How to Use Gouache Paint

How to Use Gouache Paint – Our Gouache Painting Tutorial

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If you are completely immersed in the world of painting, there is a good possibility that you have heard of gouache paint. Numerous painters choose gouache paint over other mediums because it is adaptable and allows them to produce paintings that are bright and dazzling in appearance. But what is the best way to utilize gouache paint? In this article, we will discuss what gouache paint is, how to use gouache paint, gouache painting ideas, and everything else you need to know about gouache paint.



What Is Gouache Paint?

Gouache paint is a mixture of natural pigments, water, and binding agents like gum Arabic, which are used to keep the paint together as it dries. In certain circumstances, synthetic pigments are utilized in place of natural colors to get the desired effect. Adding chalk or propylene glycol to the gouache paint mixture can also thicken the paint.

Bum Arabic for Making Gouache

When gouache paint is dry, it usually has an opaque and matte finish. After using gouache paint, one benefit is that it dries quickly and does not reflect the light when it is completely dried. Therefore, if you use gouache paint, you will not have to wait for a very long time in between applications to get your final result. Aside from that, this form of paint produces a more vibrant outcome.

Vibrancy of Gouache Paint


What Is Gouache Paint Used For?

There are many things that you can do when working with gouache paint. Gouache paint may be used to create artwork such as comics, drawings, and calligraphy. This paint may also be used to create portraits, and abstract works, among other things. Its adaptability allows it to be used for a wide range of themes. This is also one of the reasons why numerous artists choose to use gouache while aiming to produce a variety of various types of works.

Examples of Gouache Painting

Gouache may also be used to create realistic representations of objects that are anchored in reality. You may also experiment with letting the paint run freely to make abstract artworks.

Wet on Wet Gouache Techniques


Which Surfaces Does Gouache Work On?

Gouache is a versatile media that can be applied to a variety of surfaces while generating spectacular and consistent results. It may be used on a variety of surfaces, including watercolor papers, illustrative drawing boards, and thick drawing papers.

Paper for Gouache Painting

It is, however, more difficult to use gouache on other surfaces since the paint does not adhere as quickly to these surfaces as it does to paper. Even though this is the case, it may still be used on a variety of materials such as wax paper, wood, and plastic. For the greatest results when using this paint on a wooden board, you must make sure that the board you are using is smooth, clean, as well as even before applying the paint.

When painting with gouache on plastic, you may add a few drops of dish detergent to the palette to make it more vibrant. This allows the paint to sit correctly on the surface and be manipulated with ease.

Dishwashing Liquid for Gouache on Plastic



Painting With Gouache

Gouache paint is water-soluble paint that is a combination of the characteristics of watercolors and acrylic paints. Gouache paint is versatile in that it may be used to paint regions ranging from dark to light in color and can even be used to paint white areas. Knowing how to use gouache paint entails a variety of skills and knowledge, including having the proper materials, using the proper techniques, and being aware of the best practices.

Painting with Gouache


Tools Needed When Painting With Gouache

The technique of learning how to paint with gouache is straightforward. You must, however, ensure that you have the necessary tools before getting started. You will need to have gouache paint, brushes, painting surfaces, water, as well as mixing trays or palettes, to complete your project.

Gouache Paint with Brush


Gouache Paint

There are various kinds of gouache paints that you may use, and they are available in a variety of brands. If this is your first time working with gouache paint, you must experiment with a few different colors to get a feel for the medium. Primary colors are usually the greatest option for novices since they can be used to create a variety of colors and tints quickly and easily.

Types of Gouache Paint



When starting with gouache, brushes are quite crucial to have on hand. It is possible to utilize watercolor brushes in addition to gouache brushes if they are available, because of the many similarities between the two mediums. Gouache brushes are available in a variety of shapes and sizes; the one you pick will be determined by how you intend to use the gouache. When painting, keep the brush moist at all times to ensure that your work is as smooth as possible.

Types of Paint Brushes for Gouache


Paint Surface

Gouache paint may be applied to a variety of different surfaces. It does, however, work better on watercolor paper surfaces than on other surfaces. Although gouache can also be used on canvas, it works much better in acrylic mediums as well as oil mediums.

Gouache can be Used on Canvas



When working with gouache, water is quite crucial to have on hand. To ensure that your paintings have the proper consistency, you may have to add water to them. This is because only a little pigment is required when laying down your colors.

Water for Painting with Gouache


Mixing Trays or Palettes

Gouache is usually packed in a tube or a tray to prevent it from drying out. Because of this, it is vital to have palettes or trays to mix your colors on while painting. This will aid you in the creation of a color spectrum of your choosing.

Palette for Gouache Painting



How to Use Gouache Paint: A Gouache Painting Tutorial

Gouache is a wonderful medium to work with; nevertheless, to obtain the desired effects, you must be familiar with how to use gouache paint correctly. Outlined below is a comprehensive gouache painting tutorial that you may follow if you want to start painting with gouache.

Gouache Painting Ideas


Step 1: Prepare the Work Environment

Preparing your workstation is the first step. You should first set down old newspapers to avoid the paint from accidentally dropping on your furniture or other objects while preparing the workspace. Additionally, water should be handy to aid you in your painting endeavors. Disposable cups may be used for keeping the water to be used during the process.

Work Area for Gouache Painting


Step 2: Create a Rough Sketch of Your Artwork

By simply sketching the design of your artwork, you may ensure that you have correctly planned your artwork. If you’re working on a piece of paper or a board, you may use a pencil to sketch out the designs for your artwork. This allows you to freely design the drawing so that you don’t have to be concerned about making any errors once you start painting the picture.

Planning Stages for Using Gouache Paint

This will also assist you in deciding which colors you will want to use in certain regions of your home. For instance, you may use white pastel oil to color select sections of your painting where you wish to keep the white color. The pastel oil works well since it can deflect water, keeping water-based gouache from reaching the places where the white paste oil is applied.


Step 3: Mix the Paints

To begin mixing the paints, fill the trays or palettes with the paint colors that you want to utilize in your project. Begin by squeezing little amounts of the paints that will be utilized to create your masterpiece. In one palette compartment, you may combine two or more cords and then use a brush to blend them.

Gouache Painting Tray

When using a brush to mix colors, it is important to ensure that it is well cleaned to prevent receiving a color that is different from the one you are going for. To dilute the gouache, you must add little quantities of water to the gouache while mixing it well. Be careful not to add too much water at once, since this can result in the gouache becoming over-diluted. When the gouache paint is over-diluted, gum Arabic may be added as a binder to keep the paint together and maintain its ideal consistency.

Gouache Paint Color Mixing


Step 4: Check Your Colors

Before you can start your main painting project, you must first test your colors on a scrap piece of paper to see if that is what you are looking for. This will also assist you in becoming familiar with your gouache colors, paintbrushes, and the surfaces you will be painting on. Experiment with different amounts of water and different types of brushes, such as dry and wet. Keep experimenting with different approaches and practice with several techniques until you feel confident once you feel confident in your ability to begin.

Testing Gouache Paint Colors


Step 5: Start Painting the Base of Your Surface

Once you have finished mixing the paint and are certain that it has reached the proper consistency, it is time to begin painting. The base colors will be applied first, and then the layers will be applied after that. What you’re doing here is painting the background sections of your artwork. You have the option of making the background transparent or opaque, depending on your preferences. Since gouache has a propensity to break when painted too heavily, it is best to apply thin layers and avoid applying too many coats of gouache to a surface.

Painting in Washes with Gouache

To prevent unintentional mixing at this stage, you should wait for the paint to dry completely before proceeding. Alternatively, if you start working on a layer that you believe to be dry and the paints start to leak, just stop painting and return to paint over the areas after enough time has elapsed and the region has dried completely.


Step 6: Shade and Add Details to Your Artworks

Shade your artwork to give it a three-dimensional feel and to give it some depth. There are various techniques for shading, but the most prevalent is the use of a glaze or the creation of a gradient effect. Detailing may be accomplished using a fine-tipped paintbrush soaked in black gouache or using a water-resistant marker or pen. You can also use gouache to create a pattern that stands out and to give an artwork even more depth and character.

Gouache Painting Techniques Tutorial


Step 7: Allow Your Painting to Dry

Allow your artwork to dry completely before checking it to ensure that you are satisfied with it. Because gouache might dry to a different hue than when it is applied, it is important to let it dry completely before completing your project. If you notice mistakes in your work, you can have the area rewetted to help in fixing the mistake. You may also cover it up by painting over it and in some cases, you may restart the whole painting. You can use a sponge, rag, or even a towel to remove paint off the canvas and repair any mistakes.

Sponges and Rags for Painting with Gouache


Step 8: Put Your Finished Painting in a Frame

Once you are satisfied with your work, it may be protected by framing it beneath a piece of glass. As the last step before framing, ensure that the artwork is correctly mounted so that it does not come into touch with the glass. If the painting comes in touch with glass, there may be mold development, bleeding as well as condensation. Varnish can also be used to protect your painting. However, it has the potential to significantly modify the hues of your gouache artwork in a manner that does not occur with other media.

Framing Your Gouache Painting


Gouache Painting Techniques

Once you’ve gathered all of the materials you’ll need to begin painting with gouache, you’ll want to make sure that you’re familiar with the proper gouache painting techniques. The options for being creative with gouache are almost limitless, which is why it’s important to be familiar with the most often used gouache painting techniques. It is essential to experiment with the following gouache painting ideas to have a better grasp of how they work.

Painting Details with Gouache



This is one of the most widely used gouache painting techniques. When painting with gouache, many individuals begin by coating the surface with a thin layer of paint, which acts as a base for the subsequent layers of paint. To do this, begin by generating a thin consistency that you can then brush over the surface. This method is excellent for adding color to huge portions of your paintings.




This approach works best if you have already coated your surface with the foundation base layer. You may use this technique to create several layers. You may be able to boost the opacity of your artwork by using less water in the paint, which results in rich saturated colors. The layering technique is most effective when it comes to adding little elements to your paintings.



Dry Brushing

This is appropriate for adding texture to your artwork. This technique works well by using a brush. You may alternate between using a dry brush and a wet brush over your artwork to generate stunning feathery patterns and textures.




This technique is best suited for creating deep, gloomy shadows on a canvas or paper. You can gently add water to your gouache painting to flatten it down as you glaze it with the paint. Thereafter, you may apply it on top of sections that have previously been painted and allowed to dry completely. This procedure may be used to enhance colors or perhaps generate whole new ones. To produce deep, black shadows or to establish the tone for more atmospheric compositions, this technique is highly recommended.



Reworking Dry Areas

Because gouache dries quickly, it may be a daunting characteristic for several painters, but fortunately, there is a way to overcome this limitation. Even after the gouache has fully dried, it may be redone by adding a little amount of water. Practice this by painting a solid form on a piece of paper using gouache paint then allowing it to dry completely. After that, paint around the borders of the shape using a brush soaked in water. This makes the paint malleable as it re-wets, allowing you to manipulate and blend it as you choose, easing the borders outwardly as desired.



Wet on Dry

This technique involves the direct application of the paint to dry surfaces. The surface can be anything such as paper or even canvas. The thickness and creamy texture of the gouache paint allow for a smoother application process. You may also make it even smoother by mixing the pigment with a small amount of water before you being applying.



Wet on Wet

This is a method that produces softer forms with blurry or fuzzy lines and edges, as opposed to wet on dry painting. To experiment with this technique, start by dampening your paper and then painting with wet gouache on top of it. You may also use this approach to include backdrops, water bodies, and even abstract objects in your paintings. This technique may also be used to enhance the atmosphere of your vistas and landscapes.



Creating Gradients

Because of its thickness and rich consistency, gouache can be applied straight to your work surface without the need for a mixing bowl. Using this technique, you can blend inside the piece and produce nuanced changes in color with no effort. This is necessary for making realistic artwork. For your gouache methods experimentation, you may use two different colors on each side of a sheet of paper with an open area between the color options to see if you can make a gradient. After that, you may gradually apply a little amount of each hue to the other, mixing them until they are blended completely. Try adding additional colors adjacent to each other and blending them as you go along as you grow more familiar with this. This helps you to get an ombre effect on your painting.



Mixed Media

This technique implies combining gouache with other creative materials such as watercolors, acrylics, pastels, inks, or charcoal to create a unique composition. Because it works nicely with a variety of different mediums, gouache is a fantastic medium for mixed media artworks. In addition to gouache, other media can add distinct textures, effects, as well as brightness to a composition, which can both contrast and enhance the gouache. For instance, coloring a gouache painting with ink may add a whole new degree of depth and complexity to the composition.




This technique is widely used for producing abstracts as well as random smudges of colors in a variety of sizes and shapes. To use this technique, start by wetting your paintbrush with water and afterward add a little amount of gouache paint to the paintbrush. Thereafter, you can start painting and the consequence is that the colors flow swiftly throughout the canvas. You can even experiment with gouache to do some fluid painting.



Creating Volume

Creating volume with gouache paint is also possible. To portray where light is shining on certain sections of your artwork, make sure that different degrees of color are used in different areas of your artwork to depict where light is shining on particular portions of your composition. Generally speaking, the light that shines on a specific part of your object, the brighter the color should appear to be there. It is more likely that you will have deeper color in areas where there is less light shining than you might expect.

When you initially begin trying to create volume with gouache, think about creating a gradient of your chosen color from bright to dark to get a sense of how it will look. Consider how light shines on three-dimensional surfaces and paint following that observation.




Tips and Tricks for Painting with Gouache

Some tips are very crucial to keep in mind, particularly if you are just getting started with the gouache medium. The following are the most crucial insights from this gouache painting tutorial for anybody who is a beginner to working with gouache.


Use Clean Brushes

Maintain the cleanliness of your paintbrush whenever switching between coolers. Keep in mind to thoroughly clean your paintbrush as you transition between colors to avoid having murky colors at the completion of your painting process. This may be accomplished by thoroughly twirling your paintbrush around in clean water to remove any remaining gouache paint, and thereafter lightly squeezing it between two pieces of fabric or cloth. It is necessary to repeat the procedure until the paintbrush is clean of paint.

Gouache Painting Requires Clean Brushes


Make Sure the Gouache Does Not Dry

When working with gouache, keep a close eye on your palettes to ensure that the paint does not dry out on the surface of the palettes. Alternatively, if somehow the gouache is becoming dry, a light spray of water may be used to moisten the paint.

Reactivate Gouache with Spraymist


Consider the Thickness When Applying Gouache Paint

When working with gouache, make sure to avoid applying the gouache too heavily. You must never apply multiple layers at the same time to prevent cracking and peeling after it has dried. Consider doing some practice with gouache before devoting it to a more substantial piece of artwork. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to the medium.

Thick Gouache Paint will Crack



Differences Between Gouache Paint and Watercolor

Generally speaking, gouache paint and watercolor are both produced from the same kind of ingredients. However, there are a few differences between these two kinds of paint. These differences are explained in more detail in this section.

Comparing Gouache to Watercolor



Watercolor is composed of pigments that include very fine particles, allowing the pigment to spread more evenly and be regarded as almost transparent. Gouache, on the other hand, contains larger and thicker particles than watercolor. As a result, it becomes much thicker and heftier. When compared to watercolor, gouache is opaquer after drying because of the larger size of the particles.

Consistency of Gouache Paint


Drying Time

When compared to watercolor, gouache dries much more quickly than watercolor. Because it dries quickly, gouache paint is an excellent option for works that are expressive, action-oriented, or direct. That makes it ideal for dry-brushing. It is also useful for generating a quick wash of color that may be dried to a matte finish.

Expressive Dry-Brush Gouache Technique


Building Layers of Color

Both gouache and watercolor are similar in that they may both be rewetted and will adhere to the paper. The difference is that you cannot use water gouache paints to make them seem transparent like you can with watercolor paints. As a consequence, gouache paints cannot be used to build up layers of color in the same way that watercolor paints may be used. You can use semi-transparent gouache layers in the same way as you would use acrylic paint.

Gouache can be Layered like Acrylic

The following table shows the general differences between gouache and watercolor paint.

TransparencyOpaque to semi-transparentTransparent to semi-transparent
ParticlesLarge particlesFine particles
Drying timeQuickSlow
Ideal SurfacesWatercolor paper, colored paper, illustration boards, and Bristol paper.Illustration boards, watercolor paper, and Bristol paper.



Gouache paint is a popular painting medium for both beginners and experienced artists. We hope this post helped you get a thorough understanding of what to expect from this sort of paint as well as how to use it, in addition to some evaluations of the best gouache paints available today.



Frequently Asked Questions


Is Gouache Paint Toxic?

No, gouache paint is not toxic. However, this does not mean it can be intentionally swallowed or put on your skin or eyes directly. You need to be cautious when using this paint because it can still cause discomfort or other undesirable side effects. In the same way that you would with any other chemical, it is recommended to keep it out of the reach of small children and pets to prevent unwanted side effects that may come as a result of contact with your skin, eyes, mouth, or nose.


Is It Necessary to Plan My Work Before Using Gouache Paint?

Although not mandatory, planning your work before using gouache paint can help in ensuring that you get the finest results from your artwork. This is because you will have sketched everything beforehand, minimizing unnecessary mistakes. To avoid lifting and bleeding when you come to fill in the sketch or lines, you can begin with a black gouache outline and let it dry completely before proceeding.


Can Dry Gouache Paint Be Reused?

You can reuse dry gouache paint by taking the pieces of the dry paint from your palette and crushing them. Then, using a fine-mesh blender, you may grind the dried paint into a fine powder. Gradually add water until the required thickness and texture of revived gouache paint are achieved.


Is the Use of Gouache Harmful to the Environment?

Gouache paints are not harmful to the environment, contrary to popular belief. Gouache is prepared using non-toxic materials. These materials are also not harmful to the environment. Generally, gouache is a fairly environmentally friendly medium, and since it is water-soluble, it does not need the use of dangerous chemicals for cleaning brushes or surfaces.


What Is Gouache Paint Used For?

Gouache paint may be used to create drawings, comics, portraits, and abstract works of art, among other things. Its vibrancy and consistency make it simple to incorporate into a variety of projects.


What Is the Difference Between Acrylic Paint and Gouache?

The main difference between acrylic paint and gouache is the method by which they are created. Acrylic paint is made using a polymer emulsion binder, while gouache is made with the use of gum Arabic. This results in acrylic paint being far more flexible than gouache when it has fully dried, as opposed to the latter. Because acrylic paint is denser and thicker than gouache, it is more impermeable as well as robust compared to gouache.

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