Artfly Himi Gouache review (including metallic and neon colours)

Paintbox containing 56 pots of various coloured Himi gouache including metallic and neon colours

Is Himi gouache a good paint?
Having tested it out I would say yes, it's excellent value for those wanting to experiment with gouache and gives good results for illustrations that would be scanned in and used for printing. Read on to find out a bit more and see the paintings I produced with this set.

I recently got the Artfly 56 colour set of Himi gouache. As an artist I never thought I'd be painting in gouache. I had tried some years ago when I also tried watercolours and concluded it wasn't for me. Being used to acrylics I couldn't get to grips with the layers remaining soluble. All I made was a muddy mess!

Time has moved on though, and my skills and confidence have increased as I've become more experimental, and less rigidly stuck to photorealistic works. I picked up watercolour again a couple of years ago, and added gouache last year to expand my repetoire.
The Himi paints are popular on social media, they look great photographed, who isn't excited by a veritable sweetshop of colours on offer, and they're a surprisingly good paint for the money.

56 swatches of coloured gouache

The set comes packaged in a huge black box and has 56 colours, including four neon colours and 8 metallic colours. (I swatched one twice so forgive the error!) To my knowledge this is the only way currently to get the metallic colours in the UK. The individual pots are messy to open, so be warned, have kitchen towel on standby. 

The lid also gets messy when you close it. I guess this is to keep it as airtight as possible, however paint getting on the lid means your colours could become contaminated with others, so I've periodically cleaned mine.

There's a good range of colours in each of the families, although as an artist who primarily does birds and animals I would have loved a raw umber colour. Browns can be mixed, in gouache you need to make sure you mix enough, usually I mess up on that! At first I wondered what I would possibly do with the neon colours, but I think they would be great mixed in with others to give them an extra pop. This could be striking, particularly in florals.

Miniature pink metallic moth painted in illustrative style on A7 Khadi rag paper

The metallics are very pretty and have great coverage. I tried them out on this little moth and was impressed how well they performed. Some of the other colours have different levels of coverage, and I think some of this is more to do with the pigments than a failing of the paints. Although gouache is known as an opaque medium, not all pigments are opaque. Even in professional ranges some gouache colours are listed as semi opaque due to the pigments used.

Gouache painting of a countryside landscape with a blue sky and a field of poppies

I tried out a couple of paintings on the dinky A7 size of Khadi rag paper. These little bits are slightly smaller than an ATC and are a great way to experiment. Being a cotton paper it really holds the paint and I didn't experience any issues with adding multiple layers.

Miniature gouache painting of an old shed with foliage and a garden of flowers

I really enjoyed doing this miniature garden scene. I know a lot of people who do landscapes using the Himi gouache and the colour range included is well suited to that. 

Spot illustration in gouache of a blackbird, vibrant green leaves and foliage in an illustrative style

To try some larger pieces I moved onto a Canson XL mixed media pad. Again, this paper performed well with the paints. What I like about the Himi gouache is it's much easier to get the consistency right for painting than with tube paints. You're looking for something similar in consistency to cream - not too thick and not too thin.

Spot illustration in gouache of a skylark bird surrounded by grasses and plants in a semi realistic style

Gouache does take more planning than acrylics, and I found sometimes it wasn't so easy to go light over dark with these paints. On the skylark's breast I went a bit too dark early on, so it ended up going a little grey as I tried to layer the lighter colours over the top. This could be easily tweaked once the illustration is scanned in.

Although the set comes with a handy colour card, it contains no pigment or lightfastness information, so assume they are not lightfast. Gouache is traditionally an illustration medium, designed to be used on work that will be scanned in and not sold as original art. Even in professional ranges there are still colours that are partially, or non lightfast, so that's not a deal breaker in my eyes.

Gouache illustration of a nuthatch bird on a mossy tree trunk in a realistic style

The little nuthatch was the third illustration I did, and my favourite one because I was beginning to get the feel of the paints by then. I did this over two afternoons and the paint on my palette re-wetted easily the next day.

I've tried gouache from Daler Rowney, Winsor and Newton, Royal Talens and Caran D'Ache, and I think the Himi comes out well compared to them. No, it doesn't have the pigment amount and quality a professional range does, but it's still better than many student ranges. You also get a huge 30ml pot of each colour. 

Part of creativity is playing and experimenting. That's when you make new discoveries. When you're using expensive supplies you're constantly aware of that expense, so it can hold you back a bit. The best paint is the one that you will actually use a lot, and I will be using this set for anything from experimenting, to illustrations I want to scan for prints. It's great value for money.

These are the materials I used
Artfly Himi Gouache 56 colour set
Khadi Rag paper 
Canson XL textured mixed media paper

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