Best Gouache Paint Sets in 2021

There is a lot of interest in gouache painting recently, and everybody who has used gouache knows that it is one of the most useful and strikingly effective kinds of paint, and a delight to use! Let’s look at the best gouache paints on the market today!

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If you are in a hurry, below is my pick for the best gouache paint set in 2021. If you have more time, then keep on reading.

Best Watercolor Gouache Paint Set

My Pick
Turner Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint

Watercolor Gouache

Turner Watercolor Paint Set - Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint - 25 ml Tubes - Set of 18 Assorted Colors


Best Acrylic Gouache Paint Set

My Pick
Holbein Acryla Gouache 12 Color Lesson Set

Acrylic Gouache

Splendid paints with superior colors, finish and usability, and a real delight to use!



Table of Contents

At the same time, there is a lot of confusion as well. Even some pretty advanced and experienced artists don’t really know what gouache is, or the difference between different kinds of gouache paints.

So let’s get into the whole subject in more detail, and see if we can answer some basic questions about the wonderful world of gouache! 

  • What is gouache painting?
  • What is the difference between gouache and watercolor paint?
  • What is the difference between gouache and acrylic paint?
  • What is the difference between watercolor gouache and acrylic gouache?
  • What is the best gouache paint on the market?
  • What are the advantages of gouache paint?
  • Is gouache a good choice for artists and shall you include it among your art supplies?

What Is Gouache Painting?

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way right now, at the very start. Gouache is pronounced gwash, which rhymes with squash. If you are at one of those haughty cocktail parties that we artists are always attending, filled with callous sophisticates and erudite intellectuals, and you say instead gauche, pronounced goshe – which rhymes with, well, not much else – you yourself will definitely sound gauche :). 

Traditional gouache paint is a type of watercolor paint that offers a different weight and workability than standard watercolors – specifically, watercolor gouache dries to more opaque colors – that is, not transparent – matte finish, which allows for a different look as well as different techniques and effects (opaque painting style).

But gouache is still at its heart a watercolor paint, and so you can use normal watercolor brushes and paper, or canvas prepped for watercolor, and you can combine watercolor gouache with normal watercolors, allowing for even more interesting effects and a wider expressive range.

You’ll notice that in the last sentence I said “watercolor gouache.” This is because there are actually two distinct types of gouache: watercolor gouache and acrylic gouache. This is where some of the confusion about this type of paint arises, and interestingly a differentiation that most blogs or other web pages about gouache paint don’t even mention.

What Is the Difference between Watercolor Gouache and Acrylic Gouache (Matte Finish)? 

Watercolor gouache is just as described above. It is far older than acrylic gouache – some estimates say watercolor gouache is at least a thousand years old, but it may in fact be much older than that. 

Acrylic gouache, on the other hand, unlike traditional gouache, is a far more recent development. It is a little bit watercolor, a little bit acrylic, a little bit gouache (though not at all gauche), and can offer the advantages of all three.

For example, all three – acrylics, watercolors and gouache paints – are water-based. Acrylics, though, will dry to be water-resistant, and so once they are dry they are pretty much set and unworkable – which has both advantages and disadvantages.

Watercolors are never really water-resistant, even when fully dry, and even then can be “activated” with water or more paint and re-worked in various ways. Again, advantages and disadvantages. And in this regard watercolor gouaches are the same as normal watercolors. The main, or really only, difference between watercolor gouache and normal watercolor is the finish – watercolor gouache drying to a more matte finish that’s less transparent.

Acrylic gouache, on the other hand, dries pretty quickly, more like normal acrylic, but still gives you a longer time before the paint dries and is set to work with – moving it around, combining it with other colors, making the layer thicker or thinner, lighter or darker, stuff like that – and even when it is almost dry it can be reactivated with water, or more paint, and re-worked.

When acrylic gouache is allowed to really fully dry, though, it is practically as water-resistant as normal acrylic. And, more like watercolor gouache, acrylic gouache dries to more opaque colors, flat matte finish (opaque painting style).

Phew! Clear as mud now, no? Maybe we’ll do a little summary, to add a little water to the murky gouache:

Normal watercolor

  • Water based paint
  • Transparent matte finish
  • Never fully set or water-resistant
  • Easy to re-work by adding water or paint
  • Harder to work with that acrylic paint (for some artists, at least) since it is more washy and less thick, but this can lead to beautiful results

Normal acrylic

  • Water based paint
  • Ranges from transparent to opaque glossy finish
  • Fully sets to water-resistant when dry, so cannot really be re-worked
  • Easier to manipulate (when still wet) due to thickness and consistency
  • Finished art looks more solid and even “realistic” as opposed to the more “washy” images you get with watercolor

Watercolor gouache

  • Water based paint
  • Opaque (not transparent) matte finish
  • Like normal watercolor, never fully set or water-resistant
  • Like normal watercolor, harder to work with  that acrylic paint  (for some artists, at least)
  • Finished art can be more solid and cover better than normal watercolor, and on more types of surfaces
  • Can be combined beautifully with normal watercolor for a range of finish and opacity

Acrylic gouache

  • Water based paint
  • Opaque (not transparent) matte finish
  • Gives you longer to reactivate and rework than normal acrylic, then fully sets to water-resistant
  • As such, can be even easier to work with than normal acrylics
  • Can be combined with normal acrylics for a nice range of finish

How Can You Find the Best Gouache Paint Set for Your Artwork?

Bottom line, I love both kinds of gouache paint, and highly recommend that you try them both and see what you can come up with! By themselves, or combined with their counterparts, watercolor gouache and acrylic gouache have different and distinct looks and feels, and really expand your creative range.

And, for my money, they are both easier to use and work than normal watercolors and normal acrylics.

So all we need to do now is find the best of them – the finest watercolor gouache paint and the finest acrylic gouache paint on the market today. I have a ton of experience with both, which I will combine with feedback and recommendations from my colleagues, friends and students, as well as actual verified customer reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, to put together a list of the best gouache paints available.

We will include:

  • The Best Watercolor Gouache Paint Overall
  • My Favorite Watercolor Gouache Paint
  • The Best Watercolor Gouache Paint for Students
  • The Best Acrylic Gouache Paint Overall
  • My Favorite Acrylic Gouache Paint
  • The Best Acrylic Gouache Paint for Students

And at the end of the article, in the Bonus section, I will recommend some great paint brushes – in the case of either acrylic gouache or watercolor gouache, you would want to use the same type of brush you would use for their more popular siblings, but I’ll let you know the brushes I love and recommend nonetheless.

So really there’s only one more thing to mention (actually, re-mention) before we get started discussing the best gouache paints in 2021, and that is: really, make absolutely certain you have this straight – gwash, not goshe! I mean, forget about the cocktail party. Imagine you’re showing work to a potential client and ask them if they’d like to see some of your gauche paintings…

Overview: Best Gouache Paint Sets in 2021

Best Watercolor Gouache Paints

  1. Turner Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint
  2. Turner Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint

    Watercolor Gouache

    Turner Watercolor Paint Set - Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint - 25 ml Tubes - Set of 18 Assorted Colors


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache Primary Color
  4. Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache Primary Color

    Watercolor Gouache

    Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache Primary Color 6-Tube Paint Set, 14ml


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Marie's Extra Fine Gouache Opaque Watercolor Paint Set of 18
  6. Marie's Extra Fine Gouache Opaque Watercolor Paint Set of 18

    Watercolor Gouache

    Marie's Extra Fine Gouache Opaque Watercolor Paint Set 12 ml Tubes - Assorted Colors - Set of 18


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. Arteza Gouache Watercolor Paint 24 Color Set
  8. Arteza Gouache Watercolor Paint 24 Color Set

    Watercolor Gouache

    Arteza Gouache Paint, 24 Colors, 12ml, 0.4 US fl oz Tubes, Water-Based Paint for Canvas and Paper, Art Supplies for Professionals, Students, and Kids


    Buy Now on Amazon

Best Acrylic Gouache Paints

  1. Holbein Acryla Gouache 12 Color Lesson Set
  2. Holbein Acryla Gouache 12 Color Lesson Set

    Acrylic Gouache

    Splendid paints with superior colors, finish and usability, and a real delight to use!

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Turner Gouache Acrylic 24 Color Paint Set
  4. Turner Gouache Acrylic 24 Color Paint Set

    Acrylic Gouache

    Surprisingly consistent and high quality colors, wet and dry, and quite long lasting and durable - best value!

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Turner Gouache Acrylic 12 Color School Set
  6. Turner Gouache Acrylic 12 Color School Set

    Acrylic Gouache

    Best acrylic gouache paints for students, beginners or artists on a budget looking for an amazing value

    

    Buy Now on Amazon

Best Watercolor Gouache Paints

Best Watercolor Gouache Paint Overall

My Pick
Turner Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint

Watercolor Gouache

Turner Watercolor Paint Set - Design Gouache Premier Opaque Watercolor Paint - 25 ml Tubes - Set of 18 Assorted Colors


Many artists will say that Turner gouache watercolors are the best available, and this has always been my experience too. The finest high quality pigments (natural or synthetic pigments) available gives these gouache paints really rich, brilliant colors, which mix well, dry beautifully and are consistent and solid through all kinds of wet and dry watercolor techniques.

One thing that has to be mentioned about these Turner gouache paints is the finish. I mean it is really lovely – incredibly smooth, solid and consistent, with a subtlety and an inner light that other gouache paints just don’t get. And, for watercolor paints, they offer a control and precision which is astonishing, and at the same time the wonderful watery flow which is so distinctive and such a joy.

These are expensive paints, to be sure, and may not be the best choice for crafts or large surface painting, but for fine art, and as a perfect complement to the equally fine normal Turner Professional Artists Watercolors, these are the best gouache on the market today.

My Favorite Watercolor Gouache Paint

My Pick
Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache Primary Color

Watercolor Gouache

Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache Primary Color 6-Tube Paint Set, 14ml


I just said that Turner watercolor gouache is the best available, so I’m not sure how to explain this, but in fact I actually like Winsor and Newton Designers’ better!

Maybe it is my general preference for Winsor and Newton as a company – every one of their products I’ve tried has been really excellent – but no, I also have a similar general preference for Turner, and have pretty much loved all of their products too…

But there is something about the consistency of these Winsor and Newton Designers’ gouache watercolors which is such a pleasure to work with – a little more substantial than other gouache or normal watercolors and wonderfully workable. The colors are perfect, and combine perfectly, and they look great when I’m working and when they are dry. The rich matte finish, too – solid and substantial, but with that unmistakable watercolor quality that is especially beautiful in all the colors – is ideal.

I don’t really think these are better or worse than Turner, but Winsor and Newton Designers’ gouache watercolor paints are my favorite, and receive my most enthusiastic recommendation. Either way, though, you can’t really go wrong, and both could easily be considered the best premium gouache watercolor paint on the market today.

And since we are mentioning combining gouache with normal watercolor, Winsor and Newton gouache combines beautifully with another of my absolute faves – the Winsor & Newton Artist Watercolor 24 Color Set.

Best Watercolor Student Grade Gouache Paint

Affordable Pick
Marie's Extra Fine Gouache Opaque Watercolor Paint Set of 18

Watercolor Gouache

Marie's Extra Fine Gouache Opaque Watercolor Paint Set 12 ml Tubes - Assorted Colors - Set of 18


Affordable Pick
Arteza Gouache Watercolor Paint 24 Color Set

Watercolor Gouache

Arteza Gouache Paint, 24 Colors, 12ml, 0.4 US fl oz Tubes, Water-Based Paint for Canvas and Paper, Art Supplies for Professionals, Students, and Kids


I’m cheating here by offering two choices, but it’s really just because I can’t decide which of these two excellent but inexpensive sets of watercolor gouache I like best, or which would be best for students or people just starting out with this medium.

I mean, the Marie’s Extra Fine have an absolutely beautiful workability – nice, rich consistency, they blend well and respond well to a wide range of watercolor techniques. They have lovely colors and a consistently excellent opaque matte finish when dry.

Arteza gouache watercolors have really vivid colors, and their color blending is superb – especially for the money. They also work well with any technique, have surprisingly good consistency and workability overall, and have a great finish, if not quite as premium as the Marie’s.

I would give Marie’s Extra Fine gouache watercolors the slight edge for workability, and for learning watercolor techniques, while I would say that I slightly prefer the colors more with the Arteza gouache watercolor set. If you’re like me you’ll get both, since they are quite inexpensive and quite good, but if you want a single set of the best watercolor gouache for students or beginners either one would be perfect.

Best Acrylic Gouache Paints

The Best Acrylic Gouache Paint Overall

My Pick
Holbein Acryla Gouache 12 Color Lesson Set

Acrylic Gouache

Splendid paints with superior colors, finish and usability, and a real delight to use!



Holbein Artists gouache is the best paint of its type I have ever tried. With a really premium feeling when I’m painting, these Acryla paints go on with incredible control and workability, and at the same time that perfect level of flow to keep me in the zone – like many truly professional quality paints, this allows for a perfect balance between cognitive and creative, and allows me to really realize what my artistic vision sees, with minimum disruptive effort and maximum success.

It should also be said that the colors are amazing, with that intensity and pop that the best acrylics offer, perfect consistency from lot to lot and painting to painting, consistent quality as well from color to color, and just as beautiful when dry. I just said that this is what you can expect from professional paints, but I should really say that we particularly expect this, and always get it, from Holbein premium paints, and their acrylic gouache is a perfect example.

I guess these Japanese made paints are a bit expensive, at least for acrylics, but I never thought of it that way – to me, for the quality, the process and the results, they are actually a bargain. However you figure it, though, Holbein Acryla are the best acrylic gouache paints on the market today.

My Favorite Acrylic Gouache Paint

My Pick
Turner Gouache Acrylic 24 Color Paint Set

Acrylic Gouache

Surprisingly consistent and high quality colors, wet and dry, and quite long lasting and durable - best value!



So, if Holbein Acryla are such hot stuff, why are Turner acrylic gouache paints my personal favorite? Value!

Considering they really are the best, and offer such perfectly beautiful, effective and consistent professional quality, Holbein acrylic gouache paints are also a great value. But these marvelous Turner acrylic gouache are about half the price, and about 99 percent as good.

Rich, buttery texture, fantastic workability, beautiful color, a lovely and consistent finish when dry, and really amazing consistency in every way make these Turner acrylic gouache paints incredibly rewarding to work with. In fact, while with some acrylic paints I have used the finished, fully dried painting is a bit of a disappointment, with color shifts and inconsistent finish, this never happens with Turner gouache acrylics.

In fact, if Holbein Acryla are slightly better, I am certain that I would not be missing anything at all using these Turner paints instead, and at a much lower price I feel more relaxed and free to experiment and explore. That, along with tons of other reasons, make the Turner acrylic gouache paints my favorite acrylic gouache paints to have and to use.

The Best Acrylic Student Grade Gouache Paint

Turner Gouache Acrylic 12 Color School Set

Acrylic Gouache

Best acrylic gouache paints for students, beginners or artists on a budget looking for an amazing value



Yep, we’re going right back to Turner for our best acrylic gouache paints for students, beginners or artists on a budget looking for an amazing value. In fact, not just Turner, but in fact the exact same Turner acrylic gouache paints.

But in this case, I’m recommending a smaller set, with tubes a little more than half the size, and 12 colors instead of 24. This makes the turner School Set a much more affordable option, but with absolutely the same premium quality and consistency as the larger set recommended above.

In fact, when selecting the best acrylic gouaches for students or beginners, or any learning set, I am strongly in favor of the idea of getting the best quality paints you can afford, so that you can learn better with more consistent results, and maybe more importantly you can enjoy more successful and beautiful finished artworks as well, keeping you less frustrated and more encouraged as you learn. 

This Turner 12 color set will do just that, and has a really ideal selection of colors for learning basic color choice and usage, mixability and color theory. Indeed, I often recommend that my own students keep away from beginner sets which overwhelm with too many color choices and take us away from the practice of exploring color combinations.

But although I think this is a perfect and perfectly affordable starter set, it is hard to think of it as a beginner set, since the paints are truly superb and of professional quality in every way. This too is really ideal for a student, as Turner acrylic gouache paints will grow with you as you learn and improve, and will never hold you back. The 12 tube Student set is my clear choice as best acrylic gouache paint set for students and beginners, and best value overall.

Bonus: Best Brushes for Gouache Paints

As I’ve said earlier, when selecting the best paint brushes for gouache paints you really just want to get and use the best paint brushes for that more general medium. 

So, the best brushes for watercolor gouache are in fact the best brushes for watercolor paints overall.

And, you guessed it, the best brushes for acrylic gouache are the same as the best brushes for any acrylic paints.

There are some specific qualities which a good acrylic brush should possess, that may not apply so much to a watercolor brush, and vice versa. And I have to say I’m a little sceptical of all-purpose type brush sets, and would definitely get different brushes for watercolors or watercolor gouache thand I would for acrylic or acrylic gouache paints.

At the same time there are some basic things that any good brush should have, regardless of the type of paint you are using, like:

  • Feels great in the hand – a more premium-feeling (though not necessarily more expensive) brush will let you work easier and better, with less struggle and more flow
  • Holds paint and/or water well – sometimes you need lots of paint, sometimes a tiny bit, sometimes thin, sometimes thick, et cetera, and the brush should always perform well regardless
  • Control and flow – it all comes back to that balance between thinking and feeling, the art and the craft, the technical process and the spontaneous creation, and a brush that is predictable and controllable facilitates that balance on a much higher level
  • Quality and durability – because while some modern and avant garde techniques may call for paint bristles mixed into the paint and all over the canvas, none of my techniques do – unless I’m painting sables or squirrels, I guess…

I should mention that you can find a lot more specific information on all of this in my two recent in-depth buyer’s guides – Best Watercolor Brushes in 2021 and Best Acrylic Paint Brushes for Artists in 2021 – but for now I’m going to just list a couple of my favorite brushes for each category, including a really premium and professional artist choice and a really affordable one.

Best Paint Brushes for Watercolor Gouache in 2021

My Pick
Winsor and Newton Series 7 Four Brush Watercolor Set

My Personal Choice for Best Watercolor Brush Set

100% Kolinsky Sable Hair Brushes for Watercolor Gouache Ink and More - Professional 4 pc Round Watercolor Brush Set Sizes 0 - 1 - 2 - 3


Winsor and Newton Series 7 Four Brush Watercolor Set – these are my favorite watercolor brushes and the ones I use most, and equally good for watercolor gouache. Precision and control, flow and great water handling, and premium in every way.

Princeton Aqua Elite Synthetic Kolinsky Watercolor Four Brush Set

Best Value Watercolor Brush Set Overall

Synthetic Kolinsky Watercolor Paint Brush, Travel Set of 4


Princeton Aqua Elite Synthetic Kolinsky Watercolor 4 Brush Set – the best value I’ve found on an essentially professional quality brush set. Perfect for all watercolor painting, including gouache, these are wonderful synthetic brushes to work with.

Dugato Squirrel Hair Watercolor Paint Brushes 4 Brush Set

Professional Watercolor Paint Brushes, Round Squirrel Hair Paint Brush Set for Art Painting, Gouache, Fine Detailing, Acrylic, Gouache, Oil (4 Brushes)


Dugato Squirrel Hair Watercolor Paint Brushes 4 Brush Set – there are cheaper brush sets available, but none I would recommend or use. The Dugato natural fiber brushes, though, are cheap and excellent quality – great flow and control, and great durability too.

Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Gouache in 2021

Escoda Clasico Series Chungking Hog Bristle 6 Brush Set Flats & Rounds

Chungking Hog Bristle Flats & Rounds, Size (Flat) 2, 8, 14 (Round) 2, 6, 12


Escoda Clasico Series Chungking Hog Bristle 6 Brush Set Flats & Rounds – superb brushes in every way, and one of my own personal most beloved art tools, the Escoda Clasico are the perfect choice for the serious fine or commercial artist, whether working in normal acrylics, acrylic gouache or even oil paints.

Escoda 1526 Ultimo Series Artist Watercolor Travel 6 Brush Set, Synthetic Squirrel – another best-of-the-best brush set from Escoda, this one in synthetic fiber. Absolutely intuitive brushes that disappear when you are using them.

Winsor & Newton Winton Paint Brush Sets

Winton Long Handle Brush (5 Pack) (Round 6, Filbert 6, Flat 6, Bright 8, Fan 3)


Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint Brush Sets – a great value in affordable premium quality paint brushes for acrylic gouache or normal acrylics, the Winsor and Newton are perhaps not on the exalted level of Escoda, but would serve any artist on any level just beautifully.

Mont Marte Premium Paint Brush Set 15 Piece

Includes 15 Different Brushes in a Roll Case with Magnetic Closure, Suitable for Watercolour, Acrylic and Oil Painting


Mont Marte Premium Paint Brush Set 15 Piece – a big set of totally usable and surprisingly durable brushes for a very low price. It’s amazing how great these cheap brushes feel in your hand!

Thanks so much for reading this latest article – The Wonderful World of Gouache – a Tutorial and Buyer’s Guide to the Best Gouache Paints – and please visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for tons of other inspiring ideas, art supplies resources, articles, buyer’s guides and a lot more!

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