Do you want to try gouache but are wondering if you need special paper to get great results? Most mediums have their own special requirements when it comes to paper, but gouache is about as easy going as it gets.
Because gouache doesn’t require a lot of water, even thinner paper can work for simple line-work or smaller doodles, making gouache a great choice for your planner or basic sketchbook. Larger washes on thin paper will cause it to crinkle, but can be an economical choice for testing colors or small ideas.
Most papers designed for watercolors will work great for gouache, holding up to even larger wet layers. But some heavier colored card-stock can work well too, adding the interest of a colored background.
Whether you prefer smooth or textured paper is a personal choice, as gouache looks great on both. Some uneven papers can be a great help in adding texture to layered gouache work.
Fine quality cotton papers are not necessary for gouache. Unlike watercolors, gouache sits on top of the paper and doesn’t require such an absorbent surface. In fact, you may find it difficult to work on 100% cotton because it is so thirsty, and dries your paint out too quickly.
The Perfect Paper for the Beginner
So we can use gouache with all different kinds of paper, depending on what we want to do, but what is a good all-round paper to use as a beginner?
I would recommend a watercolor journal for your first steps with gouache. They are available from many brands and in a variety of sizes.
- A journal will keep all of your work together and stop you from trashing stuff you don’t like- I wish I had kept all my art, even the bad!
- The paper in watercolor journals often has a smoother side and a textured side, giving you a good chance to explore which you prefer.
- And it will keep all of your art together! I cannot tell you how much I hate rifling through drawers full of loose papers!
What I Use
I Use the Field Artist watercolor journals and the Arteza linen-covered watercolor book. If I want larger sheets of paper I use the Canson XL watercolor paper, and if I want to use toned paper, I like the Strathmore mixed media toned pads.
These are not sponsored, they’re just the products I turn to time and again. I get my watercolor books from Amazon and the larger pads from Walmart. The Strathmore toned papers I buy from Blick.
There are plenty of other watercolor papers that will work great for gouache, so don’t feel like you need a specific paper to get started- whatever you have laying around will work, even just thick sketchbook paper!