Acrylic Paint Vs Tempera

Acrylic Paint Vs Tempera: Which Reigns Supreme?

Acrylic paint and tempera paint have notable differences in terms of composition and durability.

Understanding Acrylic Paint And Tempera

Acrylic paint and tempera paint are two popular mediums used in painting. Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion, while tempera paint is a water-based paint made of pigment mixed with a binder, typically egg yolk.

Acrylic paint offers numerous advantages. Its quick drying time allows for layering and overpainting, making it ideal for artists who work quickly or in multiple layers. It also provides a glossy finish and is known for its color vibrancy and durability. Additionally, it can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, wood, and metal.

On the other hand, tempera paint is known for its opaque and matte finish. It is a versatile medium that adheres well to a variety of surfaces, including paper, wood, and cardboard. It is easily mixed and diluted with water, making it suitable for detailed works. However, tempera paint can be prone to cracking in the long run and may not have the same level of color vibrancy as acrylic paint.

Both acrylic paint and tempera paint have their own unique qualities and can be used for different purposes. Artists often experiment with both mediums to achieve the desired effect in their artwork.

Composition And Characteristics

Acrylic paint and tempera are popular choices for artists due to their unique characteristics. Acrylic paint is known for its quick drying time and water resistance, allowing artists to layer and work quickly without worrying about smudging. It is also flexible and durable, making it suitable for a variety of surfaces.

On the other hand, tempera paint is water-based and has a fast drying time. It has a powdery texture, which can create interesting effects. Artists often use it for poster-style illustrations and mural paintings.

Understanding the properties of both paints can help artists choose the best medium for their creative projects. Each paint has its own unique benefits and limitations, so it is important to experiment and discover which one suits your artistic style and preferences.

Application Techniques

Acrylic paint and tempera paint are both popular choices for artists due to their versatility and vibrant colors. When it comes to application techniques, both paints offer various options to achieve different effects.

Applying Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint can be applied using brushes, palette knives, pouring, and dripping methods. Brush application allows for precise control, while palette knife techniques create textured and impasto effects. For a more fluid look, artists can experiment with pouring and dripping the paint directly onto the canvas.

Applying Tempera Paint

Tempera paint, on the other hand, is commonly applied using brushes and sponges. Brush application enables artists to create smooth, even layers, while sponging techniques produce textured effects. Artists can also achieve interesting layering and glazing effects by applying multiple thin coats of tempera paint.

Overall, both acrylic paint and tempera paint offer a wide range of application techniques, allowing artists to explore their creativity and achieve their desired results.

Color Vibrancy And Pigmentation

Acrylic paint color vibrancy:

  • Intense and vibrant hues
  • Wide range of pigments available
  • Mixing possibilities

Tempera paint color vibrancy:

  • Pastel-like color palette
  • Limited pigments available
  • Challenges in mixing colors

Versatility And Usability

Acrylic paint offers unmatched versatility in the art world. It can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, wood, metal, and plastic. This makes it suitable for various art projects, from traditional paintings to mixed media artwork. Additionally, acrylic paint allows artists to achieve a wide range of effects and techniques, such as layering, glazing, and impasto.


On the other hand, tempera paint is often preferred for educational and children’s art projects. It is easy to work with and dries quickly, making it ideal for classroom settings. However, tempera paint has limitations when it comes to surface compatibility.

It may not adhere well to certain materials, such as glass or slick surfaces. Furthermore, tempera paint offers less versatility in creating texture and effects compared to acrylic paint.

Longevity And Preservation

Acrylic paint offers excellent permanence and lightfastness, making it a durable choice for artists. Its resistance to fading and yellowing over time ensures that artworks created with acrylics will maintain their vibrant colors for years to come. This makes acrylic paint a suitable option for professional artwork and archival purposes.

On the other hand, tempera paint is more susceptible to fading and discoloration. It requires special handling and conservation techniques to preserve the colors and integrity of the artwork. Unlike acrylic paint, tempera has a limited lifespan, which means that artworks created with tempera may not last as long as those made with acrylics.

Pricing And Accessibility

Acrylic paint affordability and availability:
Acrylic paint offers a wide range of prices depending on the quality. This makes it suitable for artists with different budgets. It is easily accessible in art supply stores, both online and offline. The availability of acrylic paint in various sizes and brands provides artists with great value for long-term use.
Tempera paint affordability and availability:
For budget-conscious artists and beginners, tempera paint is a relatively low-cost option. It is widely available in various stores, making it convenient for artists to purchase. The affordability and accessibility of tempera paint make it an attractive choice for those who are starting out or have limited resources.

Environmental Impact

When comparing the environmental impact of acrylic paint and tempera, it is essential to consider the composition of each. Acrylic paint contains synthetic chemicals and plastics, which can have a negative effect on the environment. Consequently, proper disposal methods are crucial to minimize its impact.

On the other hand, tempera paint is water-based and has an eco-friendly formula, resulting in a minimal environmental footprint. This makes it a safer option for both artists and the environment. Additionally, artists can explore eco-friendly alternatives to acrylic paint that have a reduced environmental impact, further promoting sustainability in art practices.


Frequently Asked Questions For Acrylic Paint Vs Tempera

What’s The Difference Between Tempera And Acrylic?

Tempera and acrylic differ in their composition. Tempera is made from pigments mixed with egg or water, and it dries quickly. Acrylic is a water-based paint that contains a synthetic binding agent, offering versatility and flexibility. Acrylic also provides a wider range of colors and a longer drying time than tempera.

Is Tempera Or Acrylic Paint Better For Kids?

Acrylic paint is better for kids than tempera because it dries quickly, has vibrant colors, and is water-resistant once dry. Acrylic paint is also more durable, allowing kids to layer and mix colors easily without the risk of cracking or flaking.

Do Professional Artists Use Tempera?

Yes, professional artists do use tempera as a medium for their artwork.

What Is The Disadvantage Of Tempera Paint?

Tempera paint has a few disadvantages. It dries quickly, making it difficult to blend colors. It can crack and flake over time. It is not as vibrant as other types of paint and can be easily damaged by water.


To sum up, understanding the differences between acrylic paint and tempera can help artists make informed choices for their artistic endeavors. Acrylic paint offers versatility, quick drying time, and a wide range of textures and finishes. On the other hand, tempera paint provides a more traditional and opaque finish, which is great for t

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