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Congratulations on the mural! A thread here, showing your progress would be greatly appreciated.
I strarted with Wal-mart acrylics also, running into some of the same problems you did, transparency, dullness and they are quite runny. I have done a lot of trials and studying on the subject since. It seems that cheaper paints use lower quality pigments, fillers, and thinners, making high quality paintings hard to attain. For brush work, I do use Liquitex heavy body paints, thinned with three parts fluid matte medium to one part water. For pallet kinife painting, I like Hobby Lobby's Master's Touch Acrylic paints in 250 ml tubes. It is the consistency I prefer, and doesn't cost too much.
All that said, my painting that sold for by far the highest amount (Legends of the Hunt ) was done with cheaper paints, but covered in acrylic semi-gloss varnish to gain vibrancy.
In general, professional quality paints look better, and when properly thinned don't carry such a high price tag.
Good luck!
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