Tempera Paint vs Gouache (Key Differences)

If you’re an artist looking to learn more about different types of painting media, you may have heard of tempera and gouache. Both are popular choices for many artists who work in a variety of different mediums.

While both are opaque water-based paints, they have different properties that make them suitable for different types of artwork. Let’s check out the differences between tempera paint vs. gouache.

Tempera Paint vs Gouache Paint

What is Tempera?

Tempera is a type of paint used for centuries to create beautiful works of art. It is a fast-drying, water-soluble paint that produces vibrant, opaque colors. It is one of the oldest types of paint and has been used to create some of the most iconic works of art in history.

The origins of tempera can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it as an alternative to fresco painting. It was also used by the Early Christian and Byzantine painters who emerged in the 4th century AD. Tempera was the primary painting medium of the Renaissance period and was used by painters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Raphael’s pupil, Giulio Romano.

Tempera paint is composed of pigment, an egg-based binder, and water. The pigment provides the color, and the binder (usually egg yolk) holds the paint together and binds it to the surface to which it is applied. The water allows the pigments to be mixed and thinned with ease. Tempera paint is usually applied with a brush and dries quickly.

Tempera paint
Tempera paint

The primary benefit of tempera paint is its bright and vibrant colors. The pigments used in tempera paint are incredibly vivid and rich, making them ideal for creating bold and expressive artwork. The colors also do not fade quickly, so the artwork will last for years. However, modern-day craft tempera paints are washable and not permanent. You can make tempera paint permanent. And you can also turn tempera paint into acrylic.

Tempera paint is also very affordable and easy to work with. It is often a favorite of beginner painters because it is easy to learn and use. It is also an excellent choice for creating intricate and detailed paintings. This paint is not waterproof, so it is important to use a sealer or varnish when finished. This will protect the artwork from damage and ensure that it lasts for years to come.

You can use tempera paint on a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, windows, rocks, ceramic, and also on your hair.

What is Gouache?

Gouache paint is a type of water-based paint that is commonly used for painting and illustration. It combines the best of both worlds – the opacity of acrylics and the water-solubility of watercolors.

It consists of pigment, a binder (usually gum arabic), and sometimes other additives such as chalk and ox gall.

Gouache paint
Gouache paint

Gouache is an opaque, matte, fast-drying paint perfect for artists of all skill levels. It can be thinned with water to create a transparent effect or build up to a more opaque, textured finish. It is particularly good for layering, and its quick drying time makes it ideal for creating quick sketches and illustrations. It is easy to control and manipulate, and the colors remain vibrant and intense.

From paper and canvas to wood and glass, gouache is a versatile medium used on many surfaces and is also great for mixed media. You can use it for traditional painting and illustration, as well as for printmaking, collage, and even sculpture.

If you’re looking for a paint that is vibrant, easy to control, and fast-drying, gouache is a perfect choice. It is an excellent pick for artists looking for a medium that combines the opacity of acrylics with the water-solubility of watercolors. Whether you’re an experienced painter or just starting out, it’s a great medium to experiment with and explore.

Major Differences between Tempera Paint vs Gouache

Let’s take a closer look at these two paint types to see how they compare and what each can bring to your art projects.

Tempera paint is a type of paint made from egg yolks and pigment.Gouache is a water-based paint made from a combination of gum arabic and pigment.  
It’s an ancient medium believed to have been used by the Egyptians and Greeks and is still popular today.  Gouache, on the other hand, is a more modern medium that has been used for centuries.
Known for their vibrant colors and vivid hues, they are often used in creating children’s art.  Gouache is great for creating bold, vibrant paintings and illustrations.
Tempera paint is thin and semi-opaque.Gouache paint is thick and more opaque than watercolor.  
The downside to tempera paints is that they don’t mix well and can be challenging to blend.  While gouache paints can be mixed and blended easily, they tend to be less vibrant than tempera paints and can sometimes have a duller color.  
Tempera paint is generally applied with a brush. This means that tempera paint can be applied very quickly and is often the choice of artists who are in a hurry.  While gouache is applied by a mixer or airbrush beside the brush. It is better if you need to achieve precise brushwork and have a matte finish.
It dries quickly, making it a superb choice for quick sketches and studies.  It takes much longer to dry.

In summary

Overall, tempera paint and gouache are both popular paints for a variety of artists. While they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, it is vital to consider the type of project you are working on before deciding which paint to use.

So, if you are looking to create vibrant and vivid images, tempera paint is the way to go. Gouache is the right choice for you if you want to create softer and more subtle works of art. No matter the project you are working on, both tempera paint and gouache will provide you with the results you’re looking for.