17 Best Gouache Paints Reviewed in 2021


three tubes of paint best gouache paint verycreate.com

My top recommendation for the best gouache paint is Winsor and Newton Designer’s Gouache  for great quality, good availability and reasonable price point.  However, you may find that your specific needs and budget would dictate another option.  I’ve covered all the bases though, so please read on!

For me, my top priority is pigment density.  I don’t want to waste time by having to slather on multiple layers of weak paint in order to get a solid opaque matte finish.  My next priority is cost.  I’ll spend a bit more for a great paint, but super high cost is usually not in my budget. I’ve ranked my choices based on the performance of the paint and viability in my budget.

 

Please read to the last section of my article to discover all the elements that will influence your ultimate best gouache paint choice.

If you’re short of time, here’s my ranked list of best gouache paints

  1. Winsor and Newton Designer’s Gouache  My Number One Recommendation
  2. Holbein Artist Gouache
  3. M. Graham Artist Gouache
  4. Schmincke Horadam Gouache
  5. Royal Talens Gouache
  6. Maimeri Artist Gouache
  7. Caran D’Ache Studio Gouache
  8. Da Vinci Gouache
  9. Pelikan Opaque Watercolor Pan Set – Best Pan Set
  10. Grumbacher Opaque Watercolor Set
  11. Arteza Gouache Paints  – Best Student Grade Paints
  12. U.S. Art Supply Artist Gouache   – Best Entry-Level Beginner Set
  13. Royal & Langnickel Gouache Color Artist Tube Paint
  14. Lukas Studio Designer’s Gouache
  15. Lyra Opaque Watercolor pan set
  16. Lukas Terzia Pan Gouache
  17. Talens Gouache Set of 24

 

gouache samples best gouache paint verycreate.com
the opacity of gouache lends itself to layering beautifully in this stylized illustration

 

 

Introduction To The Best Gouache Paints

Gouache paints are classified into three different grades and classes:

  • Artist Grade Gouache (which is a professional grade of the highest level of pigment content and intended for artists to blend their own color mixes with a dense, low to no filler in the paint.  Most tubes will be very lightfast).   The price range is from relatively high to insanely high.  Superior coverage and color intensity.

 

  • Student Grade Gouache (made with more fillers and less pigments for a more budget friendly paint but with less light fastness) is in the more affordable range down to extremely cheap.  It covers lightly and may require multiple passes of paint to get a true opaque matte finish.

 

  • Designer Gouache (which is premixed color variations so designers don’t have to spend extra time trying to create or recreate the exact hue they are looking for) and it tends to be mid-priced range with excellent quality, however it tends to be a step down from Artist Grade.  Lightfastness varies from tube to tube, so check each one if you care about longevity.

 

ProTip

Be aware that there are no regulations on labeling art paints. If a super cheap knock off brand wants to use toxic pigments, weak pigments and use binders that render the paint horrible, yet call it ‘artist gouache’ or ‘professional gouache’, there is nothing to stop them.  I won’t even review junk brands here!

ProTip

AcrylaGouache which is a gouache mixed with acrylic and dries impermeable to water.  It is more like acrylic paint than gouache because you can not rewet it after it has dried.  I am only going to review true gouache here. Read the label carefully.  I keep my acryla gouache tubes in a separate container so that I don’t accidentally grab one while I’m working in pure gouache.

ProTip

Gouache is like watercolor in that it is water-based and mixes with watercolor quite nicely.  The difference is that gouache is opaque and dries chalky and flat.  Long beloved by professional illustrators, the pigments and colors cover layers of paint completely and allow for vibrant colors.  The white of the paper does not show through, unlike transparent watercolor, and this makes the application of the paint a different beast from traditional watercolor.

Good quality gouache CAN be thinned by water to near transparency though, so having the extreme opposites available for use from one tube of paint is an amazing advantage!

 

ProTip

Dark gouache dries lighter than when it is wet, and light gouache dries darker than when it is wet.  It takes some getting used to!  Plan on experimenting with scratch paper.

 

blurred open tubes best gouache paint verycreate.com
The best gouache paint will improve your working methods and help you create your best art!

 

My Recommendations For Best Gouache Paint

1. Winsor and Newton Designer’s Gouache

Long used by professional illustrators, Winsor and Newton create a great gouache since 1935 that will outperform most other brands.  Labeled Designer Color, it is in fact artist grade.  A superior quality, with great lightfastness, it ticks all my boxes because of the reasonable price point and is easy to find online, which is critical during any kind of Covid-type lockdown.

  • Clean covering power for great opacity
  • Highly pigmented with quality ingredients
  • Excellent flow
  • Great for color mixing
  • Reactivate well once dry
  • Artist grade
  • Good price

My rating: 99%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

2. Holbein Artist Gouache

A top quality brand of gouache is Holbein.  The price is fairly high though, and the tubes are very small at 5ml but so highly pigmented that a little goes a long way. Made in Japan, these paints are famous worldwide for great quality and reliability.  Often only needing one coat for solid coverage, the paint is very high quality.

  • Very highly rated by users
  • Artist grade
  • Highly pigmented
  • Highly reputable company

My rating: 98%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

3. M. Graham Artist Gouache

M. Graham is unique because they use blackberry honey and gum arabic as the binding agents.  They use zero fillers which results in a truly gorgeous paint.  The price reflects this amazing quality!  I know several gouache artist who only use this brand, mainly because of the honey component.

  •  Made in the USA.
  • Artist Grade
  • Highly pigmented for dense color
  • Sold in a small set and individual tube colors.

My rating: 97%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

4. Schmincke Horadam Gouache

Schmincke is world renown for the most expensive and exclusive gouache paints on the market. Dense pigments and superior quality.  One tube of color runs $17 -$38 each!!  Beware of the Schmincke option on Amazon: it’s pictured as a set, but in reality, it’s ONE tube of paint.  So deceptive!  Stick with the Dick Blick site and order individual tubes a few at a time to save the high cost. Also beware that some sites will pull up the Schmincke watercolor sets when you search for gouache.  Read the details to make sure you get what you are aiming for.

  • Very pure pigment with no white added to increase opacity
  • Very high price point
  • Artist  gouache with limited premixed color
  • Available in individual colors

My rating: 95% docking a few points for the super high price

Schmincke Horadam Artist Gouache

>Check Price at Dick Blick<<

 

 

 

 

5. Royal Talens Gouache

A quality Designer grade gouache, Royal Talens uses a unique dextrin-based binder that is a bit cheaper than traditional Gum Arabic.  Nicely reflected in the lower price for designer grade, this set flows and blends smoothly. A good price point for truly professional quality.

  • Available in 60 tube colors or sets
  • Each tube is labeled for lightfastness
  • Large 20 ml tubes
  • Designer grade
  • Highly rated by users

My rating: 93%

 

Royal Talens Gouache

>>Check Price at Dick Blick<<

 

 

6.  Maimeri Artist Gouache

Maimeri is made in Italy from a company that creates quality artist supplies and paints.  This gouache has a nice heavy pigment load and a buttery texture.

  • Available in sets and individual tubes
  • Great quality
  • A little difficult to find in USA
  • Large 20ml tubes
  • Great lightfastness

My rating: 91%

Maimeri Artist Gouache

>>Check Price at Dick Blick<<

 

 

 

 

7. Caran D’Ache Studio Gouache

Available in tubes and pan sets as well as individual tube colors,  Caran D’Ache makes a great student grade gouache that performs well yet is a reasonable price. Because of their high pigment content, a little goes a long way, making this ultimately a very economical quality choice.  The Caran D’Ache company is Swiss and is known for making superior quality artist materials.

  • Natural binder
  • Lightfast colors
  • Student grade
  • Heavy pigmentation
  • Great price
  • Good color mixing without mud
  • Highly rated by users

My rating: 90%

>Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Check Price at Dick Blick for Individual tubes <<

 

 

8.  Da Vinci Gouache

Da Vinci gouache comes in much larger tubes of 37ml.  Most other companies package their gouache in 15 ml tubes.  For the same price as other companies, you get more than double the product. Made in small batches, Da Vinci uses the finest raw materials.  A little thinner than the other professional artist grade companies, these gouache paints will most likely need two layers of paint for total opaque coverage.

  • Good lightfastness
  • Good quality
  • A lot of paint in each tube
  • Inconsistent opacity

My rating: 89%

Da Vinci Professional Gouache

>>Check Price at Dick Blick<<

 

9. Pelikan Opaque Watercolor Pan Set – Best pan set

I’m not sure why Pelikan chose to label this product as opaque watercolors.  That’s exactly what gouache IS.  Highly rated by users, it is especially appropriate for kids and teens who want a quality watercolor experience without the high price. German made

If you enjoy pan watercolors, this set by the reputable Pelikan company may be just what you are looking for.

  • Tube of opaque white included
  • Ergonomic container
  • Student grade
  • Mixing area in the lid
  • Great for travel
  • Super fine grain size for smooth matte finish
  • Good for kids and beginners
  • Highly rated by users

My rating: 89%

 

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

10. Grumbacher Opaque Watercolor Set

  • 24 colors in removable trays
  • Mixing areas in the lid and box
  • Red sable brush included
  • Tube of opaque white included
  • Student grade

My rating: 88%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

11. Arteza Gouache Paints  – Best Student Grade Paints

Arteza paints are made in China.  Each tube is labeled with an appropriate lightfastness rating, so that you can identify which paint colors to avoid if longevity is important to you. Some tubes will require multiple layers for maximum opacity.

  • 12 ml size tubes
  • A good quality student grade
  • Good reviews by users
  • Easy to layer
  • Good opacity

My rating: 87%

>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

12. U.S. Art Supply Artist Gouache   – Best Entry-Level Beginner Set

Don’t be fooled by the company name, this paint is made in China.  However, the paint is highly rated by users and comes with a lifetime guarantee!  Full refund promised if not satisfied. This is student grade, so the colors won’t be archival or lightfast and often will require multiple layers for maximum opacity.

  • Non-toxic and
  • Conform to ASTM D4236 and EN71 for safety
  • 36 colors
  • Good quality
  • Great price point!
  • Student grade
  • Bonus color wheel included

My rating: 87%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

13. Royal & Langnickel Gouache Color Artist Tube Paint, 21ml, 24-Pack

  • Well rated by users
  • Reputable company
  • Good variety of hues
  • Good price point
  • Student grade

My rating: 86%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

14. Lukas Studio Designer’s Gouache set of 12

Imported from Germany, Lukas is a quality manufacturer of artist materials. The reviews are so mixed with this brand. Some users report poor opacity with some colors, especially yellows.  Some rate it as their favorite!

  • Large 20 ml tubes
  • 48 individual color tubes available
  • Designer grade
  • Special additive to paint large areas with great flow and coverage
  • Mixed reviews by users

My rating: 78%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

15. Lyra Opaque Watercolor pan set

12 colors in this uber budget-priced set make this a good set for kids and just kicking around to get used to the medium. Don’t use this brush for gouache…it’s much too bristly to be useful for anything but kids painting or scrubbing in dry color.

  • One tube of opaque white
  • 12 colors
  • Student grade
  • Container with lid useful for mixing
  • Made in Germany
  • Good reviews by users
  • Individual color pans pop out for ease of use and to prevent cross mixing.
  • Vibrant colors, but not intended for custom blending

My rating: 75%

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

16. Lukas Terzia Pan Gouache

For Lukas brand lovers, this set comes in removable pans.  Mixed reviews by users, some people complain that the colors when mixed create mud.

  • 24 colors
  • One tube of opaque white
  • Student grade
  • Handy carry case with mixing lid
  • Colors do not mix well

My rating: 74%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

17. Talens Gouache Set of 24

Talens is an entry-level student grade of gouache.  Less pigmented, which means less opaque coverage and some streaking with strokes.

  • Great price point for 24 tubes
  • Mixed reviews by users

My rating:  72%

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Considerations and More ProTips

  1. Be careful not to apply too many layers with gouache, especially with colors opposite on the color wheel.  Too thick paint or too many layers may result in cracking and as the underlayers will reactivate as you paint on top you will risk creating mud.
  2. If longevity is a consideration, choose the more expensive artist grade paints as the cheaper brands will fade and change color….sometimes quite rapidly!
  3. Experiment with creating your own version of gouache paints by adding acrylic white to your tube watercolors.
  4. Plan on doing some studies with your gouache so that you can get used to their unique drying characteristics and value changes.
  5. Buy the set of paints that is slightly out of your comfort zone. You really get what you pay for when it comes to gouache. The cheaper brands will be adequate for experimenting, but when push comes to shove and you want to create something right the FIRST time, then buy professional Artist Grade!
  6. Clean your brush often while you paint, as gouache can be difficult to remove from brushes.  Save your finest sable watercolor brushes for watercolor and use synthetic, cheaper brushes for gouache.
  7. The first layers should be more watery if you intend to use several layers of paint on top.  Gouache being water-based, will reactivate a lower layer.  To keep the mixing to a minimum, use more water for the first layer so that the pigments will soak into the paper fibers.

Inspirations

Check out these artists who use gouache, they are fantastic artists!

Nathan Fowkes

Stephen Quiller

James Gurney

 

From one of my art and illustration heroes comes this gorgeous and informative book by Nathan Fowkes.  I own this book and refer to it often for not only gouache, but for compelling landscape instruction:

>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

 

Fun little book with quirky, modern illustrations to teach the basics:

>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

 

This beautiful book will teach you everything you need to know about gouache AND inspire you!

>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

Some fun tutorials and demos:

https://youtu.be/091sgo0bI7Q

 

 

A thorough introduction to techniques  and excellent advice on layering, mixing and idea wetting of the paint:

https://youtu.be/uhL9BFokqmI

 

 

Here’s a fun peek over the shoulder of a professional children’s book illustrator and his working process:

 

 

Anita HC

I hope you are enjoying this article! I love helping creators learn. My goal is to help you find the knowledge and inspiration you need. Check out our library of articles and visit often...I'm adding articles every week! Thank you again for reading!

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