifier for this particular colour High Viscosity Carbon Black P = Pigment Bk = Black
The number that follows “7” indicates the pigment’s assigned number.
The series label indicates the series in which this paint falls within the entire line. For Tri-Art’s Finest Quality High Viscosity and Liquid lines, there are up to 11 series/pricing categories.
The most costly component of any paint is the pigment. Each colour is made up of one or more pigments, coming from a staggering variety of sources. Each of those pigments in turn has gone through a variety of manufacturing processes in order to become a compatible component of the paint. The difference in price reflects the pigment or pigments used and the amount of processing required.
This colour is considered “opaque” meaning that the coverage is full, layers underneath are not visible.
This colour is considered “ semi opaque” meaning that the coverage is not entirely full, layers underneath are semi visible.
This colour is considered “transparent” meaning that the coverage is not full, layers underneath are visible.
Four stars indicates that this colour is on the highest end of lightfastness scale; four stars is the maximum.
A pigment is considered to be lightfast, or light stable, if it resists fading over extended exposure to ultraviolet light. A pigment that cannot stand up to direct exposure to UV rays without fading is considered to be fugitive.
We are optimizing this ordering site so that any colour or medium is fully searchable from our search bar. This can be searched by pigment code, colour name, or product name.
Most manufacturers of professional acrylic products list the pigment codes that make up the colours composition on their product labelling. Pigment codes are used to list the specific source of a pigment. One or multiple codes will be listed on products depending on the desired colour a manufacturer wants to produce. This code is far more helpful in identifying what colour a consumer wishes to purchase than the product name. For example PY3 - Pigment Yellow 3 - as a colour can be referred to by any of these product names and more:
- Hansa Yellow
- Lemon Yellow
- Primary Yellow
- Winsor Lemon
- Arylide yellow light
Tri-Art has chosen to call our PY3 product "Arylide Yellow Light". If a consumer is looking for "Winsor Lemon" for example, we can recommend that they purchase our "Arylide Yellow Light" product instead as the pigment composition is the same.
At Tri-Art Mfg. we have an excellent quality control system to ensure that product leaving our facility is of the highest standard. In the event that circumstances out of our control appear we can track a lot of information from the batch numbers located on the back or underside of the products. When an issue with our products arises, we recommend that you allow us to handle the product issue. Please direct the consumer to speak with us directly so that we can properly gather all the necessary information that will help us troubleshoot their problem or issue a replacement directly to them. We do not recommend that you issue any returns of product yourself, we may not issue credit for product returned this way.
SDS are written for manufacturing and production industry standards and as such, usually refer to vast quantities of a product in a raw (pre being made into a product) state. Reading finished product labels is also an important step to ensure best handling practices.
Find below high quality downloads files of our colour charts and product guides on our website under the product pages here:
GLOSS FACTOR: GF Number increases as the degree of reflection increases from MATTE to SEMI-GLOSS to GLOSS.
GLOSS: milky when wet, translucent when dry, with great clarity. The addition may increase the gloss of colours.
SEMI-GLOSS: milky when wet, semi-translucent when dry and have good clarity. A decreased gloss factor results when mixed with gloss colours.
MATTE: milky when wet and have a frosty, toothy finish with reduced clarity when dry. The light toothy finish enhances acceptance of dry media.
RHEOLOGY: corresponds to relative "stretch" of the products. Short rheology will retain crisp, sharp-edge details and textures while mediums with a longer rheology will level out like honey. Paints and mediums with medium rheology will hold softer peaks and brush signatures.
POISE: similar to rheology. The measurement of the viscosity, or thickness, of a viscous substance. The greater the poise number the thicker the medium will be. For example, Tri-Art's polymer mediums are thinner and have a smaller poise measurement than the gel mediums. Thinner mediums are suited for fine detail work, glazing, thin and smooth layers, whereas thicker mediums are ideal for extending colour, glazing and heavier impasto or - textured applications.
CLARITY: the relative coverage of a product when dry.
TRANSPARENT: indicated with a "T" on product labels. Will dry to a very clear film. For example, gloss gel and polymer mediums
SEMI-OPAQUE: indicated with a "SO" on product labels. Will dry clear with reduced clarity. For example, semi-gloss gel and polymer mediums, dry media ground.
OPAQUE: indicated with a "O" on product labels. Will dry totally white or coloured. For example, nepheline gels, re-harvested mediums.
LIGHTFASTNESS: on product labels, **** indicates that the colour is on the highest end of lightfastness scale; **** is the maximum, all finest quality colours are graded *** or ****. A pigment is considered to be lightfast, or light stable, if it resists fading over extended exposure to ultraviolet light. A pigment that cannot stand up to direct exposure to UV rays without fading is considered to be fugitive.
Storing in a jar
If you have used some paints from your paint jar and are planning on storing it for some time you may want to take these extra steps to ensure that your paint is usable when you come back to them:
- Before applying the lid to the jar, wipe the thread on both the lid and the jar so that acrylics will not build up and potentially seal the jar accidentally.
- With the lid secured to the jar, tap the jar on your table surface. This will level the paints so that there will be a smooth surface without deep crevices from use. This will reduce the surface area of the paint to the air in the headroom of the jar which will decrease the chance that your paint will dry out.
- If storing paints for a long time, after tapping the jar, try adding a layer of saran-wrap directly to the smooth surface of the paint. Again this will decrease exposure of the acrylics to the air in the headroom of the jar and increase the lifespan of your acrylics.
- If you are using thick texture gels, or gels with large particle sizes like a nepheline gel, you will definitely want to ensure you use these two tips before storing your paints for a length of time. The large particle sizes of these gritty texture gels expose a much larger amount of surface area to the air in the headroom of the jar.
Storing in a tube
Tube acrylics will already have some built in safety measure to prevent headroom space from developing and to reduce exposure of the acrylics to air. This is because tubes are self-collapsible, and there is only one entrance point for air to be exposed to your acrylic paints - the small opening that dispenses the paint. This small opening is where some measures can be taken to improve the shelf life:
- Before applying the cap to the tube, wipe the thread on both the cape and the tube so that acrylics will not build up and potentially seal the tube accidentally.
- Tri-Art tube products have a convenient flip cap, again ensure that the opening and cap are clean before sealing so that a proper seal can be achieved.
- Use a tube squeezer or a hard object to squeeze the paint from the very back of the tube like you would with toothpaste.
- Apply a layer of saran wrap to the opening of the tube and then seal with a cap if leaving the acrylics for a long period of time. Again this improves the longevity of the tube acrylics by reducing the surface area to the air.
Storing on a palette
You have mixed some beautiful colour on a palette and want to save it for later. Some artists might advise spraying a thin mist of water, or adding a wet cloth inside of a close-able palette, we generally don't recommend this, nor do we recommend palettes that encourage a moist environment. This is because while it will keep the acrylics wet for a long period of time, incorporating too much moisture without the right storage methods could encourage bacteria and mold growth within the paints, and then render them unusable. Here is what we recommend:
- The mixing process will have exposed your acrylics to a significant amount of air, you may want to incorporate a small amount of water into your colour mixture to insure that there has not been too much water-loss before storing.
- Transfer the paint mixture to a seal-able container, and follow our recommendations for storage within a jar. This would work best for long-term storage.
- "Bulk" together your colour mixture as much as possible so that there is not a thin layer exposed anywhere on the palette then apply a thin sheet of saran-wrap to the surface of your colour mixture. This is a better temporary solution if you will be returning to your paints in the next couple of days or so but will likely not last as a long-term storage solution.
You paints have dried or thickened, can you rescue them?
Maybe your paints weren't stored well, maybe they are just old and now your liquid acrylics are thicker than you expected. You can fix this problem, add a little bit of water next time you use them to your paints to re-hydrate them and they should be good to use again. You may want to check on your paints as well if you have not used them for a long period of time, it is very difficult to guarantee how long paints will last as there are so many different factors with regards to paint longevity. If they have dried completely there will be no saving them unfortunately.
There isn't anything much more satisfying than the look of a thick crystal clear coat of epoxy resin on your painting. It is incredibly appealing and tempting to coat all your paintings in epoxy resin, however they have very low UV stability compared to acrylic polymer emulsion products. Yes it's true, some epoxy resin products have better UV stability than others, but the bottom-line is all epoxy resin will yellow, it just depends on how much time has passed.
This should serve as a warning to all artists currently working with epoxy resin products that are selling their paintings - the last thing you want is a nasty call from a customer complaining about the painting they bought that is no longer as vibrant as it was when they purchased the piece.
There is a solution, and a good alternative. You are more than likely very familiar with Liquid Glass already. Liquid Glass is a product that was originally formulated for the acrylic pouring community. Liquid Glass has quickly been adopted by many artists' practices around the world for its uniquely smooth, crystal clear finish while being a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion product with complete UV stability - that means no yellowing ever.
Here are our tips for creating a wonderful piece with Liquid Glass no matter your project:
- If adding colour to the medium, use our professional quality or similar quality Liquid Acrylic, additions should be around 5% acrylic colour to pouring medium. Avoid high-viscosity paints. You may have to add more with a less pigmented paint, but this will not be ideal. Make sure the paint you mix into it is a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion product.
- Work on wood panel, aluminum panel, or a good quality canvas and stretcher frame. Canvas may sag so you can support it underneath with cardboard to keep things level.
- Avoid Masonite boards or bamboo boards, the glue in these products like to react chemically with the pouring medium on top, and can cause crazing and bubbles to appear.
- Avoid applying as a top coat over watercolours, or any product that is water-resoluble. This includes paint products containing PVAs, some re-soluble glues, some spray paints and spray paint varnishes, and some alcohol ink products.
- Avoid mixing with “zinc mixing white”. Zinc mixing white pigment may cause cracking to occur as it disrupts the polymerization process of this acrylic product.
- If looking for an overall glossy finish, use only glossy pigments, some pigments are naturally more matte than others.
- If you wish to use the product as a top coat, ensure that the paint underneath has fully cured before applying a layer of Liquid Glass. By pouring liquid glass before the acrylics underneath have fully cured, it can cause bubbling within the Liquid Glass as the layers underneath try to cure and release volatiles. I would recommend probably 72 hours.
Buying cotton canvas? Try unprimed.
Unprimed, pre-stretched canvas is something Tri-Art has been manufacturing, and it is predominantly recommended over pre-primed options if purchasing cotton duck canvas. This is because we discovered through our practice that many pre-primed options currently available on the market have some compatibility issues with acrylic paint products in terms of adhesion - they are issues that can be easily avoided by priming with a good primer.
It appears that pre-primed products, and even some economy gesso products contain low quality ingredients and/or insufficient amount of binders. Some issues we have observed with pre-primed products and some economy gesso products include:
- Adhesion issues with acrylics.
- Crumbling of the gesso away from the canvas.
- Hydro-phobic tendencies - some pre-primed canvas resists acrylics.
- Grey tint as opposed to bright white.
Why does this happen.
We have observed a decline in the quality of gesso products currently in the market, whether it be a lack of titanium white pigment in the formulation of the gesso, or a cheaper base used as an alternative to expensive acrylic polymer. The bottom line is that cost is the biggest factor for producing consumer products and using less expensive, lower quality raw materials is the easiest way to maintain comfortable retail prices. All of the above listed issues could be avoided and are caused by the following:
- Over-saturation of solids in gesso formulation.
- Low concentration of binder to water.
- Low concentration of titanium white pigment.
What should you do?
Always prime canvas yourself, if you have purchased a pre-primed canvas, it would be good practice to add at least one layer of your own acrylic gesso. Use a good quality acrylic gesso if possible, avoid primers designed for walls as typically these are lower quality. When buying acrylic gesso, ensure that it is a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion product, and if purchasing a white gesso, make sure that it contains titanium white pigment in its formulation.
With so many different brands, applications and price ranges, here are some key indicators that might help you find exactly what you need whether shopping with us or at any other retailer, and more specifically when shopping for Tri-Art products.
For Tri-Art Mfg. there are 3 main levels for acrylic paints; professional, developing artist and academic.
Professional quality product lines are designated such for their high pigment loading, high ratio of acrylic binder, and high quality binder selected. They are generally more expensive because of this.
- highest colour saturation, binding capability, flexibility
- can be extended very far with acrylic mediums
- has widest colour range
- contains pure single pigment colours
- superb colour mixing ability
- high lightfastness capability
- pigments are true to their natural finish whether glossy, semi-gloss, or matte, when dry
- will experience minimal "shrinkage" when dry due to low water content
- higher price tag
- lower shelf stability over time
Always purchase exactly what you need of professional quality products for a painting session. The high pigment loading, high resin content and relatively low amount of water lead to lower stability in exchange for high colour saturation and permanence. Pigments are relatively unpredictable especially when in extremely high loading.
Developing artist product lines are designated such for their lower concentration of pigment and acrylic resin. Tri-Art Mfg. however uses the same quality of pigment grind for our developing artist lines as our professional quality level, simply in much lower concentration.
- good colour saturation and binding capability
- affordable product line
- ideal right out of the tube or jar
- can slightly be extended with acrylic mediums
- high shelf stability
- good lightfastness
- not as many pure single pigment colours available
- general performance will only ever be "good"
- colours generally have one uniform semi-gloss finish
- will experience more "shrinkage" when drying due to higher water content
In general purchase these products if you are new to acrylic painting, or wish to use these products for underpainting. The high shelf stability and lower cost make it ideal for student or hobbyist who may not always be painting.
Academic product lines are designated such for their low concentration of pigment and acrylic binder. These are products that are ideal for children and classroom use for their very budget friendly price and ease of cleaning. Tri-Art Mfg. however uses the same quality of pigment grind for our academic lines as our professional quality level, simply in very low concentration.
- very affordable by volume
- colours still has good mixability so accurate colour theory can be taught
- easy to clean up, lower staining
- all pigments are safe to use
- very high shelf stability
- low overall performance if compared to professional products
- lower binding capability
- will experience a lot of "shrinkage" when drying due to high water content
- all colours will appear very matte and flat
- lower paint permanence
In general these products should be reserved for classroom use or fun craft projects rather than fine art application.
1. Ensure that the paint you are purchasing is 100% acrylic polymer emulsion paint.
Acrylic polymer is the highest quality water-based resin possible that manufacturers can select for paint manufacturing. It is the superior resin to use for its high binding capabilities, flexibility, and uv stabilization.
A shocking fact is that some "acrylic paint" brands may not actually contain any acrylic resin in its formulation, often using PVA resin instead. Why don't manufacturers always use acrylic polymer resin? Price. Acrylic polymer resin is the most expensive water-based resin that a manufacturer can use so often times manufacturers will either use a blend of acrylic polymer and a cheaper PVA resin, or will solely use PVA resin in their product formulation.
What is PVA resin, and why is it so bad? Polyvinyl acetate is another cheaper water-based resin that has much lower binding capabilities, is water-soluble, has low flexibility, and low UV stability compared to acrylic polymer emulsion. If present in artists paint, adhesion issues, cracking, and yellowing are all probable and undesirable effects that can occur over time.
You can identify when a product contains or might contain PVA in two ways. The product label - if only containing acrylic polymer emulsion - will likely state, "100% acrylic polymer emulsion paint". If variants of this like "made with acrylic polymer" are listed instead, or nothing is listed, chances are that the "acrylic paint" contains PVA.
Another identifier is smell. We all know the ammonia-like smell of white glue from our childhood. White glue is PVA. If you smell this ammonia-like smell when working with acrylic paints, chances are that your paints contain PVA.
All of Tri-Art's acrylic product lines no matter the product level is 100% acrylic polymer emulsion paint.
2. If purchasing professional quality products, look to ensure that the pigment ID is listed.
Although not as important as the first rule, finding the pigment ID on product labels can be a good indicator of quality especially if you are wanting to purchase a professional quality product. A pigment ID looks something like this:
PW6, where P means "pigment" and W means "white", with identification number 6. This means simply, the source for the pigment is Titanium Dioxide. This is probably the most common pigment you will find in acrylic paints - Titanium White - as it can be desired for its covering properties.
Sometimes however manufacturers may not want you - the consumer - to know what pigments are in a product specifically as certain pigments could be used as filler, or to create the perception of pigment strength - adding black pigment for example to increase the perceived "depth".
If you are purchasing a product with the pigment codes listed the manufacturer has chosen to be transparent about what pigments they have selected specifically so that you can ensure that your colour mixes are as pure as possible.
Tri-Art manufacturing lists the pigment codes for its professional and developing artist level products.