Holbein gouache review

Some people claim that Holbein gouache is the best. Let’s test it! Holbein gouache is a brand of artist’s paint that comes in various colors. I wanted to see if it was as good as people say, so I bought some and tested them while painting a portrait.

Holbein gouache has 89 colors.

The palette comes in 89 colors made with artist pigments naturally opaque, not reinforced by adding White. The paint comes in tubes of 15 ml. 89 colors is way too much when you’re an experienced artist and know how to mix colors. And if you’re a beginner, having too many colors on your palette may confuse you and get your painting muddy. 

The pigments are powerful in the mix, so you can paint a lot with very little paint. 

Beginner palette.

They sell a set of 3 primaries + Black and White in 15 ml tubes. Although I barely use black, the pack price of $27 instead of $36 per tube was more attractive, so I bought it. And for ounce, the set includes the accurate primaries:

  • Primary Yellow
  • Primary Magenta
  • Primary Cyan

You can mix almost anything with these colors, which could be enough for all your needs. If you’re a beginner painter, I highly recommend this set, and it will help you learn to mix colors and experiment with palettes before branching out into different hues.

The set comes with a handy color wheel, explaining how to mix colors from the primaries; If you want to go further in color mixing, I have a detailed course that teaches the fundamentals of this subject.

Holbein gouache primary set
Holbein gouache primary set

Creamy consistency.

Holbein gouache feels smooth and creamy on the paper, requiring only minimal spritzing to keep it from drying out on the palette. To test it even more, I stored it in my airtight palette and let it sit for a week without opening it. A single spray of tap water was enough to revive the creamy consistency back to fresh. It’s an excellent product for beginners and professionals alike.

Testing opacity.

The opacity is given on the tube with the circle symbol: (I wish there were a standard for these symbols, as every brand has a different one, it makes reading and understanding the labels more difficult). Other brands have other symbols. Winsor & Newton, and Shmincke have a square with a triangle through it. The main thing to remember is that the more filled in the symbol is, the more opaque your paint will be when dry.

  • white circle: the paint is fully opaque, Black
  • Half-filled circle: the color is semi-opaque, White, Cyan
  • empty circle with a line in the middle: the color is transparent, Yellow, Magenta

With gouache, transparency is relative, and it’s essential to test it. Trace a black line with a permanent marker and apply paint to it. You may be surprised by the results, as White is more opaque than Yellow in Holbein gouache. You can play with the different transparencies for exciting results; remember that not all colors are completely opaque. 

Testing Holbein gouache opacity
Testing Holbein gouache opacity

Testing blending and diluting.

Holbein gouache is highly concentrated with pigments, maybe the most I’ve seen so far. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good as you can paint a lot with a bit of paint. It’s bad as you have to be cautious with the amount of paint you use for your mixes because an overly saturated hue can cause unexpected results if used with other hues.

The paint is so creamy and highly pigmented that blending is effortless. 

Holbein gouache is the best you can get for this price.

I have compared the price of gouache per 100 ml, Holbein is in the mid-range price, but the quality is in the top range. The cost of Holbein gouache is very reasonable, and the quality is top-notch. The paint comes in a wide range of colors, and they are highly pigmented. The paint is very creamy, so you don’t have to worry about it drying out quickly. You can use it a few hours after opening the container, and it will still be usable. It doesn’t dry out fast or change color when exposed to air.

You can get the primary set here, and here for my European friends.

You can watch my review in video:

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