How To Paint Galaxy Space With Acrylics
Learn how to paint a galaxy on canvas or on any surface! This step by step painting tutorial will guide you through the process of rendering the entire galaxy on any size canvas!
There are two parts to this tutorial. Part one is how to paint the galaxy background. I am leaving this part separate from part two only because there are so many creative things you can do with a galaxy background! Instead of planets, you can write a quote, use the technique for the sky in another painting, etc. In part two, I will demonstrate how I did the planets!
I would also like to mention that this tutorial is a bit different from my others. Instead of showing your exactly what to paint and where, I am going to (attempt) to teach you the “technique” of painting a galaxy. I’ll let you know what colors and tools I used and demonstrate how I used the sponge for 80% of this painting. Then once you get the hang of the “sponge” technique, it is really simple and VERY addicting!
Enjoy this tutorial! Happy painting artists!
See How To Paint A Glow-In-The-Dark version of this painting!!
Part 1 “How To Paint A Galaxy”
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- Canvas (I used an 11″ x 14″ and an 8″ x 10″. This design/technique really works on any size and object!)
- Acrylic Paint (Choose Galaxy Colors!)
- Paint Brushes
- 1″ Flat Brush
- #0 Round Brush
What you need to know about painting galaxies!
A good galaxy painting starts with a great galaxy color palette! The colors that I selected are not exclusive to galaxy painting. There’s many different combos you can experiment with! I do recommend that you limit your palette as much as possible so it doesn’t end up looking like a rainbow. I selected three colors in the “blues” category: cerulean blue, phthalo turquoise and bright aqua green (highly recommend you select turquoise hues!). And I selected two colors in the “purples” category: quinacridone magenta & deep violet. Black and white are essential (for obvious reasons).
You really don’t need anything special to paint a galaxy! I think the most essential tool you’ll need is a *sponge. It can be any sponge, doesn’t have to be a sea sponge. I just found one in my kid’s craft closet! Easy peasy.
*(Actually, the technique I am showing you is the sponge technique! You can also use a large soft brush to get the same effect.)
I also used two different size brushes. One was a 1 inch flat brush and the other was a tiny #0 round brush. The large brush was just to paint the entire canvas black. The small brush was to make bigger looking stars.
Finally I used an old toothbrush! This is to splatter those very fine white dots that resemble stars. If you don’t want to use a toothbrush, you can also use any thick shaped brush to splatter paint.
I think painting a galaxy is all about the technique! I will present you the steps on how I did mine. However, you are more than welcome to go your own way with the galaxy painting!
Directions At A Glance:
Step By Step Photos:
1. After painting a canvas black, use a sponge to paint magenta and white!
Dip the sponge in quinacridone magenta and a little bit of white. Paint a diagonal line.
2. Blur the paint by sponging over the color again with a dry area of the sponge (or the same area as the paint is drying on the sponge).
It will look blurry and dark! We will be adding multiple layers so stay patient!
3. Use a sponge to paint deep violet and white.
Now sponge an area in the lower right corner with deep violet and a little bit of white. Make it blurry by sponging it over with a dry part of your sponge. I ended up making all my colors go in the same diagonal direction.
4. Use a sponge to paint cerulean blue and white.
Again, sponge an area of cerulean blue and white. Also I added in a bit of phthalo turquoise to the blue.
5. Sponge an area of bright aqua green.
6. Sponge black lightly over all your colors!
This is the part that will make the colors blend more into the background. Basically I sponged black over the colors in clusters. You don’t want to cover all the colors. Just sponge enough to dim the colors.
7. Apply more layers of color!
Huh? So we dimmed the colors now we are adding more on top? I’m not crazy! The reason why I did this is because this painting has dimension! Galaxies have a lot of dimension! In order for colors to be in the distance, they have to be dim so we applied black over that! Now we are adding brighter colors on top! Basically, add white to the quinacridone and apply more paint and then blur with the sponge.
8. Apply a brighter layer of violet and blues too!
Continue on and add more brighter layers to all the colors specifically in the middle of those diagonal lines!
9. Dim the colors again with black!
So the “gist” of this is, more layers means more dimension. You can stop if you’d like! But I didn’t. I dimmed the colors again with black. Then I added more color on top! Again, emphasize the middle of all those diagonal sponged on lines being brighter with more white!
10. Splatter paint stars with a toothbrush.
This is that magic moment in galaxy painting! Dip the toothbrush in white paint and flick it with your finger. Experiment with it! When you splatter really close to the canvas, you get dense stars versus if you splatter far away. When you angle the brush you might get a line of stars. Also, try adding a TINY TINY bit of water to the brush. You will get more stars than if your brush is completely dry.
11. Use a tiny round brush to paint brighter stars.
To get a variety of stars, I used a tiny brush to paint some cluster areas of bright larger stars. Think “clusters”! When you look at the sky at night, the stars really aren’t in a uniform distant apart from each other. Some are close together, some are far, some are dim, bright or even different colors!
12. Paint a starburst.
I used that small round brush to paint a star burst. Basically paint an asterisk. Drag each stroke from the center out. Apply more white in the middle to make the middle super bright. As the white dries, apply more white until it is pure white and super bright. Basically, the more you layer the white directly in the middle of that starburst, the brighter it will get!
13. More stars!
You’ll see in the video that I went in and did more sponging over the stars. This allowed the stars to be different colors. Then I did more of the round brush stars in clusters. Just keep going with it and have fun! Also notice there is a new diagonal line of “phthalo turquoise” going the opposite direction.
14. Keep going with those layers, stars, sponging, splattering, etc. until you are content with your galaxy!
This is beautiful the way it is! But if you are here for the planets…continue on to part two!
Part 2 “How To Paint Planets”
- Acrylic paint (these are just the colors I picked for my planets. You can chose you’re own color palette if you’d like!)
- Titanium White
- Neutral Gray
- Naples Yellow
- Light Green Permanent
- Quinacridone Magenta
- Paint Brushes
- #3 Round Brush
- 1/4″ Flat Brush
- 1/8″ Flat Brush
Video: (Not playing? See it also on the Facebook page)
Step By Step Photos:
1. Draw out your planets with chalk.
I drew out a simple composition of planets with chalk. One on the lower left is only half visible so I only drew a half a circle. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to lay out the planets. I thought about doing the complete solar system in order but went with this setup instead.
2. Paint your planets in!
Then I simply painted my planets in! If you are using a color that doesn’t show up well against the black (it’s too translucent), just add a bit of white into the color to brighten it. You can also paint all the planets in white first and color over but I didn’t feel like doing that at the time! To get the shadowing on the large green shadow planet, I used white on the far right and black on the left. Blend the black with the green so it looks like it is fading out. The colors I used for the green planet are: light green permanent, titanium white and mars black. I also used a 1/4 inch size flat brush.
3. I painted the upper right planet quinacridone magenta + white!
Again, paint the planet the solid color first. Since quinacridone magenta is translucent, I added to it. Then use black for the shadow on the left and white for the highlight on the right. Blend the black with the rest of the color. If you’re not feeling this highlight and shadow thing, you can leave the planets as is and just add some interesting textures or lines instead!
4. Continue on painting in your planets!
My gray one got kind of “lumpy” here. Maybe it’s a meteor! Any how, I used “neutral gray” for that gray planet. I also painted the smaller planets in. Use a smaller round brush for the smaller planets.
5. Painting Saturn
Then I painted Saturn! I started by filing the entire circle in with naples yellow. Then I painted gray stripes over the yellow. After that, I did the black shadow line on the far left.
6. Saturn’s Rings
For the rings I used a 1/8″ flat brush and titanium white. Part of the ring is thicker on the left and right side. Then the ring gets thinner in the front part that overlaps Saturn.
To darken the ring, I painted black lines along the ring using a small #1 round brush (any small round brush will do).
That’s it! Think of all the creative possibilities you can do with galaxy painting!