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Can You Use Gouache On Bristol Paper?

Gouache is often compared to a combination of acrylic and watercolor because of how gorgeous and vibrant colors turn out as well as the overall texture of the paint when it’s dried. If you’re starting to paint with gouache, you might wonder; can you use gouache on bristol paper?

You can certainly paint with gouache on bristol paper given how versatile this type of paint is. With the right technique, you’ll end up with a painting that has brilliant detail, a smooth overall texture, and of course, that signature dazzling color. 

One of the many fantastic things about gouache paint is that it can be used on a variety of surfaces; it just dries differently depending on your canvas of choice. 

Can You Use Gouache on Bristol Paper?

Gouache is a great option for painting on bristol paper. This type of paper can handle the nuances of this type of paint which is especially versatile in terms of what types of effects you can create based on technique. Bristol paper is sturdy and is multi-layered, so it’s able to hold color well without you having to worry about bleeding. 

The Properties of Gouache Paint

Gouache paint is a blend of color pigments that is bound with gum arabic. It has a thicker texture than some other paints, other than acrylic, when it comes out of the bottle. You don’t have to go too heavy handed with gouache as if you apply too much to your surface, it can crack when it’s dry. 

My favorite Gouache Paint brand is Arteza. The colors are super vibrant and durable. I highly recommend this set.

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Gouache has a fairly matte finish when it dries, and colors remain vibrant and saturated even when the paint has dried. You can add water to gouache if you want to make it a little less opaque to mimic a watercolor effect. Of course, whether you dilute your gouache is going to impact how it’s used on different surfaces. 

The Characteristics of Bristol Paper

Bristol paper tends to be a pretty hearty type of paper so it can hold gouache very well. It’s also fairly substantial in terms of thickness compared to other types of paper so you don’t have to be concerned about color bleeding through. You can also find bristol paper in a variety of sizes and ranges of thickness to suit your needs. 

Factors to Consider When Using Gouache on Bristol Paper

Before you decide to use bristol paper as your canvas, you want to consider the effect you’re going for and your preferred gouache technique. For instance, since bristol paper tends to be such a smooth surface regardless of thickness, it can be difficult to create a textured piece with gouache unless you have a truly refined technique with these paints. 

How to Use Gouache on Bristol Paper

When you’ve prepped your gouache and are ready to get started, you’ll find that you don’t really need to wet your brush to make the paint translate well on your bristol paper. All you need to do is prep your paints on your palette as per usual and you’re ready to go. 

You can use a pencil to sketch out your illustration before you start painting. Pencil shows up on bristol paper well enough that you’ll be able to follow your outline with your brush when you’re ready to start painting. 

Tips for Preparing the Bristol Paper for Gouache Application

One of the benefits of choosing bristol paper is that it’s a very affordable surface, so you can have a few pieces on hand in case you make a mistake. That said, with gouache, it’s easy to fix a mistake with some water and a few swipes of your brush. 

If you want to prime your bristol paper, a simple white layer should be good enough to add to the vibrancy of your finished artwork. That said, it’s not necessary to create your gouache and bristol masterpiece. This Mont Marte Gesso primer is recommend for gouache paints.

Techniques for Applying Gouache to Bristol Paper

The techniques you choose for applying gouache to bristol paper will ultimately depend on what you’re hoping to paint. However, there are some ways to ensure that your painting turns out in optimal condition when you choose this kind of canvas. 

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When you use a dry brush, you’ll find that all you need is a light touch when getting it to adhere to bristol paper. You don’t want to dilute your paint too much or wet your brush too much if you’re using thin bristol paper, as the paint might bleed through in this circumstance. 

Suggestions for Maintaining the Integrity of the Bristol Paper

If you’re hoping to create a watercolor effect on your bristol, adding a little bit of water to your brush before dipping into your color of choice is the best way to approach it. Using a wet canvas technique, or wetting the paper before painting, may end up causing your bristol to warp or bubble. 


What Kind of Paper is Good for Gouache?

The paper that tends to be best for gouache is watercolor paper, bristol paper, illustration boards, or thick paper used for sketching or drawing. 

Can Gouache be Used on Any Paper?

Gouache paint can be used on watercolor paper, cardboard papers, and other thick media papers.

How do you Seal Gouache Paint on Paper?

It’s recommended that you seal your gouache painting so that nothing can damage it, such as moisture. You can use a spray sealant made specifically for paintings to add a protective barrier. I highly recommend sealing your work with Mod Podge.

Final Thoughts 

Gouache and bristol paper get along very well so long as you know how to use this paint. Bristol paper is a great medium for a variety of painting projects due to its thickness and its ability to hold paint very well. 

So long as you’re careful with brush pressure and you plan ahead, you’ll find using gouache on bristol paper an enjoyable, easy experience, whether you’re new to gouache or have been using it for years. 

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your Gouache paint project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!