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  1. #1
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    Acrylics vs. Oils

    It might be a stupid question for some of you but is not so clear to me. I'm still a newbie in term of art and all different medium.

    I've been playing for the past 3 months with Acrylics and I want to try oils. Some people told me it was possible to get the same result but acrylics was cheaper. So I'm curious to know, what is the big difference between them?

    I searched around CA but it seem that no one is a big fan of acrylics.
    And the reason I started with acrylics is to practice the colors mixing, it was indeed cheaper and I'm not sure if I should move to oils...

    If anyone can clear this out... It will be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    Acrylics or oils is nearly a religious conversation. I personally use oils after having a brief study of acrylics. Here is what I can tell you.

    1. Acrylics dry fast and can only be made to dry slowly if additives are used.
    2. Oils can either either dry quickly or slowing deeping on method used or additives used.
    3. Oils are more forgiving to use than acrylics due to the generally longer drying time.
    4. To me, acrylics seem to have a plasticy look to them when dry, probably because they are polymer based.
    5. All the old masters used oils because they didn't have acrylics.
    6. You can paint oils over acrylic, but not acrylic over oil.
    7. Mixing colors with acrylics will not be wasted time if you move to oils.
    8. You can get a cheap set of student oils are places like walmart and try them out to see if you like them without going broke.
    9. Don't decide which one is better for you without trying them both.

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  5. #3
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    Yup, Hylander has covered most of it. I have used both quite a bit, enough to say with certainly that is anyone says one is hands-down better than they other, then they have an unhelpful bias. Both paints have their good points.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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  7. #4
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    Acrylics are cheaper because the binder can't physically hold as much pigment as oil can. In even top quality acrylics, a large % of what you're paying for is water.
    Acrylics have a slightly smaller value range than oil.
    Because of their fast drying rate, smooth blends are harder in acrylics than oils. However, clean edges and flat color are easier.
    Color mixing, and especially color matching, is easier in oils because there isn't a wet/dry color shift.
    Despite having only a fifty year or so track record, acrylics are probably far more permanent than oil, since they don't yellow and retain their flexibility.


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  9. #5
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    I've been wanting to try oils since my last still-life, I had a really hard time getting colors to pop. I always read that oils are more vibrant, color-wise.

    What are people's experience with this? Is it a considerable difference?


    Would I get the same kind of vibrancy as this? (I upped the contrast by 35 % or so with ps)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidgardSerpent View Post
    Would I get the same kind of vibrancy as this? (I upped the contrast by 35 % or so with ps)
    Sure you could. But you also could with acrylics.


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  13. #7
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    there is a thread on acrylics here:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=101119

    I have pretty minimal experience with oils but I love acrylics since I'm really into rough, textural work like Brad Holland's (who uses acrylics) or chris bennett from this forum (who I think also uses acrylics?)

    However I also know that John Jude Palencar uses acrylic, and I would love an opportunity to see how he achieves such an amazing effect with them. If only he would release a DVD like Shawn Barber's...*sigh*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Sure you could. But you also could with acrylics.
    I still can't manage to really make colors pop. Of course it's not all dependent on medium, I know you can make colors stand out more with cool vs warm and light vs dark, but I thought that oils would help since I usually hear people say that color vibrancy is one of the big advantages of oils over acrylics.

    I don't plan on using oils in the immediate future yet, but I thought I'd ask around a bit.

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  17. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Acrylics are cheaper because the binder can't physically hold as much pigment as oil can. In even top quality acrylics, a large % of what you're paying for is water.
    This is only true to an extent. It is certainly the case with organic pigments, since they don't amalgamate well with the acrylic emulsion. Because of this, they have to be water-treated first and added carefully; and there is a maximum amount of pigment you can add. Add too much and the formula is ruined.

    However, this is much less of an issue with opaque pigments. While it is true that the medium is suspended in water, I don't think this is a major dilution issue (it's just a small amount of water). Rather, the problem is the amount of "filler" that's added to the paint to give it more volume. Fluid acrylics, by contrast, have a higher pigment load, because they don't contain a thickening agent. Again, it all depends on the quality of the paint; some of the best (but affordable) artist-quality oil paints still have some kind of filler. The ones that don't are too expensive for most art student's budgets. But there's no question that oils have a slightly higher pigment load. On the other hand, most artists extend their paint with mediums anyway, so it's a bit of a toss-up.

    Adding to everything that's been said so far, a big advantage that nobody's mentioned yet is the fact that the acrylic medium is nontoxic. It's watersoluble (no need for harmful solvents), and most of the mediums are nontoxic. Oil, by contrast, can only be thinned either using a solvent such as turpentine or mineral spirit, or a fast drying medium (or more oil, but that may conflict with the fat-over-lean rule). Unfortunately, most oil mediums and alkyds contain a solvent of some kind (the only exception, to the best of my knowledge, being walnut alkyd). There are water-mixable oils available, but more difficult to come by.

    If health is an issue, stay away from solvents, or any medium bearing a health label. Unless you're using water-mixable oils, get the smoothest, softest ones you can find. If necessary, thin with walnut alkyd; and to clean your brush, just use safflower oil OR a nontoxic brush cleaner.


    Speaking of mediums, acrylics have a much wider range of gels, liquids, etc. that allow you to do just about anything with them. Oil mediums, for the most part, only affect the consistency/flow, drying time, and surface sheen of the paint. With acrylics, you have mediums that will do all of that, but also pumice gels, molding paste, gels that completely change the way the paint handles (such as tar gel), self-levelling mediums, and more. Probably not the best thing for representational work, but great to experiment with.

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  19. #10
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    [QUOTE=MidgardSerpent;1499036]I still can't manage to really make colors pop. Of course it's not all dependent on medium. . ./QUOTE]

    Yup, that’s not a problem with medium – it’s a problem with color use.

    Quote Originally Posted by john.red View Post
    chris bennett from this forum (who I think also uses acrylics?)
    Indeed, Chris uses acrylics.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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  20. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MidgardSerpent View Post
    I still can't manage to really make colors pop. Of course it's not all dependent on medium, I know you can make colors stand out more with cool vs warm and light vs dark, but I thought that oils would help since I usually hear people say that color vibrancy is one of the big advantages of oils over acrylics.

    I don't plan on using oils in the immediate future yet, but I thought I'd ask around a bit.
    Again, it all depends on the quality of the paint. Cheap student-quality oils will have a much lower pigment load than artist-quality acrylics. Also, better-quality pigments give better results; so don't base your entire colour palette on series one pigments.

    It also has a lot to do with your colour mixes. Even the best quality paints will end up looking like crap if you turn it into sludge. So be careful with your mixes, and use white as little as possible.


    In either case, I'd definitely recommend using more medium. In my experience, whether it be oil or acrylic, my colours have always appeared more brilliant by adding more medium.

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  22. #12
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    wow,I didnt expect this thread to have so much information after I get back from work

    Thanks to everyone who replyed to this. Not a year have past since I started using tradional medium and yes, I'll try oils and see my self what I love more.

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  23. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azeroth View Post
    Again, it all depends on the quality of the paint. Cheap student-quality oils will have a much lower pigment load than artist-quality acrylics. Also, better-quality pigments give better results; so don't base your entire colour palette on series one pigments.
    I use two brands mostly, 'Winsor & Newton Galeria' and 'Amsterdam', I think they're student quality brands.


    It also has a lot to do with your colour mixes. Even the best quality paints will end up looking like crap if you turn it into sludge. So be careful with your mixes, and use white as little as possible.
    You mean pure white? Along the same line how you shouldn't use pure black because it flattens out an image? The highlights on the paper roll where almost pure titanium white with a bit of yellow added to it, because I thought that would make it stand out the most.



    In either case, I'd definitely recommend using more medium. In my experience, whether it be oil or acrylic, my colours have always appeared more brilliant by adding more medium.
    Ah, that's a simple suggestion, but it might actually be very helpful for me. When I put up some of my paintings up to the sunlight I noticed how I could see spots of light coming through, that might be a sign that I don't paint thickly enough.

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    Express a mental opinion about something you are sensitive to in life around you. There is a profound difference between sensitivity and sentimentality."

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