Acrylic vs oil paint

When you first set out to discover how to paint, there are many choices at your fingertips. The most basic of them all is the kind of substance you want to use; watercolor, acrylics, and oils are the three most common substances used when it comes down to painting. Although figuring out what separates watercolor from Acrylic vs oil paint might be easier than what separates acrylics from oil paints, both options may still prove to be difficult with so many possibilities.

Painting your house can be very difficult especially if you aren’t well informed of the different types of paint that exist in the market today. It’s important to know their pros and cons so as to come up with a suitable plan! In this article, we’re going to compare painters by typing them into these two categories: Oil Paint and Acrylic Paint. We’ll also talk about ways on how one can hone their painting skills!

Oil paint

Oils, in the basic art history sense, are exquisite. They date back to the 13th century and have been used in the creation of masterpieces such as The Starry Night by Van Gogh. Brilliantly comprising oils suspended in linseed, oils create a rich texture that enhances each majestic brush stroke with luster and intensity of color. While timeless, oil paintings should be cleaned and maintained with care – never use water or other cleaning solutions on a painting made from oil; turpentine has been traditionally used to strike off grime and dirt from oil paintings, but it is important to note that it is actually not safe to breathe the vapors emitted into the air after using this agent. Using a dry cloth will allow you to gently cleanse your artwork while reducing the likelihood of damaging your image!

Advantages of Oil paint

  • Oil paints should be applied to canvases, not skin. Oils appear wet for a longer time than other types of paint because they take a while to dry. Since oils stay put for so long, artists have plenty of time to mix colors or switch mediums.
  • Oil paints are the most vibrant of all their paint alternatives due to their range of colors and the thickness of the oil. Artists can layer them more than watercolor or acrylics because there is so much more substance to work with. This allows for more flexibility because you can create different variations from paints that have been previously applied.
  • There are a great many combinations of oil paint that artists can create that result in any appearance imaginable, and all of them can also be manipulated to appear any texture, finish, or sheen as well.
  • Oil paints have a very specific and stable look which is suitable for paintings that are meant to stay the way they are for a long time as opposed to watercolors whose appearance may change over time.

Disadvantages of Oil paint

  • Some artists like to work in a spontaneous way and use colors with fast-drying times which can be advantageous if you’re working on a small scale or attempting to make changes while it dries.
  • Quality linseed oil paints are a popular choice among those selecting materials for their artwork. While the oils may darken and yellow over time. Certain application techniques (in addition to quality materials) can combat this tendency. Unfortunately, such techniques and materials often do not come standard in all paints nor are they easily accessible to everyone who wants to utilize them.

Acrylic paint

Acrylics are a much younger medium than oils. Paints suspended in water have been used since prehistoric times and were developed into an art supply by Winsor & Newton in the 1800s, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that acrylic polymer emulsions came about. Unlike oils you don’t need chemicals such as turpentine to help thin acrylic paint; instead, all you will need is water! Acrylics are good for beginners due to their easy-to-handle nature; they’re more malleable than oils and so although there’s still a lot of control needed, blends tend to be easier with acrylic paints.

Advantages of Acrylic paint

  • Acrylic paint can be dissolved with pure water instead of solvents as is the case with oil-based paints. Not only is this safer, but it can make clean-up more convenient. One doesn’t need to use harmful chemicals to clean their brushes and hands after working on a painting session. Just wash everything off with water!
  • Acrylic paints are non-toxic when they get on skin and when disposed of, unlike many professional grade paints that may contain toxic substances such as cadmium oxides. However, even with acrylics and other safe to use options like watercolors you should still take care when disposing of your paintings as they can’t always be seen as waste and can be mistaken by others.
  • The obvious advantage of using acrylic paint over oil paints is that it dries faster. This allows artists to work with different layers of color and paint them on top of each other without daubing wet oil paints, which would eventually result in a sticky mess if the artist wanted to change those colors. Acrylic painting is often recommended for students who want the ability to rework their pieces before bringing them home for parents, friends, or relatives because it tends to give off a professional, clean look much more easily.
  • Because of their versatility, acrylic colors can be used in place of watercolors when painting softer and more subtle pieces. However, there are a few differences between the two as paints – acrylics dry to the desired shade or color, like an eggshell finish, whereas watercolors dry lighter unless extra care is taken to make sure that each coat is painted on thinly and evenly (and not building up the pigment too much).

Disadvantages of Acrylic paint

  • One disadvantage of using acrylic paints is that there are fewer colors available to the artist than might be found with oils or watercolor paints, for example. Additionally, oil paints tend to have a smoother finish when used thickly or mixed together, whereas mixing acrylic paints tend to result in a slightly more chalky finish. On some surfaces, however, acrylics can be applied thickly and then sanded down by hand in the same way one would sand a piece of wood for example. There are also additives and mediums which can be used to add texture to the paint or change its viscosity.

Difference between Acrylic vs oil paint


Lightfastness is a term used to describe how quickly a hue, pigment, or color loses saturation when exposed to ultraviolet light (UV), as well as the number of years it takes for that hue’s color value measured on a chroma scale to degrade.

Oil paint will fade. It is well known that oil paintings often appear yellow over time as a result of the binder showing through their original color pigments, which gradually darkens the surface of the canvas over time making it dull visually. Acrylics on the other hand have a reputation for retaining their original color and therefore improve in appearance over time, thus looking as good as they did in years past and, in effect, maintaining as outstanding visual clarity into the foreseeable future.

Drying Time

When it comes to choosing the right paints, two of the biggest deciding factors will be drying time and how much maneuverability you have with those paints. Oil paints tend to dry slower than their acrylic counterparts which means that a work in progress can be left for days or weeks before picking back up where one had previously left off. This is especially helpful when trying to complete a realistic-style painting where blending between colors would naturally occur over time if one were to make any sort of noticeable break – allowing you to make more seamless transitions between any given step.

Acrylic paints, like other paints, are sold in larger tubes that are thicker than watercolor. The pros of acrylics is that they dry faster than watercolors, usually within 30 minutes or less, so you won’t have to wait long before moving on to the next step in your painting process. Great for when you want to get through a project really quickly or if your style doesn’t require time for blending and smudging!

Color Quality

Oil paints typically have a higher concentration of pigments, so the more pigment you use in your artwork, the more vivid and richer it will appear. Even if you use acrylic paint to create a painting that looks exactly how you envisioned it to look before applying it on canvas or paper, the paint may darken as it dries due to evaporation.

Difference in mixing

When it comes to mixing paint colors, oils are definitely the best choice. With acrylic paint, you’re limited in how long you can mix because acrylic paint dries faster. With oils, on the other hand, you can mix your paints to get an endless number of subtle color variations over a longer period of time and if you want to switch something up or want to try out something new, the options are virtually endless. Oils really do have a slight edge when it comes to mixing paint!


Once you’re done painting with acrylics, you need to clean your brushes quickly when it comes to acrylic paint. The bristles will become full of dried paint within 30 minutes, and they become useless after that point. Water is sufficient for cleaning the brushes out after working with acrylics, which is great because water is environmentally friendly too! Oil paints require turpentine or mineral spirits (which both leave a greasy residue and can be harsh on skin) and it’s a much longer process to get them clean.

What is Oil paint best for?

There are several reasons why oil paints are used, the first being that they are easily the most popular out of all types of paints today – whether they’re used on wood, metal, or ceramics (let alone canvas or thick boards.) Oil paints are like watercolors in that they can be blended to create different effects and can also be mixed with acrylics, varnishes, and other household materials. The main substitutes for oils are enamels and lacquers. Paint sprayers work very well on “oils” as well in case you don’t have time for a brush-on method.

What is Acrylic paint best for?

If you’re into painting or any other type of craft, acrylic products are by far your best bet. They dry extremely quickly, making them excellent for projects involving paper, canvas, wood, glass, and even metal! While acrylics can be used outdoors the thing to remember is that these won’t last as long as they would indoors since they are more prone to UV damage from the sun.

How to use Acrylic paint in the right way? (Some tips)

When you’re just starting out, using water will be more than enough to help your paints retain the moisture they need. The less you have to worry about making a mess, the better! It may not take up too much room, but a spray bottle is useful for adding just a bit of water here and there towards individual pieces of your work – like single brushstrokes that seem in need of some water retention. You might want to think about painting your canvas or wet brushes in small increments rather than waiting until that clock hits 5:00 pm and you realize that you still haven’t completed one piece of the puzzle. We suggest holding yourself back from finishing in one sitting if at all possible – because sometimes it’s hard not to rush things when a deadline is approaching (and so is exhaustion!).

Do not use regular soap on your brushes. Even though it may seem effective, it is not. Brushing it out until there is no more paint will take out any residue leftover so that you can have your brushes clean with little effort on your part. Applying a sealant/fixative/varnish every time you work on a painting will also help preserve the quality and look of your piece – making sure that it doesn’t fade away after many years.

How to use Oil paint in the right way? (Some Tips)

For painting, especially with oils, an artist can use mediums that allow for more flexibility and blending when different color hues meet each other. When layering paint on canvas surfaces there is a certain way to go about it. It’s best to dry completely between layers for most mediums out there. Certain canvases you might want to consider are gessoes linen even if it isn’t specifically a painting surface geared towards oils – because in actuality the texture and design of oil paintings (especially the effect you’re going for,) can be achieved by using other surfaces as long as they are primed correctly.

Using oils when painting is best done using an oil painting medium. This allows one to achieve fluidity, blending, and shading when it comes to color mixing capabilities. Once you have finished blending your colors on the palette, it’s important to let them dry completely before adding another layer of paint. Additionally, if you are planning on painting consecutive layers with oil paints make sure that each layer dries completely before applying a new shape in order to alter the pigment’s consistency.

Can you paint Acrylic over oil paint?

Acrylic paints should never be painted over an oil base. Paints have varying degrees of plasticity and because acrylics are relatively plastic in nature, they do not breathe as well as others like watercolors that contain a higher ratio of water to pigment or oil paints which also contain a heavily advanced ratio of linseed oil. Some paints such as enamels will also chip over acrylics with heavier pigments though they can be pulled off at times depending on the type of acrylic used however it is always recommended to use two surface paints when covering each other so as to avoid excessive cracking altogether.

Final Verdict: Acrylic vs oil paint

At the end of your day, if you’re looking to get into painting and are unsure where to begin, we recommend a starter kit. An acrylic paints starter kit is ideal because they’re easy on your wallet but still paints well and costs less than a professional set up. Alternatively, oil paints are more customizable in nature but can prove tricky due to their long drying time. Oil paints also tend to be more expensive than acrylics so keep that in mind as you come up with an investment plan to help finance your brand new hobby or career!

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