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Can you add colored pencils on gouache?

Gouache and colored pencils are two mediums that can be used separately or together to create stunning works of art. This guide will explore the benefits of using gouache and colored pencils together and provide tips for getting the most out of these mediums.

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Why use gouache and colored pencils together?

Fix values

Fixing values refers to adjusting the lightness or darkness of a color in an artwork. You can achieve it by adding or subtracting layers of color or blending different colors, and you can use colored pencils over gouache to fix values. Both mediums have a wide range of colors, so you should have no difficulty finding two or more colors to create a desired shade. 

Adding colored pencils to gouache can help create more depth and dimension in the artwork and correct any mistakes or inconsistencies in the values. For example, you can light a dark color by using white or yellow colored pencils on top, or you can darken a light color by adding black or blue colored pencils.

Fix colors

Fixing colors refers to adjusting the hue, saturation, and brightness of a color in an artwork. 

  • Hue refers to the basic color of color. For example, red is a hue, as are yellow and blue. 
  • Saturation refers to how intense or vivid the color is; you can adjust the saturation by adding colored pencils in white, black, or complementary colors to change its intensity. 
  • Brightness refers to how light or dark a color appears on a specific surface. You can lower the brightness of a color by adding a complementary or dark color to it, and you can increase the brightness by adding white or light-colored pencils.

Fixing colors allows you to correct any mistakes made during the painting process and helps ensure that your artwork looks consistent throughout. But you won’t be able to change color drastically, and adding a white colored pencil on top of black gouache won’t make it completely white!

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Adding textures.

If you want to add textures, it’s better to have some textured paper. This is great with cold-pressed watercolor paper, as the color will sit on the bumps of the paper, and it works well with drawing paper. The only paper you want to avoid is a smooth one, like bristol or Kraft.

Adding textures is a great way to enhance a painting. You can use colored pencils on top of gouache to add details, like hairs or wrinkles. This technique will help you save time and create more realistic results.

Adding details.

Drawing details with colored pencils is excellent for portraits: hair strands and eyelashes, for example. Also, you can add elements like makeup, tattoos, or freckles with colored pencils. I like it for hair; it blends very well in the gouache paint. This is also good for landscapes, flowers… you need to add details easily everywhere. 

Adding colored pencils on gouache

Types of colored pencils

There are several types of colored pencils available for artists to choose from, each with unique properties and benefits. 

Wax-based colored pencils

Those pencils have a wax binder and pigments. They are typically less expensive than oil-based colored pencils and are easy to find in art supply stores. Wax-based colored pencils are known for their smooth, creamy texture, making them ideal for blending and layering colors. They can also be sharpened to a fine point, making them perfect for adding fine details to an artwork. However, wax-based colored pencils can be prone to breaking and become waxy and difficult to blend as the wax builds up.

Oil-based colored pencils

They are typically more expensive than wax-based colored pencils but are known for their high pigment concentration and intense colors. Oil-based colored pencils have a firmer texture, making them ideal for fine details and crisp lines. They are also known for their high lightfastness, meaning that the colors will not fade over time. However, oil-based colored pencils can be harder to blend.

Watercolor pencils

Those pencils are another colored pencil that you can use with gouache. They are made with a water-soluble binder and pigments and can be used dry like traditional colored pencils or activated with water to create a watercolor effect. Watercolor pencils are ideal for creating washes of color and layering colors and are a great choice for artists who like to work in both dry and wet mediums. But using watercolor pencils with water on top of gouache is tricky, as the water will also reactivate the gouache under! So use them dry, as regular colored pencils. My favorite watercolor pencils are Inktense by Derwent. They are highly pigmented and work perfectly on top of gouache.


So, go ahead and try! You can use gouache with colored pencils for different effects. But test out different combinations before you use them on your finished artwork!

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