How to varnish gouache - two easy ways to protect your gouache paintings

Why would you want to varnish your gouache painting? Is it even a thing? Here are three ways to do it, including one that you don’t want to use!

I want to warn you: this is not the only way to do this, just my experience here! And the three ways to varnish a gouache painting are final. Meaning that you won’t be able to remove the varnish.

Spray varnish

The easy way. No mess, just make sure you’re spraying outside so you don’t breathe the toxic fumes.

Make thin layers, crossing the way you spray. It’s better to have two or three thin layers than a thick one. 

Allow to dry for a couple of minutes, and you’re good to go.

It will protect from humidity and enhance the colors.


I’m using a French varnish for oil and acrylic, it works fine on gouache. Make some tests before applying on your final painting.

Do you prefer watching a video than reading?

Head over to my YouTube channel for more gouache tips

Cold wax varnish

Another way to varnish gouache painting. 

Apply a quite thick layer of wax with a tissue or a cotton pad. Use the same direction when applying.

Allow 24 hours to dry and polish with a tissue so it’s not sticky anymore.

This will protect your gouache painting from humidity and enhance the colors.


Liquid varnish

This is what you don’t want to do!!!  Unless you’re looking for a dirty look. 

Look the video for more information!

So it’s up to you if you want to varnish your gouache paintings. You’re not compelled to do it.

The main issue with gouache is that colors may fade (depending on the lightfastness) and for this you’ll need an UV protective varnish.

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