Oil paint vs Gouache: 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

You must understand these two mediums’ fundamental differences to start your journey into the art world with oil paint vs. Gouache. To do that, we will introduce the primary sub-sections that will guide you through each medium’s unique characteristics and features.

Differences between oil paint and Gouache

Oil Paint Vs. Gouache Paint
Oil paint vs. Gouache paint

Oil paint and Gouache have different properties and use. The solvent used to dilute them is distinct. To show their differences, we made a table.

Properties Oil Paint Gouache
Solvent Turpentine/Linseed Water
Drying Time Long Quick
Consistency Oily/Thick Creamy
Colors Subtle variations Vibrant/High pigmentation
Surface Canvas Paper, cardboard, or wood

Oil paint has a long drying time and great blending potential. Gouache dries quickly with vivid colors and opaque surfaces.

Oil paint is permanent on surfaces. Gouache can be peeled off if not handled correctly after drying.

Pro Tip: Read instructions for best results. Oil painting: the perfect mix of art and destruction!

Properties of oil paint

Oil Paint
Oil paint

To understand the properties of oil paint in-depth, you should know about its composition, drying time, and techniques that aid in oil painting. This will assist you in making informed decisions about using oil paint over Gouache.

Composition of oil paint

Oil paint combines pigments and mediums with a unique chemical makeup. It can be modified by changing the proportions of pigment, binder, and solvent components. The binder helps bind pigment together while theĀ solvent thins or quickens drying times.

Oil paint takes longer to dry than other painting mediums. This gives artists time to blend and create soft edges on their artwork.

Piet Mondrian used oil paint in his abstract artworks. His “neoplasticism” style featured only primary colors and black lines. This changed modern art and left an impact on the art community.

If you don’t like to wait, oil painting might not be for you. It dries slower than a snail!

Drying time of oil paint

Oil paint drying is an essential part of any artwork. How long it takes to dry depends on the thickness of the paint, humidity, temperature, and type of oil. Adding solvents or mediums can reduce drying time. Thin layers dry quicker than thicker strokes. Generally, it takes days to weeks or even months.

Warm weather, ventilation, and catalysts can speed up drying. Artists use thin coats, then thick layers, to get the texture and faster drying. Amazingly, old paintings can take years – even centuries – to dry.

For example, Mona Lisa’s smile still glistens after 500 years. This is because Leonardo da Vinci used underpainting and translucent surface layers. These layers don’t crack due to changes in humidity.

Oil up your brushes and create masterpieces!

Techniques for oil painting

Oil Painting Techniques Explained! This art form requires technique, practice, and patience. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  1. Select your medium – Use gesso for traditional oil or acrylic paint for faster results.
  2. Learn color mixing – Understand the color theory and how to mix primary colors. Buy high-quality pigments, and don’t overwhelm your palette.
  3. Try brushwork – Experiment with brush sizes, shapes, textures, and stiffness for different effects like blending, glazing, and impasto.
  4. Layer up – Wait for each layer to dry before adding the next. The bottommost layers should have less oil.

Remember, oil painting is a personal form of art. Feel free to experiment and find your style. To progress further, join local meetups or online guilds. Get feedback from experienced artists and refine your craft. Why settle for dull colors when you can have vibrant and opaque Gouache?

Properties of gouache

Gouache Paint
Gouache paint

To understand the unique properties of Gouache, you need to know about its composition, opacity, and painting techniques. These sub-sections will provide the necessary information to appreciate the beauty of gouache painting.

Composition of gouache

Gouache is a blend of materials that has properties like watercolors and acrylics. Pigment particles and a binder such as gum Arabic or dextrin mix create an opaque effect on paper. A table showing the combination of pigments, fillers/binders, additives, etc., would be helpful.

Artist-grade Gouache has more pigment and better binders than student-grade Gouache. Student-grade Gouache often contains fillers to reduce costs. Both grades have high pigment concentration and brilliant colors.

Vincent van Gogh used gouaches in a hospital in Arles, France. He found that mixing oil and watercolor could make his drawings have more depth and texture – something not possible only with watercolor techniques. Gouache means you don’t need transparency. It’s like ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for painters.

Opacity of Gouache

Gouache stands out for its transparency. It can hide or show colors by blocking or allowing light. A table of standard gouache pigments like cadmium red medium, ultramarine blue deep, and burnt sienna can inform about their opacity levels. We can adjust the opacity by adding water or mediums to the paint. When wet, the white Gouache is translucent but becomes more opaque as it dries. Gouache has existed since medieval times, but it gained more popularity in the 18th century when French artists used it for portraits.

Even if you’re not an artist, you can use Gouache like a kindergartener and color inside the lines.

Techniques for gouache painting

Gouache painting requires a unique texture for the canvas and special pigments. This creates fantastic pieces of art. Five techniques to remember:

  1. Water control is critical. Balance the water when blending, thickening, or thinning gouache paint.
  2. Layering means applying opaque colors over dried layers for a perfect finish.
  3. Gradation is adding a mix of shades in one stroke.
  4. Mixing colors give depth and variety.
  5. Dry brushing brings a textured look by dragging a dry brush across wet paint or vice versa.

High-quality brushes keep the paint creamy and prevent discoloration. Blur edges between surfaces to achieve a natural, hand-painted effect. Gouache isn’t as versatile as oil paint, but it’ll dry quickly. No need to worry about ruined carpets!

Comparing oil paint and Gouache

To better understand the differences between oil paint and Gouache, you’ll get a detailed analysis of the topic to satisfy your curiosity. This section, on comparing oil paint and Gouache, provides insight into the differences in application and finish of the two mediums. Additionally, you’ll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each medium in detail.

Differences in application

Criteria Oil Paint Gouache
Consistency Thick Thin
Drying Time It takes time to dry Dries faster
Number of Layers Needed Multiple layers Can be done in one
Mixing on Canvas Yes Less so
Expertise Needed Yes Less so
Smudging No worries No worries

Comparing oil paint and Gouache? Make a table to spot the differences.

Differences in finish

Oil paint and Gouache have different surface characteristics to keep in mind. The oil paint texture is glossy with brushstrokes, while the Gouache is matte with a slight texture and appears opaque. When it comes to drying time, oil paint takes weeks or even months to dry. Gouache, however, dries quickly. Though both allow for layering, oil paint allows for more subtle transitions. Color accuracy is also higher in oil paint, but Gouache has a more vibrant hue. Consider your artistic goals when deciding which to use: Oil paint for longer sessions and texture exploration or gouache for quick color saturation with some layering.

Advantages and disadvantages of each medium

Comparing oil paint and Gouache, both have their pros and cons. Here’s a look at the standout features of each!

Advantages Oil Paint Gouache
Drying Time Slower for more effortless blending and making changes. Faster for quick layers with vibrant colors.
Texture Gives a thick, buttery texture for depth. Smooth and even coverage, great for lines and details.
Opacity Transparent or opaque effects. Dries glossy. High opacity. Good for backgrounds. Dries matte.

Oil paints need a lot of cleaning and can be toxic. Gouache requires less prep and uses water as a solvent. Paul Klee even used Gouache in an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art! It’s like comparing a cheeseburger and a salad – it’s all up to your preference.

Choose between oil paint and Gouache

It would be best to consider several factors to decide between oil paint and Gouache. This includes the look you want to achieve, the drying time, and how easy it is to manipulate the color. When choosing between oil paint and Gouache, the decision ultimately comes down to your preference. For some tips on how to make that decision, be sure to read the following sub-section for more information.

Factors to consider

Regarding oil paint and Gouache, consider the following factors: desired effect, surface, drying time, and skill level. Oil paint offers blending, texture, and luminosity but works on canvas, wood, and metal. Gouache gives opaque colors and flat surfaces and works on paper, board, and illustration projects.

Oil paint may take days to weeks to dry for thick layers or detailed work and may dry out over time. Gouache, however, dries quickly after application and can be reactivated with water. Plus, Gouache is the better option if one has chemical-related health concerns.

If you’re new to painting, try different options. Test various brands and explore brush types to find what works best. Ultimately, the decision will depend on your preferences and project requirements. Both oil paint and Gouache have their strengths, making them suitable for artists at any level. Take a risk: try them both and see which works best for you!

Tips to decide which medium to use

When picking an art medium, there are some key points to remember. Here are tips for selecting the proper medium for your project:

  1. Look at the subject matter: What’re you painting? Oil or Gouache could work better for some. For example, oil paint might be better for a landscape with texture and depth. But if it’s a flat illustration or poster, go with Gouache.
  2. Think about the desired effect: Paints have different qualities influencing their appearance. Oil paint has a classic, timeless look with varied colors and gradations. Gouache has a flattering look with bold, opaque pigments.
  3. Check the materials: Oil paint needs solvents and special brushes. Gouache is water-soluble and can be thinned/thickened.
  4. Pay attention to time: Gouache is the way to go if your painting is too dry fast. It’s water-based, so it dries more quickly than other mediums. But oil paint takes longer.
  5. Experiment: Try out new mediums with your style.

Remember that some artists prefer one medium over another based on experience and preference. Try mixing media for contrast and fun! Remember: Who needs a therapist when you have art supplies?


Oil paint and Gouache have their advantages for varying painting styles. Oil paint is known for its deep hues, coverage, and slow drying time, perfect for taking time on a piece. Gouache, however, gives off a matte finish with bright pigments. It dries fast, but the water reactivation feature makes blending or touching up easy.

When deciding between these two mediums, consider your desired effect and preference for application and speed. Both can create fantastic art but differ in texture and handling.

To increase your painting skills, use both interchangeably. Experiment with various techniques to understand what works best for you. Don’t limit yourself to one medium – take advantage of each offer’s unique features. Let your creativity fly by exploring how painting with oil paint and Gouache can bring your artwork to life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between oil paint and Gouache?

Oil paint is a traditional form of painting that uses oil-based pigments, while Gouache is a type of watercolor that is more opaque and covers the surface more completely.

Which one is easier to work with, oil paint or Gouache?

It depends on your skill level and personal preference. Oil paint can be more forgiving and easier to control but requires more time and patience to dry. Conversely, Gouache is easier and faster to work with, but it can be less forgiving if mistakes are made.

What are the advantages of using oil paint?

Oil paint has a rich texture and vibrant color and can be manipulated in many ways. It also has a much longer drying time than other forms of paint, which allows artists to work more slowly and make changes over time.

What are the advantages of using Gouache?

Gouache is a versatile medium that can be used for both small sketches and large paintings. It can be mixed with other colors to create complex effects, and it dries quickly, making it ideal for outdoor use and fast sketches.

Which type of paint is better for beginners?

Both oil paint and Gouache can be suitable for beginners, depending on your goals and preferences. Oil paint may be a better choice if you prefer a slower, more controlled painting style with much texture and depth. Gouache may be a better choice if you want to experiment with quick sketches and vibrant colors.

Do oil paint and Gouache require different materials to work with?

Yes, oil paint and Gouache require different brushes, canvases, and other materials. Oil paint also requires mixing, cleaning, and thinning solvents, while Gouache can be combined with water.

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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