Six ways to blend gouache paint

You can achieve soft blending and gradients with gouache. As it dries quickly, this can be difficult sometimes. Here are six different ways to blend with gouache; you’re sure to find one that suits you!

A successful blending is closely related to water control in your mix. If your paint is too thin it won’t blend easily, if it’s too thick it will be difficult too! You can find everything about gouache consistency here.

1. Use a third color.

Paint the two colors you want to blend, leaving a space in the middle between the two colors. Make a mix of the two colors on your palette somewhere between them. For a red and a yellow, make an orange, not too yellow, not too red. This is supposed to be the exact match of both colors. 

Place this mix in the middle of the two colors and rub gently on the edges with a clean brush to merge the colors. This will push the colors into each other, leaving a nice gradient. 

Six ways to blend gouache
Use a third color

2. Use a clean brush.

Paint the two colors you want to blend next to each other without overlapping the colors and without leaving a space. Using a clean brush, rub gently across the two colors, following the brushstrokes. You can make small brushstrokes across for a more significant transition, giving a short blending with a bit of texture in the transition colors. 

Six ways to blend gouache
Use a clean brush

3. Use your wet finger.

Paint the two colors you want to blend next to each other without overlapping the colors and without leaving a space. Dip your (clean) finger in (clean) water and gently rub the edge between the two colors. This will give a short gradient with very few mixed colors. I like to use this for painting portraits, gently rubbing the edge between two colors to have a smooth transition. It works best on watercolor paper, as it can hold water easily. 

Six ways to blend gouache
Use your wet finger

4. Wet the paper before blending.

Wet the paper where you want to make a gradient with a clean brush or a mister. The paper must be damp, not soaked. Paint the darker color on one side of the paper, and make a lighter mix on your palette by adding white paint. With a clean brush, apply the light color and rub gently inside the darker one. You must paint quickly to take advantage of the wet paper and fresh paint. It’s perfect for pale blue skies or seas. 

Six ways to blend gouache
Wet the paper before blending

5. Mix directly on paper.

Paint the first color (yellow) inside all the shapes. Paint the second color (blue) directly inside the fresh wet yellow to make a nice gradient. This will give a very long gradient with a lot of transition colors. It’s suitable for sunset skies, for example. You can smooth the transitions with a clean brush, like in point 2. 

Six ways to blend gouache
Mix directly on paper

6. Mix on palette.

Paint the pure colors on each side of the shape you want to fill with the gradient. Make a mix on your palette, adding a tiny amount of the dark pigment in the light color, and apply it to the paper. Increase the dark color as you go towards the pure dark color. This way, you’re mixing transition colors on your palette, applying them on the paper next to each other, and rubbing the edge between colors with the brush. This makes a very long gradient with a ton of transition colors. I’ve never found the need for this particular method.

Six ways to blend gouache
Mix on palette

7. Bonus tip.

You can smooth the transitions between colors with a soft brush for all the methods above. It can be a mop brush for watercolor or a make-up brush. Use it dry, and gently rub the tip of the brush where you want to soften the colors. You should use only the end of the brush, not all the hair! You need to do this before the paint is completely dry. 


Gouache is a versatile medium that painters can use to create various effects. If you’re looking for a smooth and blended effect, use the mop brush. Should you prefer hard edges, use methods 1 or 2. If you like soft transitions, use all other ways. Six ways to blend gouache paint.

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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