Can You Mix Acrylic Paint with Gouache? Here’s the Answer

For artists that love to experiment with colors, the choices are endless. Gouache and acrylic paint could be your top choice if you love to work with water-based colors. The fact that these two paint variants are so similar could lead to a lot of confusion among beginner artists that have just started.

Even though these two paint variants are water-based and can dry out fairly quickly, they do have certain differences to help you filter out one from another. You can mix acrylic paint with tempera or even gouache paint despite these differences.

However, you need to learn the correct way to do it. So, how would you mix acrylic paint with gouache? Let us learn more about this paint mixing technique. But before that, you have to know about the basics!

Important

If you wonder which the best way to mix acrylics with gouache is, you can do the same over a canvas or even on the fabric of your choice. The best way to get this done is to opt for a hybrid solution that requires mixing two paints. This mixture of paints is termed Acrylic or Acrylic Gouache. A matte-like finish characterizes it.

Moreover, the application process is very smooth, thus, giving you nothing but the best features of these two paints. Artists commonly use acrylic Gouache mixture to obtain a unique look for their paintings. So, let us learn about the features of each, along with similarities that aid the mixing process.

Features of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a water-based mixture that comprises components that include plastic-based acrylic resin, acrylic polymer emulsion, and pigment. Post-application of the paint, water starts to evaporate from the painting, and the resin particles start to fuse. It helps form a strong bond creating durable paint.

Here are some well-known features of acrylic paint:

  • Water-insoluble, permanent, and flexible post-drying
  • Surfaces that are built up with acrylic don’t necessarily chip or crack
  • Water-soluble when wet
  • Less flexible when the weather is cold
  • Softer when the weather is warm
  • Colors air-dry via evaporation
  • Dried out acrylic painting is easy to clean with a gentle soapy solution
  • No fumes, little odor, and non-flammable
  • Must not be mixed with oils or turpentine
  • Should only be mixed with other mediums or emulsion paints
  • Uses non-toxic mediums and thinners for change in the consistency

Features of Traditional Gouache Paint

Also known as opaque watercolor, gouache is painted with a water base. They come in a range of colors, usually mixed with water to achieve the desired consistency. It also helps determine the opacity post drying.

Gouache is by default opaque and is used mostly by professional commercial artists to create amazing illustrations, posters, comics, and similar design work. This paint is almost the same as watercolor, given that it dries out to provide your painting with a beautiful matte finish and can easily be re-wetted to correct any errors. Just like acrylic paint, gouache is used for opaque painting while forming a colorful superficial layer.

Keep in mind that gouache is more opaque and heavier than watercolor. Moreover, it also packs in reflective qualities that are better than watercolor.

Similarities Between Gouache and Acrylic

Acrylic and gouache paints feature similar parallels with minute differences that make them different. Even though gouache has existed for 700+ years, it isn’t as popular. Its use case has only been experimented with by commercial painters for a long time.

It comprises three prime ingredients that include binder, pigment, and additives. Gouache can be compared with watercolor and acrylic paint. However, it does have its very own entity. Gouache is opaque but tends to become translucent once you add water to it.

Key Differences Between Gouache vs Acrylic

Even though the work-ability of gouache and acrylics is similar, they still aren’t the same when painting a masterpiece. They tend to behave differently when applied on different types of surfaces.

When hand painting, you have to decode the surface it would work best on. To do this, you need to understand the properties of the paint. Let us check out the properties that differentiate acrylic and gouache.

Durability

The prime difference between most paints is their durability. Between the two, acrylic paint tends to be durable as compared to gouache. Acrylics tend to be water-resistant, and they don’t absorb dust & react well to light. It means they don’t fade as easily.

Talking about the paint’s waterproof features, acrylic is completely waterproof. After they dry, they won’t get damaged even if they get in touch with water. However, a certain extent of damage can be expected in heavy rain or snow. So, acrylic in the outdoor scenario should be paired with varnish to prevent damage.

Comparatively, gouache isn’t as durable. It cannot resist light and dust damage. It might start damaging even when exposed to slight water. Given that gouache can easily be reactivated using water, it can be a big advantage for some artists if there is an error. If you plan to use gouache, ensure that you put it inside a frame or glass to protect from water or dust.

Surfaces to be used in

If you plan to create a painting, make sure you pick a surface according to the paint being used. Not all paint variants will work on all types of surfaces. When working with gouache, the paper could be the best surface you can work on.

However, you have more choices to experiment with acrylics in terms of the work surface. Acrylics work best with glass, paper, wood, and plastic. Depending on your project’s requirements, you can select an ideal surface. Additionally, acrylics also work well for decorating and painting different decor objects.

Application

Given that gouache provides an opaque and matte finish, make sure you refrain from adding much water to create translucency. This trick might work well when using watercolors. However, it won’t bode well with the gouache application.

Next, make sure you keep in mind the quantity of paint being used during the application process. In case the texture is thick, it might cause cracking issues.

Comparatively, acrylics work best when applied thick. Simply put, you can use acrylics with a thick texture, and they would blend well into the surface used.

After drying, acrylic paint features a gloss-like effect, and you can even add several layers on top. The painting will still have a shiny finish with no cracking issues, even with several layers.

Binders

Gouache and acrylic paint are both water-based. It means that water and soap solutions can be best for keeping them clean. However, there is a difference between its binders. But, what is a binder? Binders are essential materials that are responsible for keeping the pigments held together. It enables them to adhere to surfaces such as canvas or paper.

Gouache makes use of gum Arabic for binder purposes. It is the very same binder you can find in watercolors. It helps gouache and watercolor to easily dissolvable in water. In comparison, acrylic uses polymer binder, which is a form of plastic.

This polymer allows you to dissolve the color in the water, but this is only when acrylic color is wet. While a small amount of water would not harm, heavy water usage might damage the painting. Post-drying, it would make the paint almost waterproof but not water-resistant though.

Painting Tools

In terms of painting tools, acrylics can be painted with a paintbrush and a thin palette knife. However, given its thinner consistency, gouache can only be used with a paintbrush.

Drying Time

Given that gouache has a bit of watery consistency, you would notice that it dries late compared to acrylics. To delay the drying process for acrylics, you can add a bit of water and blend it together to slow things down.

So, Can You Mix Acrylic Paint with Gouache?

Yes, you can mix acrylic paint with gouache. The best thing about mixing the two is that they can be mixed together, given the water base. Plus, remember that acrylic is thicker, which can affect its blending feature as compared to gouache.

When you mix acrylic paint and gouache, you can help modify the features of acrylic paint. You can change the thicker consistency of acrylic paint and allow better mixing of colors in the palette and the canvas.

It allows painters to invest more time in the painting, which isn’t possible with acrylic colors given their fast-drying nature. Although the drying process won’t slow down a lot, it sure extends the timeline by a bit.

How to Mix Acrylic Paint with Gouache?

Both acrylic and gouache paint is water-based. So, they will mix well and with ease. If you have a paint palette or any paper plate, you can pour the color and mix them together.

When you add the color to the palette, make sure you leave a bit of room between acrylic and gouache colors while ensuring they have a proper gap between the two. Doing this allows you to mix the perfect amount of gouache and acrylic to obtain the final color. If you pour the color on top of each other, there is a chance you might mix an uneven amount of the two.

When mixing these two, it isn’t necessary to make use of water. The final result would be a smooth and creamy texture that doesn’t crack.

Drying Time of Acrylic Gouache

Acrylic gouache tends to have intense pigmentation. So, it might not need a lot to give you a finished and vibrant look. Make sure you use a small and limited amount of paint dabs at a time to prevent fast drying. Typically, acrylic gouache can dry up within 20 to 30 minutes regardless of the surface it is used on.

What Surfaces are Best for Acrylic Gouache?

It is common for artists to use acrylic gouache mixture with a versatile pouring medium. It helps create beautiful pour art paintings or similar fluid pieces. Generally, watercolor paper, canvas, or acrylic papers work best for acrylic paintings.

However, you can add to the creativity by using items such as fabric, wood, or glass surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Q: How do you use gouache with acrylic paint?

The best way to use gouache with acrylic paint is to opt for a light-dark painting experience. Gouache and acrylics allow you to create dimensions. Acrylic is thick, allowing you to create the perfect texture for objects in the forefront. However, gouache is best for creating something in the backdrop.

Check out this video to learn more about this process and understand the differences.

Q: What paints can you mix with gouache?

You can mix acrylic with gouache paint, given its water base. Apart from this, you can also mix gouache with watercolor. Essentially, any paint with water as its base can be mixed with gouache. However, this might not be possible with oil-based paint.

Q: Why is my gouache paint cracking?

Cracking with gouache can be based on two things. The first is insufficient use of water when diluting the color. Moreover, a thick film applied to the surface might cause cracking as the paint starts to dry out post-application.

Q: Can you add acrylic medium to gouache?

Using acrylic mediums in gouache, especially if it is a gloss medium, would enhance the transparency. You can also add a water resistance feature by mixing in a small matte medium or gesso primer with gouache.

Q: Can you mix gouache and watercolor?

As explained in the article, gouache can easily be mixed with any paint that has a water base. Just like acrylic, watercolor can also be mixed with gouache. The pigmentation in watercolor can add tint to gouache without any texture change or reduction in opacity.

Final Word

Acrylic paint and gouache paint are fairly similar in texture and usability. It can easily be mixed to create a unique texture for your painting. You don’t have to worry about the process being too difficult. It is an easy process and won’t take much time. Simply pour and mix by following the process mentioned in the blog and have fun while you do it!

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Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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