How to Mix Colors and Achieve the Perfect Hue With Gouache

6 minute read

Gouache paint is a highly versatile medium that offers a wide range of possibilities for layering, blending, and color-mixing to achieve the perfect hue for your projects. With its beautifully opaque properties, gouache is a popular choice among artists of all levels. However, mastering the art of color mixing with gouache can be a little challenging, especially for beginners.

Learn how to paint with gouache using this friendly gouache starter color set!

Artists' Gouache Set - Strolling Through New York

But fear not! In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about color mixing with gouache. From understanding the fundamentals of color theory to knowing what mixing palette is best for gouache, you'll learn everything you need to blend gouache like a pro. With the tips, tricks, and techniques we'll discuss, you'll be able to achieve the perfect shades and create vibrant and harmonious looks for any of your creative projects. So let's get started!

Using the Color Theory to Master Mixing Gouache Colors

Whether you paint with gouache, watercolors, or acrylics, color theory is one of the fundamental knowledge you need to achieve perfect blending and mixing. It's one of the first things every artist and crafter should know, and not only will it help you in painting, but it will also guide you to making more stunning color-cohesive projects!

If you want to make the most out of gouache color painting, then you need to understand the following key concepts of color theory:

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Watercolor Paper Pad (9"x 12")

The Three Levels of Colors

  1. Primary Colors: We have three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. These colors cannot be created by mixing other colors together. In the world of colors, you can consider them "originals."
  2. Secondary Colors: When you combine two primary colors, you get a secondary color. The three secondary colors are green (made by mixing blue and yellow), purple (made by mixing blue and red), and orange (made by mixing red and yellow).
  3. Tertiary Colors: For the third level of colors, tertiary colors are a hybrid of one primary color with one secondary color. For example, mixing blue and green creates a blue-green color.

The Different Kinds of Color Effects

A color wheel showing the complementary, analogous, and monochromatic colors

Using your knowledge of the different levels of colors and their position on the color wheel, you can play around with these design effects:

  1. Complementary Colors: Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. When placed next to each other, they create a strong visual contrast. The most common complementary color pairs are red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple.
  2. Warm and Cool Colors: Colors can be categorized as warm or cool. Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow, which can evoke feelings of energy and excitement. Cool colors include blue, green, and purple, which evoke calm and serenity.
  3. Color Harmonies: Using color harmonies can help you create a balanced and pleasing color palette. This can mean using colors that are in the same color family, such as creating gradients or ombres. The most common color harmonies include monochromatic (using different shades and tints of a single color), analogous (using colors next to each other on the color wheel), and triadic (using three colors spaced evenly apart on the color wheel).

Blend gouache paints like a pro using this fine set of watercolor brushes!

 Fine Watercolor Brushes

By understanding these basic concepts of color theory, you can mix gouache colors that work well together and achieve the desired mood and atmosphere in your artwork.

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The Best Materials to Use for Mixing Gouache Paint

To mix colors with gouache effectively, you'll need a few essential tools and materials. Here are the most important ones to have on hand:

  • Gouache Paint - Of course, you'll need gouache paint to mix colors! Gouache is available in tubes or pans and comes in various colors. If you're just starting out, consider buying a set of gouache starter colors and adding more as needed. A good gouache starter set is one with primary colors.
  • Mixing Palette - A good mixing palette is essential for blending gouache colors. You can use a traditional artist's palette made of plastic, metal, or porcelain or even a simple plastic plate or palette paper. Look for a palette with plenty of space to mix colors, and that is easy to clean.
  • Brushes - Different kinds of brushes will help you mix and apply gouache colors. Round brushes are great for creating precise lines and details, while flat brushes are ideal for larger areas and washes.
  • Water - You'll need water to dilute your gouache paint and create different levels of opacity. Keep a container of water nearby, and be sure to clean your brushes regularly. 
  • Paper - Choose high-quality paper that can handle gouache paint without bleeding or warping. Watercolor paper or cardstock paper weighing 140 lb. or higher is a good choice.
  • Other Tools - Additional tools like masking tape, pencils, erasers, rulers, and tracing paper can also come in handy when mixing colors with gouache. These tools can help you create precise outlines and shapes and experiment with different techniques. 

Learn Everything You Need to Know About Gouache Here! 

Learn how to paint with gouache with this free painting class!

Crafting 101: Getting Started with Gouache

Top Tips and Tricks for Mixing Gouache Paint Like a Pro

Mixing gouache paint can be challenging, but with a few tips and tricks, you can achieve beautiful and harmonious colors in your artwork!

Use Less Water - Gouache Is Different From Watercolors!

Use water sparingly when mixing gouache, as too much water can dilute the paint and affect its opacity and vibrancy. Watercolor is different from gouache - if you're used to working with watercolors, you might be tempted to use a lot of water when mixing gouache paint. However, unlike watercolors, gouache is an opaque medium that can achieve full coverage with less water. So when you mix your gouache paints, try using less water to prevent it from becoming too watery or transparent.

Mix Colors in Different Stages - From Light to Dark

Mixing colors in different stages, from light to dark, is an essential technique in mixing gouache paint. This method allows you to create a variety of shades and hues that can add depth and dimension to your artwork.

To mix colors from light to dark, start with the lightest color and gradually add darker colors until you reach your desired shade. For example, to create a light pink color, mix white paint with a small amount of red paint. If you want a darker shade of pink, gradually add more red paint to the mix.

Make your own gouache mixing color chart with versatile round watercolor brushes!

Artists' Watercolor Brushes - Round

It's important to note that the amount of gouache paint you use can affect the final shade of your color. Using too much of a darker color can overpower the lighter color, resulting in a darker shade than intended. As such, it's best to add small amounts of color at a time until you reach your desired hue!

Invest in a Lot of White Gouache Paint - You’ll Need It! 

Trust us when we say to invest in a lot of white gouache paint! White gouache paint is a versatile and valuable tool for color mixing and blending, and it can help you achieve a wide range of effects in your artwork.

One of the primary benefits of white gouache paint is that it can be used to lighten other colors. When mixed with other paints, white gouache can create a range of tints, allowing you to achieve subtle variations in color that can be difficult to achieve with pure pigments alone. You can easily create gradients or blend colors!

Plus, you can also use them to create opaque highlights and details on top of other colors. This can be especially useful for adding textures and depth to your artwork.

Make gorgeous gouache palettes on high-quality, sturdy watercolor paper!

Watercolor Paper Set (A2 loose sheets)

Remember to Always Use a Clean Palette

The best kind of palette for gouache color mixing is a clean one. Like watercolors, gouache paint can easily be reactivated with water. If your palette still has some leftover paint from your last painting session, it might interfere with your new colors and end up messing up your desired palette. 

Take This Free Gouache Class for More Blending Tips! 

Mix and Blend Gouache Colors Like a Pro With This Guide!

Ultimately, mastering the art of gouache color mixing and blending takes practice and experimentation. Don't be afraid to experiment with different color combinations and techniques until you find what works best for you. With time and patience, you can create beautiful, unique artwork showcasing your talent and creativity.

So, whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting, we hope this guide has given you the inspiration and knowledge you need to mix and blend gouache colors like a pro!

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