Get Started with Gouache

A Colorful Guide to Painting the World Around You

About the Book

A modern, easy-to-use, and authoritative guide to painting with gouache, including the basics on this exciting and centuries-old medium, techniques for all skill levels, and practice projects from an experienced author and illustrator.

This charming and contemporary step-by-step guide to gouache (pronounced "gwash") is perfect for creative people who have dreamed of painting inspiring subjects from everyday life. Gouache is a water-based paint similar to watercolor that has the opacity and layerability of acrylic paints. It creates wonderful washes, allows for layering and texture, and dries quickly with a unique matte finish.

Illustrator Emma Block presents everything you need to know about this whimsical and fun medium, including expert guidance on tools and materials and techniques that will make it easy to use. Thirty lessons cover subjects from simple, such as your morning coffee cup and bright lemons, to advanced, such as fluffy animals and portraits of your friends and family. All of this is accompanied by her workshop-honed instructions and step-by-step illustrations, which will help you build the skills and confidence to finish beautiful pieces of your own.
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Get Started with Gouache


Gouache is a fantastic medium that has been under the radar for too long. What is it? How do you use it? How do you pronounce it? 

First, it’s pronounced either “gwash” or “goo-ash,” depending on whom you ask, and it is the love child of watercolor and acrylic paint. Gouache has the rewettable, water-soluble nature of water-colors, with the opaque layering capabilities of acrylic. However, unlike acrylic, gouache dries to a flat matte finish rather than a shiny, plasticlike one. There is something irresistible about the rich colors, velvety matte finish, and beautiful textures produced with gouache. It can be used to create paintings with fine, intricate details, as well as work with bolder, expressive brushstrokes. It also lends itself to a mixed-media approach because it combines well with colored pencils, watercolors, collage, and India ink.

While painting with gouache might seem daunting at the beginning, there are actually many reasons why this is a great paint for amateurs and professionals alike. Gouache dries very quickly, which means you can complete a painting in one sitting, so you don’t have wet paintings sitting around drying. Its water-soluble nature makes it easy to clean and look after brushes and palettes. While the paints are opaque (meaning they are not transparent), they can be used like watercolors (which have more clarity) if sufficient water is added to them, making a great all-around paint.

In this book we will uncover the many ways you can use gouache. It’s such a versatile paint, and it can be used to create everything from dry, rough texture to subtle and watery washes. By exploring how to use this paint with a variety of techniques, you will build up your skills and confidence. By the end of the book, you may have started to develop your own gouache painting style.

I think the best way to learn is by doing, so with each project you complete you will be learning new skills. There is a mixture of beginner and intermediate projects, meaning this book is appropriate for total beginners, but there are still plenty of projects to engage more experienced artists and to keep you busy as your skills progress. The most important thing is to just have a go and not worry too much about the final result looking perfect. Every time you paint, you learn something, so enjoy the process and keep experimenting.

About the Author

Emma Block
EMMA BLOCK is a multidisciplinary illustrator working across publishing, editorial illustration, licensing, packaging and branding. She wrote and illustrated the book Tea and Cake as well as two guides to painting, The Joy of Watercolor and Get Started with Gouache. She has illustrated many books, including Eat. Play. Love: Life Lessons From My Dog. Emma has worked with clients including HarperCollins, Hachette, Bloomsbury, Pinterest, Etsy, Harrods, Reuters, UNIQLO, Orla Kiely, Anthropologie, Polaroid, Airbnb and Trader Joe's, among others. More by Emma Block
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