If you like working with watercolour but prefer more versatile and opaque paints, gouache paint will be your best friend, no matter your level of experience.
This water-based paint is easy to clean from paintbrushes (we’ve also got some tips for how to clean paintbrushes too), simple to control, and very forgiving, making it the perfect medium for colour work - but there are a lot of varieties to choose from. To help you find the best gouache paint for you, we’ve looked at the quality, value, colour range, and applications, and listed our top picks below.
You'll need a decent weight of paper when working with gouache; check out our selection of the best watercolour papers, which will work fine, too. Painting with gouache is best enjoyed at one of the best easels, and if you'd rather work in oils, we’ve also picked the best oil paints.
The best gouache paints in 2022
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Best gouache paint for professionals
+ High quality
+ Reliable pigment
+ Works well with watercolour
These thick, high-quality paints are perfect for finished works, but have a limited colour range. The highly concentrated pigments offer intense, opaque results that cover well without adding white. They reactivate readily, and washes are closer to watercolour, even granulating slightly.
Best gouache paint for artists
+ High quality
+ Smooth application
+ Mixes easily
This high-quality gouache is well-suited for finished works, particularly plein air painting. It’s runny in consistency, though still intense in colour even when watered down. Different colours have similar consistencies and mix easily. Coverage is thinner, so it is less suited for flat areas, but it sits evenly without streakiness.
Best gouache paint for designers
+ Large range
+ High quality
+ Thick and opaque
- Not all lightfast
This professional-quality paint comes in a wide range of opaque, intense colours (including metallic pigments) carefully designed for mixing. This, and its thick consistency that lays down well, are ideal for designers. It readily reactivates, but some colours aren’t lightfast, so take care with finished works and check the manufacturer's guide.
Best all-rounder gouache paint
+ Non-toxic options
+ Colour range
- Can separate
- Variable thickness
This is the best gouache for general use. There’s a broad selection of high-pigment, opaque colours that mix predictably, making it suitable for both artists and designers. It has some excellent non-toxic substitutes, too. The paint covers well, but does sometimes separate and has variable consistency.
The best gouache paint pan set
+ Convenient pan
- Milder darks
This set is unusual in its portable, sturdy pan form, including a tube of white gouache to thicken and add opacity. Behaving more like watercolour with some more transparent darker colours, these paints are bright and layer well. These are best for sketchbook work, or colour sketches on the move.
The best gouache paint sets for students and beginners
+ Good value
+ Reliable behaviour
- Very runny
- Sold as a set
This student-quality range is affordably priced, but with a fairly limited 24-colour range that only comes in sets. However, the paints mostly contain good-quality pigments, and handle surprisingly well for their price, producing even, flat areas of colour. It reactivates readily and layers well, but is runny, offering thinner coverage.