At $8.08 per tube, this gouache is on the middle-to higher end of the price spectrum. The 20ml tubes are slightly larger than the standard 15 ml of most gouache on the market today.
Royal Talens states that they use pure pigment with a Dextrin binder. In their words, “Dextrin is a starch product that is dissolved in water to form a liquid binder. As this product is sensitive to decay it is necessary to add a preservative. Dextrin is the binder of Talens Gouache extra fine and of the other quality poster paints. A special property of a dextrin solution is thixotropy. If we leave the paint alone it will automatically thicken. Through movement (stirring or painting) the paint becomes thinner again and will easily spread out.” I can confirm that thixotropy plays a role in this gouache which I’ll explain.
I bought the 10 color set, which includes:
- White (PW6/PW5)
- Yellow (PY74/PO67)
- Yellow Ochre (PY42)
- Burnt Sienna (PR101)
- Black intenso (PBk9)
- Ultramarine Deep (PB29)
- Prussian Blue (phthalo) (PB15)
- Viridian (PG7)
- Carmine (PR112/PR23)
- Vermilion (PR255)
I struggled with this gouache. Straight out of the tube, the paint is very thick, sticky and stringy, especially certain colors like yellow ochre. A few of them ‘exploded’ out when I opened them, so I recommend slowly opening them facing upwards so they don’t immediately start pouring out. There was binder separation in many of the colors, which means you need to mix the binder and the pigment before using (I use a palette knife).
If you read the description of Dextrin above, you’ll understand why this gouache behaves very differently. Basically you have to use friction to get it to move properly. So I found that it’s difficult to spread the gouache for more than an inch or so. In order to fill in larger areas of gouache I had to reload 2x or 3x more than usual. Even then, friction didn’t help much. I had to paint the ocean and sky multiple times to get a smooth gradient and in the end I gave up because it was frustrating me. (You can see some blobs near the horizon)
To compensate for the difficulty in spreading the gouache, I used more white. I didn’t want to dilute it with water too much. So I had to refill my pile of white gouache six times during painting, much more than usual. However, I was pleased with how vibrant the colors were even when tinted with white.
My piles of paint dried faster than usual as well. They didn’t get crumbly but had a stiff outer film before I was done painting (and I painted pretty quickly). I did not enjoy the feeling of adding water to this gouache, so I just tried to paint faster. When adding water, it felt like it went from super opaque and sticky to grossly watered down too fast. It was difficult to get a nice soft liquid consistency like I’m used to with other gouache.
One very specifically odd thing was that as I painted the first layer, it almost instantly turned to a matte finish, and yet it behaved like wet paint for a while. That is a quality of the starchy dextrin binder. When I tried layering on top of it, I was constantly picking up the underlayer because it wasn’t dry yet (which is why some of my sand is green). I think it would be something you could get used to, but definitely worth noting that the dextrin binder will make this paint behave differently to others.
To be brutally honest this gouache felt very similar to how Miya HIMI behaved…which is a tiny fraction of the price! I don’t see how Royal Talens can justify the price of this gouache.
Their red pigments are not very lightfast either. I will update my Gouache Database with lightfast results but I’m not confident in the reds.
Conclusion: We all know you can get used to any consistency with enough practice, but this gouache definitely behaved uniquely to the others I’ve tried. It was the stickiest of all the gouaches. It boasts high opacity which is great, but I think it’s harder to use than other gouache. It requires a lot of friction to get it to flow, which to me felt like too much of a departure from my normal painting process.
2 thoughts on “Royal Talens Extra Fine Gouache Review”
Hello comment section! Has anyone managed to hack this gouache with any additives to make it flow better? (Eg. with a wetting agent perhaps.) I don’t really mind dilution, but the sticky quality is definitely something I felt like I’ve been fighting out of the tube.
Before Talens, I tried Arteza, and while with colors Talens was by far a winner, I feel like they throw you in the deep end with water control with their consistency.
I do love that they’re priced significantly lower than other extra fine gouache though, and they’re wonderfully pigmented and opaque (as an aside, I’d be curious if they’ve always used dextrin, as some probably 30+ year old set I found has a very different transparency and feel, though the latter can be chalked up to the passage of time).
I want to point out that for my tests/comparisons, I was using as little water as possible across all brands in order to get a better feel for the ‘natural consistency’ of each brand. It was the only fair way to compare all of their consistencies. But in a real studio session, I would use as much water as necessary to get it to work. Or add some ‘watercolor blending medium’ by Winsor & Newton – great stuff. That would really help with the stickiness.