20+ Differences between Gouache And Watercolor (Explained)

Gouache and watercolor are popular painting mediums for their vibrant and translucent qualities. However, there are critical differences between the two.

Gouache is an opaque paint that provides excellent coverage and can be layered, while watercolor is transparent and relies on the paper’s white for luminosity.

Understanding these distinctions can help artists choose the right medium for their desired artistic effects.

Gouache vs Watercolor – Comparison

CoverageExcellent coverage can be layered.Translucent allows the white of the paper to show through.
Color IntensityHigh color intensity.Delicate and transparent color.
Drying TimeLonger drying time.Quick drying.
LayeringEasily layerable.Difficult to layer without losing transparency.
MixingColors can be easily mixed.Colors blend seamlessly.
SurfaceCan be applied on various surfaces.Typically used on watercolor paper.
LightfastnessGenerally more lightfast.Lightfastness varies depending on pigments.
ReactivationDries to a permanent finish, cannot be reactivated.Can be reactivated with water even after drying.
ApplicationSuitable for detailed work and opaque effects.Ideal for transparent washes and delicate effects.

What Is A Gouache?

Gouache is a water-soluble painting medium made up of pigments contained in a binder, usually gum Arabic.

It is well-known for its brilliant and opaque properties, allowing for exceptional coverage and creating bold and solid colors.

Artists and illustrators love gouache because it can be applied to several surfaces, including paper, board, and canvas. It is frequently used because of its ability to produce detailed and opaque effects in artwork. 

Key Differences: Gouache

  • 1 They are ideal for the method of painting in layers, in which each subsequent layer shows a piece of the layer(s) that came before it in the process of painting. 
  • 2 This method reveals a portion of the layers because each successive layer reveals a part of the layer(s) that came before.
  • 3 As a consequence of this, they are very helpful in pursuing this strategy. You will need a pigment, binder, and water to produce gouache. 
  • 4 As a direct consequence of this difference, gouache has a more consistent look reminiscent of a solid.
Historical Of Gouache

What Is The Water Color?

Watercolour is a medium for painting in which pigments are suspended in a water-based solution, usually gum Arabic. It is well-known for its translucent and sensitive properties, allowing transparent washes and subtle color shifts.

Brushes are used to apply watercolor to watercolor paper or other porous surfaces. Water can be used to quickly dilute the paint, allowing for flawless blending and layering.

Watercolour is frequently used by artists because of its ability to create smooth, flowing, and ethereal qualities in their work.

Key Differences: Watercolor

  • 1 Pigment and water are the only two components that may be used to create watercolor.
  • 2 You are not permitted to use any other components in this technique. 
  • 3 After being painted with watercolors, allowing the painting to cure entirely before examining it will result in a more significant impression of the work.
  • 4 It would have the ability to withstand the test of time.
Historical Of Watercolor

What Is The Difference Between Gouache And Watercolor?


  • Gouache- When applied on surfaces that are colorful, flat, and comprised of dark paper, gouache can generate the most eye-catching results. These results have the capacity to captivate the viewer’s attention.

    To achieve these effects, the only necessary thing is for the gouache paint to be applied. These discoveries play a crucial role in gouache’s ascent to prominence as a medium that is employed to a great degree.
  • Watercolor- Watercolor is at its most potent when applied to more delicate surfaces, mainly when it is used for layering and on characters that represent natural settings.

    This is particularly true when watercolor, rather than another sort of paint, is chosen as the medium for the painting.


  • Gouache- Because it dissolves in water, gouache may be used for various projects. Use more water for thin washes of color or less for rich, cream-like colors.

    It’s incredibly simple to clean! Brushes and palettes may be cleaned with water, or brush soap can be used for a more thorough cleaning.

    Since gouache is so easy to set up and clean up after use, it is often used by artists who want to work in the open air.
  • Watercolor- Paint is significantly more affordable than oil or acrylic, and there is a wide selection of paint manufacturers from which to pick.

    Watercolor is a unique and stimulating medium that rewards careful preparation and perseverance and fosters a freer expression of ideas.

    The pleasure of watercolor is in letting go and letting the paint do its magic, and artists never feel entirely in control of the water while it is flowing over the canvas.


  • Gouache- Depending on whether or not the color is wet or dry, its value might shift. In most cases, lighter hues retain their brightness after drying.

    The dry paint film is fragile; painting over a flexible medium like canvas may increase the likelihood of the film shattering. I recommend using high-quality gouache paint, such as M. Graham, to combat this.

    They stabilize the paint film by mixing the colors with honey. Use good watercolor paper for your paintings. Paints dry quickly, making mixing more difficult than usual. 
  • Watercolor- It lacks the adaptability of oil and acrylic paints. Multiple color washes need an absorbent surface to prevent the paper from buckling.

    It is necessary to stretch the paper before using it so that it does not buckle. Watercolor is notoriously difficult to fix mistakes in.

    Determining where the spotlight will fall and allowing the paper to take center stage requires some forethought ahead of time.
    This makes it a more deliberate media than gouache, which is more prone to accidents.


  • Gouache- Gouache is a media that illustrators often use because of the rapidity with which it dries and the ability to paint big swaths of color with it.

    It is a wonderful surface for drawing and writing because of its firm but flat texture, almost equal to a poster. This makes it an ideal medium for these activities.
  • Watercolor- The difference in drying times between gouache and watercolor is directly related to the amount of water that is added to the watercolor medium.

    Gouache dries at a pace that is incomparably slower than that of watercolor. Watercolor is often the medium of choice for artists who paint landscapes and still lifes because of the medium’s delayed drying period, simplifying color mixing.

    This is because watercolor is characterized by a higher degree of transparency when compared to other painting media.


  • Gouache- When working with gouache, a greater quantity of paint is required than when working with other types of paint to achieve the desired level of transparency.

    For example, you will need to combine the two colors to get a tone that is a color that is halfway between white and blue.

    When working with gouache, one of your possibilities is to begin by painting a dark backdrop and then add layers of colors that are lighter in tone. 
  • Watercolor- When working with watercolor, you should begin by painting the backdrop in lighter colors.

    After that, you should add deeper tones to fill in the spaces that are still empty. This procedure is carried out again and over again until the desired result is reached.
Comparison Between Gouache And Watercolor

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does watercolor stand out from other mediums?

The medium’s immediacy and the way the pigment reacts on your paper to your particular emotional reaction to your subject make watercolor a master medium.

Watercolor is a medium that can bring out the best in an artist. Since it is a medium that is as direct as possible, there is no room for hesitation while painting.

How many distinct types of watercolors are there for the artist to select from?

The majority of watercolors may be broken down into six distinct categories.

However, the watercolor paints that are best for beginners and those that are best for professionals will be different based on your current level of competence and the kind of watercolor paintings you most like making.

How long does it take for paint made with watercolors to lose its vibrant color once it has been applied?

The producers of tubes of watercolor paint guarantee that their product will continue to be used for five years from the date of manufacturing.

A storage life of at least ten years is required for pan watercolors, which is the very bare minimum. The answer to this question varies widely based on the storage conditions that were applied to the item.

Is it even possible to get the gouache clean?

Gouache is a kind of paint that is removable with water. Because it is water-based, it may be easily removed from most surfaces by using nothing more than water alone.

Gouache is a kind of paint that can be re-wetted after it has dried, enabling the artist to continue painting with it even after the paint has solidified. Other types of paint cannot be re-wetted after they have dried.

How does one finish off a gouache painting?

You can add an isolation coat to the surface of your gouache painting once the paint surface has been varnished with watercolor after it has been sealed.

This coat will produce an impenetrable barrier that will last forever. Any varnish applied after this application may be removed without causing any damage.

Turpentine and mineral spirit are solvents that may be used to remove the majority of varnishes.

Would using gouache instead of watercolor during the painting process be feasible?

Undoubtedly, gouache, which comes from the same family as watercolor, may be used in a manner that is equivalent to watercolor.

Gouache may be used on watercolor paper and any other surface suitable for watercolor painting. Watercolor paper is not the only surface that gouache can be used on.

Difference Between Gouache And Watercolor

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