Are you an older adult looking to explore your artistic side? Painting is a wonderful and exciting activity that is not just for kids and teens. If you’re considering trying out tempera paints but are also intrigued by acrylics, you’re not alone. Tempera paints and acrylic may have similar properties but they differ a lot. How are they any different?
Tempera paints is made from pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder like egg yolk or glue while acrylic paint is made from pigments suspended in a water-soluble polymer emulsion. Touching on toxicity, acrylic paint can be more toxic than tempera paint if ingested and may cause respiratory irritation when used in a poorly ventilated area.
In this blog, I’ll help you understand the differences between these two popular mediums more in depth and determine which one may be the best fit for you. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced painter, you’ll gain insights on the unique properties and applications of both tempera and acrylic paints. So sit back, relax and let’s delve into the world of painting.
Differences Between Tempera and Acrylic Paint
Made from pigments mixed with a binder, typically egg yolk or a water-soluble adhesive( Source)
Made from pigments mixed with a synthetic polymer emulsion( Source)
Paint’s Resistance to Fading
Can fade or yellow over time when exposed to light
Can be used on paper, cardboard, and canvas
Can be used on paper,plastic, metal, walls, shoes, cardboard, and canvas
Tempera paints gives a smooth and velvety finish, which dries to a chalky finish and semi-matte
Acrylic paints dry to a semi-glossy
Has a thin consistency
Has a thicker consistency
Drying Time and Curing
Dry within 15-30 minutes
Dry within 30mins-1 hour
The main difference between these two paints is their composition and the type of binder used. Tempera paint is a traditional paint medium that has been used for centuries. Tempera paint is made from pigments mixed with a binder, typically egg yolk or a water-soluble adhesive. The process of making tempera paint involves the following steps:
- Pigment Selection: The first step in making tempera paint is to select the pigments. Pigments can be purchased from art supply stores or made from natural materials such as minerals, earth, and plants.
- Mixing the Pigments: These pigments are then mixed with the binder, typically egg yolk, milk to form a paste. The consistency of the paint can be adjusted by adding more binder or water as needed.
- Straining the Paint: After mixing, the paint is then strained through a fine mesh to remove any lumps or impurities, resulting in a smooth, homogenous paint.
- Adding Liquid: The paint can be thinned with water or other liquids to adjust the consistency as desired.
- Storage: The finished paint is then stored in airtight containers to prevent spoilage.
Acrylic paint on the other hand is made from pigments mixed with a synthetic polymer emulsion, which acts as a binder for the paint. The emulsion is made from a combination of acrylic polymer, water, and a small amount of other ingredients such as preservatives and stabilizers.
Acrylic paints are more toxic than tempera paints because they are made from pigments mixed with a synthetic polymer emulsion . Acrylic paints have been confirmed to cause a number of potential health hazards if ingested or inhaled. Additionally, some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions to the synthetic polymer emulsion used in acrylic paints.
Tempera paints are a favorite for kid projects as they are typically made from pigments mixed with a binder, such as egg yolks and are considered to be relatively non-toxic. However, it is important to note that some of the pigments used in tempera paints can be toxic, and it is recommended always read the product label before purchase.
Also, some people may get an allergic reaction to the binder used in tempera paints, particularly if they have a sensitivity to eggs.
In order to minimize the potential health hazards associated with both tempera and acrylic paints, it is advisable to follow recommended safety measures, such as wearing gloves and a mask when using the paint. I also recommended using water-based paints, which are generally considered to be less toxic than oil-based paints.
Note: The toxicity of tempera and acrylic paints can vary, with both types having their own unique set of potential health hazards.
3.Paint’s Resistance to Fading
Lightfastness refers to the paint’s resistance to fading or discoloration over time when exposed to light. Tempera paints are known for their excellent lightfastness, as they are made from pigments mixed with egg yolk, casein or oil. This makes them resistant to fading and discoloration over time, making them an ideal choice for most painters and artworks that will be displayed for long periods of time.
Acrylic paints, on the other hand, are not as lightfast as tempera paints and can fade or yellow over time when exposed to light. To mitigate this issue, artists can use UV-resistant varnishes to protect acrylic paintings from light damage.
When it comes to lightfastness, tempera paints are the clear winner over acrylic paints
Surface versatility refers to a paint’s ability to be used on various surfaces and substrates, as well as the resulting finish and texture i.e. the end product. Both tempera and acrylic paints have different properties and capabilities in this regard, making them suitable for different types of projects.
Tempera paints are known for their ability to produce a smooth and velvety finish, making them ideal for painting on surfaces such as paper, cardboard, and canvas. However, tempera paints are not known for their versatility in terms of producing a textured or impasto effect.
Acrylic paints, on the other hand, are known for their flexibility, as they can be used on a wide range of surfaces, from canvas to wood, paper, and even fabric. Acrylic paint can produce a wide range of finishes, from smooth and flat to heavily textured and impasto. This versatility makes acrylic paints an ideal choice for artists who want to experiment with different textures and effects.
No doubt, when it comes to surface versatility, acrylic paints offer more flexibility and options compared to tempera paints. Ultimately, the choice between tempera and acrylic paints will depend on the specific needs and preferences of each project.
The finishing of tempera paints and acrylic paint are quiet very different. Tempera paints gives a smooth and velvety finish, which dries to a chalky finish and semi-matte. The matte finish makes tempera paints an ideal choice for creating delicate and detailed art, as well as for underpainting. This allows artists to easily build up multiple layers of paint without affecting the overall look of the artwork.
Acrylic paints dry to a semi-glossy finish, which is due to the water-soluble and quick-drying nature of the paint. The semi-glossy finish makes acrylic paints perfect for creating a modern and a more versatile contemporary look, as well as for adding highlights and reflections to artwork.
Furthermore, the semi-glossy finish of acrylic paints also makes them ideal for creating a wet look, as artists can use a gloss medium or varnish to enhance the shine of the paint.
The thickness of paint, also known as its viscosity, can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your paint project. Let’s start with Tempera paints.
Tempera paints have a thin, watery consistency that makes them really easy to work with, especially when creating simple art work. The thin consistency of tempera paints also helps with layering, as multiple layers can be easily built up without affecting the overall look . However, this thin consistency of tempera paints can sometimes make them difficult to control and can lead to unwanted drips and runs.
Now, acrylic paints, on the other hand, have a thicker consistency than tempera paints that makes them easier to control and less prone to drips and runs. The thicker consistency of acrylic paints makes are what most painters love as it works well with impasto techniques. Acrylic paints can hold their form and structure better than tempera paints and can be thickened with various mediums, such as gels and pastes, to achieve different viscosities and textures.
7.Drying Time and Curing
When it comes to drying time. Tempera paints are the winners here. They typically dry faster than acrylic paints as they are made from pigments mixed with water and a binder, usually egg yolk. As a result, they dry quickly and are usually touch-dry in 15-30 minutes. However, the final curing time can take up to 24 hours.
Acrylic paints dry slower than tempera paints, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to dry to the touch. However, they cure much faster, with a full cure time of 24 hours or less. This faster curing time allows for quicker layering and glazing, making acrylics a popular choice for many artists.
Other factors that can affect the drying time of tempera and acrylic paints include the thickness of the paint, the surface it is applied to, and the humidity and temperature of the environment.
The Similarities Between Tempera and Acrylic Paint
Tempera and acrylic paints are separately used art mediums. But, they have similar properties such as;
1.They are Both Water-soluble
Both tempera and acrylic paints are water-soluble, meaning they can be thinned and manipulated using water or other thinners. This feature makes them both ideal for a variety of painting techniques, from washes and glazes to fine detail work,. They also both allow for greater control over the consistency and transparency of the paint by adjusting the amount of water or thinner added.
For more flexibility as you paint, you can also create a wide range of effects, from subtle and delicate to bold and expressive. Whether you prefer to work with a thicker or thinner paint, the water-solubility of both tempera and acrylic paints provides the versatility and adaptability you need to achieve your end desired result.
These paints both offer a range of vibrant color choices for artists, making them popular mediums for creating artwork. The availability of vibrant colors in both tempera and acrylic paints allows artists to experiment with different hues and techniques, providing them with a wide range of options for their artwork.
Tempera and acrylic paints are both highly versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, paper, and wood. This versatility allows artists to experiment with different mediums and techniques.
Tempera and acrylic paints are both pigment-based. Acrylic paint is made from a synthetic polymer emulsion while tempera paints are made from pigments mixed with egg yolk, casein or oil.
Uses of Tempera Paint
If you want to try working with tempera paints, it is good to know what surfaces it can adhere to . Tempera paint is a popular choice for artists and crafters, as it is versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including paper, canvas, and wood.. As a beginner, you can also use tempera paint in various applications and projects, including:
- Art and Crafts
- Education( Schools and Educational Institutions)
- Mural Painting
- Icon Painting
- Decorative Painting
What is Acrylic Paint Used For?
As a more versatile choice, you can use acrylic paint on almost any surface you can think of. Its versatility and flexibility makes it a go-to for painters. If you are just starting out in your painting /art journey, here are some projects that work perfectly with acrylic paint.
- Fine Art: Acrylic paint is a popular choice for artists, as it dries quickly and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, metal, walls, shoes, paper, and wood.
- Murals and Large Scale Art: It is often used for mural and large-scale artwork due to its quick-drying time and durability.
- Home Decor: Acrylic paint can also be used for home decor projects, such as furniture painting, wall art, and DIY projects, as it is easy to work with and dries to a hard, durable finish.
- Crafts: Commonly used for craft projects, acrylic paint is perfect for painting ceramics, creating custom fabric designs, and decoupage.
- Signage: Are you looking to start on a signage project. Well, you can absolutely use acrylic paint for signage and graphic design, as it is long-lasting and weather-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor use.
- Body and Face Painting: Yeah, its a fact. Acrylic paint has been used in body and face painting, as it provides bright, vibrant colors and can be easily removed with soap and water.
Mixing Tempera Paints With Acrylic Paint
Technically, tempera and acrylic paints cannot be mixed together as they are made with different binders and have different chemical compositions. Mixing tempera and acrylic paints together can result in a separation of the pigments and a loss of the desired properties of both paints.
Tempera paint is typically made with a binder such as egg yolk, milk or a water-soluble adhesive, while acrylic paint is entirely made with a synthetic polymer emulsion. These different binders have different properties and do not mix well together, which can also result in a poor-quality, uneven application .
I recommend using tempera and acrylic paints separately, rather than attempting to mix them together. This will ensure the desired properties and characteristics of each paint remain intact and provide the desired results in your art project.
You can also mix acrylic entirely with acrylic and tempera with tempera paints to maintain quality.
Can You Turn Tempera Paint into Acrylic?
Not a good idea. You cannot turn tempera paint into acrylic paint. Tempera paint and acrylic paint have entirely different binders and properties, and they cannot be interchanged. If you want to change the type of paint you are using, you will need to purchase the new type of paint and start from scratch. Mixing the two paints together will not result in a paint that has the desired properties of either tempera or acrylic paint.
If you want to change the thickness of tempera paints, you can use corn starch. However, its texture will be bit different and will make your paint slightly more gritty. However, if you want to thin out acrylic paint, it is advisable use water.
In conclusion, tempera paint dries relatively quickly to a relatively firm, opaque, and non-tacky surface, often within a few minutes to an hour, depending on the thickness of the paint and the temperature and humidity of the environment. The quick drying time makes tempera paints ideal for use in classroom settings where multiple coats or layers may need to be applied in a short amount of time.
Whether you are an experienced artist or just starting out, tempera paint is definitely worth considering for your next art project. Just be mindful of the conditions under which it dries, and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for best results.
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