How much water do I add to gouache?


Are you using gouache like watercolor? Gouache is very versatile medium and you can use it almost any way you like. But you need to get the right consistency at the right time to achieve the right result! You can watch the video or read the article if you want to know how much water to add to gouache.

Creamy consistency

The first thing, if you want to use a creamy consistency with gouache is to use it in tubes and not in pans. Pans are just dried gouache. And when you reactivate it, you won’t never ever get the creamy consistency. To know the amount of water to add to paint, it depends on the brands and in each brand, in the colors as well. You have to feel it on your brush. How is the mix behaving? Is it very sticky? Is it fluid enough so you can spread the paint evenly on the paper? It should be creamy enough that you can cover the white of the paper. To know if your paint is thick enough, look at the edge of your brushstroke. Does it make a little border on the edge outside? This is a sign that you have a creamy consistency.
gouache consistency

Blending colors

While the first creamy layer is still quite fresh, apply cream on cream. The two colors will merge easily. For blending use a clean brush with clean water and rub very gently to integrate the two colors together. This can only work if you have a creamy consistency. And creamy consistency comes only from a fresh tube. If you want to reactivate your dry palette, it’s possible. Of course you can add water and the pigments will come back to life, but you won’t never get enough paint to achieve a nice and smooth consistency. And if you want to rub, it will lift the color below. It will make a ugly mix and you will never get an even surface.

Painting even surfaces

If you want to cover a large area of the same flat color, you need to make a mix that is quite big because you always need more than what you think. And if you don’t get the right color at the first time, you won’t be able to mix the exact same colors.

Layering gouache paint

Do you get muddy colors when you layer gouache?  The first thing you need is to wait for the first layer to be completely dry. It may take a minute or two. Also you want to have your second layer on top that is a bit thicker or at least the same consistency that the layer below, because if you are using something liquid on top of something sticky and dry, you will lift up the color.  Second thing you want to limit the number of brushstrokes you are placing on top. So a single brushstroke is ideal.
gouache consistency

Not only creamy consistency

Although creamy consistency is not the only way to use gouache.  If you want to add very fine lines for example, you should use a quite liquid paint because it is very thin and it’s very difficult to get thin lines with creamy consistency. You have to adjust the amount of water in your mix until you get something that is fluid to move on the paint and not too liquid. Also a very important thing is don’t rub just place one single brush stroke, and you won’t lift the color below.
gouache consistency

 


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So there you have it! A few tips on getting the right consistency for your gouache, and how much water to add.

It is a matter of experimenting and finding what works best for you, but hopefully these guidelines will help point you in the right direction. Happy painting!

Cecile Yadro

I believe that art can help you express yourself, find your voice, and discover who you are. And I want to help you do that. I've seen how powerful my classes can be for more than 20,000 students. In my classes, I focus on giving you the tools you need to express yourself and make your creativity take flight!

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