3-way photo comparison of oil paints, acrylic paints and watercolor paints taken from Unsplash and used as cover for Bodhiroom learning story

A Comparison of Watercolor, Acrylic and Oil Paints

  • 15/10/2020
  • +1

Art is often considered to be a great stress buster with its different forms, techniques and styles. If you are beginning your journey as an artist or picking up an old hobby but are confused about which type of paints would work best for you, we have you covered! 


Point of Comparison Watercolours Acrylics Oil Paints
Price Basic Camel Watercolours Paint set -12 shades priced at Rs. 176 Basic Camlin Acrylic Paint set  – 10 shades priced at Rs. 197  Basic Camel Oil Colour Box – 12 shades priced at Rs. 270 
Variants Available in:

  • Pans, i.e. brick-like paint which activates when wet 
  • Tubes, i.e. liquid paint in small – large tube packs. Tend to be messier than pans
Available in:

Available in:

Ingredients Natural ingredients – created by mixing colour pigments with a binder (e.g.gum arabic) Synthetic ingredients – created by suspending color pigment in plastic polymer resin Natural ingredients – made by suspending color pigments in oil as the binder (usually linseed oil)
Preferred brushes/tools  Requires a brush set with varied sizes, shapes and flexibility depending on the effects that need to be produced
Ease of Use
Permanence (ability of the colour to resist gradual fading when exposed to light and humidity)


Mentioned on the paint tube as ‘lightfastness’ with a categorisation or on the manufacturer’s website. 


(Recommended category: very good or excellent lightfastness)



Type of art
Special Care Instructions
  • Priming the surface of the canvas is recommended before starting on a project using acrylic paint. It allows you to control paint flow, have the desired texture of canvas and makes it more absorbent 
  • Varnish should be used to preserve your artwork for years to come. It could be glossy, matte or satin varnish depending upon the look you’re going for.



Famous watercolor painters include Vincent Van Gogh, who created over 150 watercolours over his lifetime such as ‘A Sunday in Eindhoven,’ ‘Coalmine in the Borinage,’ and ‘Gate in the Paris Ramparts.’ Most traditional painters tended to use both watercolors and oil paints. John Singer Sarget, the famous portrait artist, for example was also proficient with both techniques. Acrylics are a relatively new phenomenon in the world of painting and one of its foremost proponents was David Hockney.


Colors, paints, brushes, techniques…these topics can be confusing for an amateur who is fascinated by the famous artworks of the masters and just wants to roll up her sleeves and get started. However, with a bit of preparation it is possible to narrow down which material (oil, acrylic or watercolor) as well as tools (brushes, knives) and techniques (cubism, impressionism, realism, modernism, landscapes, portraits etc.) that she wants to pursue further.

Article by Vasundhara Sarda for Bodhiroom.

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