The Best Paper for Gouache

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What is the best paper for gouache? If you’re new to painting with gouache, you might be confused about which paper to use with it. Learn about my favorite paper types for gouache.

Get more gouache painting tutorials here.

pads of paper and tubes of gouache

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The Best Paper for Gouache

The best paper for gouache needs to be thick enough to handle the paint.

Whatever you choose, choose paper that is made for art. I highly recommend avoiding craft-type paper, like cardstock. It will buckle, and the colors will appear dull when they dry.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing paper for gouache.

How much water do you use with gouache?

If you use a lot of water with gouache, you will need thicker paper. In this case, I recommend using watercolor paper. This will keep the paper from buckling.

If you use very little water, you can get away with using mixed media paper or even bristol board.

Do you like textured paper?

paper textures

Another personal preference is the paper texture. Most watercolor paper has a light texture (cold press).

If you prefer smoother paper, you can use hot-press watercolor paper, mixed media paper, or bristol board.

Do you prefer a sketchbook or loose paper?

I love painting in a sketchbook because it keeps everything contained in one place. However, if you display or sell your work, you will want loose paper instead.

My Favorite Paper Types for Gouache

pads of art paper

These are my favorite papers to use with gouache.

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is my favorite paper for gouache. It’s thick enough to withstand the paint and any amount of water that I want to use.

swatches of paint on watercolor paper
The texture is subtle but just enough to add interest.

I also love the cold press texture.

If you’re a beginner, it’s okay to use a cheaper watercolor paper like this one. It’s not so precious that you’ll feel bad if you make mistakes or ugly art (it happens.)

Learn more about watercolor paper here.

Watercolor Sketchbooks

pink tube of gouache on stack of sketchbooks

Gouache works great in a sketchbook. Since I paint mainly with watercolor paint, I prefer watercolor sketchbooks.

There are tons of sizes and shapes. Here are my favorite watercolor sketchbooks.

Mixed Media Paper

Mixed media paper works great with gouache. It has a smooth texture that can also be used with colored pencils or for drawing.

Mixed media paper is much thinner than watercolor paper or bristol board, so it’s unsuitable for use with a ton of water.

The paper started to break down when I added a 2nd layer, so keep that in mind. If you like layering, stick to watercolor paper.

swatch of teal gouache on mixed media paper

This paper is my current favorite.

Bristol Board

Bristol board also has a smooth texture, but it’s way thicker. I still wouldn’t use it with a ton of water, though.

teal swatch of gouache on bristol board

Acrylic Paper

Acrylic paper has a texture that is similar to canvas without the expense of canvas. As the name implies, it can also be used with acrylic paint.

It can take a lot more water and paint, but it has an obvious texture that might affect your artwork.

teal gouache swatch on acrylic paper

I really love this brand.

What Can You Use Gouache On?

Typically, gouache is used on thick paper.

However, gouache can also be used on a variety of surfaces, including hardboard panels, wood panels, canvas, and canvas boards.

Keep in mind that some surfaces are easier and more pleasant to work on than others.

For instance, a hardboard panel isn’t enjoyable to paint on since it’s so slick. Wood panels need multiple coats because the paint will soak in more.

Canvas has a texture that might make painting less than pleasant.

Can You Use Gouache on Canvas?

Yes, you can use gouache on canvas.

For the best results, I would prime the surface first (even if it’s pre-primed.) This should help tone down the canvas texture a bit.

If this is your first time painting on canvas with gouache, choose a small canvas or even a canvas board!

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