Acrylic and Oil Paint Markers: What’s the difference?


Acrylic and oil paint markers are two distinct types of markers used widely in the art world. Acrylic markers use water-based acrylic paint, while oil paint markers, as the name suggests, contain oil-based paint. The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast these markers, shedding light on their composition, application, durability, and versatility, to assist you in choosing the right type for your projects.


The composition of acrylic markers involves acrylic polymer emulsion mixed with pigment. This makes them water-soluble when wet but water-resistant once dry. On the other hand, oil paint markers consist of pigment suspended in an oil-based solution, making them thicker and glossier compared to their acrylic counterparts.

This difference in composition affects how these markers apply to surfaces and their overall durability. Acrylic markers tend to dry faster and are easier to clean up, while oil paint markers take longer to dry, offering a longer working time. The choice between the two often depends on the project’s requirements and the artist’s preference for working time and finish.


When it comes to application, acrylic and oil paint markers behave quite differently. Acrylic markers are known for their ease of use and quick drying time. They work well on a variety of surfaces, including paper, canvas, wood, and even metal. For best results, it’s often recommended to use them on primed surfaces to enhance their vibrancy and longevity.

Oil paint markers, in contrast, are thicker and take longer to dry. They are ideal for projects that require a glossy finish and are often used on surfaces like glass, plastic, and metal. It’s important to note that oil markers may require more time to dry, so patience is key. Also, working in a well-ventilated area is advisable due to the stronger fumes they can emit.


Durability is a key factor in choosing between acrylic and oil paint markers. Acrylic markers, once dry, are water-resistant and have good lightfastness, meaning they don’t fade easily under light exposure. However, they can be more susceptible to physical wear and tear compared to oil-based markers.

Oil paint markers generally offer greater durability, especially on non-porous surfaces. Their oil-based composition makes them highly resistant to environmental factors, including water and light. To ensure maximum lifespan, it’s important to store these markers properly, ideally in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight.


Both acrylic and oil paint markers are versatile in their own right, but they each shine in different scenarios. Acrylic markers are great for mixed media projects, art journaling, and canvas work, offering a matte finish and quick application. They are also easier to blend and work with for beginners.

Oil paint markers, with their glossy finish and slower drying time, are better suited for projects that require a high level of detail and precision. They work exceptionally well on smooth surfaces where a durable, glossy finish is desired. Choosing the right marker depends largely on the nature of your project and the desired outcome.


In summary, both acrylic and oil paint pen markers have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Acrylic markers are user-friendly, quick-drying, and versatile, making them suitable for a variety of projects. Oil paint markers, on the other hand, offer durability and a glossy finish, ideal for detailed work on non-porous surfaces.

Ultimately, the choice between acrylic and oil paint markers depends on your specific project needs and personal preferences. Experimenting with both types can be a great way to discover which works best for your artistic style and projects.

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