How To Paint a Watercolor Galaxy Border | Mindy Baumgartner | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Introductions

    • 2. Real Galaxies and Nebulae

    • 3. Supplies Needed

    • 4. Prepping Paints

    • 5. Experimenting

    • 6. Painting the border

    • 7. Adding Stars

    • 8. Farewell

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About This Class


Space is pretty neat, right?  It's beautiful too. Want to paint something totally out of this world?  If so, you are in the right place.

Join Mindy, the CraftyPhysicist, as she walks through the basics of how to paint a watercolor galaxy by creating a galactic border.  If you've ever wanted to paint a galaxy, this is a great, non-intimidating place to start.  This project can be completed in under an hour and it's great for beginners.  It's all about experimenting with your paints and observing their behavior.

She will walk through some basic watercolor supplies and techniques.  And along the way she shares some of her own personal tips and tricks.  

So, join now to make a piece of science-based art!

Meet Your Teacher

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Mindy Baumgartner

Science enthusiast and crafter of things


Hi, my name is Mindy, and I am the Crafty Physicist (find me on Instagram with the link on the left).  I love crafting and all things science.  I went to school for Physics/Astronomy and Museum Studies.  So communicating science is what I was trained to do.  And I love it.  Though, there was a second side of me... When I was younger, I never considered myself a "good artist" - but I loved the thought of one day being one.  And I loved to make and create - so I would do it for fun, regardless of the outcome.  Little by little, I got better.  Over the past few years, I decided to put even more effort in to advance my skills in art.  So, here I am!  Skillshare has been great for me to help me grow my skills.  

And now, join... See full profile

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1. Introductions: Hi. My name is Mindy and I'm a scientist. Now, you may be wondering what is a scientist doing teaching an art class? Well, I have been a crafter in a maker for decades as a hobby, and I believe that science is amazing, interesting and often beautiful. I have a real enthusiasm for communicating science, and I love sharing my crafting with others, and I wanted to find a way to merge the two. So I started making science based art. Now, one of the most beautiful things that I have encountered in science are the Galaxies and nebulas and outer space, and I wanted to learn how to paint them. So I practiced a lot. Since I have no formal art training, it was a lot of trial and error. I took a lot of online classes, some of them right here on skill share. And I learned a lot through that and practicing, I was able to develop my own style. And now I want to share that style with you. Today, we're gonna learn the basics of how to create a watercolor galaxy. This is a great foundational class for building more complex watercolor Galaxies in the future for today's final project, we're gonna make a galactic border, and inside that border you can put whatever you want. It could be a greeting cards, stationery. Or maybe you have a favorite science quote, but you can hand letter. This is a great watercolor class for beginners because it's all about getting to know your watercolor paints, how they interact with water and how they interact with each other. So let's get painting. I can't wait to see what kind of science based art you create. 2. Real Galaxies and Nebulae: So before we jump into painting, let's take a few minutes to talk about actual Galaxies and nebulas. Galaxies are collections of stars. We're talking millions and billions of stars. Our own galaxy is called the Milky Way. And what super cool is that? We can see the Milky Way galaxy if we go into a really dark sky. When you look up into a really dark sky on Earth or from the International Space Station, such as in this picture you will see a light area. It might look a little bit like a band of clouds across the sky. That light area is actually caused by millions and billions of stars. They're just really far away now. There are billions of Galaxies, and we can see those Galaxies with the help of very powerful telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Check out this picture. There's a couple of individual stars in this picture, but basically everything in this picture is a galaxy. This picture just blows my mind. The universe is huge. Now we can't really see. The galaxy is very well in this picture, so let's zoom in to see a few Galaxies up close to get an idea of what they look like. Now. Those special telescopes can catch other really beautiful things that we can't see with our naked eyes, such as nebulous nebulas are also super beautiful. They are clouds of gas and dust, and these gas clouds are often stellar nurseries or places where stars are born, or their remnants of supernova, which are exploding stars. Now some of these colors are added post processing because some of the light the telescopes captured are invisible to our eyes, such as infrared light and ultraviolet. Looking at pictures of really Galaxies and nebulas is really important before you jump into painting. A great resource to do that is theist Rana Me picture of the day website at NASA. Every day they share a new, beautiful and inspiring space related picture. Now here we have a picture of a Milky Way of the Milky Way. We have the dark sky and the milky white on the side here, which again is billions of stars. We can scroll down to the bottom, and we have the arrows here, which allow us to browse days past so you can click through and see other pictures here We have a nebula with beautiful colors there. Click through again and we have a galaxy. Now, when you look at these pictures, there's some things to take. Note like what colors. You see how the stars look and how light and dark certain areas are. I'd love to see a picture from the website that you found beautiful posted in your project as a piece you were inspired by so that we can share our love of the cosmos together. Okay, so just one note of clarification. If you're painting a beautiful night night scene and you have that band of light going through a dark sky, you are, in fact painting a galaxy. However, most of the time when we're painting these celestial sort of scenes are paintings. More so mimic a nebula as opposed to a galaxy. And that's true for this class. That means I probably should have called this class how to paint a nebula border. But you know that Galaxy terminology has just sort of stuck to sort of encompass all these types of paintings. So I'll keep calling it a galaxy border. But in our heart of hearts will know the difference between the Galaxies and nebula. Right? Great. Now for real, let's get painting 3. Supplies Needed: Yea, welcome to my messy, paint splattered desk. Let's go ahead and get started talking about supplies. The supplies you'll need for this class are the normal supplies you'll need for any general watercolor class, paper brushes, paints, water and so on. I'll go through what supplies I'm using, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand and experiment. First, let's talk about paper. I generally used the cancer on watercolor paper and the Strathmore watercolor paper. Both are 100 and £40 which means it's heavier than normal paper and able to handle the water that is required in watercolor painting. Be aware that each type of watercolor paper will absorb water differently, and obviously there's more than just these two types of watercolor paper. Another example that you might hear a lot is the Arches Brand Arches Brand is super high quality and kind of expensive, and it will produce a very different product than painting on these student grade papers. However, I really love the way that my Galaxies and nebulas turnout on the cancel in Strathmore. So that's what I'll be using. But I encourage you to experiment and see what works best for you. Also, I often use one sheet of paper, measure it and cut it down so that I get 44 by six pieces of paper, and that's what I do my projects on. Then I have a little bit of leftover, and I use that for books, marks or for other projects, or for practicing on brushes. For this class, we will be using round brushes. I tend to stay pretty small with my brushes. I don't go much larger than a size six. I found that it helps me to control the water a little bit more, which is important for watercolor Galaxies. I will also use a size four in a size one in this project. I really love these Robert Simons White Sable brushes. I got them online through Blick art supplies, but I encourage you to use whatever round brushes you love paints again. Use whatever kind of watercolor paints you have on hand. I will use a large variety of paints from liquid watercolor, two tubes, two pans again. Whatever you have on hand, I tend to use tubes and pans more for my watercolor Galaxies and nebulas just because I found that they I can control the intensity of the colors a little bit more with those two mediums. Um, I also I super love these two specific colors on the mob and the intense blue form from Windsor and Newton on the common line. Uh, I'd get some really beautiful galactic colors when I'm used the's, so I will most likely use these in some of the projects today. Um, I encourage you to go through your collection and find some colors that you really love and that worked well to make your Galaxies. And then, of course, you need things like paper towels for cleaning your brushes and helping with mistakes, and then some clean water for cleaning your brushing between colors. If you're really fancy, you may want to use a second glass of water of clean water, one of them for cleaning your brushes and one of them for getting clear water. In this class. I'll only use one since our paintings are pretty small in the water. Won't get too dirty. Hopefully and then, of course, you need some white paint to make your stars. I will use white water color and white wash and go wash is basically like a more opaque watercolor. I used these because if I make a mistake with my splattering, I'm easily able to correct it because both watercolor and wash our water soluble. And then I also use a white Joe open toe help fix up any stars at the end. I think that's about it. Why don't we go ahead and get started with our painting? 4. Prepping Paints: and we have our supplies. We are ready for the next step of choosing what colors to use to paint our galactic border for the galactic border. We want to choose Onley two colors, at least to start off with. So how do we choose? There are so many great colors. So do you remember the scientific method? I'm sure you remember parts of it. The main just of it is observation hypothesis, experiment conclusion. While the scientific method relates to much more than just science and science and Artur actually much more related than most people think. And sometimes they even follow a very similar process. So we're going to use some of the steps of the scientific method to help us choose which colors to use in our galactic border. So first, let's do observations. We already observe the Galaxies and nebulas. What colors did we see there? Second, what colors do we know generally work well together. For example, the primary colors. When we mix the primary colors, we get secondary colors, so we know those work well together, or maybe colors that are close to each other on the color wheel, like a blue and a teal or orange and red. Those colors are also gonna flow really well from one into the next. So after we made some observations, were gonna you make a hypothesis? I had. Prosthesis is a guess. So we're gonna choose about 5 to 6 colors that we want to experiment with for me. I'm gonna be using my intense blue, an intense green mahv this Windsor, yellow and black. You want to make sure at least one of your colors is black or really dark blue? Because, well, space is dark. Now we need to prep for our experiment. We need to get our paints ready. That means if you're using pans or tubes, we need toe, add some water to it, some clean water and let it sit for a few minutes. So I'm gonna get my number six brush and just put a few dabs of water into each that's going toe. Activate the paint and make it easier to work with when we're ready to start painting. All right, we'll let that sit for a few minutes, and in the next video we're going to start our experiment 5. Experimenting: All right. Our paints already. Let's get ready to experiment. I'm using my scrap paper and a number for brush. So first, choose your 1st 2 colors. Start off with your darker color and then move into your lighter color. So for my 1st 1 I'm gonna choose my intense blue as my sort of darker color. And I'm gonna make a nice watch of my intense blue And you want the color to be fairly intense. Eso If you feel like it's too late, don't be afraid to go back and get some more paint. Put that down, rinse off your brush, dab it on the side there and get your second color, which for me will be the mauve. Lay that down next to the blue, your darker color, your blue. But then don't touch them just yet. Once you have a pretty good swatch down, then come in and touch the two together and observe what happens. You know, we thought that maybe the blue and the pink might go together to make a nice purple, and it did, in fact, then rinse off your brush, get some clear water and put that right underneath your lighter color well and have that lighter color just sort of fade into the white paper. And that's your first experiment. Our first part here. First color combination. So let's move into a 2nd 1 again. Choose your darker color first, I'm gonna go with black this time. Make a nice watch of black. Rinse off your brush. Come in with your second color, which for me is going to be this intense green. Put that under it, but not touching yet. Wait until you get a nice watch down and then come back and combine. Now be careful with black. You don't want to touch it too much because black has a tendency to make things money so you don't want it to combine too much, just kind of. Let it do its work and then come in with your lighter or with your clear water underneath your lighter color and have it fade into the paper. All right, let's do another one. I'll do the black again, and then maybe this time I'll try the mom or the pink underneath the lighter color, and then combine the two. Try not to touch it too much, and then come in with my Clearwater under, so it's the same process over and over. We're just watching how these different paints combine because they all act a little bit differently. Let's go back to my intense blue as my darker color. Rinse it off, get my second color, which I'm gonna do the yellow next. Put that underneath and then combine them together. Oh, and that was interesting when I combined the yellow and blue, the yellow moved into the blue, as opposed to when we did the black, the black moved into the green and the pink. So, you know, I'm not loving the way this look, so I probably won't use that one. But that's what experimenting is all about is learning more about the substances. So I understand how this yellow works a little bit more. I might not use that one for that specific process, but it's good to know about it. So let's take a closer look as thes dry. They're gonna look different than they are when they're wet, and you can see these are these lovely lines I was talking about, but you get with the Strathmore in the canon that you don't usually get with the arches paper. I love those little water lines. I feel like Is it a really cool effect? The green and the mob look great against the black. I think that looks fantastic. You can see here there is a hard water line, those air, one of those things I try to avoid. You can go in and try to fix them with more water. Just get some clean water before it's totally dry. Once it's totally dry, it's kind of stuck there. But if it's still a little bit wet, you can come in with more water underneath, and you can use your paper towel to kind of dry it. So hopefully those hard lines kind of disappear. That looks a lot better down here. You can see again how I was mentioning that yellow and blue, how the yellow moved into the blue. It's an interesting effect, but not the one I'm going for in this project. So now it's your turn. I want you to do this at least five times with different color combinations. Feel free to do more than that. If you're having fun, because the more you play, the more you're you're going to get to know your paints, post your experimental work in your project, and then pick your favorite. The favorite. Your favorite one is your conclusion and what you're going to be using for your galactic border. I can't wait to see your work. 6. Painting the border: all right, I think we're ready to get started with painting the galactic border. So in my practicing, I really love the way the black and the mall look together. So that's what I'm going to use for my final project. If you want, you can take down the edges with painter's tape that will help with warping. When I do a full watercolor galaxy painting, I use a lot of water, and as the paper dries, it does wrinkle or warp. Since we're just doing a border, there's not gonna be as much water, so there isn't as much of a need for taping it down to prevent the warping. There will be a little bit of warping, but it won't be so bad that it's not usable, so I am not going to tape it down. But if the warping does bother you, please feel free to tape it down around the edges. So I'm using my number four brush again to help with water control, and I am going to start with my black, load it up with some paint, just like we did in the practice, and I'm going to start painting the edge now. This watch that I'm painting is much thinner than it was when I was practicing. We did a thick swatch when we were practicing is that we could really see how the colors were combining together. We don't have that much of a need to see that, to observe that this time, so we don't need to do that. We'll make thinner lines, and then we have a lot of space in the middle to play with for our quote or for our greeting card or stationary or whoever, you're going to use this now. I got clean water in between those two colors. I shouldn't have done that. It's gonna leave a sort of interesting line there, so I might come in with a little bit of more black paint to kind of encourage the black to creep into the pink like it was before. If you're not paying attention to what you're doing, then little mistakes happen. But that's all right, right? Like happy little mistake, says Bob Ross would say, All right, let's pay attention to what I'm doing, so I have the black little black line there. I will add the pink next to it and without getting water. Combine it together to let the black just sort of creeps into the pink. Because that's what I really liked in my practice and then come back with the Clearwater like so and get the pink to sort of creep into the white paper black swatch. As you notice I'm holding the paper in the middle. I am not holding it on the edge because there are oils on my hands. And then when the oil sticks to the paper, it makes it hard for the watercolor to stick to the paper, and it kind of leave some interesting marks. So I try to hold the paper in the middle so that I don't run into that issue, and I'm doing the same exact process as I did in the practice. Now, if you notice that you have too much water and you're getting hard lines and you don't want to add more water, you can actually dab some of the water away, and that can also help with those hard lines and then come back with some more clear water . There we go. Okay. And also, if you're someone who rests your hand on, uh, on your paper as you're working, be aware that pretty soon we're going to start resting our hands. If we were to rest our hands, we would rest it in wet paint. So you kind of have to start painting in the air to prevent smudging. With the arrest in the air, I should say, But you're rests in the air like you just don't care. Accepted you care. I care about this painting and making sure it does not get smudged. There's not enough black there, so I'm just gonna add a little bit more black, a little bit more pink. Get some more intense colors in there. Who we got some nice, intense and a lot of paint on my brush that time. So I got some nice and tense color there that's going to be really pretty. It's nice to have some areas that are lighter in some areas that are darker again. Nature has lots of variety. We don't want straight lines. We want interesting things to be going on. That's why I'm adding more water here. I noticed it was kind of a block of color, and I didn't like that. So adding in a little bit more clear water? Well, hopefully encourage some interesting water patterns. Toe happen. Watercolor paint kind of has a mind of its own, but you can encourage it to do different things. The more you practice, the more you'll get to know your paints in and how they behave right here. Just adding a little bit more intense color cause it was again just kind of a swatch of the same kind of intensity of color, and I like it to be a little buried. We're getting really close to done here on our last side, and it's looking really cool right now. It'll we can observe it more once it has completely dried. - All right, last little bit, working into the corner here, last but a clear water. That's it. So we could be done here Well, except for adding the stars will do that in the next video. But we could be done here, or we can add second layers. So this is a great stopping point of this is your first time making a galaxy, but you can add more layers. The more layers you add on, the more dimension it is going to give your painting and make it seem more realistic. So, as you can see, well, let's look really closely first at this. Look at how beautiful that water bleed is not the Guinness from the Clearwater moving up into the pink. There's some really lovely things happening in that corner, too. Yeah, this is absolutely beautiful. This is a great stopping point again. You can add more colors and add more dimension if you wanted to. As an example, here's another one that I did. It was the black and pink was the bottom layer, but then added a once it was dried, a layer of blue of that intense Salo blue on top, and it was just blue, and I did the same process of just blue and then Clearwater to kind of make it blend out. And do you see how much more depth and dimension that has So you can add more layers if you want or stop at the first layer, that's fine. Ah, but next will be adding the stars, and then your border will be done. Thank you 7. Adding Stars: welcome to the final step of your galactic border, adding the stars. So we're gonna use a paint splattering technique to do this. So, as I mentioned earlier, I like to use white water color or white wash. And for this I am going to be using the White Wash. As I said earlier, it's a more opaque watercolor, so I can still fix mistakes easily later if I need to. But it will. It will show up a little bit better than white water color. Water control is really important when you're doing a splattering technique. If your paint is too watery than it's gonna make big blobs on your paper, if it's not watery enough, then it's not gonna come off your brush it all. So before you do your galactic border, I would actually suggest getting out one of your practice sheets doing your paint splatter on this. And then from there, you'll have a good idea of how much is the right amount with the right consistency for your splatters. So I'm gonna start off just mixing some water in with my gosh until I feel like it's thick enough that it might drip off and then I just hold onto the brush with one hand and tap it with the other like this and I tap and it looks like I got a pretty good consistency on this first attempt. Here, go back and get some more and just splatter it around like So hold it up close, you can see. And once the stars are added, it definitely does look a lot more galactic. So you did your border and you're not sure it doesn't really look like a galaxy to you. Once you add your stars, it will definitely look very celestial. So once you feel like you have a good handle on how much water you need, get out your border and you can start splattering, splatter all the way around. Now, if you don't want to get any splatters on the center part, you can absolutely put a piece off white paper or any color paper Honestly, but just some paper in the middle toe block the splatters from hitting that portion of the paper that you don't have droplets there because the paint kind of does go everywhere since it is white. I'm not too worried about it on this one. But if you were doing something really professional and you want to keep everything nice and neat, that's an option. Splatter it around. Get some areas that have lots of stars, some that have not as many. It's definitely in space. It's not consistent. There are areas that have lots of stars in their areas that don't have as many. So that's OK. That's encouraged. All right, that looks pretty good for a first background kind of look here, let's take a look close up. Yeah, that looks really nice. And why I like to do splattered as opposed to just drawing in all the stars with a gel pin . Obviously it saves time, but also you get different dimension. So some are brighter than the other. Some are darker, and I mean, stars are closer and farther away, so they're gonna be all different. Brightness is as well. So I like to do splatters with my stars, for sure. Now, to make some of the stars even brighter at this point, you can use your gel pin. Teoh, make some of them brighter, just come in and make some bigger stars around the edges. Like so. Now, if you make a mistake and you don't like something like maybe you accidentally got one big blob or two blobs of paint kind of came together. You just come in with your water and paint over it and it disappears. Just like that. It might leave a little white spot, but really, that's no more indistinguishable than any of the other kind of imperfections that you have around the edges there. So feel, Frida. Fix as you need, Teoh. If you don't like the way any of them turned out, just come back like that or you can use your gel pen and just make a bigger star over an area that you didn't like. So that's another option to so again from here. You could be done. I think that looks amazing, but you could go farther if you wanted to. If you wanted to, you could add some sparkle stars, Um, around the edges. Um, some lines. So you would just draw, lineup, draw line down and then draw them to both sides. Like so. And if something doesn't look quite right again, you can come in with your gel pin with your quash. However you want Teoh and do some touch ups to make it just how you want it. I just That's all right. Come in with my gel pen and make that star actually with my paint. Repaint that center star so it's a little bit brighter. So there's a little sparkle star. So you can do that if you want again. Not necessary. But at this point, uh, you have successfully completed your galactic border. Congratulations. You have successfully splattered paint in a meaningful way to represent stars in a night sky. Nice job. Uh, this point. Please post your work in your final project to share with everyone else. I'd love to see your galactic border. 8. Farewell: Thank you so much for joining me for this quick tutorial. I can't wait to see what you create, so make sure to post it in the project section below so that we can all see it. And I can tell you how awesome you are. If you post your work to Instagram, make sure to tag me at crafty physicist so that I can see it two. And I'll give you even more praise while you're there. Make sure to follow me for even more science based art. Thanks for spending this time with me. Thanks for being nerdy with me. I'll see you around.