Month 1 Tutorial - Intro To Gouache

Sarah Burns Studio X Craftamo
Gouache Subscription Box

First things first, let’s unbox! 

Note: When you first receive your brushes, there will often be a protective coating on the hairs to keep them in shape during transport. Simply dip them in water for a few seconds to soften it. I usually clean mine with brush soap as soon as I receive them (and again when I’m done painting)

How I care for my brushes: video

This video shows all the brush types you will receive over the course of the 12 month subscription. At the end of the video I show how to care for your brushes.


Materials in Box #1:

  • Paper
  • 2 Brushes
    • ½ inch Flat
    • #12 Round
  • 4 colors
    • Primary White
    • Ultramarine Deep
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Quinacridone Red
    • 1 Spray bottle
    • 1 Mixing tray
    • 1 Washi tape

Additional suggested materials:

I use lots of different gouaches, papers, sketchbooks, and palettes for different purposes.

You don’t need anything extra right now, except maybe paper as you will probably run out of that first.

Craftamo sells extra paper (same as what is in the boxes) and it’s very affordable. 

Otherwise, I have lots of recommendations. I keep an updated list of all my favorite art supplies here.

As I mentioned in the video, you can mix on a ceramic plate (or even paper plate). Anything non-porous will work. I often use the plastic tray from my watercolor palette.

Note: the paint might stain plastic dishes or trays. 

Helpful definitions

Hue is a color.

Value defines how light or dark a given color or hue can be. A value sketch is often a black and white sketch.

A saturated color is pure and an unsaturated color contains a large percentage of gray. A desaturated image contains no color.

A tint is a mixture of a color with white.

Shade is a mixture with black, which increases darkness.

A tone is produced either by mixing a color with gray, or by both tinting and shading.

The temperature of a color refers to how ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ it is. This is in relation to it’s place on the color wheel. 

Warm colors often help to convey sunlight (or highlights on an object). Cool colors often help to convey shadows. Shadows may often appear bluish or purple (I really like to emphasize that in my paintings). 

We can use warm and cool colors to give clues to the viewer about the scene. Since we often don’t paint the sun in the sun, it’s position is implied by where the highlights and shadows in the scene appear.

For example if the sun is shining on a rock, the side that faces the sun (highlight) may appear as a warm grey or warm brown. Whereas the shadows will fall away from that side and appear more bluish.


Color swatches and mixes

Before doing the demo, take some time to explore your colors. Make tints of each color and try to mix some basic colors like green, orange, and brown. Make some variations of brown and grey as well.


Value Sketch 

Before doing a completed painting, it’s often helpful to explore the ‘layout’ or composition of the scene with a value sketch. With pencil and paper we can get our ideas down quickly and make different versions until we like what we see.

I keep my drawings VERY simple, and sometimes they are just line drawings. Go into as much detail as you need - each of us will be different. The whole point is to make a drawing that helps you figure out your scene.

Color Concept Sketch

Next, we can do some small versions of the scene with color. I use this as an opportunity to to try different color combinations. I look at both my reference and my value sketch as I make decisions about what colors to use. Sometimes I make some decisions in the moment that lead me in a new direction.

The goal with these initial studies is to come up with a game plan for the final painting.

My final painting:

I hope you enjoy this demo! See you next month!

What’s coming in Box #2

In Box 2 we will be exploring GREENS!

Supplies included in Box 2:

  • Paper
  • 2 brushes
    • ¾ inch Flat
    • #6 inch Round
  • 3 colors
    • Moss Green, 
    • Viridian, 
    • Cadmium Yellow

Brush Care

Remember to take care of your brushes so they last a long time.


Don’t forget to join my Discord chat server! You can share images of your sketches/painting and enjoy a sense of community. Or if you’d like to share your work with me on Instagram, use the hashtag #sarahburnstutor so I can find you.

Additional helpful resources:

Brand new to gouache? As you discover questions about gouache, I hope to answer as many as I can. For now, you can start with this blog post which goes very in-depth about what gouache is.

If you want even more instruction, I often post free tutorials on YouTube. Otherwise my Patreon is a great resource to learn even more.