At $11.65-22.76 this is the most expensive gouache on my list. The 15 ml tubes are standard size compared to other brands on the market.
I’ve been using this gouache since 2021. My first impressions video is kind of funny because I was geeking out about how good it was.
Schmincke says they use pure pigment in a gum arabic binder with ox gall as a wetting agent and a bit of dextrin to improve matte finish and binder strength. The ox gall makes it unsuitable for vegans. See the bottom of my post for thoughts about this.
The cap design is OK, but I noticed that if you get any gouache stuck to the rings, sometimes they don’t close tightly. It kind of just spins forever…this could lead to the tube drying out over several months if you aren’t careful. I recommend keeping your tubes in a sealed plastic bag between uses.
Most of these colors were gifted to me, but my favorites are titanium gold ochre and helio turquoise. I recently discovered that indian yellow is a wonderful mixing yellow. It’s much more transparent than the others but has a high tinting strength.
I used a small selection to create these mixes:
Lemon Yellow, Indian Yellow, Carmine, English Red, Helio Turquoise, Ultramarine Light.
It’s no secret that I love this gouache. I’ve been using it since 2021 and it’s been in my travel gouache palette ever since. In this test, I approached it the same as all my other tests. I monitored the flow, the opacity, and whether it allowed me to enjoy the process or if I had to fight it. Well it’s probably no surprise that it was a joy to use! It has one of the smoothest, creamiest consistencies, and remains opaque and vibrant even when I add a bit of water. But the thing is, I don’t have to add water to get it to flow, unlike some of the other gouache on the market. It works beautifully straight out of the tube.
The thing I love about using really good gouache is that you forget you’re even painting with it. You just paint. You aren’t fighting the materials. After my awful experiences with Miya HIMI, Royal Talens, and Caran D’Ache it just felt so good to paint whatever was in my head without resistance. Despite the dextrin in the binder, which sometimes makes paint feel sticky, it doesn’t diminish the creaminess. If anything it helps balance it and the matte finish is absolutely gorgeous.
I really like how this paint interacts with water. It doesn’t get gooey or slimy, the pigment seems to evenly disperse in the water and this means you can fill in larger areas really easily. You only need a tiny tough of water to extend the length of your brush stroke.
The yellows were more transparent than the other colors, which is common for yellows. But they allowed me to create really strong tints, and the other colors were very opaque, allowing me to easily layer my colors. The Indian Yellow is one of the colors that was gifted to me, and I was surprised by how vibrant it is, especially in tints. It’s more transparent than even the lemon yellow, but since I was using it as a mixing yellow that was ideal. It’s difficult to find a good mixing yellow in gouache that doesn’t overpower or desaturate your colors. My other favorite color, helio turquoise is also a bit transparent, which is normal for phthalo colors. But again, it’s so powerful that it can create really strong tints. I never use it on it’s own. I especially love it when mixed with white and reds. It’s my favorite mixing color for coastal scenes because you can use it to create beautiful turquoise waters.
Conclusion: Schmincke Horadam Gouache is the best gouache I’ve tried. Beautifully creamy, vibrant, and opaque. Just the perfect consistency! Since starting this big gouache comparison project, it showed me that this gouache is perfect in ever way except one: it contains ox gall (see below). This is the main reason it ranks lower on my list. I can’t bring myself to fully endorse it. If this topic doesn’t matter to you, then yes this is the perfect gouache and 100% worth the high price.
It’s Not Vegan-Friendly
Ox gall is an animal derived substance added to paint to improve flow and moisture content. This wetting agent has been used by watercolor artists for decades. It was also used in print making and even pen inks for a time. If you look at my Database, you can see a few brands use it for specific gouache colors, but you’ll notice it is much more common in watercolors. Ox gall is technically extracted from the bile of an ox. Gross. Schmincke says “For our needs no animals die just for the ox gall, it is always a by-product; it is not taken from alive animals. So, no animals are caged and killed for this specific purpose.”
So on one hand, is it OK to use because it’s a biproduct of the meat/leather industry that would otherwise go to waste? Or is it better to avoid it altogether?
I’m vegetarian for many reasons, one being my love and empathy for animals. When I first purchased Schmincke Horadam gouache I was unaware of the inclusion of ox gall, and it turns out that it does bother me on a moral level. Over the last year, I was gifted 15 tubes of Horadam gouache because people see me using it on my channel. So now I have a huge pile of this gouache.
I’m actually devastated that my conscience is forbidding me to buy this gouache anymore because I love it that much. No other gouache I’ve tried is as perfect as this, which is why this hurts so much.
I’ve decided I will use up the paint I own but I won’t be purchasing any new tubes. If Schmincke starts using synthetic ox gall instead, I’ll reconsider.
Note: They also have a vegan “Akademie” line of gouache (student grade) but I have not tried it yet.