Acrylic Vs Tempera Paint Review [15 Expert Differences]

In early art classes, I was taught that oil paint is the “good stuff,” while Tempera and acrylic are the cheaper versions of paints that don’t quite measure up to the quality of oils. But is this true?

Just imagine the look on my face when I discovered that acrylic and tempera paints differ in their properties, applications, and overall performance!

Similarly, when starting a painting project, knowing the differences between acrylic paints and tempera paints is vital to decide which type is suitable for your project.

This Acrylic Vs. Tempera Paint Review compares these two paint types, examining what makes each one different and how they can be used. By the end of this comparison, you’ll be an expert in the differences between acrylic and tempera paints. So, if you’ve ever wondered which paint to choose for your project, read on!

Let’s dive in and find out how acrylics and tempera paints differ.

Is Tempera Paint The Same As Acrylic?

No, tempera and acrylic paints are not the same. There are specific differences between the two paints. In this Acrylic Vs Tempera Paint Review, we’ll compare how these two paints differ in quality, durability, and overall performance to help you decide which type of paint is right for your project.

The significant difference between acrylic and tempera paints is their composition. Acrylic paint is made from pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and water, whereas Tempera paint is made from pigments mixed with egg yolk or another emulsifier (like glue).

Acrylics are much more durable and longer lasting than tempera paints, so that they can be used for various applications, from indoor murals to outdoor signage. Tempera paints are best used for crafts and other short-term projects, as they are less durable and long-lasting than acrylics.

Besides composition, there are other differences between the two types of paint you should consider when deciding which one to use.

What Is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paints are best suited for indoor and outdoor projects and are made from pigment suspended in a polymer emulsion and water. Acrylics have excellent adhesion properties and can be used on almost any surface.

They are known for their vibrant, bold colors and opacity, allowing you to achieve excellent coverage with fewer layers. Acrylic paints are also water-resistant and quick-drying, which makes them ideal for large projects or when time is of the essence.

Versatile PaintCan Be Messy
Highly PigmentedIt takes Longer to Dry
Vibrant ColorsBlending Problem
Durable and Water-Resistant Flexible 

What Is Tempera Paint?

Tempera paints are made from pigment mixed with egg yolk or another emulsifier (such as glue). They are recommended for short-term projects such as crafts, as acrylics are more durable and long-lasting.

Tempera paints have a matte finish and are known for their bright, vibrant colors. They are also water-soluble and easy to clean up with soap and water.

Now that you know the fundamental differences between acrylic and tempera paints. Let’s look at 15 important factors to consider when deciding which one to use.

Fast Drying TimeNot As Durable or Long-Lasting
Bright and Vibrant ColorsMatte Finish
Easy Clean-UpDifficult to Blend
Budget-FriendlyTurns Crumbly

What Is The Difference Between Tempera And Acrylic Paint?

Difference between Tempera and Acrylic Paint

I have now provided a comprehensive overview of the differences between acrylic and tempera paint.

Visual look when driedGlossy Finish, More Durable and long lasting.Matte Finish, less durable.
Easy to clean upTrickier to removeEasily washable.
BindersHigh concentration of an emulsifier (egg yolk)Water resistant polymer binder
PigmentHigh pigments and softer lookLow pigment concentration
Mixing with waterDesigned to resist waterResponds better to water
Tempera vs acrylic coatBit more expensive(1 USD/Fl oz)Inexpensive(0.3 USD/ Fl oz)
LightfastnessExcellent light fast racingMore prone to fading
Permanency and varnishColors are permanentBetter at layering. Must be sealed with varnish
ConsistencyThick version of tempera comes in heavy body.Come as liquids.
MaterialsMore versatileLimited in its applications
OpacityOpaquer and provides excellent coverageLess opaque
Color mixingThey are superior.Less versatile
Color liftingColors are permanent. They do not fadeColors may fade and lift easily
Painting surfacesBest for rugged and durable finish 
FinishingSoft glossy finishMatte finish looks more subtle and natural

1.      Visual Look When Dried

When dried, acrylic paint has a glossy finish, whereas tempera paint has a matte finish. Acrylics are the perfect medium for anyone who wants to paint with an air of sophistication. Their thick, creamy consistency and ability make them ideal on almost any surface – they’re even great as a body-positive primer!

When dry, Acrylics are much more durable and longer lasting than tempera paints, so they can be used for various applications, from indoor murals to outdoor signage.

On the other hand, Tempera paints are best used for crafts and other short-term projects, as they are less durable and long-lasting than acrylics.

They are dustier and must be sealed or varnished to prevent cracking. Technically, Tempera will not hold up to the same pressures as acrylic.

Professional quality tempera paint is much more than the water-based variety. There’s also an addition of egg, which acts as a binder and dispersant for the pigment in this artwork that dates back centuries ago!

The Top-tier tempera paints have an even texture, superior coverage, and excellent lightfastness (resistance to fading). It makes them ideal for more permanent works of art.

2.      Easy To Clean Up

Both are water-soluble, making them easy to clean up with soap and water. Acrylics can be slightly trickier to remove if they are not completely dry.

Because of their design, most sprinkler heads are elementary to clean. Cleaning up after using one is usually a simple and quick process that requires little more than water!

is tempera paint the same as acrylic

Craft-level tempera paint is washable in any state, including fully dry. You can typically remove it from most surfaces with water and elbow grease – but there’s always a chance that some pigments could stain underlying materials if the surface remains wet or porous for an extended period!

3.      Binders

I reached out to professional artists to find out why Tempera paint is preferred for crafts and murals compared to acrylics. The main difference between the two paints comes from the binders used in their formulations.

The tempera has a higher concentration of an emulsifier such as egg yolk or glue, while acrylics use acrylic resin as their base. This difference in binders makes Acrylics more flexible and durable than Tempera paints.

It is what the two types of paint look like side by side. Acrylic paintings have a smoother surface and usually come in lighter colors. In contrast, tempera works include darker tones that can be used for more intricate designs or illustrations because they’re not always thoroughly washed out, which makes them perfect if you want something with depth!

Acrylic colors are made of a water-resistant polymer binder that holds the pigments together. Tempera paint can be dissolved in liquid, but acrylic won’t unlively due to its binding agent being more solid than others.

Acrylic paints dry quickly when exposed to air and can be reworked easily. Tempera paints take longer to dry and are more challenging to rework once they have dried.

4.      Pigment

 The best thing about tempera paint is how inexpensive and easy to use it can be. However, because of this low pigment concentration, many wonder if the result will look good on their masterpiece!

The pigment used in Acrylic paints is more opaque and vibrant, resulting in bolder colors that are great for making a statement. Tempera paints use clay or chalk as a base and tend to be more transparent, which creates soft, muted colors.

These subtle differences in pigment make Acrylic and Tempera paints unique in craft projects. Acrylics are the way to go if you’re looking for bold colors that won’t fade or smudge easily. It may be the better option if you’re going for a softer look and don’t mind having to reapply Tempera from time to time.


Acrylic paints are often safe for children but contain toxic pigments such as cadmium. Be aware that eating acrylic paint will be more challenging to digest and may cause health problems in rare cases with extreme consumption.

5.      Mixing With Water

Acrylic and Tempera paints can be mixed with water to achieve a different effect. However, Tempera responds better to water as it is an emulsion and will produce a creamy, consistent blend. Acrylics are designed to resist water, so you’ll need more water to get the same effect.

Acrylic and Tempera paints are great options for crafting simple and intricate projects. Acrylics provide a more durable finish with brighter colors, while Tempera is great for softer, muted hues.

6.      Tempera Vs Acrylic Cost

When it comes to cost, Acrylic paint is a bit more expensive than Tempera. Acrylic paints come in more giant tubes and cost more per milliliter than Tempera.

Individual 8-ounce bottles of paint cost between $2 and 28, depending on the product line. For sets with more than one color selection in each set (or an assortment), prices can range from around 10 dollars for a four-pack up to a few cents per bottle!

Professional-quality paints are expensive. A single bottle can easily reach $40 for just 5 ounces, and you may see prices starting at around 11%. However, some top-tier acrylics will set you back much more than this!

If you’re looking for the most cost-effective option, consider buying smaller tubes of tempera paint or buying in bulk.

7.      Lightfastness

Lightfastness is an essential factor to consider when choosing between Acrylic and Tempera. Acrylic paints usually have an excellent lightfast rating, meaning that the pigments will not fade or shift in hue over time when exposed to sunlight.

On the other hand, tempera paints are more prone to fading as they’re more susceptible to light exposure. This doesn’t mean Tempera is wrong; it just means you have to take extra care when using your artwork outdoors or in direct sunlight.

8.      Permanency And Varnish

One of the best features of acrylic paints is that they are permanent. It means once dry, the colors won’t shift or change over time, and you can layer different colors on top without worrying about blending.

Tempera paints could be better at layering and must be sealed with varnish to achieve a more lasting effect.

In Tempera, pain is not as permanent and will fade or shift over time. However, Acrylic and Tempera paints are great for craft projects and artwork. Each has unique features and benefits, so it’s up to you to decide which paint is best for your project.

9.      Consistency

Tempera paint is a popular choice for artists because of its thin consistency. When taken out from the bottle, it has been shaped into an egg shape and does not hold itself up well – this means that young ones can use Tempera Paint straight from their funnel without any water added!

This type also comes in large bottles, on average 10oz sizes which make them perfect for taking traveling or just always having around them.

Acrylic paints are a thicker version of Tempera. They come in different consistencies, ranging from heavy body paint for artist-quality work to medium fluid thicknesses that can be used on craft projects or paper surfaces without much success due to the medium texture itself rather than any fault with how you’re applying it!

Tempera paint is a much thicker consistency than acrylic paint. It’s also still transparent when compared to craft or artists-grade quality, but the difference in thickness makes all of that irrelevant!

Do you know how long glow in the dark in the dark paint lasts for walls? I have written a detailed review on it. Take a look.

10.  Materials

When deciding between Acrylic and Tempera paint, you must consider the type of surface you want to use. Acrylic paints are versatile enough to be used on almost any surface, including paper, canvas, wood, metal, and more. They also hold up well outdoors in the elements.

Tempera is a bit more limited in its applications. It works best on paper and cardboard but can also be used on wood and other surfaces with some preparation beforehand. It is not recommended to use Tempera outdoors, as it may fade or discolor in the sun.

11.  Opacity

Opacity is how transparent, or opaque paint is when applied to surfaces. Acrylic paints are opaquer, quickly covering up existing colors and textures. It makes them great for covering up mistakes and creating vibrant colors.

Tempera paints are less opaque and are best used when creating subtle gradations or blending colors. They can also be thinned down with water to make them more transparent.

You can buy a variety of paints for your painting needs. Some are more translucent than others, but they all provide excellent coverage and texture!

12.  Color Mixing

When it comes to color mixing, acrylic paints are superior. They have a wide range of colors, tints, and shades that can be blended to create beautiful, unique colors.

Tempera paints are less versatile when it comes to color mixing. They can be blended, but the colors tend to be more muted and less vivid than what can be achieved with acrylic paint.

Mixing tempera and acrylic paints can produce an exciting result. When the two are mixed, they create a darker color than either one would alone due to their combined transparency/opacity levels; however, this also means that 50% of each pigment has been used instead of just relying on a mixture exclusively for painting! The result is typically between shades seen when using 25% or fewer acrylic materials like thinners – which might be necessary depending on the desired level.

Overall, Acrylic paint is a much better option for artists looking for vibrant colors and the ability to mix and experiment with their artwork. Tempera paint is excellent for a more subtle, muted effect, but it won’t give you the vibrancy that acrylic paint can provide.

13.  Color Lifting

With the help of color lifting, you can easily remove any mistakes in your painting. All it takes is water and tissue paper to remove unwanted paint! Acrylic paints are the best for removing mistakes, as their thicker consistency makes them easier to lift off surfaces.

Tempera paint is a lot more reactive than acrylics. If you mix the two, let’s say, for example, to add some white onto your painting surface and don’t want it affecting what’s already there–you can just put another layer down on top, which won’t affect anything beneath.

For this reason, I always recommend using tempera paints when working with watercolor papers. They will never lift or turn any areas into transparency errors like regular old-school primers might do!

14.  Painting Surfaces

When it comes to painting surfaces, Acrylic and Tempera paint both have their pros and cons. Acrylics are outstanding for creating a rugged and durable finish resistant to the elements. They are also quick-drying so you can finish your project in no time!

On the other hand, Tempera paints are better for delicate surfaces like paper and cardboard. They also dry slower than acrylics, giving you more time to work on your project.

It is important to note that Acrylic and Tempera paints are permanent when dry, so you won’t easily erase any mistakes.

15.  Finishing

Acrylic paint provides a soft, glossy finish, while Tempera paint provides a matte finish that looks more subtle and natural. Acrylic paint is also much easier to clean after your project, as it does not require specialized tools or solvents.

Both are great options for artists who want to express their creativity. Acrylic paint is the ideal choice for creating vibrant, lively artwork that will last a long time.

Acrylic and Tempera paint offer unique features that make them great for specific projects. It’s essential to consider the type of surface you’ll be working on and the opacity and permanency you want to achieve. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to select the perfect paint for your project. Good luck!

Related Questions ~ Expert Answers

I have come across specific questions regarding Acrylic vs. Tempera paints. I searched the internet and other sources, and here are answers to some of the most common questions.

What is Tempera paint used for

Tempera paint is used for various purposes, such as painting on a canvas or walls, creating art, and more. It’s a type of paint that is made from pigment and eggs. The eggs help to bind the pigment together, which makes the paint opaquer.

When would I use Tempera paint over acrylic?

Acrylic is water-based, and Tempera is oil-based. So if you’re working on a project and don’t want the paint to mix, you would use Tempera. For example, if you’re painting a sky with blue and white clouds, you would use acrylic for the blue sky because the white clouds would be made with Tempera.

Do professional artists use Tempera paint?

Some artists still use egg tempera paint today, but it’s a dying art. Oil-based and watercolor paints have made the transition from traditional to modern-day painting methods much more accessible for painters of all skill levels, which means that there is less need for older techniques, such as using animal brains to create colors with depth, because you can add soap molecules into your palette instead!

Can you substitute Tempera paint for acrylic

Yes! Tempera paint might be a good option if you’re looking for paint that dries quickly and is easy to clean up. However, keep in mind that tempera paint doesn’t have the same level of transparency or sheen as acrylic paint, so it might not be the best choice if you’re looking to create a finished product with a lot of detail.

Why is it called Tempera paint?

It’s called Tempera paint because it requires tempering, or blending in, of a binding agent (usually egg yolk) to the pigment. It causes the paint to thicken and makes it more durable to be used on various surfaces.

Can I mix acrylic paint with Tempera paint?

Technically, you could mix acrylic and Tempera paint. However, the results may be different from what you’re hoping for.

Acrylic paint is water-based, while Tempera paint is oil-based. When these two types of paint are mixed, the resulting product will be a cloudy or milky mess. In addition, the two paints will not dry at the same rate, which can lead to cracking and peeling.

How to use acrylic paint to restore damaged tempera painting

Acrylic paint can be used to restore damaged tempera paintings. However, a compatible sealant is essential to protect the painting from moisture damage.

Tempera Vs Acrylic Paint On Windows

Acrylic paint is generally the better choice for painting windows. Acrylic paint is water-resistant and forms a protective seal to keep out dirt and moisture. Additionally, acrylic paint adheres better to glass surfaces than Tempera does. That said, if you prefer a softer finish for your windows, tempera paint can also be a good choice. Just make sure to use a sealant!

How long do Tempera and Acrylic paint Last?

Tempera and acrylic paints typically last for years if stored in a cool, dry place. However, the colors may fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight or other harsh UV light sources.

Wanted to learn the difference between polyurethane vs acrylic? Here I have written a complete article about 7 tests done for polyurethane vs acrylic paint.

How do you make Tempera paint permanent?

To make Tempera paint permanent, you must use a sealant such as a varnish or lacquer. It protects the paint from fading and moisture damage.

In addition, you can also use a heat-set medium to make the paint more permanent. It involves baking or ironing the painting at a low temperature to set the colors.

What is powder tempera paint used for?

Most often, powder Tempera paint is used by artists for its vibrant colors and ability to create a wide range of textures. It can be blended very easily with water to create various consistencies, making it a versatile medium for everything from bold abstracts to delicate landscapes and portraits.

What is egg tempera?

Egg tempera is a type of paint used for centuries by artists. It consists of pigments mixed with egg yolk to create a thick paste-like paint that is then applied to a surface.

Egg tempera has been used in some of the most famous works of art throughout history, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

Tempera Vs Acrylic Paint on Wood

Tempera and acrylic paints can be used on wood, but some significant differences exist. Acrylic paints are water-based, so they will soak into the grain of the wood more easily than tempera paint which is oil-based and makes it more challenging to penetrate the surface of the wood.

How do you keep Tempera paint from drying out?

To keep Tempera paint from drying out, you should store it in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight or other heat sources. You should also ensure the container is tightly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place.

One way is to add a little glycerin to the paint. Another way is to add a small amount of water to the paint. And the last way is to keep the lid on the paint container tightly closed when not in use.

Is Tempera paint washable?

Yes, tempera paint is washable. However, it should be washed promptly after use to prevent staining. Washing with warm water and a mild detergent should remove most paint from the skin and clothes. You may need a washable tempera paint remover for more stubborn stains.

For fabrics, you should always test a small area first to ensure the paint is completely washable and won’t damage the fabric.

Have you ever washed of acetone? No way! Learn how to dispose of acetone at home.

What are synthetic polymer compounds?

Synthetic polymer compounds are chemical compounds derived from petroleum or natural gas. Examples include acrylic, polyurethane, vinyl, and epoxy resins. These materials are often used in many products due to their durability and resistance to fading and wear. Acrylic paints are a popular synthetic polymer compound used for their vibrant colors and waterproof properties.

Weighing Up Acrylic Vs Tempera Paint

acrylic vs tempera paint

Both acrylic and tempera paints have their pros and cons. Acrylic paint is fast-drying, water-soluble, and can be used on many surfaces. However, it is not as vibrant or opaque as tempera paint.

Tempera paint is easier to use but less durable and can fade over time. It’s also a good option for kids’ projects, as it washes off easily and is non-toxic. Ultimately, the best paint will depend on the project’s specific requirements.

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