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More in This Section:
- Gouache
- Colour Mixing
- Composition & Permanence
- FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

You will find below a selection of FAQs relating to using Designers Gouache.

1.  What are the primary colours for Designers Gouache?

2.  What are the uses for the various whites in the Gouache range?

3.  What are the best surfaces for Gouache?

4.  Can Designers Gouache be mixed with Acrylic/Acrylic mediums?

5.  What kind of gesso would give the best surface for Designers Gouache?

6.  Should a Designers Gouache painting be varnished or framed?

7.  How permanent or fugitive are Designers Gouache colours?

8.  How do Gouache and Acrylic in water colour technique differ from real water colour?

9.  What is the meaning of the term ‘bodycolour’ in relation to Gouache?

10. Can Designers Gouache be used to add highlights to a water colour painting?

11. How can cracking be prevented in Designers Gouache?

12. How can I prevent the lifting of Gouache colours when mixing media?

 

1. What are the primary colours for Designers Gouache?

The 3 primary colours recommended for Designers Gouache are:  Primary Yellow, Primary Blue and Primary Red.

For further information on Designers Gouache click here.

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2. What are the uses for the various whites in the Gouache range?

Permanent White is the whitest most opaque white but is not recommended for colour mixing.  Zinc White produces the cleanest, most lightfast tints.  Bleedproof White prevents underlayers from bleeding through, particularly those colours marked ‘BI’ on the colour chart.  And finally, Process White is for photographic retouching, where it will reproduce its true value.

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3. What are the best surfaces for Gouache?

The paper chosen for gouache will have a significant influence on the final painting. The paper's characteristic behaviour, determined by its manufacture, and the colour, weight and surface texture of the paper will have a profound effect on the character of artistic work. It is therefore essential to understand the nature of each paper and to choose carefully. 

For further information on these surfaces click here.

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4. Can Designers Gouache be mixed with Acrylic/Acrylic mediums?

Winsor & Newton produce a number of acrylic mediums in both gloss and matt variations. There are three points to make concerning their use in combination with Designers gouache. 

Firstly, each colour should be tested by mixing it with the medium and leaving it to dry. There may be a colour reaction between some of the pigments and the medium due to the alkalinity of the acrylic resin. This is most likely to occur with pinks, violets and magentas. 

There may also be a chemical reaction when mixing the medium and colour together, beware of any granular or gelatinous effects which may occur, again due to the alkalinity of the resin. Secondly, if the maintainance of the characteristics of gouache is required, keep the addition of the medium to a minimum. A large proportion of medium will result in a ‘plastic' look to the colour. Thirdly, their transparency will be increased, particularly if using the gloss medium.

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5. What kind of gesso would give the best surface for Designers Gouache?

The resin and formulation used in Winsor & Newton Acrylic Gesso Primer ensure the correct absorbency and film stability expected for permanent works of art.

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6. Should a Designers Gouache painting be varnished or framed?

Gouache paintings are best left unvarnished because the varnish drastically affects the depth, darkness and finish of the work.  It would not be removable in the future either.  If you want to varnish because of dusting off, use gum arabic in the future instead.  For protection, frame the work behind glass.  Gouache and all works on paper should not be placed in a frame directly onto the glass, as this does not allow for any circulation within the frame and condensation can build up, resulting in mold growth.  A mount between the paper and glass allows just enough circulation to prevent this.  Provided your linen inset is between the paper and the glass, it will perform exactly the same job as a card mount.  The frame will not have any effect on the fading of the painting you describe.

The fading of a colour is due to the pigment and the methods which are used in painting.  The permanence of a colour is described by Winsor & Newton using the system of AA, A, B and C.  AA being Extremely Permanent and C being Fugitive.  Fugitive means ‘transient’, some fugitive colours may fade within months. 

For permanent paintings it is recommended that only AA and A colours are used as these are not expected to fade.  Light Purple has a B rating and Parma Violet a C rating, fading over a 10 year period would not be unexpected with these colours.

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7. How permanent or fugitive are Designers Gouache colours?

Permanence in the main refers to lightfastness.  Some of the most vivid pinks and violets are only moderately durable, more suitable for designers artwork than fine artists who want greater permanence.  The latter should choose only the colours rated as permanent.  Do not mistake any references to permanence on lower quality products if the meaning is waterproof. The fading of a colour is due to the pigment and the methods which are used in painting.  The permanence of a colour is described by Winsor & Newton using the system of AA, A, B and C.  AA being Extremely Permanent and C being Fugitive.  Fugitive means ‘transient’, some fugitive colours may fade within months. 

For permanent paintings it is recommended that only AA and A colours are used as these are not expected to fade.  Light Purple has a B rating and Parma Violet a C rating, fading over a 10 year period would not be unexpected with these colours.

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8. How do Gouache and Acrylic in water colour technique differ from real water colour?

Gouache is an opaque water colour, made with Gum Arabic it is matt, flat and opaque because it is extremely highly pigmented.  Gum arabic is far superior in flow properties in comparison to acrylic.  Gouache is most suited to more solid colour effects as opposed to the gentle pale washes of water colour.  Acrylic is time consuming because you have to thin it so much and it dries waterproof, quickly ruining sable brushes.

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9. What is the meaning of the term ‘bodycolour’ in relation to Gouache?

Body colour is the use of opaque colours for highlights or dense flat areas and is a technique which has been used in water colour for centuries.  Designers Gouache was introduced in 1937 and prior to this the only method of achieving opacity was to use white, on its own or to make tints of the water colours.  Body colour therefore refers to either tubes of gouache or the finished effect of opacity on a picture whether white or coloured.

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10. Can Designers Gouache be used to add highlights to a water colour painting?

White Designers Gouache can be applied over water colour for highlights. Bodycolour is most often the use of tints - the white mixed with water colours.

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11. How can cracking be prevented in Designers Gouache?

Winsor & Newton gouache derives its opacity and matt finish from the exceedingly high level of pigment used in the formulation.  With so much pigment this means the proportion of binder [gum arabic] is lower than it would be in water colour.  Cracking can usually be attributed to one of two reasons when using gouache.  Firstly if not enough water is used to dilute the colour, the thicker film may crack as the paint dries on the paper.  The amount of water needed will differ with each colour.  Secondly, if painting in layers, the subsequent ones may show cracking if the underlayer absorbs binder from the wet colour.

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12. How can I prevent the lifting of Gouache colours when mixing media?

Water resistance can be achieved by adding small amounts of Acrylic Matt Medium. Experimenting with a few colours will find the lowest level of medium required.  The less acrylic in the gouache, the more like gouache it will remain. Care should be taken however as some colours can react.  The pinks and violets in Designers Gouache can have a tendency to change colour on combination with acrylic. Some other Designers colours may be sensitive to alkali and produce gelatinous or lumpy mixtures. This reaction will be self evident whilst mixing on the palette. The addition of the medium will also deepen the tones and reduce the matt finish of the gouache colour.

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