Water color vs acrylics

For beginners, it might nots seem so, but there are major differences between acrylic paints and water colors.  There are major differences in the way the two are made and also the way you can use them but the two also share some similarities.

While both paints are water soluble, they have major differences in their use and outcome. Some differences are in the color, usability and many other factors.

Water color vs acrylics – synthetic vs natural ingredients

Most water colors are all made from natural ingredients and some have a synthetic binder in them. The ingredients may vary depending on the manufacturer. Water colors have three main ingredients; a natural gum, color pigment and synthetic/Arabic glycol.  Other ingredients include honey, ox gall, glycerine and preservatives that alter the pigment, hiding, durability and viscosity of the paint.

Acrylics, on the other hand, are all man made. A typical acrylic tube should contain acrylic resin, a pigment and a binder. Both paints are water soluble.

Types of water colors vs types of acrylics

Water colors normally come in pans and tubes while acrylics are in bottles, jars and smaller tubes depending on the amount you need.  Water colors mainly come in solid form that you have to mix up with water. Acrylics on the other hand come in fluid consistency, some acrylics have different degrees of drying, some acrylics are re-workable and others are really heavy bodies.

Where the two paints can be used

Watercolors can only be used on paper and similar surfaces but acrylics pave way for a wide range of uses. Water color has special paper that is designed to absorb the paints the best. You can use them on different surfaces including wood, paper, canvas and more. 

Acrylic vs watercolors – paint and style

Acrylic paint is more universal as it can be used to simulate water color as well as used in very thick layer for an impasto effect. Water color on the other hand cannot be used in the same ways as acrylic paints.

When using acrylics, we normally start off with the dark colors and work our way up to the lighter ones. For watercolors it is the other way around. You start off with the light colors and work while adding darker ones.

For water colors, you can find ranges opaque to transparent. they are also manly created to produce transparent painting or ones with less intense color. Acrylic paint is brighter and more intense when it comes to the finish.

To lighten an acrylic paint, you simply have to ass a titanium white acrylic paint to the color. With water colors, white color or paint cannot be used because it makes the colors appear opaque. This is why water color is used on white paper as the best canvas.

Similarities in use

Water color and acrylic paints are very similar in that they are water soluble. The main difference is in the way they are used with the water. You need to dilute the water colors much more than you would acrylics.