What You Need to Paint with Gouache

Shared on 20 May 2022, by Rowan

If you don’t know what gouache, also known as opaque watercolor, is, it is a water-medium paint that is kind of in between the texture of acrylic and watercolor. Gouache paint can provide full or sheer coverage depending on how much water is added to it. Since it can so easily be full coverage, like acrylic, it’s great for painting light over dark. It also dries incredibly quickly. However, unlike acrylic paint, which often dries glossy and textured (therefore requiring a matte topcoat in some cases for the desired effect), gouache dries matte and flat. Once it dries, it remains soluble and therefore it can be adjusted, which makes it much easier to use in certain cases.

Gouache is a great medium for beginner artists, but it’s also fantastic for experienced artists! Gouache can help you expand your artistic skill-set, or just let you play around with a new medium. Since it has different properties than acrylic and watercolor paints, it is a fun challenge for anyone regardless of their level of experience. Guache is particularly good for artists learning to paint quickly or how to portray shadows/lights using paint. If you’re an artist who enjoys mixed mediums, then gouache is also great for that (I particularly enjoy using these watercolor markers with it).

However, it took me many different brands of gouache before I found one I really enjoyed. There were enough drawbacks to every single set, apart from the HIMI Gouache Paints mentioned below, that I kept searching for new gouache paint brands. I also found myself having to buy new supplies I hadn’t thought about in the beginning, despite my painting experience.

I can’t even begin to imagine having no experience with painting and getting into gouache, because the internet is overwhelmed with options, and even when you look up ‘top gouache paint”, you get articles that either give you ten different suggestions! If you’re a beginner, you don’t know which is best, even with the reviews. So here are my suggestions for exactly what to buy if you’re just getting into gouache, as someone who has been on their gouache journey for two years.

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Gouache Paintbrushes

You will want to make sure you have a dedicated set of paintbrushes for gouache! This especially applies if you use other mediums like acrylic – it’s better not to risk mixing them up.

The brush handle on these paints is birch, so it feels really nice to use. The paintbrushes themselves hold their shape incredibly well with repeated use, which can be difficult to find with lower price paintbrushes! These paintbrushes are great for gouache in particular because they easily hold a good amount of paint and water. This set comes with a solid amount of variety, so you can explore which types of brushes you prefer using with gouache.

Detail Paintbrushes

I know what you might be thinking: “I’m already buying a set of paintbrushes for gouache painting, there’s a fine detail brush in there! Why do I need a whole set?” When I got into gouache paint, I thought the same. So I didn’t buy a set. Except when I actually started exploring making gouache paintings that had details in them, I realized that one or two fine detail paintbrushes isn’t enough. You will want options, and sometimes you want a super fine brush.

Buy detail paintbrushes for gouache painting! They will make your gouache experience easier so you aren’t constantly looking for your single gouache paintbrush, and let you explore more ornamental styles or fine line painting. They’re also just fun to use.

Gouache Paint

This HIMI Gouache Paint Set has gone viral over and over again throughout the past few years. For a long time, I didn’t listen to the hype: I wasn’t sure how I felt about the layout since I was used to tube paints, and I had my concerns about paints drying out extremely quickly. However, I can admit when I am wrong.

Out of the brands of gouache paint I have used, the HIMI Gouache Paint Set is by far my favorite. These gouache paints are vivid and opaque. The layout is convenient because you can easily carry these around and store them. The texture and opacity are very easy to adjust with just a spritz of water. These paints can definitely dry out if you do not use them for a while, but unlike my experience with a number of other brands (which dried out in their tubes, despite being sealed shut), they are very easy to resurrect with some water and a minute of mixing.

I would also like to mention that they have an awesome color variety. Whether you’re a beginner to color theory, or you just don’t want to constantly be thinking about color theory throughout your gouache painting, having that variety is a good option. You can definitely use these to practice color theory, but sometimes you just don’t want to actively have to think about making every single color for a painting. The HIMI gouache set is unbeatable for the price and quality, and they’re my number one recommended brand for beginners getting into gouache or any gouache artists on a budget.

Paint Palette

This one is pretty straightforward. Even if you’re not trying to practice color theory, you will likely be adjusted your shades and tones throughout your painting. It’s important to have a palette on hand so you can be ready to mix and make new paint colors at any time. A plastic paint palette is important for gouache because if you use paper, your gouache can dry much fast and be absorbed by the paper to some extent.

Gouache Sketchbook

This is a hot-pressed 105lb paper. While gouache can be used on hot or cold-pressed paper, I generally prefer and recommend using hot-pressed paper since cold-pressed paper absorbs it much faster. Hot-pressed paper also handles fine details a lot better than cold press paper, and its smooth surface makes it great for gouache paintings with detail or blending.

If you’re just getting into gouache painting, I really recommend this sketchbook. Gouache settles a lot easier onto sketchbooks than acrylic in my experience, and there’s something nice about being able to see your progress in a new medium in a book. I also find that sketchbooks let you paint on the go more easily, and that there is less pressure to make something ‘finished.’

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