Holbein Acryla Gouache

gouache-illustrationWhen I was younger and attended after school art class, the teachers always set our painting projects to be acrylic paint on canvas. This was a good starting point for any amateur painter as acrylics are water based and easy to clean up, and you can easily paint over mistakes on a canvas without worrying about over-saturation or bleeding. Fast forward to 2014 and I now love working on paper, whether it is with graphite, pencils or watercolours, but none of these mediums gave me the solid matte colours i desired for illustration, and that is when i discovered gouache. The best way to describe gouache is an opaque watercolour, and I believe it was originally created for graphic artists to create illustrations and that is perfect for my needs. I first started using Winsor & Newton gouache but I found it had a very limited colour range. This is not a problem if you are a pro at mixing colours, and know your colour theory like the back of your hand, but I have a design background and honestly know nothing about fine art.

I thus began hunting for other gouache brands that were professional grade quality and came across the Holbein range. Holbein have two different gouaches, they have a classic professional grade Designer’s gouache and Acryla Gouache. I went for the Acryla range because it reacts much the same as traditional gouache, but it is basically waterproof when it dries, so you are able to layer light colours over darker ones without any paint lifting or bleeding into one another. The paints dry in a beautiful matte velvety texture and are super opaque. I found the Acryla Gouache to have a much runnier consistency than Winsor & Newton; this is actually a VERY good characteristic for me, as it means I can glide the paint across a page far more smoothly without having to dilute it and thus compromising on it’s pigmentation. The runnier consistency also seems to be easier to squeeze out of the plastic tubes, so you can squeeze out just a tiny dot if you need to. I also love the plastic tubes over the metal ones, as I prefer the tube to bounce back in to it’s original shape and is easier to control how much you squeeze out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one down side to the Holbein Acryla Gouache is that the colours are not named in a traditional fine art sense, so you don’t know which pigments make up the colour; the trade off is that you get an amazing array of colours that are difficult to mix yourself. My favourites are the beautiful ash and pale colours, as they are muted in colour but are not muddy. The Acryla Gouache range comes in a total of 102 colours, including ten metallic and 4 luminous finishes, I only bought 36 colours to add to the Winsor and Newton colours I already own. I have a very strong feeling that I will be purchasing more though as I have absolutely fallen in love with these paints! unfortunately they are not available in Australia, they are made in Japan and I had to buy them online. I chose the colours rather blindly as I could not see real swatches, so I have included the paint swatches of the colours I got below. (Lighting and screen calibrations will obviously affect the look, so please use these as a rough guide.)

From L to R: Lamp Black, Sepia, Grey No.4, Neutral Grey No.3, Neutral Grey No.2, Raw Umber.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From L to R: Burnt Sienna, Ash Rose, Raw Sienna, Light Red Bright, Orange, Coral Red.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From L to R: Jaune Brilliant, Pale Peach, Beige, Shell Pink, Pale Pink, Pale Lilac.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From L to R: Lilac, Pale Lavender, Leaf Green, Misty Green, Mint Green, Pale Lime.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From L to R: Deep Green, Viridian, Olive, Grass Green, Ash Green, Pale Mint.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From L to R: Ice Green, Smalt Blue, Prussian Blue, Ash Blue, Pale Aqua, Misty Blue.




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  1. Reply
    Merissa JANUARY 17, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Wow what a great post! I’m trying to buy my first set of Holbein Acryla’s and this came in handy. I appreciate your photos with actual swatches over the computer generated ones. What a nice collection you got going and your wood stand is awesome!

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co JANUARY 19, 2015 at 2:02 am

      I am loving the colour options available with Holbein Acryla Gouache, I’m a convert, i’ll be using these for a long time to come. I intend on purchasing more colours and when I do I will post more colour swatches for people to compare because it certainly is hard trying to determine the colours through the computer generated ones.

  2. Reply
    Amy MARCH 19, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Awesome post! I’ve been trying to get my hands on some Holbein gouache myself and am having trouble here in Sydney. Where’d you get yours online, or do you recommended any other online places to get them? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co MARCH 19, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Amy, I am not aware of any places in Sydney that sell Holbein gouache, I order mine online from Dick Blick who are based in the States. It is quite expensive to order online though especially since our exchange rate against the US dollar is pretty low at the moment, and there is a shipping fee. I tend to bulk order my art supplies to make the shipping fee more worthwhile. I am going back to Japan later in the year and I certainly will be bringing back a suitcase load of Holbein gouache!

      • Reply
        Amy MARCH 20, 2015 at 4:41 am

        Oh, you lucky girl!! You’ll be in Holbein paradise 🙂 I’ve balked at Dick Blick in the past, purely because of the shipping costs but I just might have to bite the bullet. I found another place online that was cheaper but they don’t ship Holbein gouache to Australia for some reason. I had other things in my cart that were fine, just not the paints. Regardless, thanks for the info.. much appreciated!

        • Reply
          Quarter Paper Co MARCH 21, 2015 at 6:18 am

          Yes sometimes certain products can’t ship to Australia based on an ingredient the item contains. I have tried to order Copic multiliners from Dick Blick and they could not send me those either. Spoil yourself with some Hoblein gouache, you won’t be disappointed!

  3. Reply
    Gabriele JUNE 2, 2015 at 10:21 am

    These Colours are amazing. I have order some from DickBlick too. Unfortanetly it had taken 3 weeks they landed in Germany and than I had to pay duty on. Not that easiest way to get such colours.

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co JUNE 2, 2015 at 11:07 am

      Yes I do wish the Holbein gouache was more readily available, but they are totally worth the wait, the best gouache I have used! hope you have fun using them and painting lots of beautiful things

  4. Reply
    Lyn Meredith JANUARY 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    I am so glad I found your post! I am getting into this paint line, and “ordering blindly” myself! I am finding pictures of the tubes, which looks more accurate than the paint swatches that various websites are posting. Lol

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co JANUARY 7, 2016 at 1:52 am

      Hi Lyn, thanks for stopping by the blog. I agree that the digital swatches provided on websites are totally inaccurate, but even so, I was pleased with all the colours I ordered. I just got back from a trip from Japan and picked up lots of new colours from the Holbein Acryla Gouache range and will probably post up some more swatches on the blog when I get a chance.

  5. Reply
    Magda MARCH 3, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Beautiful colors! Unfortunately, in Germany Holbein Gouache is not available, and if it is – it is very expensive.
    I wanted to ask you whether these paints can be re wetted once dried?
    Thanks you!

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co MARCH 4, 2016 at 1:19 am

      Hi Magda,
      The Holbein Acryla gouache are water based paints, but they are not like watercolours, so they are not really intended to be rewetted once dried. You can add a small drop of water to moisten the dried paint again, but this does dilute the pigment and make the consistency more runny. I like to store my paints in a Masterson wet palette which keeps the paints wet for a long time (even up to a month!)

  6. Reply
    ingrid APRIL 24, 2016 at 10:06 am

    living in Amsterdam holbein it is not available here..
    The mix of all the colors together is so nice.. Did you buy the standard 36 color set or a piece? And this beautiful wooden box the’re in!!
    Greetings ingrid

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co APRIL 25, 2016 at 3:56 am

      Hi Ingrid, thanks for stopping by the blog. I bought the paints individually, not as a set. As for the wooden box, it was a display unit for a retail shop i used to work at, it just so happens to store the Holbein perfectly!

      • Reply
        ingrid APRIL 25, 2016 at 6:25 am

        Thanks Quaterpaperco!!

  7. Reply
    Sandhya JANUARY 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    The Holbein colours are so pretty!! I’m looking to buy my first set of guoache paints and Holbein has a huge range which is great. Would you be able to recommend 12 or so colours that I should start of with?

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co JANUARY 10, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      They are lovely aren’t they? I’m using them as we speak!
      I don’t really have any recommendations for a starter set, as what I like about Holbein is that they have non-traditional colours compared to fine art paints. It really all depends on what you like to paint and the colour palette you’re going for. If you’re keen to look for a traditional set of 12 to help you mix and match colours, probably have a look at other brands that sell starter packs and try match those colours up.

      • Reply
        Sandhya JANUARY 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm

        Thanks, I’ll probably do that and then maybe add
        some others. Your colour swatches will be really useful here 🙂 Also, would you happen to know approximately how much it costs for shipping to Melbourne from DickBlick? Can’t seem to get a price estimate on their website….
        Thanks again!!

        • Reply
          Quarter Paper Co JANUARY 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm

          Hi Sandhya,
          Unfortunately I do not remember how much the shipping costs, but it was quite pricey (though I ordered other large items with it). Dick Blick usually emails you a few days after you’ve made an order to give you a quote for international shipping, then you can go ahead and decide if you want to still buy it with the added shipping costs. I hope that helps!

  8. Reply
    Mara Medium JUNE 29, 2017 at 3:36 am

    I greatly appreciate you taking the time to create this post, with thorough swatches and color names!!! I am getting (back) into gouache and found the Holbein Designer set a bit of a challenge to create some of the unique colors I see here, when mixing. I’ve fallen in love with them and plan to create my own pastel set very soon. Thank you so much!

  9. Reply
    norm JULY 17, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Thank you for posting these color charts. I love Holbein watercolors and gouache colors. It was difficult for me to buy colors without a good color chart. I was happy to find your post of the colors you own. Have fun painting!

  10. Reply
    Mon SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I really love your stand? did you make it? Or if you bought it somewhere…where?
    I have been looking for some things to display mine so i can easily access the colours i need but i have trouble to find anything. i may need to make my own :/

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Hi Mon, the wooden stands are a retail display item for a shop I used to work at. There just happened to be a few spares that I could take. I don’t know of anywhere where you can buy the exact stand, but Muji make some great acrylic stands and drawers that may be suitable for your needs.

  11. Reply
    Christabel JANUARY 2, 2018 at 4:10 am

    Hi there! This is such a wonderful post and helpful review, you’re amazing! I had already picked up two tubes on a whim (cyan and leaf green) and wanted some other colours to play with. I ended up getting pale lavender and pale pink based on these swatches, and they looked exactly like your photos!
    (I also ordered pale mint, which ended up being backordered, but now I’m even more excited for it.) Thanks so much <3 Happy New Year!

  12. Reply
    Gabrielle Sherwood OCTOBER 26, 2018 at 10:07 am

    I love the holbein gouache, l have just started using gouache as l have been using watercolours which l love too. I have been unable to find any online holbein ice blue to purchase any where in Australia, any ideas where l could get?
    Thank you, kind regards,

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co APRIL 1, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Gabrielle, apologies for the belated reply, unfortunately I am not aware of anywhere in Australia that sells Holbein, I picked mine up from a trip to Japan.

  13. Reply
    Lynne Coyn MARCH 11, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Where did you get your gauche storage shown? My daughter is an artist and looking for a solution for storage like this. Thanks!!!!

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co APRIL 1, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      Hey Lynne, the wooden storage box for the gouache was just an old display unit from a retail shop I used to work at, I don’t know of anywhere that sells this exact one but you might find something similar from Muji in their acrylic storage boxes, hope that helps.

  14. Reply
    Madison MAY 1, 2020 at 7:49 am

    This post has been so helpful! Where did you get this wooden organizer?

    • Reply
      Quarter Paper Co MAY 4, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Madison, thanks for reading the blog! as mentioned in previous comments, the wooden organiser is something I picked up from an old job that was used to display bookmarks. As far as I am aware, I don’t know of anywhere that sells these, I just happened to have a couple that fit Holbein paints perfectly 🙂