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What Is Tempera Paint?

Painting is a great activity to keep kids busy for hours! One must know what is tempera paint before giving them to the kids. In stationery stores, you must have come across different types of paints based ideal for painting and art projects. In the beginning, you might find all the paints similar to one another. But you won’t be able to differentiate unless you use them. So, my today’s article explains what is tempera paint in art in detail. Here, I will compare tempera paint stick with watercolor and acrylic paint. Are you excited to know what is tempera paint? Then keep on reading…

What Is Tempera Paint?

Tempera paint is a water-based paint that is made by using a chemical binding agent. This paint is also known as poster paint. These paints are allergen-free and non-toxic in nature.

What Is Washable Tempera Paint?

Washable tempera paint is all-purpose liquid paint that is washable, nontoxic, and non-settling in nature. This paint is slightly thick in terms of consistency.

Let us now find out what is the binder used in tempera paint.

What Is Tempera Paint Made Of?

The ingredients used to make tempera paint vary from brand to brand. Generally, tempera paint is made by using the following ingredients.

  • Water
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Nontoxic pigments
  • Preservatives 
  • Starch or cellulose

Most brands prefer using starch or cellulose as the binder in tempera paint. There are some artists who love making their own paints by using eggs! It sounds so wired! But it’s true, eggs are an excellent binding agent of tempera paint. Egg tempera provides brilliant coverage but is very toxic for adults as well as children.

You can keep on reading further to know what is tempera paint used for.

Tempera Paint Uses

From the above section, you got to know what is the binder for tempera paint. There are multiple ways in which tempera paint can be used. Below, I have listed down some inexpensive uses of tempera paint.

  • It can be used for teaching finger painting.
  • In art education, teachers mostly used tempera paint on canvas for doing brush paintings.
  • Some artists like using tempera paint for wood poster making and printmaking.
  • You can even utilize it in other craft projects such as plaster sculptures.
  • Students can use this paint to paint paper masks, maps, or figures.
  • It can also be used to illustrate any scene from your history lesson or work or fiction.

After knowing what is tempera paint for, let’s compare it with other types of paints.

Tempera Paint Vs Acrylic

Here, I have written down a short comparison between what is tempera paint vs acrylic.

Tempera PaintAcrylic Paint
Tempera paint is not permanent paint.Acrylic paint is permanent paint.
The binder used for making tempera paint is egg yolk.The binder used for making acrylic paint is a gum-based binder.
It is thinner than acrylic paints.It is thicker than tempera paints.
This paint has a creamy consistency to it.This paint has a thick consistency to it.
When this paint dries, it gives a matte finish.When this paint dries, it gives a glossy to a semi-glossy finish.
It is soluble even after it is dried.It is not soluble once it dries.
Tempera paint has less lightfastness than acrylic paint.However, acrylic paint has more lightfastness than tempera paint.
This paint easily loses its vibrancy and color shortly after painting.This paint retains its vibrancy and original color for a long time.
They are easy to wash off.They are not so easy to wash off.
The paintings made by using tempera paint won’t last for years.The paintings made by using acrylic paints last for years or even decades!
Tempera paints last for a specific period of time.On the other hand, acrylic paints last for years if it sealed properly.
Tempera paints can be used on the following materials:
Newspaper print
Poster boards
Finger printing
Sponge painting
While acrylic paints can be used on the following materials:

Tempera Paint Vs Watercolor

Tempera paints and watercolors both are favorites of kids! But there are some slight differences that must be noted. Below, I have explained what is tempera paint vs watercolor in short.

Tempera PaintWatercolor
In terms of texture, tempera paints are bold and thick in texture than watercolor.Watercolors are semi-translucent and very thin in texture.
Because it is thick, it is an excellent medium for paintings with fingers and toes.Because it is thin, it is the best choice for finger paintings
It can be used on poster paper, card stock, paper plates, or other heavy paper products.It can be used on paper, in coloring books, on windows, clear plastic items such as ornaments or sun catchers.

Tempera Paint Vs Washable Paint

Washable paints and tempera paints look similar to each other right? Let’s find out what is tempera paint vs washable paint in short.

Tempera Paints: 

  • Tempera paints are best suitable for older children.
  • They are semi-permanent and slightly lightfast.

Washable Paints:

  • Washable paints are best suitable for younger children.
  • They are neither permanent nor lightfast.

Best Tempera Paints For Kids

Here, I have listed down some best tempera paints that are easily found in the market.

  • CRAYOLA Washable Kids Tempera Paint Set
  • Rangeela Tempera Color
  • Faber Castell Ready Mix Tempera Paint Bottles

You can know much more information on Caresguru

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Why Do Artists Use Tempera Paint?

Tempera painting allows for great precision when used with traditional techniques that require the application of numerous small brush strokes applied in a cross-hatching technique. When dry, it produces a smooth matte finish.

Why Does Tempera Paint Crack?

Tempera initially dries through relatively rapid evaporation of its water content, so if too dense a layer is applied it can crack as it shrinks (akin to a dried-out lake bed).

Does Tempera Paint Wash Off?

If you get tempera paint on your shirt, rinse it under cold water then wash it with a detergent that includes surfactants and bleaching agents, like Ariel washing liquid. Get rid of tempera paint stains in a few simple steps with our Ariel stain solutions.

Can I Seal Tempera Paint?

Now you can protect precious tempera paintings with new Tempera Varnish from RAS! These non-toxic, water-soluble varnishes are easy to apply and easy to clean up — with just soap and water — and will prevent dirt, dust, moisture, or environmental pollutants from damaging the surface of your child’s tempera painting.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Tempera Paint?

Unlike oil paint, tempera cannot be applied too thickly, and thus lacks the deep colouration of oils. But tempera paintings are very long lasting and colours do not deteriorate over time, unlike oil paints which tend to darken or lose colour with age. It dries rapidly, and when dry it produces a smooth matte finish.

Is Tempera Paint The Same As Acrylic Paint?

The main difference is how permanent they are when they dry. Tempera paint is washable and can be reactivated with water, so at most it’s semi-permanent. Whereas acrylic paint dries permanently and is known for its lightfast qualities.


In my above article, I have discussed what is tempera paint sticks in detail. Tempera paints are water-based paints that are made by using a chemical binding agent. This paint is allergen-free and non-toxic in nature. When this paint dries, it gives a matte finish. But they easily lose their vibrancy and color shortly after painting. It can be used for teaching finger painting, for doing brush paintings, poster making, and printmaking. Also, tempera paints are not the same as acrylic paints. Both these paints have different composition, consistency, texture, and finish. You can now choose the correct paints for your artworks by understanding what is tempera paint.

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