Two painting mediums that have a lot of similarities are tempera and acrylic paints. What is the difference between tempera and acrylic paint? Are the two types of paint interchangeable? Or should you choose one over another for different projects? Is one type of paint better than the other? Let’s answer these questions and more.
Choosing the medium for your art projects is a crucial part of the beginning of the project. Even when you are just a beginner, it is a good habit to get into thinking about the right medium for your projects. As you become a more experienced artist, the habit of thinking about the best medium should remain.
The Differences Between Tempera Paint and Acrylic Paint
Yes, there are differences between tempera paint and acrylic paint. They perform differently because of the differences in their composition. So, that’s where we will focus on first – the differences in the composition of tempera and acrylic paint.
First off, the main similarity between the two types of paint is that they are water-based. From there, tempera and acrylic only have tons of differences in composition.
The most unique ingredient of tempera paint is its food-based binder. The most popular binder of tempera paint is egg yolk. The egg yolk in tempera paint is the reason why it is sometimes called egg tempera.
However, some artists experimented with the use of other binders for tempera paint. Other popular binders include egg white or a mixture of egg white and the yolk. The tendency of most artists is to use a water-miscible or soluble protein as the binder of the pigments in tempera paint. An example of a water-soluble protein used as a tempera paint binder is casein – which is milk-based.
There is now a different type of tempera which is usually called poster paint. Instead of using a food-based protein binder, poster paint uses a glue-based binder. These are the paints that kids use to finger-paint.
Acrylic paint, on the other hand, uses a synthetic polymer compound and gum arabic binder. The combination of the polymer compound and gum arabic binder gives acrylic paint its flexible performance and permanence.
In terms of performance, the most substantial difference between tempera paint and acrylic paint is probably their longevity.
Although both types of paint are water-based, they are not both water-soluble. Tempera paint is soluble even after it has dried. Not so with acrylic paint; once it dries, acrylic paint is NOT soluble.
Tempera paint is easier to scrub off. It is the popular choice for finger painting because it is washable with a brush and a bucket of water. On the other hand, acrylic paint will last for years, especially if it is sealed properly.
Lightfastness is not synonymous to permanence when it comes to paint. Permanence is all about how easy it is to remove the paint, in the case of tempera, it is easily removable with water. Lightfastness is the resistance of the paint to change due to its exposure to light.
Between tempera paint and acrylic paint, acrylic has more lightfastness. The pigment in acrylic paint is more lightfast, which means that it will retain its original color for a long time. Tempera paint, on the other hand, will lose its vibrancy and color shortly after painting.
Lightfastness is important especially for pieces of art that you want to last. If what you are painting has to last for years, or even decades, then I suggest you use acrylic.
There are other small differences between tempera paint and acrylic paint. Here is a list of those other differences:
Tempera paint has a creamy consistency while acrylic paint has a thick consistency. A thinner consistency, in my opinion, makes a paint easier to use. But the thickness of paint affects its color, however.
Texture When Dry
When it dries, tempera paint looks and feels matte. On the other hand, acrylic paint dries into a glossy, plastic-like feel. Acrylic dries into a stiff texture which you can build up on.
In terms of mixing capability, both types of paint do very well. Both tempera paint and acrylic paint mixes colors wonderfully.
Materials to Use the Paints On
Tempera is best used on the following materials:
- Newspaper print
- Poster boards
- Finger painting
- Sponge painting
Acrylic paint is best used on the following materials:
What is the difference between tempera paint and acrylic paint? There’s quite a lot, actually. Though they are both water-based and can be thinned using water, and though they both mix colors well, they are very different in many respects. Their composition is different. Acrylic is permanent while tempera is washable. Tempera becomes discolored over time due to its lower lightfastness compared to acrylic.
Other differences are acrylic has a thicker consistency, dries into a glossy, stiff texture, and is more preferable on expensive materials. Tempera paint has a creamy consistency, dries matte, and is better for cheap projects.