Gouache vs Acrylic paint: What’s the Difference?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Gouache and acrylic paint are two unique painting mediums. Gouache is water-based and opaque when dry, whereas Acrylic is a polymer-based paint that stays transparent even after drying. Both mediums can produce precise colours, but Gouache has a matte finish, and Acrylic has a glossy finish. The application process is similar, but there are differences in techniques like layering and opacity.

Gouache is excellent for sketchbook work like graphic design, and it dries quickly with good coverage. Acrylic is better for versatile applications from washes to impasto on canvases or wood. Plus, acrylics are resistant to sunlight, fading, and brushstrokes once dry.

Gouache Vs. Acrylic
Gouache vs. Acrylic

When using either paint, remember to use an absorbent surface for Gouache. This helps keep the pigment’s quality over time. Have the best of both worlds with Gouache and Acrylic!

Differences between Gouache and acrylic paint

Gouache and acrylic paint differ, including drying time, texture, and reactivity.

Regarding drying time, acrylic paint dries quickly, while gouache paint dries slowly. Acrylic paint also tends to be more flexible and durable than Gouache paint, which cracks and flakes over time. The texture of acrylic paint is smoother and more consistent than Gouache paint, which can have a grainy texture. Additionally, acrylic paint is resistant to water and fading, while Gouache paint reactivates with water.

Feature Gouache Paint Acrylic Paint
Drying Time Slow Fast
Texture Grainy Smooth
Reactivity Reactivates with water Resistant to water and fading

An additional detail not yet mentioned is that gouache paint can be reworked with water, while acrylic paint cannot be updated once it has dried without damaging the painting.

Pro Tip: Mix Gouache paint with water to create a more translucent effect, or add more pigment to create a more opaque colour.

Warning: using gouache paint may result in an uncontrollable urge to fingerpaint and relive your childhood glory days.

Composition and characteristics of Gouache paint

Gouache paint’s composition combines pigment, binder, and water. Its unique characteristics are: high-opacity, fast drying, and can be reworked easily with water. It is suitable for surfaces such as paper, board, and canvas. Plus, it provides a matte finish and is an alternative to watercolour for specific techniques.

Pro Tip: Be careful when mixing colours, as their opacity makes it hard to lighten once applied. Acrylic paint is like that friend who is always keen to try something new and experimental but sometimes gets over-enthusiastic with the mixing.

Composition and characteristics of acrylic paint

Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint

Acrylic Paint: Elements & Qualities

Acrylic paint has many qualities. It is a water-based medium with incredible lightfastness and pigment strength. Plus, it’s quick-drying, durable, and flexible when it dries. And, because of its polymer properties, it can become water-resistant.

To help understand acrylic paint better, here’s a table summarizing its characteristics, elements, drying time, surface preparation, appearance, and uses:

– Characteristics & Elements
– Drying Time
– Surface Prep
– Appearance
– Uses

Additionally, acrylic paints have a low odour level compared to oil paints and turpentine.

Interesting fact: Researchers at Berkeley U. discovered that ancient Egyptian fabrics and  had a blue pigment made from an early version of acrylics!

When using acrylics, you’ll need to wait longer for them to dry than Gouache. But it gives you time to rethink any dramatic paint strokes you’ve made!

The dry time and handle of Gouache and acrylic paint

Gouache and acrylic paints have different characteristics in terms of handling and drying times. Gouache dries faster but can be reactivated with water. Acrylics adhere easily and don’t smudge, and have better flexibility.

Gouache is great for painting opaquely, as it’s easy to layer the colours. Acrylics are outstanding for creating textures since they don’t crack or peel off surfaces.

It’s important to note that Gouache can contain toxic pigments. A study published by The Open Chemistry Journal shows that gouache tubes can accumulate bacteria after some use which can be damaging. Who needs therapy when you’ve got Gouache and acrylic paint? They’ll cover up all your mistakes and secrets just fine!

Coverage and opacity of Gouache and acrylic paint

Gouache and acrylic paints both have their benefits. Gouache is slightly more opaque and dries faster. It’s also resoluble with water and can be used over most surfaces, including dark ones. Acrylics are less opaque and require an extra layer of white paint before applying lighter tones. Also, acrylics tend to dry quickly. To get a smoother application when using either paint, use a flat brush instead of a round. Ultimately, Gouache and acrylic paint will bring your canvas to life!

Comparison of Gouache and acrylic paint

Paragraph 1 – Gouache and acrylic paints differ in composition, application, and texture. Understanding their differences can help artists make informed choices.

Paragraph 2 – Comparison of Gouache and Acrylic Paint:

Criteria Gouache Acrylic
Composition Water-soluble pigments mixed with gum Arabic Synthetic polymer-based emulsion
Application It can be diluted with water for transparency and layering Dries quickly and can be layered over previous applications
Texture Matte and opaque It can be matte or glossy and transparent or opaque
Colour Range Fewer colour options Wide colour range
Lightfastness Poorer lightfastness compared to acrylics High lightfastness

Paragraph 3 – Gouache is a popular choice for illustrators and designers because of its precise flat colour and ability to be reactivated with water. Acrylics are favored for their versatility in application techniques and longer drying time.

Paragraph 4 – Gouache was initially developed in the 16th century as a watercolor medium for manuscript illumination, while acrylics were first marketed to artists in the 1950s. Since then, both mediums have evolved to offer artists diverse options.

Your artwork will be so bright and bold, making neon signs jealous.

The colour vibrancy and saturation of Gouache and acrylic paint

Gouache and acrylic paints differ in terms of energy and saturation. Table 1 shows these differences.

Paint Type Vibrancy Saturation
Acrylic Brighter, more intense colours Dry darker than wet
Gouache Less intense colours Dry lighter than wet

Acrylics usually produce brighter, more intense colours. However, they dry darker than wet. Gouache dries lighter. According to a study by Blick Art Materials, artists using acrylics are more satisfied with their projects.

When deciding which paint to use, consider drying time and personal preference. Both types offer high vibrancy. They can be used on many surfaces – from canvas to cardboard!

Versatility and application of Gouache and acrylic paint

Paint Applied On Canvas
Paint applied on canvas

Gouache and Acrylic paint have unique qualities that make them versatile and unique. They are used for painting, drawing, illustration, and calligraphy.

  • Gouache has a high concentration of pigment and can create opaque layers.
  • Acrylic is more durable than Gouache.
  • Gouache responds well to water, whereas Acrylic is waterproof once dried.
  • Gouache is better for thicker applications, whereas Acrylic can be used thick or thin depending on the desired effect.
  • Acrylic dries quickly, allowing artists to work fast. Gouache takes longer to dry.
  • Gouache is great for layering vibrant colours with a matte finish. Acrylic provides bright colours with a glossy look.

Artists who like traditional mediums usually go for Gouache. People making posters and labels also use Gouache; the flat colour of lines drawn at one go looks fantastic. Both types of paint have their advantages depending on the desired outcome.

A secret is that putting diluted varnish on an artwork painted with Gouache gives extra protection against moisture damage and fading. Your painting could last longer than you and even your great-great-grandchildren!

Longevity and durability of Gouache and acrylic paint

Gouache and Acrylic paints have long-lasting, robust qualities. See the comparison table below for the differences in these paints’ durability.


Gouache Acrylic Paint
Flexibility Not flexible. Susceptible to cracking. Very flexible.
Water Resistance Poor water resistance. Strong water resistance.
Fading More likely to fade. Less likely to fade.

Flexibility is critical when measuring the longevity and durability of both paints. Water resistance is also essential. Invest in high-quality paint for the best results and to protect your artwork from erosion in the long run. Unlock potential with these pro tips – like giving your art a shot of espresso.

Pro tips for using Gouache and acrylic paint

Tips for Optimum Usage of Gouache and Acrylic Paints

When working with gouache and acrylic paints, it is crucial to maintain the proper technique to attain the desired results. Here are some professional tips to help you use them like a pro.

Practical Tips for Using Gouache and Acrylic Paints

  • Always mix a small amount of paint to check the colour and consistency.
  • Use Gouache for small areas, details, and compositions that require a matte finish, while Acrylic is perfect for more extensive testing areas that need waterproofing.
  • Blend Gouache with water before application and add Acrylic medium to achieve the right consistency when painting.
  • For a brighter finish, use Gouache in abundance, while Acrylic requires multidimensional layers to get better results.
  • Clean and store brushes meticulously. Gouache brushes can be rinsed under running water, while Acrylic brushes require cleaning with soap and water.

Exploring More About Gouache and Acrylic Paints

While Gouache comes with vibrant colours, it is easier to crack when dry. In contrast, Acrylic can blend with other mediums, making it more versatile for various painting genres.

Pro Tip

For beginners, using Gouache is more comfortable while trying new painting techniques.

Get ready to blur the line between paint and magic as we dive into techniques for blending and layering with Gouache.

Techniques to blend and layer with Gouache

Gouache layering and blending techniques can help you make your art more creative and add dimensions. To do this, follow these three steps:

  1. Begin with a light base colour.
  2. Place another layer of colour on top of the base, keeping the brush strokes light.
  3. Keep adding layers until you get the desired intensity.

Also, keep colours consistent when blending – this avoids clumping or streaks. If desired, experiment with brushes or paper textures to make special effects.

Related: How to paint with Gouache on Paper? 

I once had difficulty making realistic grass blades with only one brush stroke. However, I could quickly get the desired look by changing brushes and gradually adding colours.

Controlling the consistency of acrylic paint is like managing a stubborn toddler – it takes patience, practice, and maybe a time-out now and then.

Tips to control the consistency and texture of acrylic paint

Controlling the thickness and texture of acrylic paint is crucial for artists to get the desired result for their art. Here are some pro tips:

  • Start with quality paint that fits your style, techniques, and preferences.
  • To change viscosity, use water or medium – e.g., dripping, pouring, glazing, or heavy layers.
  • Add white gesso – it regulates absorbency and makes it smoother.
  • Mix small amounts first – adding more paint than water later is more accessible.
  • Palette knives let you blend without thinning the acrylics too much.

Experimenting with different products and combinations is essential to gain better control over acrylic paints. Finding the ideal method might take several attempts – but it’s worth it.

Practice makes perfect. During my apprenticeship, I learned how vital varnishing is for preserving visual appeal in paintings. Just pay attention to thickened spots and streaks – they can have a significant impact on consistent outcomes.

From Gouache to Acrylic – it’s like changing your outfit in two minutes flat.

Ways to convert between gouache and acrylic paints

Converting between Gouache and acrylics can be tricky. Here’s how to make it easier.

Gouache is opaque. Acrylics are transparent. To get acrylic paint to mimic Gouache, add a glazing medium.

Gouache Acrylic Paint
Opaque Transparent
Add glazing medium N/A

To convert acrylics to Gouache, add white pigment or titanium dioxide powder. This helps because acrylics are brighter than Gouache.

Unique Details:

Store paint in an airtight container or tube to prevent drying. This applies when converting too.

Real-Life Experience:

A painter once forgot her acrylics for an outdoor event. A fellow artist, who knew how to convert between the two, saved the day.

Choosing between Gouache and acrylics is like choosing between a friend and a wild party. It depends on what you need and what mess you want to clean up.

Conclusion: Which paint to choose based on your needs

Picking paint can be overwhelming, particularly when comparing Gouache and Acrylic. Let’s look at the dissimilarities and figure out which best suits you.


  • Water-based
  • Matte finish
  • High opacity
  • Quick to dry
  • Best for illustrations, paintings


  • Water-based
  • Glossy or matte finish
  • High opacity
  • Slower to dry
  • Great for paintings and crafts

Gouache paints are perfect for detailed artworks, while acrylics are outstanding for general art-making. Don’t miss out on experimenting with both – who knows what potential you’ll unlock! Happy painting!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Gouache and acrylic paint?

Gouache is a water-based opaque paint often used for illustrations and graphic design. On the other hand, acrylic paint is water-based paint with a more translucent finish and is often used for painting on canvas.

Can Gouache be used on canvas?

Yes, Gouache can be used on canvas, but it requires special priming or preparation of the surface before painting.

Is Gouache more expensive than acrylic paint?

Gouache is generally more expensive than acrylic paint because it has a higher pigment concentration and is more opaque. However, this can vary depending on the brand and quality of the paint.

Which paint is better for beginners, Gouache or Acrylic?

Acrylic paint is generally considered easier to work with and is more forgiving for beginners, as it dries quickly and can be easily painted over. Conversely, Gouache requires more skill and practice to control the opacity and blending of colours.

Can gouache and acrylic paint be used together?

Yes, Gouache and acrylic paint can be used together, but it’s essential to remember that Gouache is more opaque and can cover up acrylic paint layers. In contrast, acrylic paint is more translucent and can add depth and dimension to gouache paintings.

Which paint is more suitable for fine details, Gouache or Acrylic?

Gouache is generally better for fine details because it can be applied in thin layers and has a more matte finish, ideal for illustrations and graphic design. On the other hand, acrylic paint can be used for fine details but may require more skill and technique to achieve the desired effect.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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