Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Watercolor Paper? Here’s the Answer

Whether you’re a born painter or a novice, painting on paper is a great way to set your deepest imaginations free. All you need to know is how to pick the right paper-to-paint combination and you’re all set!

Acrylics are a great choice as they work well with a variety of paper types. However, there lies an age-old question, ‘Can we use acrylic paint on watercolor paper?’

The answer to that is yes! you absolutely can use acrylic on paper with water or without mixing water.

All you need to do is, skip the priming process when preparing your acrylics. This will allow you to add more water to make the paint dilute.

Today, we will take a deeper look into the pointers you need when using acrylics with watercolor paper.

Use Acrylic Paint on Watercolor Paper

What’s the Best Surface for Acrylic Paint?

In a short; Acrylic is best for canvas or wooden surface for painting. But, they are quite versatile and often go well with any surface you choose. However, the texture and thickness of your desired surface will affect how the paint sits on it. Let’s look at some of the best canvas options for acrylics.

Canvas Board

Canvas boards are more of a portable option when it comes to working with acrylics. While artists have used stretched-out canvas paper for the longest time, boards have become quite popular nowadays.

The surface is made from cotton of the best quality that doesn’t soak in your paint. This makes way for great textures and shades when creating your own canvas art.

Hardwood Panels

When it comes to hardwood panels, artists have been using them for hundreds of years from now. Even before paper for painting was a thing, people would use oak and mahogany wood as surfaces.

The reason why hardwood panels are still so well-known is because of their longevity. Not only will the board preserve your art for many years to come but also keep the brightness of your acrylic pigment intact. This way, your painting will look as good as it was on day one.

However, one of the downsides of using hardwood panels as a painting surface is the weight it carries. Since the wooden board is heavier than most surfaces, it can be difficult to carry around.


Medium Density ‘Fiberboard or MDFs’ have recently gained popularity for painting. The board is constructed from wood fibers, wax, and a resin binder. As a result, the MDFs are smooth on the surface and more durable than other bases.

When working with fiberboard, the smooth surface allows you to experiment with your painting technique. But you must also make sure the board is water-resistant, else, it could soak in the water from your pigment and damage itself.

Furthermore, before landing your brush strokes on the fiberboard, be sure to prime the surface. This will in turn give your better texture and enhance the brightness of your acrylic pigment once dry.


The most commonly used surface for painting is paper. There are tons of variations when it comes to working with a paper surface, such as texture, density, and absorbency.

You can choose to buy single pieces or go for a paper pad that contains multiple pages stacked together.

In addition, there is a wide variety of paper types you can use when painting with acrylics as well!

Your options range from watercolor paper, canvas paper, mixed media, and many more. Each of these will react differently with the pigment of your color to suit a specific painting technique.

What Types of Paper Do You Use for Acrylic Paint?

Let’s take a deeper dive into the various types of paper you can use with acrylic paints.

Acrylic Linen Paper

As the name suggests, this paper makes use of linen for its construction. When compared to other types such as watercolor paper, it excels in paper longevity.

As the construction contains linen, the paper is able to absorb water from any pigment while keeping your colors from mixing together. This is an ideal surface when using acrylic paint as it works well with the thickness of the colors.

Watercolor Paper

This is another popular selection amongst artists, mainly because of the rising appreciation for watercolor painting. What sets watercolor paper apart from others is its thickness. Lighter than almost all paper types out there, you need to be very careful when working with this.

Just because it has watercolor in its name does not mean that you can’t use other color types on this paper. You can use any water-soluble paint on it to create the same watercolor-like effect.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try using a set of good acrylic paint on it to create unique artwork. Also, it isn’t necessarily true that you have to use paints, watercolor markers are great tools to explore your creative side with.

Canvas Paper

The canvas paper is somewhat different from a canvas board as it does not come with the wooden structure to which the paper is stretched. With these paper types, you will need to stretch them out according to your preference and then begin to work on them.

The texture is the same as any canvas but with the thickness of the regular paper. As the density is high, this quality paint-friendly paper works well with both runny and thick paint types.

Mixed Media Paper

This is more of an economic option for artists looking to allocate most of their budget to their paint kit. Although this does not give the same satisfaction as ‘acrylic artist paper’, you can still create mind-blowing pieces on this.

One thing you must be careful of is the corners of the paper. As the material is very light, using runny paints can curl up the corners. However, you can use weights when drying to reduce the curling. This has been known to help with lower-grade watercolor paper.

Is Watercolor Paper Good for Acrylic?

Many people are focused on whether acrylic paint is suitable for painting on watercolor paper, but they’re actually missing out on what’s important. There are tons of other factors that influence how well your colors sit on the paper such as the size, weight of the paper or the method used.

While it’s true that watercolor paints are much more dilute than acrylic, you can easily change that when you’re preparing the colors. But, Still acrylic is good to use on watercolor paper.

For example, you can skip the priming process which allows you to keep adding water to the colors till it comes to your desired consistency. This reduces the concentration difference and makes brush strokes on paper with acrylic much easier.

Another technique you can use is adding a very thin layer of Gesso before applying acrylics. This thin-layer will reduce the absorption capability of your paper as it blocks out all those tiny spaces on the surface.

In addition, the layer of Gesso has proven to minimize buckling too! But we cannot say the same about curling though. You will need to properly tape your edges in order to avoid that.

Keep in Mind Before Painting with Acrylic on Paper?

When painting on watercolor paper with acrylics, you need to pay attention to your paper type as well as color mixing to get the right consistency in your work.

Quality of the Paper

We cannot stress how important the paper quality is when it comes to mixing paper and paints like this. A durable and high-quality paper will absorb the colors correctly without buckling.

One good tip is to buy the paper from well-known brands. These manufacturers have a reputation to maintain quality and will try their best to provide the paper of only the best standard.

Furthermore, always look for paper that is rough instead of having a shiny or smooth surface. They will tend to make your colors run from one end to another, making your artwork a true horror show.

Weight of the Paper

Once you have decided on the brand to go to for your heavyweight papers, you will need to choose the right weight paper for your artwork. If you are planning on making the concentration of acrylic paints very dilute, then you have to opt for a decent watercolor paper that can absorb the water.

Buckling is a big issue when it comes to painting and it proves how passionate you are about your work. In the professional world, buckling is looked down upon as you should know which materials work well together.

When painting on paper with acrylic paints, it is best to use the 140-300 lb paper. This is thick enough to absorb most of the water you put into your acrylic solution. As a result, the chances of buckling are greatly reduced.

Using Watercolor Blocks

Watercolor blocks are mostly used by professionals who are constantly whipping up new artworks on the regular. These nifty little bundles are highly underrated, and we’ll tell you why.

For starters, most watercolor boards come in various sizes which allows you to pick out a standard size for your paintings. As they contain stacked watercolor papers of the same size, this is more of a bulk option and is cost-effective in the long run.

Moreover, the edges of the watercolor paper are taped to the stack of paper underneath. This reduces any chances of having those annoying curves on the edge of your paper or any sort of waviness on the surface.

As the edges are strongly taped, when you color the paper with acrylic paint, it cannot bend as it wishes. And so, it is stretched and laid flat until the paint dries.

Applying Gesso

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term ‘Gesso’, it basically acts as a base paint for artworks. As a base paint, the white mixture of Gesso can be applied to the paper first without hampering the color quality of your painting.

Recommended Watercolor Paper: UCreate Paper 140 lb

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According to our research, we would recommend trying out the 9×12-inch watercolor paper from ‘UCreate’. With a thickness of 140 lb, the paper is perfect for any painting project.

In addition, the paper pad contains about 50 sheets of premium-grade watercolor paper. This makes the overall package economical and also very convenient. As an artist, you will engage in different projects from time to time and so, having an extra set of paper helps.

What’s more, the manufacturers have shown their concern towards the environment by making this paper entirely recyclable. Also, the construction is acid-free which makes it suitable for kids and adults alike. This ensures that none of the chemicals in your paint will react with the components of the paper.

Known for its quality, this watercolor paper from UCreate supports various painting techniques. Whether you want to use acrylics or poster paint, the paper will soak in your pigments and give bright and stunning colors. This versatility makes the paper ideal to use in classrooms or group painting sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Q: What Happens When You Mix Acrylic Paint with Watercolor?

This is a technique artist have used for years now. Mixing acrylics with watercolors produces a distinctive color quality that the elements can’t create individually.

You can play around with the proportions of acrylics to watercolor to find the right mix for your artwork. The best part is, you can achieve watercolor-like textures while having the opacity of acrylics. Also, you can layer one on top of another to create pieces that work mainly with dimensions.

The possibilities are endless, but it all depends on how you’re willing to experiment with the mixtures.

Q: What Is The Difference Between Watercolor and Acrylic Paint?

The main difference between acrylics and watercolor lies in the concentration of the mixture. Anyone, beginner or professional will notice that watercolors are much thicker than acrylics. This allows them to be ideal for separate painting techniques.

However, if you’re a beginner, using acrylics is the best way to go. This is because they dry much faster than watercolor and also covers your layers well. Also you can use acrylic in various medium.

As the paint is opaque, you can color over any pencil markings or conceal any errors you might have made. This allows you to work with both light and dark colors without having to worry too much.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic paints are very versatile tools for any up-and-coming artist. They can be used in a way similar to both water and oil paints and work with different surfaces too! So, the answer to our raised question, is positive.

We would, however, advise you to choose the right medium instead for better results.

Good luck!

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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