It is very likely that most people have never heard of this painting technique but the truth is that it is very old and known to all. A type of magical art that has the ability to create colors that are full of life , light and very vibrant . The gouache technique is what the Spanish language is known as tempera.


What is gouache?

Gouache is a technique within the field of painting which consists of diluting the color you want to use with a part of water or with other types of ingredients such as honey or gum arabic.


Characteristics of gouache

There are several characteristics that can be observed in gouache. Some of the most important are the following:

  • It is a type of technique very similar to watercolor .
  • It is a bit more opaque and because it is mixed with products considered as binders, its consistency is creamier .
  • The luminosity it has will always depend on the painting itself.
  • As it is very opaque , light colors can be applied over darker ones without becoming transparent.
  • When mixed with a higher proportion of water the result is a watercolor paint .
  • It has time to dry faster and can be used in different types of materials .
  • The brushes used in this type of technique are the same as those used to paint in watercolor.
  • It can be found in tubes or jars and have a price relatively affordable.
  • In this art it is common area flat , dense and covered by different colored layers.

Origin of gouache

It is believed that the origin of the technique is in the Middle Ages when zinc white was added to the watercolors that were painted in order to improve the illustrations of the manuscripts. The discovery and who began to use it was a monk whose name is not known but it is known that it was in the eleventh century.  It was also widely used in the Enlightenment period and by artists in the 17th century . In England , this type of art occupied places of great importance and popularity especially at the end of the 18th century. Modern painters like Picasso and Peter Blake They also used this technique to make some of their works.

Explanation of the technique

To be able to make a gouache, the first thing that must be done is a review to verify that the paper where a certain design is to be made is well fixed to a flat horizontal surface , which must also have a very slight inclination to with this avoid that the colors can drip and damage the work. Subsequently, the design or drawing must be placed on the paper, and the essential lines must be well marked . There are several techniques that can be used, for example:

  • Dyed : a part of the paper is covered with paint as a base and then gouache paint is used with water to create a thinner consistency. It is a technique very similar to watercolor and is used to paint skies or grassy fields in landscapes.
  • Opaque layers : once the base of the painting is ready, you can start to place a series of layers with more opaque elements using the gouache without much water in order to obtain a more opaque color that covers what will go under the main drawing.
  • Wet on wet : the paper is moistened first and then the gouache layer is applied to achieve smoother shapes and slightly blurred lines.
  • Dry brush: allows the paint to have a greater and better texture. Semi-wet gouache is used and applied with a brush to later be brushed with a piece of cloth or a piece of paper. Then a dry brush must be passed over the paint to obtain better textures, results or backgrounds.
  • Flowering : they are stained areas and abstractly the same as those seen in a watercolor. Gouache is the best way to obtain these textures and it is done by applying the brush with water and paint and then erasing it leaving small puddles of color to form.
  • Review of dry areas : after the paint has dried it can be moistened again so that the painted elements can acquire more interesting effects.


Gouache can be used on different types of materials. The papers are widely used by artists and beginners, especially those designed for watercolor. The dyed papers and light, must to stiffen a bit before being painted but are one of the main materials used by artists. The brushes are an essential part to make a gouache and indicated are the same that are used to paint with watercolor. It is important that these are made with soft hair , either animal or synthetic, or bristles can also be used , mainly when the artist needs to give some touches or effects.

Importance of gouache

This technique is important for the artist because it allows him to make more spontaneous brushstrokes . It is a good way to create combinations in terms of colors and compositions and it is also a technique that allows greater precision in the strokes, better color coverage in a flatter way while maintaining the sharpest edges.

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