Supports that can be used to paint with gouache

Supports that can be used to paint with gouache

Gouache is a versatile and popular medium among artists due to its unique opacity and ability to create both vivid and subtle colours. However, to get the best out of this medium, it is crucial to use the right surface or support for painting.

Different supports that can be used to paint with gouache

Watercolour Paper

Watercolour paper is a popular support for gouache painting. It is available in various weights, textures, and finishes, allowing artists to choose the perfect paper for their work. The texture of the paper plays a significant role in the final result of the painting. A rough texture is ideal for creating a textured and grainy effect, while a smoother texture is better suited for detailed work. Watercolour paper is also absorbent, making it ideal for gouache, as it allows the paint to dry evenly and maintain its opacity. Personally, I prefer hot pressed watercolour paper because of its smoother surface allowing me to paint small details.

Illustration Board

Illustration boards are sturdy and provide a flat surface for gouache painting. They are available in different weights and textures, and some have a pre-coated surface that can be used for a variety of media, including gouache. This support is ideal for creating detailed illustrations, as it allows for precise brushwork and clean edges.

Bristol Board

Bristol board is a heavy-weight paper with a smooth surface, making it ideal for creating fine details and crisp lines. Bristol board is available in different finishes, and artists can choose between a vellum or a smooth surface. The vellum surface provides a slight tooth, which can create a textured effect, while the smooth surface is ideal for a more polished finish.


Canvas is a versatile support that can be used for a range of mediums, including gouache. However, it is important to prime the canvas with gesso before painting with gouache, as this will prevent the paint from soaking into the canvas and will help maintain its opacity. Canvas is available in different textures and finishes, and artists can choose between a stretched canvas or a canvas pad, depending on their preference. While canvas can be used for gouache painting, it is important to note that it is not a good support for this medium. Unlike watercolour paper and illustration board, canvas is not absorbent and may require multiple layers of paint to achieve the desired opacity. This can result in a muddy or diluted appearance, which can be difficult to correct. Additionally, the texture of the canvas can be more challenging to work with when trying to create fine details or crisp lines. For these reasons, I do not recommend this support.

Masonite Panels

Masonite panels are a sturdy support that can be used for gouache painting. They are made from compressed wood fiber, making them durable and long-lasting. Masonite panels can be primed with gesso and provide a smooth surface that is very good for fine details. They are also easy to frame and can be hung on the wall without additional framing.

Prices of different supports

Choosing the support depends on its features but also on its price. Here is a list of the gouache supports I mentioned before ordered by price from cheaper to more expensive:

  1. Bristol board: Bristol board is typically less expensive than other supports such as watercolour paper and illustration board.

  2. Watercolour paper: Watercolour paper can range in price depending on the quality and weight of the paper, but it is generally more affordable than some other supports.

  3. Illustration board: Illustration board is generally more expensive than watercolour paper, but less expensive than some other supports such as canvas.

  4. Masonite panels: Masonite panels can be more expensive than other supports, but they are durable and long-lasting.

  5. Canvas: Canvas can be one of the most expensive supports for gouache painting, particularly if it is stretched and primed with gesso.

It is worth noting that the price of each support can vary based on the brand, size, and quantity. Additionally, some artists may prefer more expensive supports for their unique properties, while others may opt for less expensive options to fit their budget. Ultimately, the best support for gouache painting depends on the individual artist's preferences and needs. I mostly use hot pressed watercolour paper and mixed media paper, which are both very similar.


In conclusion, gouache is a versatile medium that can be used on a range of supports, including watercolour paper, illustration board, Bristol board, canvas, and Masonite panels. Each support has its own unique properties and is suitable for different styles and techniques. Choosing the right support can make a significant difference in the final outcome of the painting.

Andreia Melo


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