How to paint a galaxy with watercolors

If you ever wondered How to paint a galaxy with watercolors, then you might want to look at the following pictures 🙂

I had painted a few of such galaxies and posted some of them on instagram. It seemed that they were liked a lot, so here you go, a little insight.
There are, of course, many other ways to paint a galaxy with watercolors, but the following pictures are showing the way I do it. I tried to take as many pictures as I thought might be of interest while I was painting one of those little galaxies.

Have your watercolors,
watercolor paper (I like the Canson Watercolor Pad
for my sketches and paintings),
a medium size brush (I used a #6 here),
a container with clean water and
a rag or paper towel ready.

Sketch a circle with pencil, if you wish or just fill a certain area of your favorite shape – always remember: There are no rules!


Start with a brush loaded with water – add water in ‘blobs’ on your area. Load your brush with watercolor (pick any color, I used Payne’s Grey
from Winsor & Newton here)
It’s spectacular to see the paint spread – I’m excited to watch that every time! Just let it go it’s own way…
Continue to wash your brush and add more ‘blob’ areas (doesn’t have to be super clean, it’s OK if you have leftover pigment for the next brush strokes still in the brush). I do it in a way that these areas do not connect at first.
…add more pigment…

201511_galaxy_6…to all wet areas… I just go around and add where I feel it needs color.
Then come another fun part: Connect the separate areas with a brush stroke (loaded with clear water). Again, very exciting to watch – you never know what the pigments will do 😉

Repeat all that until your surface is covered. Keep on adding more pigment to the still wet areas. Use very dark pigment for sure, as this is supposed to help to make the impression of deep space… but otherwise just experiment and use your favorite colors.


Sometimes it happens that there’s too much paint puddling in some areas. You can try getting if off with a paper towel (but it’s not necessary – the paint will dry eventually ;))


Now you could add salt to achieve special effects. I do this sometimes, but I prefer to add a few clear water drops here and there (best if the paint is still wet). I like the effect that this delivers after everything is dry.


BTW – while I was preparing everything, my younger son came by and asked what I was doing. I showed him and he wanted to have a go.



I helped a bit with the outline to finish his galaxy up.
His galaxy turned out quite well, don’t you think?! 🙂

After everything is dry, you can add glitter, white ink, letters, splashes… whatever you feel like.
Now go on, try it! …and don’t forget to share your watercolor galaxy, I’d love to see it!



PS.: here are a few watercolor sets I like. I use a mix of brands, I’m still trying to find my favorites. I like Winsor & Newton and Schmincke Horadam
for sure.
If you’re just starting out, the Winsor & Newton Sketchers Pocket Box
is nice as well as the Koi Watercolors
If you like more pigment, then go for the professional grade watercolors, though they are a bit pricy.
I guess this should be all in a new post about my favorite art supplies! I let you go now… paint paint paint!


  1. Lovely post. I like that your son was inspired to join in. I’m in the market for some new watercolors so your recommendations are very welcome. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Laura! Yes, he really likes to draw, but mostly with his colored pencils and markers. So getting his hand on the brush was a nice change 🙂 Good luck with finding some watercolors you like. It’s so hard to decide, but once you have started a ‘collection’ it’s easier to go from there.

  2. Your galaxy posts at instagram are sure winners. Thank you for sharing this Jana. I am new to watercolors and I think this post will greatly help.

  3. […] How to paint a galaxy with watercolors – a easy-to-follow watercolor tutorial by Jana […]

  4. […] is a wonderful day to make one. I chose a galaxy theme from the the blog tutorial from Jana of Tangled Pen and you tube videos of Ana Victoria Calderon . Thank you ladies for those […]

    1. Thank for the link back, Carrie! I’m glad you got to play with your watercolors 🙂

  5. Thank you too Jana. It was a wonderful opportunity to play and learn.

  6. Anonymous · · Reply

    That was really cool. I want to do this as a background for a title page. After it’s dried would I be able to draw over it??

    1. Apologies for the late reply – I transferred my blogging to my new site… To answer your question: Yes, you would be able to draw over the background painting. If you’d like to make sure it stays intact, I suggest using acrylic paint or ink. If you’d like to use watercolor or gouache, you would have to be very careful not to lift the underlying layer of paint when applying a new layer. It is possible, but needs some practice.

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