View Full Version : Gouache - Suggestions for palette?

03-11-2007, 03:13 PM
hello everyone ~ I'm new here and have always been intrigued by gouache. I have often come across stunning pieces in museums that to my surprise, were done in gouache.

anyhow - based on the recommendations in other threads (very helpful!) I am going to be ordering paints from the graham line and was hoping to get suggestions for a basic palette.

Maybe 8 - 12 colors? I was about to just order the 12 pigments recommended on the handprint site - but thought I'd ask for input here first.

The palette they suggest is actually for watercolors so black and white is excluded, and not all of the names match the Graham names.

They list:

benzimida yellow
nickel dioxine yellow,
cadmium scarlet,
perylene maroon,
quinacridone magenta,
ultramarine blue,
phthlo blue,
cerulean blue,
phthalo green,
gold ochre or yellow ochre,
burnt sienna,
and neutral tint indigo or sepia

What do you guys think? Would this be a good start or is it too much? Also, what kinds of blacks and whites would you recommend?

Thanks in advance, any input would be appreciated!


03-11-2007, 03:50 PM
I personally do not like phthalo anything, but that is only one opinion. I do suggest that you try small tubes of any color to try them out before going into larger sizes. Also wonder about maroon. One color I use when I am going for basics (red, blue, yellow, one dark (as sepia or indigo))is a permanent rose. There is no way to get that chroma from anything else, and I like to do flowers a lot.

03-11-2007, 07:28 PM

Welcome to gouache! I have three brands of gouache, but no Graham, so I don't know about the brand color names. If you've read through the Handprint site, you're armed with a lot of good info. But whatever brand you choose, you should be able to get the pigment and permanence information. Try to stick with single pigments and lightfast colors. Watercolor pigments are a good place to start, but watercolor may not have the lighfastness issues that gouache can have, so double-check the labels.

As for colors, I like the one-warm-one-cool shade of each color. The variety you choose should depend on your intended subjects - I often do people and animals, so I have a lot of earth tones. For your starters, you could probably remove one red and one blue if you need to economize, but it's a pretty good set. I might add a burnt umber to give a nice rich brown. And once you buy your set, you'll probably find yourself gravitating towards only a subset of your original choices.

As Connie said, get small tubes, except for white. I'm not sure of the difference between whites, but I have W&N Permanent White and Zinc White, and have been told that the zinc white is good for mixing (doesn't make things look chalky) and the perm white is better for pure white (i.e. highlights). And I have a small tube of black but I never use it. I doubt you'll need one.

Hope this helps!

03-11-2007, 08:28 PM
Graham is a quality brand. You can get color swatches and descriptions at their site. I believe the gouache pigments are identical to their watercolors. The paints are 1-2 mixtures, and mostly lightfast, except for Alizarin.


That's a fairly good list; although, I don't see a black or white in there. The maroon and magenta are relatively close in hue, so I might substitute a raw sienna. The pthalo and ultramarine blues are also rather close.

Old Tex
03-11-2007, 08:54 PM
I'm so new to gouache that I'm no help. I'm still using up the cheap packaged set I bought a while back for mixed media work. But I am glad you asked the question. I'm already learning, like Meg said, that one tends to develop their own subset. And Connie's right: buy small tubes at first.