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How to Paint a Street Food Cart with Gouache

How to Paint a Street Food Cart with Gouache

Have you all seen those cute carts in the street, so bright and fun? Well, today we are going to be painting one using gouache paints. This is really fun to experiment with because you can use this tutorial and choose to turn it into a candy, coffee, fruit or even your local street food cart.

Hello everyone! I'm Doriana (, architect and illustrator, and part of TPL Design Team. I love all things colorful and I think this is a going to be a perfect tutorial to learn a little bit about proportions, and have fun with colors.




For this tutorial you'll need:

  • Pencil and eraser
  • Gouache paint: choose the brand you feel comfortable with
  • Sketchbook or watercolor paper (make sure your sketchbook can handle water media)
  • Brush: TPL Studio Round 4 and TPL Studio Round 8
  • 2 jars of water
  • Cloth or paper towels
  • A mat to protect your desk from paint or water damage

Did you grab all your supplies? Let's work with our cute cart!


Psst...if you prefer, you can watch the video version of this tutorial instead.


Step 1: Look for Your References

If you know me, you know I'm a reference hoarder, even though I don't think that's an actual term, let's go with it. I think it is important to search before drawing, that way you can have an actual thing to compare your drawing to. That's how we learn, baby!

For this, I used websites like Pexels and Unsplash that are free stock photo services. That way we are making sure we don't infringe any copyright - super important.

What's so good about looking for references? You'll never know what's going to surprise you. I was thinking about making a candy cart at first but ended up finding some cute little oranges (or tangerines), and it suddenly clicked. I should make a cute fruit cart instead.

Here are the pictures I found to work with:

Step 2: Sketch the Cart 

Grab your sketchbook, pencil and eraser to start, we'll sketch the cart base first. Think about proportions when sketching. As you see, the lower part of the cart is about the same height of the upper part. Also, the space from the ground level is roughly half the cart's height. Keep in mind the wheels and compare the size to the proportions you already know.

As for the roof, it's about 3/4 of the height of the cart, including the ruffles. 

 Start by sketching from the largest element and then build up. 


Step 3: Place Your Food Elements 

After you sketch the basic shape of your food cart, it's  time to sketch some elements that are going to give character to your illustration. I incorporated a bowl and a stand full of oranges, a flower vase and a little blackboard to indicate the price. I also added some leaves to the sides to decorate the cart and make it look fancier. 


Step 4: Prepare Your Color Palette 

Because this is an orange fruit cart, I'll be using oranges, yellows and some pink and light blue as accents. As my base color, I used Bumblebee Yellow from Arteza Gouache, mixed with Cadmium Red Light. To achieve a dark green, I mixed Brilliant Green with Ultramarine Blue. And for the pink, I used Cadmium Red Light mixed with Titanium White.

Using white turns color into pastel-like versions of themselves so use that in your favor to achieve a cute look. If you like vibrant colors, you can just use them straight out of the tube.

Pro tip: Do a thumbnail of your drawing to test color placement.


Step 5: Paint Your Flat Colors 

As I said earlier, I usually start painting the largest shapes, like the main cart. You can use a larger brush for this part, the TPL Studio Round 8 is really good for this. That way it's easier to fill in the area without the fear of it being dry before you finish.

Moving up to the roof, and then all the details, paint all your basic shapes based on your thumbnail study. 

Pro tip: For the wheels, I mixed my yellow, red and blue colors to create a dark gray/black. That way my black is not pure, but a mix of the colors I've been using already.


Step 6: Paint Depth and Shadows 

Wait for your paint to dry before you start building up your flat colors. Define your light source (I kind of always go with the top left to place my “sun”). In that case, cast shadows will appear at the bottom right of my elements (opposite my light).

Use the colors you have and mix a little bit of ultramarine blue to make it darker and blue-ish for the shadows.

Also, paint the cast shadow for the ground with a lighter tone of the color you used for the wheels to set it so it doesn't look like it's floating.


You nailed it! A beautiful food cart is born 😍 Thank you so much for following along with this tutorial. I can’t wait to see what you all make with it, and what other food options you turn it into. Remember to share your work and tag @thepigeonletters and me


Doriana is inspired by Caribbean architecture and enjoys using gouache and watercolor, as well as her iPad to create vibrant and bold illustrations. She also loves using her bullet journal to stay organized! Check out more of Doriana's tutorials over on the blog.

Fancy painting more food carts? Pin this blog post for later.


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