A Beginner’s Guide on How To Paint with Gouache

Sep 21, 2021 | 0 comments

This blog will be all about how to paint with gouache: what you need to know about this medium, how to use it, and the basic techniques to get you started. If that’s what you’re looking for, this article is for you. Let’s begin!

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What is Gouache?

Gouache, as stated in our Watercolor vs. Gouache blog, is an opaque watercolor paint that has the flexibility of watercolor and the flow of acrylics. It is made up of water, pigment, and a binding agent – just like watercolors. 

What is the Difference between Watercolor and Gouache?

Gouache may have the same components as watercolors but there’s a vast difference between the two. The biggest difference is how gouache is more opaque and more predictable than watercolor.

Read our comparison article between the two here: Watercolor vs. Gouache 

What is the Difference between Acrylic and Gouache?

The major difference between the two mediums lies in their binder. While gouache has gum arabic binder, which is water-soluble, acrylic paints have acrylic polymer emulsion which makes the paint waterproof when dried. Also, acrylic paints are much thicker than gouache and it doesn’t crack no matter how many layers you put on top. Unlike gouache which is susceptible to cracking when layered thickly.

Acrylic paints are also more versatile and can be painted over various surfaces like wood, glass, metal, rock, fabric, and more. Whereas gouache can only stick to canvas, paper, and illustration boards.

When acrylic paint dries, it dries glossy, satin, or matte. With gouache, the result will always just be matter and opaque.

The Versatility of Gouache

Working with gouache is very easy. Because of its versatile nature, many artists enjoy using this medium.

Like watercolor, gouache can be manipulated easily by using water. But unlike watercolors, you can layer light to dark colors or vice versa, and paint in whites without masking them off or preserving your highlights.

How to use gouache

Gouache is easy to use and very user-friendly, you can use them straight out of the tube. You can add water to make the paints more translucent as you like. If you’ve used watercolors, you’ll find using gouache a breeze.

Getting started with gouache

To get started on how to paint with gouache, you only need a few basic painting supplies namely the paints, brushes, paper, a mixing tray, and of course, water.

Himi Gouache Paint – for Beginners

Supplies you’ll need:

Gouache Paints – There’s a lot of brands that produce good quality gouache paints and as a beginner, it’s recommended for you to start with the basic primary colors. Here are some gouache paints we love:

Paintbrushes – As for brushes, you can use the brushes you usually use when you paint using watercolors or acrylics. For our recommendations, read Best Watercolor Brushes for Beginners

Paper or Illustration Board – The best surface for gouache is paper, like this Bristol paper. You can also use watercolor paper and illustration boards. Read Best Watercolor Paper for Beginners for our recommendations. 

Rose Designed Mixing Palette

Mixing Tray or Palette – Regardless if you get gouache paints in tubes or in tubs, you’ll need a handy mixing tray to mix out the colors you need. Mixing trays or palettes are relatively cheap and there are various shapes and sizes that you can choose from. Here are our favorites:

Pen/Pencils – For outlining your designs, you’ll a handy pencil. Any will do because gouache paints can cover it up easily.

Rags/Towel – You’ll need rags to clean up your brushes and they are useful when you need to dab off excess water.

Water – Make sure you have water on your workstation, pretty much just like when you’re using watercolor.

Basic Techniques on How To Paint With Gouache

Gouache is a very versatile medium and you can use it for various painting techniques. Here are a few basic techniques on how to paint with gouache.

Color Blending

You can create an interesting effect by blending colors. Lay down one color on your paper surface and then paint another on the edges until they start to mix and blend together to create a smooth transition.

Dry Brushing

This is a technique where you only use a small amount of paint on your dry brush to make scratchy brush strokes on your surface. Dip your dry brush in the gouache paint, wipe off the excess, and gently brush it across your paper.


This is a technique where you cover a large portion of your paper with a layer of paint as a base for your artwork. To stain, you mix gouache with water to thin out its consistency. You can use this technique when you want to paint backgrounds. You can also use this when you create landscapes like the skies and mountains.

Opaque Layers

When you’ve already done your base layer, you can begin to add more layers on top. Use less water to increase the opacity of your gouache paint. This will create a rich pigment that will cover your pencil outlines. This technique can be used for small detailing like painting clouds, trees, shrubberies, and more.


Just like watercolor, you can also use the wet-on-wet technique with gouache. With this technique, you can create soft shapes and blurred lines for your artwork. Just dampen your paper with water and add wet gouache to it. You can use this technique to make backgrounds or bodies of water.


This is a simple technique that gives you splotchy, abstract areas of color. Dampen your brush and add a bit of gouache. Then when you put it on your painting, the result will be an area of color that flows and spreads all over your surface.


This technique will help you make deep shadows. To execute this technique, you have to gradually mix water into your paint to create different levels of transparency.


Flick gouache paints onto your artwork to create the effect of stars or water spray. The splatter technique is often used in galaxy paintings.

Final Thoughts

Gouache is a beginner-friendly medium to use when you are just starting out to explore the world of painting. You don’t have to be intimidated by it because unlike watercolors, gouache is just as forgiving as acrylic paints.

The remarkable versatility of this medium and its exciting characteristics can help you make beautiful artworks with bright and opaque colors.

You can also use gouache with other mediums like acrylic, colored pencils, watercolor, markers, and more, creating a mixed media masterpiece.

We hope this beginner’s guide on how to paint with gouache has been helpful. Do share it with your friends and family.

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