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Can You Use Acrylic Paint As Watercolor?

Watercolor paintings are fun to make and usually turn out beautiful. However, if you don’t have any watercolors on you at the moment, can you use acrylic paints? If you can, you won’t have to worry about buying more paint next time you want to make a watercolor painting.

So, can you use acrylic paint as watercolors? Yes, you can make your acrylic paints work much like watercolor paints. You can dilute them with a lot of water to get a similar effect. However, you likely won’t be able to get intense colors this way. You could also use a professional medium to thin the paint. This way, you can achieve brighter colors.

So, while you can use acrylics like watercolor paints, there are a few tricks that you’ll need to know before starting! You can make watercolor paintings anytime if you don’t have traditional watercolors with you if you learn them. Let’s continue reading to learn more!

How To Use Acrylic Paint As Watercolor Paint

Acrylics that you water down behave differently from traditional watercolor paints. They’re easier to build up since painting another layer over the diluted acrylic shouldn’t break it down as much. You’ll want to give each layer enough time to dry before applying another.

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To make acrylic paint into watercolor, start by setting up your palette. You want to use very little pigment but a good amount of water. Mix the water with the paint to create your watercolors! You want to add more water until you achieve a consistency much like the standard watercolor paints.

From there, you can use them like usual. You can blend the colors and create plenty of watercolor-like effects. For example, you can use the “wet on wet” method. This painting technique includes brushing wet paint onto a damp surface, causing the color to spread.

Overall, you can use your acrylics just like watercolors. You won’t have the same vibrant colors unless you build up many layers of paint or use a thinning medium. Still, it’s a lot of fun and works to create unique paintings.

Is Acrylic Paint The Same As Watercolor?

Although they do share many similarities, acrylic paints are not the same as watercolors. For instance, both of these mediums are water-based paints. However, the way that you use them is very different.

Acrylic dries quickly and isn’t see-through. It also can have a plastic-like consistency once it dries. Watercolors are very different. The pigments are transparent and blend with water easier. Watercolor paint also must be used with water for the best effects- you can apply acrylics straight to the page if you want to.

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These types of paint also use different techniques. Watercolors work more like a wash, where the color seeps into the water on the page. Acrylics often work better with dry brush methods, stippling, pouring, and palette knife painting.

Finally, they can consist of different ingredients. Watercolors are more likely to have natural pigments with a binder; acrylics use artificial acrylic resin, along with the pigment and binder. These differences make the two types of paints their own mediums.

What Happens If You Use Water With Acrylic Paint?

Using water with your acrylic paints will dilute it, giving it a watercolor-like texture. However, you still need to find balance with how much water you use.

Adding too much water can break down the water-soluble acrylic binders. When the binders dissolve, the paint won’t adhere to the paper and flake off after it dries. Since you want long-lasting results, it’s better only to use just enough water.

Additionally, water makes acrylics a bit runnier. This feature can make the colors easier to blend and layer over each other. There are plenty of ways to use thinned acrylics to create stunning pieces.

Overall, you can quickly thin acrylic with water, but you need to add just the right amount. It should look similar to watercolor paint if you’ve diluted it right. However, you can always use less water than you think you need for a completely different effect.

How Do You Make a Watercolor Effect With Acrylic Paint?

Suppose you want your acrylic paints to look precisely like watercolors. In that case, you’ll want to use a professional-grade thinning medium instead of just diluting it with water.

It’s a smart idea to look over all of the watercolor techniques so that you can replicate them with your paintings. Beginners and experts alike make use of them. These techniques include:

  • Wet-on-wet
  • Wet-on-dry
  • Dry-on-dry
  • Dry-on-wet 

It’s also a good idea to create a wash for your background. In other words, knowing all of the watercolor techniques will help you make your diluted acrylics look more like traditional watercolors.

However, with acrylics, you’ll have an easier time building up layers of color. As you add more paint and water to the page, the lower layers of acrylic won’t break down- which is often a problem with watercolors.

As long as you use the proper brushes and thin the acrylic enough water, you should have no problems replicating watercolor paintings. It can take practice and experience, so don’t shy away from working on scrap paper first!

Can I Use Acrylic Paint on Watercolor Paper?

You can easily paint with acrylics on watercolor paper without adding a base layer first. Acrylics can stick to most surfaces easily, so watercolor paper shouldn’t be a problem for them.

If you want them to flow on the paper as watercolor pigments do, you can thin them. However, you don’t always have to do this to get the acrylics to work on the watercolor paper. It’s up to your preference.

So yes, you can use acrylic paints on your watercolor paper! You can use them directly out of the tube or dilute them to turn them into something more like traditional watercolors. You can even use acrylics alongside ordinary watercolor paints to achieve outstanding results.

Can You Use the Same Paint Brushes for Watercolor and Acrylic?

You don’t want to use the same paintbrushes for these two different types of paint in every situation. If you have synthetic hairs on your brushes, you can use them with either type of paint.

However, you want to keep natural brushes away from acrylic paints. The ingredients in the acrylics can cause the hairs to break down over time, making them frizzy and harder to work with. If you want to keep them as functional as possible for a long time, make sure you don’t mix them.

ARTIFY has a great acrylic and watercolor set that comes with brushes, a palette and a carry case.

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In other words, the brushes aren’t 100% interchangeable. You can use watercolor paint with acrylic brushes without any worry. However, you can’t use natural watercolor brushes with your acrylic paints.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, you can use acrylics as watercolors by thinning down the material significantly. If you use water to do this, you won’t get very bright colors to work with. However, you can use mediums to thin the paint, giving it a watercolor consistency while keeping the bright colors.

Acrylics diluted with water also have a very matte appearance, which works well in various projects! You can experiment with how much water you use to get different effects. Overall, you have plenty of options when making your acrylics into watercolor paints.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your acrylic or watercolor project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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