Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review

Basic Information

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.


Schmincke Horadam Gouache Color Swatches

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.

Schmincke Horadam Gouache Color Mixes


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.

Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review
Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review

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.

Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review

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

Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review

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.

Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review

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I'm an independent artist living in Scotland. Always chasing the light, and painting the beautiful highlands.

3 thoughts on “Schmincke Horadam Gouache Review

  1. Sarah I stumbled upon your website today and it’s been so helpful to me! I’ve been trying to find a good list of cruelty free gouaches for a long time as a fellow vegetarian. I wanted you to know that I was gifted a set of Holbein goauches not knowing that some of the colors contained ox gall until after I had them and was upset about it too. Thank you for taking the time to do the reserach to figure out what brands/colors are actually vegan/cruelty free. They certainly don’t make it easy when brand websites don’t even have ingredient lists for specific colors!

  2. I feel you SO much. Living in the very same town they have their headquaters, it just felt natural to me to check out their products. And they are excellent. But just as you, I didn’t find the information about the included ox gall, and I am very grateful for you to pointing it out. And I feel absolutely heartbroken as they really are lovely paints, but just like you write I can also not bring myself to use them until they have a similar but vegan friendly replacement. I have a few tubes of the watercolours and I will use them until they are gone, but the replacement will likely be by Daniel Smith, although they are probably the most expensive paints for me to get. This is for Gouache and Watercolours. Again thanks for your dedication and the Database too.

  3. I would not recommend the student line of Akademie gouache, it does not perform well in my opinion. But what about Schminckes Designers gouache? It is much more affordable than the Horadam line, in Germany about 6 Euros per 20 ml and for me it performs similar to Winsor and Newton Designers gouache.

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