How To Paint With Gouache

The classic Italian medium of Gouache is similar to watercolor but much more opaque, and once on the surface, more malleable than acrylic.


  • Step 1: Sketch out your painting on the cold-press board.
  • TIP: Make your strokes as light — and precise — as possible.
  • Step 2: Place a few drops of water on your palette.
  • Step 3: Squeeze just a tiny dab of gouache on to the edge of your drops.
  • Step 4: Start painting from light colors to dark, using smooth, even strokes.
  • TIP: Gouache dries quickly, and its colors tend to do some unpredictable things. (Generally light colors dry darker, while dark colors dry lighter.)
  • Step 5: It helps to use a different brush for each color. Just make sure you keep the brushes moist.
  • Step 6: As your colors dry, you can work darker colors in on top of the lighter, already dried ones.
  • TIP: If the drying speed is making blending painful and driving you crazy, either add a small bit of retarder to the paint or put a dab on the bottom color before you paint into it with the top color.
  • Step 7: To add highlights, mix small amounts of paint without water — or with only a small amount.
  • Step 8: You can leave your work without a varnish or other protective medium.
  • FACT: Gouache's fast-drying properties combined with its opacity and rich color made it the preferred medium for traditional animation.

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