Is Acrylic Paint Alcohol Based? (The Best Answer Only)

Acrylic paints are becoming increasingly popular these days among artists, due to the fact that they are extremely versatile and are least toxic.

Now the question is acrylic paint alcohol based or water based because it helps you understand what paint medium or primer to use before you start with the actual painting procedure. It also helps you determine what kind of paint sealing technique you must apply.

Is Acrylic Paint Alcohol Based
Is Acrylic Paint Alcohol Based?

Mostly acrylic paints are water based and the water based variants are found in the supermarkets abundantly. While going through the various types of acrylic paints, we have found out that there are some specific types of acrylic paints that are alcohol based in nature like Tamiya, Revell, etc.

Apart from the alcohol based ones, most of the acrylic paints are water based in nature. We will talk about that elaborately so that you can understand better.

What is acrylic paint made out of?

Water based acrylic paint is basically made up of three main components namely-The paint pigment, binder and the vehicle. 

Pigments are grounded up to the solid tiniest particle so that they do not get mixed up or dissolved but at the same time they remain intact in the paint to  provide its color.

What is acrylic paint made out of?
What is acrylic paint made out of?

Color pigments can be natural and synthetic in nature as well as organic or inorganic depending on the type of acrylic paint you purchase.

A paint binder is to bind up or keep the pigment in place. Binders are made up of acrylic polymers which form a shield between the pigment and any other external factor that may cause harm to the paint.

 Lastly a vehicle is the component carrying the dye and the binder together. For a water based acrylic paint the water is the vehicle which combines the pigment with the binder forming a polymer emulsion bond. Once the vehicle the water evaporates the paint dries up and the binder acts as a barrier over the pigment.

Is acrylic paint alcohol based? The Actual Answer

Acrylic paints are usually water-based and made up of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer suspension. However there are alcohol based acrylic paints available as well. These are better known as acrylic ink, they have alcohol as the component vehicle which evaporates while the color dries out.

Alcohol inks can be slowly integrated into the work and can be revived easily which is not possible with water based acrylic paints.

The popularly available alcohol based acrylic paints like Tamiya, Revell have excellent surface covering properties and the paint does not require to be rebuilt even if the paint has been thinned out once. So to some users they may be easier to use in comparison to water based acrylic paints.

Acrylic paints are simple to use and offer vibrant colors that can be modified to create a variety of textures and consistencies. 

What are alcohol based paints?

Alcohol inks are alcohol-based paints that dry quickly, are water resistant and are highly tinted. They can be used on a number of surfaces. 

These are dye-based rather than pigment-based colors that are smooth and transparent in nature. Because of this, users can build unique and versatile effects that are not possible with water-based acrylic paint.

What are alcohol based paints?
What are alcohol based paints?

Alcohol inks can be rescued and rewrited with alcohol and moved once they have been applied to a surface. They dried just like watercolors can be reactivated again by adding water. 

Although alcohol inks can be used on any surface, the best results are obtained on tough, non-porous surfaces where the inks are not absorbed and can move freely.

How is acrylic paint Different from alcohol paint?

Acrylic paints and alcohol paints have various dissimilarities which we are about to highlight now so that you can have better knowledge and understanding about the type of paint you want to use for your artwork.

How is acrylic paint Different from alcohol paint?
How is acrylic paint Different from alcohol paint?

which products these paints are based on?

Acrylic paints are mainly based on pigments while alcohol paints are dye based. In a water-based acrylic paint water is the vehicle component that holds up the dye and the binder together, combining them to form a polymer emulsion bond.

Alcohol-based paint, also known as acrylic ink, contains alcohol as a component vehicle that evaporates as the ink( they have ink in the place of the pigment) dries. Alcohol inks can be gradually incorporated into the work and easily revived, which water-based acrylic paints cannot. 


Acrylic paint works on multiple surfaces like walls, wood, plastic, ceramic, mirrors, rocks, glass, canvas, paper, fabric, wool- literally anything and everything.

Alcohol paint works on multiple surfaces like Yupo paper, Synthetic paper, Ceramic (tiles or pots or plates, Glass, Metal, Acrylic sheets and Plastic sheets. But for better results, a non-porous surface would be the best option.

Drying process

Acrylic paint may dry up in 10-20 minutes if applied in a thin coating.If applied in a thick layer, these paints take up to 20-30 minutes to an hour or two to dry up. Sometimes it would take 12 to 24 hours for a complete curing.

 As alcohol evaporates faster than water alcohol paints on the contrary takes less time to dry up depending on the surface applied. Priming is not that necessary if you are working with alcohol based paint. 

Alcohol paints get faded with time if exposed to harsh environmental conditions. On the contrary acrylic paints can last longer if sealed properly.

Blending and rework

It is not easy to blend and rework with acrylic paint once the paint has somewhat dried out. On the contrary alcohol paints are easily blendable and easier to work with.

Airbrushing and Hand brushing

Handbrusing is usually only feasible with acrylic paint, and it is deemed to be more versatile because with  proper skill and practice, you can do any type of painting with just a brush.

Airbrushing is doable with alcohol ink and is ideal for large areas, whereas painting the smallest details is possible with a brush. Technically, detailed work with an airbrush is possible, but it takes a lot of practice.

Because spraying paint produces fumes, you must wear a filter mask, which is not required when hand brushing with acrylic paint. 

You could do your airbrushing outside the house, such as in a garage. If you’re doing it at home, make sure there’s plenty of ventilation and that you shield the surrounding area and your clothes from any potential overspray.

Can You Mix Acrylic Ink With Alcohol Ink?

Acrylic ink and alcohol ink cannot be mixed or used together on the same piece of art. The alcohol ink dyes do not get along and don’t pair up with the pigmented acrylic paints.It is a bad idea to try and mix up the two together.

Can You Mix Acrylic Ink With Alcohol Ink?
Can You Mix Acrylic Ink With Alcohol Ink?

 Layering alcohol ink on top of acrylic ink can lead to the color getting distorted or even cracked up. It is best to keep these two mediums separate in general.

 Some artists have had success by beginning with alcohol ink, letting it dry completely, and then layering acrylic ink lines over the top as a final layer. But that too is very rare. A piece of advice would be to never mix the two together when they are still wet.

How Does Alcohol Affect Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paints can also be thinned with rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits to remove them from objects such as paint brushes. It’s simply because alcohol, as a solvent, can attack the surface of acrylics and dissolve the polymer chains. 

How Does Alcohol Affect Acrylic Paint?
How Does Alcohol Affect Acrylic Paint?

So if alcohol is applied on acrylic paint it may act as a paint remover and result in the color distortion and discoloration of your artwork.

Alcohol is sometimes used as an acrylic paint stain remover to remove the stains from acrylic paint applied on a fabric base. By that we can figure out that alcohol and acrylic paint simply don’t go well together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can you tell if a paint is oil or alcohol?

You can perform certain tests that can help you find out whether the paint is alcohol or oil based. The easiest way would be to smell the paint. If it is alcohol based, it will definitely smell like alcohol If it is oil based it will smell like linseed oil.

Can I Use Rubbing Alcohol(Isopropyl Alcohol) To Thin Acrylic Paint?

Yes, Rubbing Alcohol(Isopropyl Alcohol) can be used to thin out acrylic paint. Alcohol enables you to wash off the solvent quickly enough to control color mixing and setting differently than water. 

The suggested quantity of alcohol to dilute paint with is up to 20%. The use of alcohol will speed up the drying process and may result in inconsistent application. Acrylic paint thinning with alcohol is not a suggested thinning method.


Now that you know  about the consistency and the product base of various acrylic paints and inks you can make an informed decision about the product you want to use for your art work. If you are still confused, look up on the internet and check the results of the artwork produced from both acrylic paints and alcohol paints and you can make a proper decision about the paint you want to use.

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