Difference between Acrylic and Oil Paint

Key Difference: Acrylic paints are fast drying paints which are made up of pigments suspended in an acrylic emulsion or binder. On the other hand, oil paints are slow-drying paints which are made of small pigment particles which are suspended in mediums like thinner, linseed oil, etc.

Acrylic paint is known for its fast drying feature. It contains a pigment which is suspended in an acrylic emulsion or binder. It uses water for diluting. These paints can be used on different mediums like canvas and board. Mainly water is added to it, however some other mediums can also be used for getting specific types of textures or for reducing the drying time.

Generally, it takes sixty seconds for drying. They also tend to get a slightly darker color on drying. They become resistant to water and dilution after drying up.

The variation in dilution of these colors can make a painting look like created by wispy water colors or intense oil paints. It is also suggested for the beginners.

On the other hand, oil pants are made up of small particles of pigment which are mixed and suspended with mediums like thinner, linseed oil, etc. They were introduced in 1200 in England for decorative paintings. They have been the favorites of most famous painters. The key point of distinction between oil and acrylic paints is that oil paint takes a longer time to dry. It may take a few months also to become completely dry. However, this shortcoming is also a boon for painters who can work on the same painting for a long time.

Unlike acrylic paints, oil paints are considered to get effected with time.  Due to fast drying time, acrylic paints are used for creating a crisp edge. However, to create a similar effect, an oil painter may have to wait for a longer time. Oil paints are glossier than acrylic paints.

Acrylic paints are newer than the oil paints which are being used since centuries.  In context to texture creation, oil paints provide a great versatility, whereas the same effect is difficult to achieve with acrylic paints alone. However, a gel medium may be added to acrylic paint to get similar effects.

Comparison between Acrylic and Oil Paint:


Acrylic Paint

Oil Paint


It is made of pigment which is suspended in a binder of acrylic polymer emulsion

It is made of pigment grounded with oil like linseed oil

Famous Artists

Any Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein

Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.

Drying time

Usually takes 60 seconds (may take upto a few hours also)

Can take a few months to dry completely

Preferred medium for



Can be used on

Paper, card, canvas board, etc. (Different)

Canvas or board (Selected)

Preferred for

Graphic compositions

Portrait painting

Clean up

Simply water cleanup

Turpentine, paint thinner, or other solvent

Resistance to fading over time


Not as good as acrylic


Comparatively cheap

Comparatively expensive




Image Courtesy: explore-drawing-and-painting.com, jeanneillenye.blogspot.in

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