Originally Posted by TheJack
It costs way more. I think I paid 35$ for a sheet of 2x2 and at Lowes clear acrylic sheets that are about 4X4 are around $10 if I remember from my last build.
Lowe's is expensive for acrylic; you can typically get better deals from your local sign maker. My local sign maker sells the raw acrylic at cost (even sells partial sheets) and can order stuff they don't have in stock, which will come on their regular trucks. Just for comparison, Lowe's sells 2x4 sheets of 0.220" extruded acrylic for $50/sheet and the sign shop has 4x8 sheets 0.220" cast cell (better quality) for $150/sheet.
There should not be a huge price difference on colored vs clear acrylic (maybe a few bucks for a 2x4 sheet); and it'd certainly be worth it over painting since you save yourself the hassle and cost of paint while achieving a much better result. Don't forget, your "cost" is not just in the price of materials but also the work you put into it.