Last updated: August 18, 2021

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Welcome to our big tempera paint test 2022. Here we present all the tempera paints we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the right tempera paints for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy tempera paints.




Summary

  • Tempera paints consist of colour pigments, binder and a water-oil emulsion.
  • Tempera colours are usually produced in-house. In most cases, egg and casein tempera is used. Due to the short shelf life, complicated production and difficulties in the
  • Tempera colours are not suitable for beginners. Artists also rarely use tempera colours.

The Best Tempera: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying tempera paints

What are tempera paints?

Tempera paints are composed of colour pigments that are bound with a water-oil emulsion binder. In addition, the watery part of the emulsion may also contain glues.

For whom are tempera paints suitable?

Real tempera paints are rarely used by hobby painters because the manufacturing process and handling require experience. Because of their short shelf life, tempera paints are expensive and last only with a high proportion of preservative. For this reason, artists make their own paints. However, this process requires experience and is difficult to estimate, especially for beginners. The handling of tempera paints is also not easy and requires experience and knowledge. Tempera paints must be applied by lightly brushing in several layers.

It is difficult to estimate how intense the colours need to be, as they turn out much stronger when dry. (Image source: pixabay.com / Bru-nO)

What alternatives are there to tempera paints?

The term tempera is often used incorrectly to refer to gouche colours. Tempera and gouche are two different types of paint. They differ in composition and surface texture. The binder for gouche paints is based on gum arabic or other glue binders, pigments and water. Unlike tempera, they are always water-soluble and dry matt. Gouche paints are used not only by artists but also in hobby and school settings because they mix well and dry quickly. They are easy to dilute and wash out. This makes them particularly suitable for children. Stains can be removed without any problems.
Type Ingredients Surface
Gouche Aqueous content: Gum Arabic and/or other resin solutions Water soluble, Matt, Opaque
Tempera Aqueous content:Gum Arabic, Egg, Casein solution, Oily content: Drying vegetable oils and/or resin solutions Water repellent, Matt to glossy, Transparent to opaque

Decision: What types of tempera paints are there and which is right for you?

Tempera colours are differentiated according to the type of aqueous emulsion content. For example, they are divided into casein, egg, starch and wax tempera.

The most important types are still egg and casein tempera. They have water-soluble properties and thus bring some advantages in painting.

Casein tempera The binding agent for colour pigments in casein tempera is based on casein, a milk protein. Water and an oily component are added. This can consist of linseed, poppy, sunflower or walnut oil. Caseintempera is easy to work with and has a high covering power. Egg tempera Egg tempera consists of equal parts of water, egg yolk and linseed oil. Depending on the desired opacity, colour pigments are added. Chamois chalk can be added for thickening. Egg tempera has a strong luminosity and an increasingly strong opacity with the addition of colour pigments.

What distinguishes tempera paints and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Tempera paints have a high resistance to ageing. Cracks that occur in oil painting, for example, are not a problem. Tempera paints dry relatively slowly. This has the advantage that they can still be worked on for a long time.

Advantages
  • Resistance to ageing
  • dries slowly
Disadvantages
  • Limited durability
  • Complicated production
  • Requires experience

Tempera colours have a limited shelf life due to their high protein content and spoil very quickly. For this reason, they are not so often offered in the trade. (Image source: pixabay.com / Couleur)

The production of tempera is not easy. It requires experience and knowledge to create the right mixing ratios.

Painting with tempera is also not easy and requires a lot of practice. The correct handling of the brush and the opacity of the colours must be learned.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate tempera paints on the basis of these factors

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many tempera paints available. The criteria you can use to compare tempera paints with each other include:

  • Paint quality
  • Health hazard
  • Oil/water content
  • Quantity

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Colour quality

The colour intensity and lightfastness of tempera paints differ greatly from one another. Tempera inks are offered in different quality levels and for different target groups. Tempera colours for children tend to be of poorer quality and lightfastness. This means that the colours do not radiate as beautifully and fade in the sun. Tempera colours for professionals are more intensive and lightfast. If you want your artwork to last longer, you should pay attention to the colour quality.

Health hazard

The question of health hazards is especially important for children. Small children often use paint with their hands and it is not uncommon for paint to get into their mouths. If you want to be sure that the colours are safe, you should buy tempera colours that are suitable for children. These paints fall under the regulations for toys. Even safer, however, are paints that you make yourself with natural ingredients. This way you know exactly what has been added and can decide which ingredients are safe for your child.

Oil/water content

Whether you buy or make tempera paints, the oil and water content determines their properties. As with oil paints, a distinction is made between lean and rich colours.

Type Properties
Fat colours Water-resistant, Glossy, Flexible, Easy to blend, Oil bubbles after drying
Lean colours Water-sensitive, Matt, Inflexible, Harder edges, Water bubbles after drying

Colours with less oil are water sensitive, duller and harder to blend. This means they can also be used in watercolour style. The higher the percentage of oil in the colours, the more water-resistant, glossy and flexible the colour film. This makes the colours easier to blend together and creates softer edges.

Quantity

The number and size of colours you need depends on what you want to do with them. Tempera colours are available in small tubes and large bottles. If you only want to use tempera from time to time for hobby work, small tubes will be sufficient. However, if you want to use tempera regularly on large painting surfaces, you should consider buying large bottles.

Interesting facts about tempera paints

Can I make tempera colours myself?

Tempera paints have been made since the Middle Ages. Today they are somewhat out of fashion. Nevertheless, tempera paints produce some beautiful effects and can be made wonderfully at home. Artists rarely use ready-made tempera colours from tubes and bottles. After making tempera colours, you should use them quickly and use them up after a few days in the refrigerator. We have selected and described a recipe for making egg tempera. For egg tempera you need the following ingredients:

  • Egg
  • Water
  • Linseed oil
  • Pigments
  1. Prepare egg, water and linseed oil in a ratio of 1:1:1.
  2. Put the egg and linseed oil in a bottle and mix vigorously.
  3. In the next step, add the water and mix the ingredients again.
  4. Then mix the desired amount of colour pigments with the emulsion. The consistency depends on your desired opacity.
  5. To thicken, you can stir in chalk. To thin, you can stir in water.

To give you a better idea of what it takes to make egg tempera, we have selected a video with instructions on how to make it.

Are tempera colours washable?

Tempera colours can be washed out in most cases. However, you should quickly remove the stain with soap as long as the colours are not dry. Even colours that are declared washable can leave irreversible stains on some textiles. The manufacturer does not give any guarantee. The following is the opinion of the Industrieverband Schreiben, Zeichnen, Kreatives Gestalten E.V. on this matter:

The applied, dried colours can be largely removed from most textiles. However, with some paints there is a certain risk of migration from the applied paint into materials such as textiles, plastics or varnish. The conclusion that water-based paints can be completely removed with water or washed off and out is therefore not correct.

What utensils do I need for tempera paints?

If you have already decided to use tempera paints, the question arises as to which accessories you need in order to have a pleasant painting experience. We have compiled a list of the most important accessories for you:

  • Painting surface
  • Brush
  • Painting spatula
  • Ingredients

Painting surface

Due to the special properties of tempera paints, you should use wood as the painting surface. A flexible canvas is not a good base. Tempera paints can be brittle, which can lead to cracks. In addition, painting supports can warp due to the high surface tension. Therefore, wood is best suited.

Brush

No special brushes are needed for the use of tempera paints. Simple brushes of good quality are sufficient. The choice should also depend on the type of surface you want to use tempera paints on. This often determines the size of the brushes.

Painting spatula

To mix the pigments with the emulsion, you need a painting spatula. It allows you to mix the pigments into a nice paste. You can also use it to create effects when painting. With the spatula you can add depth to your painting and use the effects of light to your advantage.

Ingredients

If you want to make tempera yourself, you will need ingredients. For example, for egg tempera you need water, linseed oil, egg and colour pigments. Above we have provided you with a recipe and a video under the heading 'Make your own tempera'. There you will find the most important information.

What is the shelf life of tempera colours?

Tempera colours have a very short shelf life. Even tempera colours with preservatives do not last long.

It is important to clean the screw cap thoroughly after each application. Otherwise, the tubes cannot be closed well and dry out much faster. (Image source: pixabay.com / Henra)

Homemade tempera paints have a much shorter shelf life. After making them, they should be used on the same day if possible. They will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. If you add one or two drops of clove oil, the shelf life can be extended by a few days.

Image source: unsplash.com / Andrian Valeanu

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