Acrylic Painting vs Oil Painting - Azatta

Acrylic Painting vs Oil Painting

If you are new to art and design, or want to establish yourself as a successful painter, you must understand the types of paints that are commonly used not only by the newbies but also by experienced and well-popular artists. To start with, usually, there are three categories of paints namely Watercolor, Oil Paint, and Acrylic Paint.

While the watercolors are easily distinguishable, the latter two look pretty similar and cannot be identified unless you have an expert eye for that kind of identification.

Although experience is something that comes with time, there are certain properties of the color mixing types that can help you know acrylic vs oil paint, and see the differences between them. The following sections explain such characteristics, like acrylic painting techniques, so you can easily notice acrylic paint vs oil paint, even if you are in the learning phase.

acrylic painting

Part 1: Introduction to acrylic painting and oil painting

Below is some basic information about acrylic paint and oil paint that could come in handy when you are trying to choose one among the two:

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint first rolled out in the market for the masses somewhere in the 1950s. The name came into existence because the specific pigments were suspended into the acrylic polymer to form that particular color. Once formed, the acrylic paint is then packed in the color tubes that the artists can buy and use.

Acrylic paint is hassle-free as it can be diluted with plain water. This is one of the major factors why most newbies prefer using these colors over oil paint. Furthermore, the drying time of acrylic paint comparatively faster, typically within a couple of minutes after putting it on the canvas.Therefore, you can keep working on your masterpiece without any long pauses or halts in acrylic gouache.

Another noteworthy point here is, if you are a beginner, you may not want to invest a large sum of money in the paints. Yet, you might want to choose a brand that doesn’t look cheap when used on the canvas. Likewise, after gaining some experience, when you believe that it’s time to upgrade the quality, you would want to choose acrylic colors from a comparatively better company.

In addition, if you prefer using the fluid acrylics as they are, and are not into mixed-media or experimenting with new shades, using an high quality would be a good idea.

The two reputed acrylic paint brands are:

Winsor & Newton Artist’s Acrylic ($15.00 to $20.00) – Ideal for both beginners and experts where the colors are to be used on ‘as is’ theme for consistency

●Liquitex Basics Acrylic ($35.00 to $45.00) – Ideal for mixed-media and to experiment with new shades for non-painting tasks

acrylic paint

Oil Paint

First created somewhere in the 12th century, oil paint has its own history. Some of the most popular and antique paintings like Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh were drawn using oil paint.

As far as the composition is concerned, oil painting is created when a specific pigment is suspended in flaxseed oil, a.k.a. linseed oil. Due to the composition, a design drawn with oil paint takes longer to dry. Because of this, many times the artists have to take long pauses, which may last from a couple of hours to the next day, to let the paint settle down on the canvas.

As a result, oil paintings take comparatively more time to complete.

Also, if you painting on canvas, because oil paint is not compatible with water due to its characteristics, it is diluted with white spirit or turpentine, and the same fluids are used to clean the painting and its tools for maintenance. As for durability, when exposed to light, oil paintings become pale over time.

The two most reputed brands for oil paint are:

●Bellofy 24-Color Oil Paint Set ($10.00 to $15.00) – Ideal for beginners and professionals who usually travel along with their own set of paints

●Winsor & Newton Oil Colors Set ($25.00 to $35.00) – Ideal for the arts where quality is required

premium acrylic painting

Part 2: Key differences between acrylic painting and oil painting

When talking about acrylic vs oil paint, some of the key differences between the two include:


When pricing is thought of, oil paintings are a bit costlier when compared to acrylic painting. This is because the former requires specific cleaning material, particular thinner type that is, obviously, more expensive than plain water, etc.

●Working Time

As discussed earlier, acrylic paint dries faster and therefore, beginners may find it hard to work with complex drawings. On the other hand, oil paint needs more time to complete as the halting time could go up to 24 hours, or sometimes even more.

●Color Shift

Acrylic painting changes its color as soon as it dries, and after that, it remains the same for several decades. On the other hand, any drawing painted with oil paint takes time to settle into the canvas before it can change its color, and even after that, it eventually gets yellowish after a couple of years when exposed to light.

●Smell of Paints

Because a particular thinner is required to dilute oil paint, and special fluids are used to clean the painting tools, an oil painting could be smellier as compared to that prepared using acrylic paint. Therefore, the artists oil paints who prefer using oil paint are suggested to choose a well-ventilated area as their workplace.

canvas painting

Part 3: Sunset in acrylic paint and oil paint

One of the most popular drawings, especially for beginners is the painting of Sunset. A sunset painting can be drawn with both acrylic paint and oil paint, and the choice of the paint type depends on the quality and durability of the finished artwork you’re looking forward to having.

pretty butterfly print

For your convenience, the instructions to draw a sunset acrylic canvas painting and oil painting using both the color types are given below:

Sunset in Acrylic Paint

Step 1: Gather the Paint and Tools

Keep a canvas, a set of acrylic paint, palette, brushes (three), a pencil, a toothpick (or any other safe but pointed-edged stick), and water handy to start with.

Step 2: Create a Horizon and Paint the Sky

Grab a pencil and draw a slightly curvy horizontal fade line somewhere at 25% above the bottom of the canvas to create a horizon. Next, pour some yellow color in the palette, and use a brush to paint the upper 75% area of the canvas with this shade.

After this, color the major portion (75% to 80%) of the yellow with orange, and repeat this process with the pink and then the purple color. Make sure to blend each shade with its prior color as you paint your way to the lower area.

Step 3: Sketch the Earthy Elements

Use the horizontal line you drew earlier as a base and draw an outline for the earthy elements like a mountain, city roads, etc. (a mountain is used here for illustration). Now, use some dark colors to fill the mountains (or any other shade to draw and color the foreground of the elements as needed).

Step 4: Paint the Sky

Pour some white color into the palette, and use your pencil or toothpick to make several white dots over the purple paint that represent the stars in the sky.

acrylic painting sunset

Sunset in Oil Paint

Step 1: Gather the Art Supplies

Keep a board or primed canvas, 2” and smaller flat bristle oil painting brushes, oil paint colors (Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Light Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and Orange), medium-dark flat purple acrylic paint, metal palette knife, 2” soft flat brush, paper towels, and disposable gloves, palette, and apron handy to start with.

Step 2: Create a Base

Use the 2” brush to draw a dark purple color base with the acrylic paint, and leave the brush and paint alone to let them dry. After that, use a bit darker color to draw a horizon line, and white paint to draw the Sun. Make sure to draw small strokes with the brushes to give the sky a natural and organic look.

Step 3: Paint and Blend the Background

Use all the oil paint shades listed above, except for Cobalt Blue, to color the entire canvas as a background. Use Cobalt Blue to paint the sky. Next, blend all the colors to give the sky and the sea a natural look. After blending is done, you can use the palette knife to get rid of the thick layers of the oil paint.

Step 4: Create Clouds, Blend Foreground Colors, and Add Foreground Details

Use Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson to form the clouds, use a mix of yellow, white, and orange to apply this peach color with the palette knife for highlighting the surrounding areas of the Sun. To add foreground details, draw sharp edges for the clouds, the horizon where the sea meets the sky, and the sea waves.

Once everything is done, leave your abstract painting for a day to let the oil paint dry and set in the canvas.

oil painting sunset


Both Acrylic Paint and Oil Paint have their significance. While the former dries sooner but doesn’t give time to the beginners to complete the blending part, the latter takes longer to dry but requires specific fluids as a thinner and cleaning material. Furthermore, acrylic paintings remain intact even after several decades, whereas the oil paintings become yellow when exposed to light for merely a couple of years.