Acrylic Paint vs. Watercolor Paint – Which Is Better and Why?

Both acrylic and watercolor are two very important types of paint. It’s crucial to gain a little insight and learn the differences between them before deciding on the medium and begin embarking on your journey of painting. Even though personal preferences and specific needs of a particular painting will determine your choice, it’s always important to make an informed decision.

Acrylic Paint vs. Watercolor Paint - Which Is Better and Why?                                                                                                                                

There are some basic characteristics of both the paints, listed below, which will give a good insight and equip you with the relevant knowledge.

  1. Painting Surface

Watercolor is painted on paper and there is a available. Watercolor demands good paper quality for explicit clarity of the painting. Watercolor can add a nice hue, sublime & lovely glow to the painting. Watercolor is different from other medium in a sense that you can create an endless array of luscious colors by layering color in washes. Transparent overlays are possible only in watercolor, but not in other mediums.

As against the watercolor, acrylic can be painted on many surfaces including canvas, paper, glass and plastic. Acrylic dries very fast and you can paint over it when dry. Acrylic has a unique characteristic of turning opaque when used thickly and becoming transparent when used in a diluted form. It can be diluted with water or a special medium. Glazing acrylic over an under-painting of watercolor is a technique that a lot of artists use. There are three types of watercolor: transparent, opaque and staining. Learning their qualities can make painting with watercolor fun and fun and exciting. Many think that watercolor is difficult to handle but understanding different attributes associated with them and how that can be utilized is the key to success with watercolor.

  1. Drying Time

Acrylics tend to dry really quickly so they’re great for those who want to get done with a painting very fast. However, with acrylics you can’t leave your painting and come back to finish it at a later time. Acrylics tend to dry-off completely in under an hour. This can be slowed down by adding retarders to them and by doing this you can add a few hours to their drying time. Watercolors also dry quite fast and can completely dry much more quickly than acrylics if the work space is somewhere hot and dry. To slow down the drying time with watercolors,working in a humid atmosphere will help.

  1. Colors

Watercolors are known for the fragile and radiant effect they lend to a painting. But,when they dry, they actually appear a lot more faded and pale than before. On the other hand, acrylics dry a bit darker than what they originally were because of the binder used in them.But you can dilute the acrylics and use them for glazing in a watercolor paint. You won’t get that muddy look.

  1. Mixing

Mixing of colors with acrylics can be a very daunting task, because they dry quite quickly, you haven’t really got much time to mix them for their plastic nature. With watercolors, it can be a lot harder to mix them well because water has an elusive tendency to run away. With watercolors you have to take special care while mixing them because it only takes a single drop to completely ruin your creation.

  1. Correcting Mistakes

One advantage of acrylic is it gives you the flexibility of correcting mistakes, if any,in quick time since it doesn’t take the acrylic paint long to dry. Watercolors also dry quite fast, but it can be harder to correct mistakes when painting with watercolors because of their watery nature. While correcting,the layers of color tend to rehydrate and there’s a chance of spreading and overflowing thus ruining the whole picture.

  1. Bleeding

You can create a unique effect called bleeding only with watercolor. Because of their sensitivity to water, you can create a bleeding effect with watercolors. It’s a delicate art to bring about that effect which takes a lot of practice to master. There are quite a few paintings one can find in art galleries or online websites such as which have used this technique to nicety.

  1. Safety

Watercolor paints are non-toxic and really safe in nature. And they have no pungent odor. The same goes for acrylic paints, as they are water-based, though some acrylic paints will have toxic additives in them.

  1. Cost

Acrylic paints are quite cheap and you don’t need much equipment for painting with acrylics and you can use any kind of surface to paint on. Watercolor paints are also very affordable and cost-effective because when painting with watercolors, a lot of less paint is required.While a single tube of watercolor paint can last a few paintings, with acrylics, you’ll probably need at least one tube per painting.

You need to experiment with both watercolor and acrylic painting to assess your level of comfort before you make a choice. Best way to look at it is to let yourself be guided by the subject of your painting which will decide on your behalf which medium to use.

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