Painting Space: Let's Explore the Universe!

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Cosmic Masterpiece

Space has always fascinated us humans since we were kids, especially when we first learned about our solar system. Whether you follow NASA’s latest news, enjoy science, or just have a keen interest in the subject, that fascination never really goes away.

In this tutorial, we’ll take our love for the stars and use it as inspiration to create our own cosmic artwork.

What You’ll Need for Your Space Painting

For this painting, we’ll mostly use a technique called “wet-on-wet.” So, you’ll need to paint on watercolor paper to get the best results. Also, you’ll want a large brush to apply clear water and another for applying the paint.

As for the colors, you can choose your favorites. I’m going to use popular galaxy colors like pink, blue, and red for my space painting.

You’ll also need some opaque white paint to paint the stars. But if you don’t have that, a white gel pen works too.

You can use black paint if you like, but it’s not necessary. I’m using black ink for my painting, but you can also use a black colored pencil, regular pencil or charcoal. You can even stick to colorful colors and skip the black altogether.

Painting Space Step by Step

Cretaing the Background

Start by applying clear water all over your paper. Watercolor paper loves to soak up water, and this step helps get the paper ready for the paint.

Now, take your lightest color, mix it with a lot of water, and splatter it onto the paper. You’ll see the color spread out in beautiful patterns.

Painting Space: Color Splatters

Once you’re done with the first layer, let the paper dry completely before moving on to the next one. This is important because for the next layer, we’ll wet the paper again. If it’s still wet, the colors will mix too much which can make the colors look muddy.

Painting Space: Color Blends

Remember, watercolors look lighter after they dry. So, after each layer, check if the colors match your vision. You can always add more color with the next layers if needed.

I’m going for a bright pink as the lightest color and adding a mix of blue and red in later layers for my painting.

Painting Space: Color Layers

Painting Planets

This step is optional. If you don’t want planets in your painting, feel free to skip this part.

Planets (or other celestial objects) can add depth to your artwork. To do this, start by drawing a few circles of different sizes with a pencil. Make sure the circles in the foreground are larger than those in the background to create a sense of depth.

Painting Space: Planet Sketch

In my painting, I’ve drawn three circles. I used everyday objects to help me draw them, as a regular compass can damage the paper.

Painting Space: Planet Halo

The next steps are more fun with pencils because you have more control. But you can also use white paint and ink, like I’m doing.

I start by applying white paint like a blended crescent on all the planets. Then, I add ink. I quickly realized I needed to go back and paint over the ink with white gouache to blend the two paints evenly. Looking back, it would have been easier to start with the Ink right away.

Painting Space: Planet Shadows

Painting the Stars

To make the stars sparkle, it’s best if the background is really dark. If you’re not using black paint in your artwork, at least make sure the colorful parts are as dark as possible.

Space Painting with Ink

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why I decided to add lots of tiny ink dots to this artwork. I’ve done something similar with my Saturn drawing before, and while it looks cool, it just takes a really long time. Plus, I’m not sure how to create smooth transitions using ink.

Space Painting with Ink

Now that we’re done with the background, we can finally focus on the stars, which are the last thing we’ll add to this artwork.

There are two ways to paint the stars: you can either splatter them or place each one individually. Both methods have their pros and cons.

With splatters, there’s a risk that the white paint won’t make tiny dots on the paper but rather short streaks. On the plus side, it’s a quick way to add lots of stars to your painting. On the other hand, when you place stars one by one, you need a very fine brush, and it takes some time. However, you have more control over where and how the stars show up in your artwork.

I’ve gone with splatters because, after dealing with all those ink dots, I don’t have the patience for more detailed work. If you’ve drawn planets like I did, it’s time to cover them up because we don’t want the stars to be visible in front of them.

I make the splatters using a size 0 brush by tapping it against another brush. You can see this briefly in my YouTube-Short. Since the brush is small, and the taps are close to the paper, the splatters mostly turn out round.

Universe & Galaxy in the Space Painting

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