REVIEW: DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Gouache Primary Mixing Set

Did you know DANIEL SMITH now makes gouache? I was thrilled to receive the DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Gouache Primary Mixing Set, which includes Hansa Yellow Medium, Pyrrol Red, Ultramarine Blue, and a bonus tube of Titanium White.

Do you have a desert island palette? You know, those colors that you’d definitely need if you were ever stranded on a desert island. I have a wide range of watercolors, in many pigments and many brands, but it’s DANIEL SMITH that makes all my desert island picks.

Now, I’ll have to make room for some gouache when I’m shipwrecked.

Note that this is water-media based gouache, not acrylic gouache, so it’s much like working with opaque watercolor.

About the Gouache

DANIEL SMITH makes their gouache with the same pigments and gum arabic binder as they use in their watercolors.

There are 22 colors available (see below for the list). Seventeen of the colors are single pigment. That means more vibrant mixtures, less mud.

All the colors have a matte finish, as gouache should, and the colors are bold and opaque.

Pigment Information

The Extra Fine Gouache Primary Mixing Set includes:

  • Hansa Yellow Medium PY74 2GX70, *LFII, Low-staining
  • Pyrrol Red PR254, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Ultramarine Blue PB29, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Titanium White PW6, LFI, Non-staining

*LF = Lightfastness Rating I-excellent II=Very Good Ill=Fair IV-Fugitive

Useless trivia fact: Pyrrol Red is also known as Ferrari Red because it was originally used on those famous red sports cars.

Usually, I’m one of those artists that prefer to mix colors on the fly, as needed, and I seldom do color charts. However, this is a mixing set with only three colors and white, so it pays to mix up the secondary colors.

I mixed two versions of each secondary color, and then created two lighter versions of each color by mixing with white. This gives me a nice basic setup, and I mixed further colors on the fly, as needed.

Personally, I feel one of the joys of gouache lies in using white and black, so I asked for a tube of Lamp Black as well. It isn’t included in the Primary Mixing Set, so I’ll talk about it separately, later in this review.

Performance

I had some concerns based on my experience with various brands of gouache.

Gouache should come out of the tube with a consistency that allows you to spread it easily with little to no water in your brush.

Some brands are so stiff you can barely spread the paint. And then, I’ve had other brands that were runny and you couldn’t get those nice thick strokes. Others get chalky or streaky, especially if you use it with lots of water as you would with traditional watercolor.

So what is DANIEL SMITH gouache like fresh from the tube?

It spreads beautifully with a damp brush, allowing you to create brush strokes as thick or thin as you like.

Once dry in the palette, gouache should be easy to rewet. You should be able to pick up enough paint for either thick or thin strokes.

Sometimes, it cracks when dried in the palette — I expect that. But I’ve also had gouache dry into pebbles that left dried flakes in the paint, if you could get it wet enough to paint with at all.

So how did DANIEL SMITH perform once dried in the palette?

It is just right. I added a little water, let them soak a minute, and they were almost like fresh paint. I could easily pick up enough paint to create thicker strokes. Honestly, I haven’t used another brand that rewet as well.

Having said that, I’ll also say that pigments vary so it’s possible that some colors won’t rewet as well. I guess that means I’ll have to buy all the colors — just for testing. Think my husband will accept that excuse for buying them all?

I knew light values wouldn’t be a problem because white was included. But sometimes it is difficult to mix a truly dark color.

No problem with this Primary Mixing Set. I was able to mix colors as deep in value as black.

Nothing’s perfect, but the only thing I might wish different about this set would be the ability to easily mix more shades of purple. I like purple.

Pyrrol Red and Ultramarine Blue tend to mix a brownish purple that can be used to make great neutrals. That’s a good thing, but it takes a little more work to get other shades. I’m lazy that way, so it’s a good thing there are lots more colors I can get to help with my purple craving.

The Available DANIEL SMITH Gouache Colors

All colors are opaque.

  • Buff Titanium PW 6:1, LFI, Non-staining
  • Hansa Yellow Light PY3, LFI, Low-staining
  • Hansa Yellow Medium PY74 2GX70, LFII, Low-staining
  • Hansa Yellow Deep PY65, LFII, Low-staining
  • Pyrrol Orange PO73, LFII, Medium-staining
  • Pyrrol Scarlet PR255, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Pyrrol Red PR254, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Quinacridone Magenta PR122, LFII, Medium-staining
  • Wisteria PW6/PR122, LFII, Non-staining
  • Lavender PW6/PY15/PB29, LFI, Low-staining
  • Ultramarine Blue PB29, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Cobalt Blue PB28, LFI, Low-staining
  • Cascade Green PBr7/PB15, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Spring Green PY53/PG36/PY151, LFI, Low-staining
  • Permanent Green Light PY3/PG7, LFI, Low-staining
  • Yellow Ochre PY42, LFI, Non-staining
  • Raw Sienna PBr7, LFI, Low-staining
  • Indian Red PR101, LFI, Medium-staining
  • Burnt Sienna PBr7, LFI, Non-staining
  • Burnt Umber PBr7, LFI, Low-staining
  • Lamp Black PBk6, LFI, High-Staining
  • Titanium White PW6, LFI, Non-staining

Examples

For my first example, I painted a Lorikeet. I used the primary colors, my secondary mixes, and my tinted mixes without having to mix any other colors.

Laying down the initial blocks of color, I tested them fresh from the tube, and was impressed.

Then I used the darker mixes and laid down the dark values.

At this point, I stopped and let the gouache dry completely in my palette. I wanted to see how well I could rewet and create solid strokes of light color that would cover over the dark.

And again, I was impressed.

Gouache is a lovely, versatile medium and you can use it in many ways. For this painting, I used techniques more commonly used with traditional watercolor — wet into wet and dry brushing. If you plan to paint this way often, traditional watercolor is a better choice. But I knew the matte finish of the gouache would create that misty autumn look, and work well with the gouache techniques used for the dog.

Since I was using a watery mix of paint, I masked off the dog with DANIEL SMITH Masking Fluid, so I could paint the background freely.

Gouache doesn’t granulate, but the rough paper used for the painting gave a similar textured effect.

For the dog, I used gouache technique, painting an off-white base coat, then the reddish spots and darker shading, and then titanium white to paint the long strands of fur.

This painting also shows some of the many neutral colors that can be mixed with the Primary Mixing Set.

I didn’t use any black or black mixes in this painting.

Before I show you the third example, I want to tell you about the lamp black I received.

The Lamp Black

Lamp Black PBk6, LFI, High-Staining

You don’t really need the lamp black for mixing dark colors in your palette. The Ultramarine Blue and Pyrrol Red can be mixed to a dark brown that gives almost the same color mixes as the lamp black.

However, when mixing loosely on the paper, black gives a stormy feel that is different. You can also use pure black for small areas of contrast.

The lamp black performed as well as the colors in the Primary Mixing Set.

And, most of all, you can use black, either alone or mixed with white to create a value study in shades of gray. I don’t do this with every painting, but when using my imagination as a reference, it really helps me keep my lighting and shadows where they need to be.

The black is NOT included in the Primary Mixing Set. I asked for it specifically, because I use it a lot when painting with gouache.

With this last example, I used black/color mixes in my palette for the lighthouse and ground. In the sky, I mixed the black into the color right on the paper.

Overall

The DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Gouache Primary Mixing Set includes Hansa Yellow Medium, Pyrrol Red and Ultramarine Blue, along with a bonus tube of Titanium White.

The color is creamy, fresh from the tube, spreading easily with little to no water. Once dried on the palette, the paint rewets and can be used almost like it was fresh. I don’t recall using any other brand that rewets as well as this does.

DANIEL SMITH has 22 gouache colors, 17 of which are single pigment.

Tools

Links of Interest

Disclaimer:

I received an Extra Fine Gouache Primary Mixing Set and a tube of Lamp Black gouache from DANIEL SMITH for the purpose of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews
16 Comments
  1. JA Wilson 2 months ago

    Great to know! My first experience with gouache put me off for all the reasons you listed the Daniel Smith paints make me think about trying gouache again.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 2 months ago

      Thank you! I believe many people are turned off of gouache because they’ve used poor quality. That’s a shame because it’s a fabulous medium.

  2. Teresa 何 Robeson 2 months ago

    I have zero interest in using gouache but I still enjoyed your review very much! 🙂

  3. Alice 2 months ago

    Great review, Sandra. Reading while I wait at a doctor’s appointment.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 2 months ago

      Thank you so much, Alice! I hope your doctor’s appointment goes well!

  4. Susan Feniak 2 months ago

    Good to know. Thanks.

  5. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Wonderful review, Sandra and your gouache paintings are beautiful!!!

  6. Brenda Sommerville 2 months ago

    Fabulous review as always 😊

  7. mlaiuppa 2 months ago

    No, I had no idea Daniel Smith had a line of gouache. I normally don’t use it, but I think I will pick up a tube of the white as sometimes I want an opaque white water based media and haven’t found anything I like. Neither the Chinese white or the Titanium white had the opacity I as looking for. I have some Old Holland mixed white or zinc white but still not happy. Now that Daniel Smith has an opaque white gouache that is NOT acrylic I think I will be picking up a tube.

    Thanks so much for the review.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 2 months ago

      Thank you, mlaiuppa! And you can mix that white gouache with your watercolor if you ever want a matte, opaque color. Not quite as same as using gouache, but it comes in handy on occasion.

  8. Annie M 1 month ago

    Thank you for this review! I’ve been choosing between Holbein, W&N and Talens gouache but seeing that Daniel Smith also offers gouache really makes me think. Is the colour the same/similar (shades etc. apart from being opague and non-granulating) to their watercolour with the same pigments?

  9. Teresa 2 days ago

    I bought the same set and the top of the tube was stiff, stiff, stiff, came out in a top-of-the-tube-shaped clump. Still the paint rewets amazingly well, so a bit of water got it back into gear.

    Once a little water is added, I like its texture. I always used to think gouache was gouache, but the Daniel Smith is much smoother. And the white is sooo opaque, at about “Dr. Ph Martin bleed-proof white” levels. And it rewets beautifully.

    I know what you mean about the pebbly white. You’re speaking of Holbein primary white, a gouache that should be avoided if you ever want to rewet. I also found that the Daniel Smith doesn’t mix nicely with the Holbein. I’m not sure which manufacturer is to blame.

    And I agree with the muddy purples, however, just mix a bit of regular watercolor in the color you like to the UM to make a glorious purple.

    Thanks for the review and the lovely art.

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