I do a lot of hobby crafting for tabletop gaming that involves painting miniatures and building scenery (think model railroad hobbyists). In this craft, there is a lot of need for washes of different sorts that fill in crevices and crannies for developing shadowing and texture.

I have some tempera paints that were gifted to me, but I don't have much of a use for them and was thinking I could make them into washes of different colors since they are already very thin. Has anyone tried tempera paints for this? Will the paint hold up if painted over with acrylics? Will they be washed away when I attempt to seal my work (usually with Mod Podge and/or polycrylic)?

I suppose I can experiment a little bit, but I thought I'd see if anyone else has attempted this before putting time into it.

Edit: Or, if they might not be good for washes, what else could I use tempera for in terrain crafting?

  • \$\begingroup\$ It may help to note the brand and product line of tempera paints as well. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2020 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough - I can double check when I get home, but from what I recall they are mostly Crayola brand, I think marketed more towards kids' crafts. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2020 at 16:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ To the people voting to close, I don't think this is about a miniatures game, it's about painting miniatures for roleplaying games. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4, 2021 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


The tempera paints will probably not make very good washes for use with miniatures for two reasons. First, while tempera paints are thin, they are very opaque. More so than typical acrylics. Opacity is generally not a desired feature in washes for minis, Second, tempera paints are not considered permanent. When they dry, they do not become water insoluble as acrylics do. When they are re-wetted, they will mobilize again. Moving from cracks and smearing. This will happen when painted over as well as when water soluble seals (such as Mod Podge and/or polycrylic). If you were using a non-water based sealant, the sealing at least would likely be fine. (I like Blair matte coating spray personally, gives a nice matte look and dries really fast).

There are some reports of using tempera paints as the base for washes, mostly in the larger scale fine modeling community. http://cs.finescale.com/fsm/tools_techniques_and_reference_materials/f/13/t/97476.aspx

Diluted paint is applied to deep crevices and the rest wiped off. The commentary referenced above suggest it works best with models that have strong crevices and well defined 3D structure. The comparable use would be with painting terrain, earthworks, structures, that kind of thing rather than miniatures. It sounds like you do some of this work, so it might be worth a try. Wiping off excess should help avoid issues with opacity, where you don't want it. Drying really well before applying water based sealant or paint might help reduce smearing enough to make them useful. Or use a non-water based sealant.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi DrRadium, welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center to learn about the site. This is a nice first answer. Thanks for contributing and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Jan 4, 2021 at 0:10

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