Digital gouache illustrations with Procreate

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For the past year or so, I’ve been really drawn to gouache illustration - I love the matte, graphic, and textural look of gouache painting. This is a big shift for me, since my artwork has always been linework focused and extremely detailed. Gouache illustrations tend to have simpler shapes and rely on color and composition - think mid-century modern advertising.

Painting with real Gouache is fun, but difficult. Gouache is not a forgiving medium in my experience, and also any kind of painting is messy and takes up space. I’m really excited about digital gouache painting - no mess, I only need my iPad, and layers and blending modes make creating textural, complex images a lot easier.

Procreate comes with a Gouache option in the built in “Artistic” panel, and it’s a nice brush - I but I wanted some different options for more effects. I purchased four Gouache brush packs for Procreate and gave them a try - and I thought I would give each one a little review for y’all today.

Here are the brush packs I purchased, along with an overview and my thoughts on each one -

The Gouache Paintbox by Lisa Bardot

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16 brushes included - a nice range. Lots of texture brushes, a wash brush, and a detail brush. It’s a great all-around pack if you just want to buy one brush pack. I like that it has just enough brushes to give variety, but not so many it’s overwhelming (Some brush packs are WAY too big, I don’t want to sift through 100 brushes when I’m painting.) I thought the brushes were very well designed and I didn’t have to adjust any of them while I was working. I used the Texture Detail, The Gouache Round, and the Gouache Dry the most. Easy to install, and has a brush demo video.

The Nomad Brush Pack by Insecto Design Store

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10 brushes included - this one is more of an “add on” brush pack to me. It’s got some fun, unique textures that other packs don’t have. I like the Furry Bristle brush, it creates a nice streaky effect. However, I wouldn’t reach for this to create a whole painting. To me, this is more of a finisher - adding interest after the main painting is done. I’ve purchased from this shop before and I think they make really unique, high quality brushes.

The Mid-Century Procreate Brush pack by Retro Supply Co

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15 brushes included - a nice, well rounded brush pack that’s just the right size. It’s got a lot of very textural brushes and liners. This is the brush pack that I would reach for if I want to create a true, mid-century style illustration. I love the Gouache Butter brush for super retro texture, and the Dot Pen brush is very unique. I made a modified version with variable spacing for a super cool effect. This pack also includes a half-tone brush for that old-skool printing effect. I love Retro Supply Co, I have several of their brush packs and they are extremely well made. I could make an entire illustration with this brush pack without having to use another brush palette.

The Gouache Shader Brushes for Procreate by Retro Supply Co

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68 brushes included - this is a big pack! There is just a huge variety of brushes here. This one is really fun to play with - tons of different textures. I would say this one has the most robust and extreme textures of all. I tend to get overwhelmed with big brush packs like this. There are just too many options sometimes… but if a huge brush pack is your deal, this one is for you. That being said, I really love this brush pack and have used it several times.My favorites are the shader brushes that have a spatter or large spray airbrush effect, and the Gouache Liner 01 is my favorite Gouache detail brush. You can create some really distinctive illustrations with this pack.

I made three illustrations, and used a variety of brushes to make them. I really wanted to try out as many of the brushes as possible. I’ll break down which brushe sets I used in which illustration below.

Mermaid Girlfriend by SparklePriestess

These mermaid girlfriends were painted with a combo of the Gouache Paintbox by Lisa Bardot and the Mid-Century Brush Pack by Retro Supply Co. I did most of the base painting with the Gouache Paintbox, and then added texture effects with the Mid-Century brush pack. However, the streaky lines in the plants are from the Furry Bristle brush in the Nomad Brush pack. I think that these two brush sets play really well together. The Gouache Paintbox gives a beautiful, painterly effect, but the Mid-Century pack has a little more texture variety to play with.

Sammy by SparklePriestess

This cute little illustration of my Pomeranian, Sammy, was painted with the Nomad Brush Pack by Insecto Design Store, and a few brushes from the Gouache Shader brush set. The Nomad Brush Pack has some very distinctive canvas like textures, which I enjoyed building up in layers. You can see all the color and texture variations I was able to add in using light layers of texture and blending modes. I did have to reach for another brush pack for a thick, heavy liner brush. The detail brush in the Nomad brush pack has a very distinctive canvas texture, and it’s not quite what I like to line with. This brush pack is really great for adding unique textures.

Bright Moths by SparklePriestess

This moth design was created entirely with the Gouache Shader Brushes for Procreate by Retro Supply Co. Since the pack is so large, I wanted to be able to try a bunch of them out. As you can see, this brush set gives a LOT of robust texture! I had fun making the moth wings with the different textured brushes. You can really see the rough, stipple effect of the shader brushes in the texture of the star’s “glow.” Even the detail and liner brushes are full of texture.

There is a lot of variety between all four packs, so I’m glad I own all of them! I am a bit of a brush hoarder, so you would definitely not need all four if you just wanted to try out digital gouache painting in Procreate.

I really would love to make some screen-recorded tutorials to show off each brush in action, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and film+edit. If this is something that you would find helpful, drop me a comment about it and I’ll make it more of a priority!