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Solid watercolor and Gouache: What’s are the benefits?

Are you a lover of watercolour media? Do you have an interest in exploring the artistic media? If you’re looking to get started painting, you might be stunned as to what the similarities and differences are between solid watercolor and gouache? What are the major things to have in mind when carrying out a combo on these two painting mediums in one same piece so as to achieve the best result?

Almost every artist is aware that solid watercolor and gouache can have good and amazing combo on a piece of art. However, this said, it can be a bit hard to get the most out of their combination if we do not know the distinction between them, including how we can combine their distinctive features.

This is to ensure that a balanced piece is established that allows both of them to shine simultaneously.

Understanding tips and tricks from results of in-depth research can definitely open up our horizons to make our ideas come to life more successfully as we explore the distinction between these two mediums including benefits respectively.


Solid watercolour vs. Gouache — Which one do you think is Better?

Most likely questions you would want to ask is on how does solid watercolour differs from gouache? What are their individual features, and how might each best be applied to art practice? These very questions got me thinking: “What would happen if you paint the exact same picture with each material? How might they differ?”

Anyways, here is a mini comparison where you will be shown the benefits and how each of these paint types acts.


Components of Solid watercolor and Gouache

Both mediums are made up of some components that the characteristics of each of these two artistic mediums. They include the following;


Solid watercolours, gouache, and poster colours all rely on pigments for their colouring rather than dyes. This implies that tiny pieces of coloured stone or other physical materials are suspended in the paint mixture, rather than being dissolved like a dye.

One clear and consistent distinction between these paints is the size of their pigment particles. Western watercolour pigment particles are the smallest, watercolour particles are slightly bigger, gouache particles are bigger yet, and poster colours have the biggest particles.

In general terms, small pigment particles make paint that is more transparent and difficult to lift from the paper. They are also less likely to form granulation effects. This is because their lightweight permits them to spread more evenly over the paper, while bigger, heavier pigments tend to settle into the hollows of the paper’s texture.


There is no paint that doesn't use a binder to hold the ingredients of the paint together. Many solid watercolours, gouache, and some poster colours use the dried sap of the acacia tree, known as gum arabic, as their binder. Gum arabic easily redissolves in water after it has dried, so it’s easy to reactivate paint made with it for blending and lifting.

Some solid watercolours traditionally use animal glue as a binder, but many modern paints use alternatives like beeswax and sugar. These binders can give a glossier finish than western watercolours, but they otherwise behave quite similarly.


Solid watercolour and gouache also contain additives, which vary considerably between product lines and even between individual paints in the same line. Some common additives are a bit humectant to keep the paint moist, preservatives to prevent mould, brighteners to make the paint more vibrant, and dispersants to help the pigment spread out in the water. Other additives “stretch” the paint so that it contains less pigment. This can make the paints less expensive or tone down intense pigments so that they are easier to use with other paints in the same product line.

Nevertheless, some additives are necessary, they can have side effects. Paints with brighteners have a more colourful look in the pan and when wet, but they are typically more opaque and develop a faded or chalky appearance when dry. Paints that have dispersants or a massive proportion of humectant can penetrate more deeply into the paper fibres and resist lifting. Meanwhile, not all manufacturers list what additives they use, but artist quality paints usually have more pigment relative to additives than student paints.

What Is solid watercolour?

Solid watercolours are characterized by their translucence. The colours mix and create beautiful textures on the paper. Watercolour comes in tubes, pan sets and liquids. Watercolour paint is inexpensive but can produce a beautiful end result. It dries quickly, is almost translucent, and produces a matte finish. Artists can layer watercolour paint due to its translucence in order to create a brighter image.


Merits of solid watercolour

  • Superb and sharp translucent finish. Watercolours use the white of the paper to give the appearance of light.
  • It is very easy to blend. The water does all the work and the colours blend effortlessly.
  • Very interesting to use and pretty easy to learn. I find watercolour easier to work with because I like working with water.
  • Solid watercolour is very easy to use. It flows on the brush much easier than others.


Demerits of Solid watercolour

  • A bit long time drying. Solid watercolours use a lot of water, so they take forever to dry.
  • You will have longer working time. Since the dry time is so long, if you want layers, you need to wait until the first layers dry or the colour will bleed together.
  • It is best used on white watercolor paper. The thinner paper will bucker. Dark paper won’t show the paint since it’s too translucent.
  • Errors can be hard or impossible to correct. Too much paint can be removed with a dry brush or paper towel, but if you paint something in the wrong spot, there’s no correcting that.
  • It has an order of colour matters when painting. You must paint light to dark and leave the white spots white.
  • Also, colours can bleed together. This is also a pro for me since I love the way it looks when the colours bleed together.


The spotlight about the solid watercolor and gouache

When it comes to medium-mixing explorations, the artist is allowed to engage and experiment with materials in many different ways; to find new ways of using materials. Before one can find new ways of working with a material, however, one must first know the material’s basic features.

Solid watercolor and gouache, these are two paint types often sharing an aisle in the art supply store and often applied in similar ways. A common answer I hear to the question, “What is gouache?” is “It‘s opaque watercolour.” Is it really though?

These colour types may appear to be nearly identical mediums. However, when given more attention, one can see that both paints have individual characteristics that make them easy to differentiate.

One of the differences between the two paints is that gouache is more opaque than watercolour. When a layer of solid watercolour is applied, the white paper and any preliminary drawings underneath will show through, whereas when a layer of gouache is applied, the paper will not show through nearly as much. Due to the transparency of watercolour, the light is able to travel through the pigment and reflect off of the white paper, giving it a luminous quality that differs from gouache’s matte finish.

Irrespective of these differing properties, watercolor and gouache are nearly identical in makeup. The two paints consist of pigment and water-soluble binder, which allows the paint to be altered even after it dries with the addition of water. The opacity of gouache comes from the white pigment or chalk that is added along with the coloured pigment and binder in order to make it less transparent.

Aspects of the technique and purpose of both of these materials can also be compared to find meaningful distinctions. This is due to the fact that gouache dries very quickly, allows the painter to easily create large solid blocks of colour, and can be used to depict minute details; all traits that are very important to illustrators. Watercolour, on the other hand, is not as controllable and dries much slower.


What Is Gouache?

Gouache is closely connected to watercolour. It makes use of the same gum Arabic binder but has more pigment which is not ground as finely as watercolour. Gouache also has chalk added to make it flat and opaque. Gouache finds it easy to redissolved after it has dried just like watercolour. Its paint is opaque but becomes translucent when water is added. When using Gouache you have the option to either water it down or build up the consistency of the paint. The final outcome of a gouache painted piece is a radiant bright piece of artwork with a matte finish.

Merits of Gouache

  • It has a beautiful matte finish. The matte, chalky finish is perfect for solid shapes.
  • Errors are easier to correct. Since paint can be layered, it’s easy to paint over mistakes to perfect them.
  • Opaque is very much present. This means that the paint can be layered.
  • Gouache can be used on thinner papers. Gouache uses less water, so you can get away with sketchbook paper or mixed media paper
  • It dries much quicker than watercolour. With less water, the dry time is much faster.
  • The colours have a harder time bleeding together if they touch.
  • Artist don't need to border about the order of colours, it doesn’t matter. You can paint light to dark or dark to light.
  • It can also be used on colored paper. Since the paint is opaque, you can paint over coloured paper easier.


Demerits of Gouache

  • Interesting to use but more difficult to learn. I find gouache to be much harder to learn.
  • Applies white to lighten colours. Gouache uses white to make lighter colours which feels very different than watercolour. Watercolour uses more water to make lighter colours.
  • It can also be more difficult to blend. Since the colours don’t bleed when they touch, it can be harder to blend colours.


Major similarities of solid watercolor and gouache

When it comes to similarity, the main similarity between solid watercolor and gouache is that they are both water-soluble. Both of these painting mediums can be reactivated with water once they've dried. On the other hand, when we work with acrylics or oils, we can certainly lay down subsequent layers of paint to add to or further enhance the look of previous layers, but it will be impossible to modify the layers in and of themselves once they've dried.


Major differences between both (solid watercolor and gouache) in a but shell

  • When it comes to transparency, while gouache is opaque to semi-transparent, watercolour is transparent to semi-transparent.
  • In terms of size, Gouache has large particles. On the other hand, watercolor has small particles.
  • Gouache is best used for both watercolor and colored paper, watercolor is best used for watercolor paper.
  • Considering surface, Gouache gives best results when used in flat shapes, dark paper, and colorful surfaces. On the other hand, watercolor is best when used in delicate surfaces, for layering and nature surfaces.


The expectation of outcome from every artist differs. This is determined by the paint used, and how it is used. Both solid watercolor and gouache have their special properties and offer benefits that an artist would love to have in their works. But those benefits also come with their drawbacks when you are choosing one over the other.

However, anyone you select depends upon your specific needs and what type of art you want to produce. If you are an artist who wants to create a piece of art that is vibrant, luminous, deep and shows a certain amount of realism, then you Watercolor gives you what you want.

For an easier, more direct aspect of art where you are confined within the restrictions of bold shapes and deep colors, go with Gouache. The benefit of being able to make flat, colourful shapes very quickly is what has rendered it as a popular choice among architects, illustrators, and designers.

Finally, as the world is adopting art and appreciating different skill sets, more artists should be encouraged to follow their passion.