What is Gouache?

Gouache is a type of paint known for its opaqueness and matte finish.


Gouache, pronounced "gwash," is a water-based paint that is similar to watercolor but with a key difference: it contains a higher concentration of pigment along with an added ingredient, usually chalk, which gives it its characteristic opaque and matt finish. Unlike watercolors that are translucent and allow the white of the paper to shine through, gouache paints are designed to cover surfaces fully, allowing artists to work in layers, from dark to light. This unique feature makes gouache a favorite among illustrators and designers for its bold, vibrant colors and its ability to create crisp, clean lines.

In the context of interior design, gouache is often used for creating detailed renderings and presentations. Its opacity and ability to layer without bleeding make it an ideal medium for designers to depict their visions with clarity and precision. Plus, the matte finish of gouache works beautifully in showcasing the texture and depth of fabrics, furnishings, and other decorative techniques.

In addition to its use in traditional painting and interior design illustrations, gouache is also celebrated for its versatility. It can be reactivated with water even after drying, which allows for easy corrections and adjustments. Moreover, gouache paintings do not reflect light, making them excellent choices for works that will be photographed or used in luminescent environments.


Interior designers use gouache primarily for creating vivid, detailed illustrations of their design concepts. These illustrations help clients visualize the proposed spaces and elements more concretely. Additionally, owing to its smooth coverage, gouache is also used in creating artwork that complements interior design themes, providing an artistic touch to spaces without the glare often associated with glossy finishes.


  • Is gouache water-resistant?

    No, gouache is not water-resistant. It's a water-based paint that can be reactivated with water even after it has dried, which is a feature that makes it versatile for adjustments but also means it’s susceptible to water damage.

  • Can gouache be used on different surfaces?

    Yes, gouache can be applied to a wide range of surfaces including paper, cardboard, and even fabric. However, for the best results, surfaces that are smooth and less absorbent are preferred.

  • How does gouache compare to acrylic paint?

    Gouache and acrylic paints differ primarily in their composition and finish. While gouache is water-based and has a matte finish, acrylic paint is made from a plastic polymer and dries to a glossy finish. Gouache can be reactivated with water, whereas acrylic paint is permanent once dry.

Practical Application

For interior designers and artists working with gouache, it's important to use a good quality, thick paper that can handle the water and paint without warping. Experimenting with layering techniques can also enhance the opacity and vibrancy of the colors. Additionally, sealing gouache artwork with a fixative spray can protect it from water damage and fading, making it more durable for display or archiving.