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Best Oil Paint Sets

Updated November 2021
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Best of the Best
Williamsburg Native Italian Earth Oil Paint Set
Native Italian Earth Oil Paint Set
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Immersive Set
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Imported, handmade oil paints from Italy. Top-of-the-line set with vibrant hues. Great for experienced artists.


Tubes are filled with lustrous paints with lovely pigments. Concentrated color and texture without an oily consistency. Works wonderfully for portraits. Set of 10 comes in a nice case. Many other color option sets available.


Expensive. Paints might be too gritty for some users, so you may want to mix in a thinning medium.

Best Bang for the Buck
Castle Art Supplies Oil Paint Set
Castle Art Supplies
Oil Paint Set
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Best for Beginners
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A set of 24 blended, highly pigmented colors that is both vibrant and long-lasting.


These paints are priced for the budget-minded or beginning painter, but are also a great choice for the experienced artists as well. The even consistency means that the paints apply smoothly and the assortment of colors works well for a wide variety of subject matter.


The tubes are small, but a little bit of paint can go a long way.

ZenArt Supplies Professional Oil Paints Set
ZenArt Supplies
Professional Oil Paints Set
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Best for Portraits
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Vivid set of oil paints with colors for those who paint portraits or are in a figure painting class.


Eight high-quality, reasonably priced, large tubes. Thick consistency, and they blend beautifully with other colors or mediums. Create nice textures that give paintings character. Other color option sets available.


Colors are limited to neutral, mostly skin tones. If squeezed too hard, tubes might release paint even with cap on.

U.S. Art Supply Professional Set of 24 Oil-based Colors
U.S. Art Supply
Professional Set of 24 Oil-based Colors
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Customer Favorite
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A premier paint set with 24 practical color choices for students.


Safe for kids – non-toxic and acid-free. Inexpensive, yet good quality and quantity for the price. Paints flow nicely. Set comes with all the main colors one should need.


Tubes are on smaller side. Quality of paint is not up to professional artist standards. Made in China. Hard to wash off brushes, hands.

Winsor & Newton Oil Color 10-Tube Set
Winsor & Newton
Oil Color 10-Tube Set
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Simple Yet Solid
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A pretty boxed set of 10 water-based oil paints from a top brand – a premium starter set.


Colors have excellent intensity. Can clean brushes with soap and water quickly and easily. Colors are easy to mix for a wider spectrum of hues. Odorless. Can be thinned down with water easily. Eco-friendly with no solvents.


Once paint is down, it could take a while to dry. No warm red tone included. May be too thick for some and hard to control on canvas.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best oil paint sets

Often, the most important thing we should add to our hectic schedules is some downtime. One of the best ways to do that is with a rewarding hobby. Besides relieving stress, oil painting can increase memory, enhance critical thinking, and improve motor skills. To get started, you need a quality oil paint set.

The best oil paint set will be slightly different for each individual, depending on his or her preferences and artistic needs. Paints with vibrant pigments that are fade-resistant and easy to work with are the most desirable. Red, yellow, and blue are typically the most important colors to have, but depending on your artistic vision, you may prefer a set that contains different colors.

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Oil paint often contains linseed oil, which, over time, will deteriorate a canvas. Before painting, your canvas must be primed and sealed, preferably with gesso.

How does oil painting work?

There are two basic components of oil paints: the pigments and the drying oil. The pigments are what provide the color while the oil might best be thought of as the initial consistency.

After being applied to the canvas, oil paints dry slowly through oxidation (a chemical reaction with oxygen) that makes the paint turn hard. This slow-drying process gives the artist time to work with the paints to create and finesse their vision.

An additional substance (a medium) may be added to the oil paint by the artist to alter factors such as the drying time or the paint's consistency/transparency.

Oil paint set considerations


The most important feature to consider when choosing an oil paint set is the pigments. Higher quality oil paints use more pure pigmentation (natural substances) and less synthetic filler. This pigmentation is also more finely ground in higher end oil paint sets to produce a smoother, more even consistency.

Oil paints made with pure pigmentation offer brighter, more vibrant colors that provide better coverage. The pure pigments also hold their original color much better than paints that use synthetic pigmentation and fillers. Because a little goes a long way in regard to pure pigments, higher grade oil paint sets often have smaller tubes.


The oil used in creating oil paint is responsible for providing many important qualities. The most common oils include linseed oil, walnut oil, safflower oil, and poppyseed oil.

  • Linseed oil

This oil is made from the seeds of a flax plant and typically gives the paint a higher gloss while making it more transparent. It also has a tendency to add a yellow tone and dries completely in about three to five days.

  • Walnut oil

Walnut oil makes your paint more fluid and produces less of a yellow tint than linseed oil. It typically dries in about four or five days.

  • Poppy seed oil

This is the slowest drying oil — it can take up to seven days to dry — so it should not be used on the lowest levels of paint in your painting as it may cause cracking. Poppy seed oil gives the paint a slightly thicker consistency and is the least likely to yellow.

  • Safflower oil

Safflower oil has similar properties to poppy seed oil, only it dries a little faster.

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Did you know?
A medium is a substance that is added to oil paint that alters the consistency, the drying time, or the finish of your painting.

Other considerations

Although oil paints can be modified by being mixed with other substances (mediums), it is most advantageous to work with a set of paints that already has the key features you desire.


Each artist has a consistency that he or she prefers. This consistency may change depending on technique. A thicker, creamier paint that feels like butter, for instance, is better for techniques where retaining brush texture is important.


Just like the paint in your house, different oil paint sets offer different sheens. Whether you prefer a matte finish or something with a higher gloss, it's up to you. Look for the paint that offers what you desire.

Color choice

Although there is a basic set of colors that are the most versatile, ultimately, the ones that come in your oil paint set are a matter of personal preference. For instance, if you are looking to work in earth tones you will want a different set than someone looking for a wide and diverse range of vivid colors.

Tube size

The size of the paint tubes can be deceiving. High-end oil paint sets offer paints that are rich in pigmentation and often may come in smaller tubes, yet allow you to achieve the same (if not better) results as a larger, less pigmented tube of lower-end paint.

The most important colors to have

Painting with oils is not like coloring with markers, pencils, or crayons — as already stated, you do not need every color imaginable to create a vibrant work of art. Because you mix and blend to create what you need, your palette can actually start off with just a few essential colors. Following is a list of colors that together as a base set of paints offer the widest range of possibilities for a beginner.

  • Titanium white

  • Ivory black

  • Cadmium red

  • Alizarin crimson

  • Cadmium yellow

  • Ultramarine blue

Some other desirable colors you may want to consider are:

  • Cadmium yellow light

  • Yellow ochre

  • Burnt sienna

  • Raw umber

  • Phthalo Blue

  • Cerulean blue

  • Cobalt blue

  • Permanent green light

  • Sap green

  • Violet

Oil paint sets prices

Oil paint sets start at $14. These paints are often made from inexpensive or synthetic pigments, which are fine for a student who is just beginning. These sets also typically give the burgeoning artist a wide range of colors.

At around $25, you start finding sets that are for the more serious artist, or students. These oil paint sets tend to have about half the colors as the lower priced sets, but they are of considerably higher quality.

As you move past $60, you will find oil paint sets that are for the serious artist, offering some of the highest quality paints with long-lasting colors. Some of these sets may offer drying oils and brushes, which will come in handy, but if you're just looking for paints, these extras won't be needed.

Oil painting tips

You probably weren't allowed to use oil paints as a child because they stain, so the medium has a bit of mystique to it. To help get you started doing your best work, here are a few tips for working with oil paints.

  • Set limits: Limit your colors. The fewer colors you work with, the more control you will have.

  • Work clean: Do not allow your unclean brush to contaminate the colors on your palette.

  • Control your strokes: Whether you are in tight or using broad motions, painting is all about being in control of how you apply the paint to the canvas.

  • Experiment with mediums: Do you like your paint thick and creamy or thin and fluid? Find the medium that works best for your needs.

  • If at first...: Don't just paint a subject once. Paint it several times.

  • Less is more: The less colors you mix, the more vibrant your blend will be. Also use the smallest amount of paint that will get the job done.

  • Knife painting: Don't be afraid to use your palette knife for painting. It's not always about adding more, some impressive effects can be accomplished by scraping away paint with your palette knife.

  • Focus: No matter what you are painting, always include a focal point, the area where you want the eye to zero in on first.
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The longer it takes for your oils to dry, the more time you will have to finesse your painting to perfection.


Q. Why are some oil paint sets so much more expensive than others?

A. There are many factors that affect the price of oil paints, but the most important ones to consider are the quality, texture, and materials used for pigmentation. These elements can vary greatly from one company to the next. Less expensive oil paints tend to have pigments that are synthetic and use more filler. These paints are often coarser and deliver a less than ideal painting experience. The lower end pigments also typically do not hold their color as well as higher end paints.

Q. Are oil paints toxic?

A. Although most oil paints are non-toxic to humans, there are still some that do contain pigments that require warnings from the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). These paints will be labeled as dangerous, so it is important to always read the label. The best way to proceed is to develop safe working methods and treat all paints as being potentially harmful, not only to yourself, but to pets and the environment.

Q. What other supplies will I need besides my oil paint set?

A. If this is your first time using oil paints, there are a number of other materials you will want to have besides the oil paint before you begin creating. A stretched canvas, gesso (for priming), oil brushes, palette knives, a pencil, a gum eraser, an easel, a palette, turpenoid, linseed oil (or another medium), rags, and a painting smock should be enough to get you started on your first project.

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