Painting a Watercolor Galaxy Sky | Jen Aranyi | Skillshare

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Painting a Watercolor Galaxy Sky

teacher avatar Jen Aranyi, Watercolor Nature Artist

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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

4 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Learn to Paint a Watercolor Galaxy Sky

    • 2. Materials Needed

    • 3. Practice & Color Tests

    • 4. Let's Paint!

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About This Class

Have you always wanted to create those beautiful watercolor galaxy sky paintings you see on Instagram? Well now you can! Whether you found this course through Skillshare, or you came directly to it as one of my current Instagram followers, I'm so happy to have you here with me! 

In this course I'll be teaching you the basics of how I create my watercolor galaxy skies. We'll review the materials you'll need, walk through a few color studies using the wet on wet technique, and then complete our very own galaxy painting from start to finish, including the trees and stars!

If you take this course and want to share your final painting with me, I'd love to see it! Tag me in any posts on Instagram (@jenaranyi) or share photos to my Facebook page (Jen Aranyi Design) and use #artwithjenaranyi.

And if you have suggestions on future courses you'd like to see from me, I'm all ears!

Meet Your Teacher

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Jen Aranyi

Watercolor Nature Artist


Hi everyone! I'm Jen and I'm an artist, illustrator, graphic designer, and photographer! A lot of my art is focused around brightly colored, nature-inspired art...especially galaxy skies. I love vibrant colors and anything involving nature, so it was a natural path for my art to take. 

I'm incredibly excited to be able to share some of my process with you through Skillshare. My first video is now available, and (of course) its a tutorial for creating a watercolor galaxy sky!





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1. Learn to Paint a Watercolor Galaxy Sky: Hi, everyone. It's Jen. Thanks so much for checking out my still share video on how to paint a watercolor galaxy sky. In this video, we're gonna be going through some of the different materials. I used the technique, and at the end, you're gonna actually create this painting that you see on your screen right now. So let's get started. 2. Materials Needed: So first, let's gather the materials were going to need for this class. The first thing you're going to need is paper. I'm using Strathmore cold press their wind power. Serious paper. Next up, we have the paintbrushes. I'm using the round number 10 craft ammo brush. Um, you can use whatever papers you have, just preferably a larger around fresh. Then we have the car talking guns, a Tommy watercolors. I've got ahead in pre selected the four colors that I'll be using a light blue, a medium blue, a purple and pink. But for the purposes of this exercise, you can use any colors. You, Blakes don't feel like you need to limit yourself to just the four that I've chosen. You will then need a cup of water. Cem Painter's tape. I'm specifically using artists tape. You can get it at your local art store. You'll need a white gel pen. I used the Univ all signal gel pen, and finally you're going to need to micron pens, the 05 and the graphic. This is the bullet tipped pen. If you don't have it, you can use an 08 and that will work just fine as well. So let's get started 3. Practice & Color Tests: So now we're gonna go ahead and get started on our color tests and some little practice squares. As I mentioned before, I did pre select the colors that I'm going to use. But you'll see here I've pulled out my full set because I do still want to show you some color combinations other than the ones that I've pre selected. So the first thing we're gonna do is take our paint brush and dip it in some clean water. I, unfortunately, had a little bit left over from the last painting. I did, but if you do, that's totally fine. This is just the base layer of water, because to do our sky, we're gonna be doing a wet on wet technique technique, which essentially means you're going to lay down a base of water and then use a wet brush with wet paint to then go paint over top of your surface, which is already wet. So on my test paper, I'm laying out a square of water and going in and picking up a heavy amount of my blue, and I'm just gonna drag it across the top of my square and you'll see already it starts to pull itself down because again, we're painting something that's wet onto a wet surface. So immediately the paint wants to move around. It wants to kind of explore where else it can go. And that's part of the fun of this eight. So now we're gonna do the same thing over again, and we're gonna get our brush wet. And we're gonna make another square. I think because I'm left handed, I tend to move the opposite direction on the paper. So feel free. If you want to start on the left and move across to the right, that's totally fine. I, for some reason, just decided to start on the right side of my paper again. Probably because I'm left handed. So again, we're gonna make our square really wet. And this time I'm gonna go to the pink paper, the pink paint that I'm using and do the same thing for us with the blue. No, I'm gonna come back over to my blue square now that some of that pain has moved around a little bit. And I'm just going to see what happens if I layer some paint down at the bottom. This section is now not as wet because it's had more time to dry out, adding a little bit more water again. This is sort of just to test out how your paint moves with the water. Different pain is going to do different things. The current talking brand tends to be pretty nice with the smooth, even ingredient. You'll get some paint brands that granulated as they dry. You'll get some that create thes starburst effects as they dry, especially in the wet on wet technique. So this is one where you definitely want to kind of play around and explore and see what your particular paint does if you're not using, especially if you're not using the same brand that I am. So now as those dry, we're going to start another square underneath. And this is where we're gonna test how these two colors interact together. Now. When I planned out this piece, I already decided that I wanted to use blue and pink, and this is the color combination that I really enjoy using. So I'm familiar with how these colors will react together, especially if you're choosing colors that aren't the same ones that I'm doing doing these test squares before you paint your final piece to make sure you like how the colors blend together. And so in this step, we're going to start the same way as we did with the boxes above. We're gonna fill the top section with our blue at a little bit more water to kind of let that blue round. But then this time we're gonna add pink to the bottom half and we're gonna build them together in sort of a Apache kind of Northern Lights esque style, and you'll see I'll do one more example after this one. That's more of that blended ombre effect. So you will be able to see the difference between this style and the next one. Now we're kind of bringing the colors together in a more haphazard way, kind of letting some of the pinks go up higher, bringing the blues down, letting them sort of blend together in not really a forced way, just kind of letting them touch and merge with the wet of the paper. You'll also see that they'll start to create a little bit of purple tones in the middle as they next to. So now we'll go ahead and do our fourth square. And this is gonna be a test of the ombre effect between the two colors. Again starting with ah, wash of water so that we've got our wet base to work on. And then we're gonna do very similar technique to what we did in the previous square mixing the blues and pinks on Lee. We're gonna be a lot more gentle as we blend them together so that we get this really soft hombre greedy in effect, outer blew in. This is gonna kind of fill pretty much fill the top half of the square. You want to make your blue a little bit darker at the top and you'll see it gets lighter as it goes down towards the white area. Then we'll fill the bottom that was currently white with our pink and drag it up so that it comes and touches the blue. Adding a little bit more water, you need Teoh, and then we're just gonna slowly blend the colors together, broad strokes across it, because in this one we don't want the streaky effect that we have in the a previous version . We want these to be kind of like a seamless blend between the colors. And if you've ever watched any of my instagram videos before, you've probably seen me do this technique a bunch of times before. It's one of my favorites for creating skies because I think it just gives that, like, really nice hazy sunset look to it. So using the water and just lightly blending up and down our square until we've created that seamless connection between the two colors. So now we're going to do one last color test activity before we move on to painting our final piece. And in this one, we're gonna do, ah, long rectangle still using the wet on wet technique that we used before. But this time we're going to do some color tests using multiple colors. This 1st 1 I'm gonna be using four colors across. Um, and I personally again, if you've seen my work online, you know that I love all of my great crazy and fun colors. I like to use four or five different colors in a lot of my paintings in the sky. So this is one way to figure out what colors you like. Vest next to one another figure out what works well and on the opposite side, figure out what doesn't work well and combinations that you don't like. So to do this, I laid down yellow and then the green, leaving a little bit of space between the two. And then take the wet brush with just water and use the water to sort of blend the two colors again together. So you'll see me do this now. So we've got the blue down, and then I'm just gonna lightly drag my brush back and forth. And what this is doing is essentially picking up the pure pigment on both sides and drawing them back and poor so they kind of naturally blend together. You'll find different people like different things. I tend to like mixing my colors directly on the paper. I think it adds for some cool effects, especially when you get some of that pure pigment. And then you also get these different shades of the two, blending at different increments, so you'll get some spots that have a little more blue, some that have a little more purple somewhere. It's a 50 50 blend of both it. I think ads for more variety in your colors. But since we just did all of the cool colors well, the mostly cool colors I end up grouping yellow with both of them. We're also going to do the warm colors down below. So we're gonna repeat the exact same thing. You're going to start out with a nice box of clean water across the whole width of your page. But this time we're going to use the reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and a little bit of purple in there, too. - So now that we finish these up, you kind of have a better sense of how your colors blend together. Maybe this is giving you some ideas on what colors you actually want to use for the next piece, where we're actually going to create a full galaxy painting from start to finish. I'm gonna be using the blue, purple pink combination. But don't feel like you have to follow me. You can pick your own colors if you want to do something different 4. Let's Paint!: So the first thing you want to do is you can see here is tape your paper down to the surface that you're gonna be painting on. This will help keep it flat and make it easier to paint. So then we're gonna take our paintbrush and get it wet with a little bit of water. And for this, we're gonna be using the wet on wet technique to do the base of the sky. So you're just gonna fill in your paper with some water? We're not gonna add any color just yet. We just want to get our paper a little more damp so that when we start to place the color down, the colors are going to start to spread more organically. And this is an awesome technique for doing skies because you don't want any harsh lines. And this sort of helps the watercolors move around and kind of do their own thing. So first we're gonna take the lightest of the blues that we're using. We're gonna build up a lot of color on our brush and just start to pat it in. You'll see. As I'm doing this, the watercolors are gonna start to move very quickly because again, our paper is decently wet and and we're gonna get this, like, cool movement that's going to create a more organic color in the sky. So take this light blue color and pat it down both sides, leaving an open white space in the middle. You want that space to be a little wider at the top and you'll see as in building the color down, this white space is going to get narrower as it heads towards the bottom. This is because this is gonna form the shape of where are sort of Milky Way is going to run through the page. And so you wanted to be a little more narrow with the basin water at the top. We're gonna then take the darker color and do the same thing over again, kind of building up the layers, leaving a little bit of the lighter blue exposed towards the part of the white again. Think about keeping that strip where the Milky Way is going to run as the lighter area for now, as we're building the base layer of the colors. And don't worry if it looks kind of weird and messy right now, this sort of the point were as it dries, it's gonna start to move around a little more. We're gonna get some fun little shapes. I decided to go back in and make my Milky Way path a little bit more narrow. You can leave yours wider if you like. But as I was painting this, I realized that I did kind of want us limb that down just a little bit more in this piece and again, don't be afraid to leave some spotty areas. Think about how the colors of the sky look as they're kind of forming this Milky way shape . Here, I'm just adding in a bit more water just to keep things moving. My paper started to dry a little bit, so if you feel like you're is drying up a bit, you can add some more water back in. So then we're gonna take our pink, and we're gonna start to dot it in that space that we just meet wet again. As you can see, since the paper is pretty wet, the paint is moving very quickly. As we said it down, it's starting to spread. It's starting to mix in with the blues that we've already laid down on the paper again. Most of your piece is pretty wet still. So as you lay the colors down, they're going to start to blend together. And this is what we want, especially for this base layer. You know I'm going back in and just kind of adding a bit more pink, a little bit heavier in spots, slowly building up the color to the capacity that we want. I like to add little splashes of the pink off into the blue, just a kind of meld the pieces together so that you don't have this strip of pink and then no ping anywhere else, especially when you're doing this sort of contrast in color with the blue and pink balance . I think it's nice to sort of speckle the pink around, and there's no rhyme or reason to where you need to put it. It can be sprinkled to the darker spots. You can put it in the light. You can leave it out completely if you're not a fan of the look. I personally think it helps to sort of meld the sections together so that it's not a stark contrast between the Milky Way line and the blues of the sky No, I've got my darker blue again and I'm going back into the corners the corners of this piece we're gonna be where the darkest areas are. So if you think about the center pit of the Milky Way we've got these like light blues fading into the pink. And as you spread away from it, that's where it's gonna get darker and darker again. So really trying to build up those coroners build up the edges with our darker blue. I'm going back in with the later blue to just add a little bit of pop towards the area of the Milky Way again. This is mostly just to help blend the colors together a bit more. Give some variation to the colors that it's not all just pink. We've got pink. That's kind of mixing with blue, creating this purple e shade and then just going in and darkening up a few spots here and there again to give it a little bit of variation. And so in the final piece, we're gonna end up drawing trees over the bottom areas. You don't have to worry about the bottom of the peace too much. That's why you'll see that I'm not really giving it a whole ton of attention. Now I'm bringing in the purple just with a light touch again. Everything still pretty wet. So you see the purple moving around very quickly. I'm using the purple toe also help filled up the darker shades in the corners of the peace . I don't tend to use black in my pieces. I I like being able to build darkness with color and not necessarily with black. So that's why you'll see me using the darkest blue and the purple and kind of layering those alternately in order to build up the darker areas. Now I'm going back in with pink in order to again build up some darker areas of our Milky Way. We're gonna introduce a little bit more purple this time, especially now that we've just added a new layer of pink pinks and purples air gonna blend together, give it a little bit more definition, give it some a little bit of pop around the edges, but you'll still see that, especially along the left side of the Milky Way. I'm leaving some of these areas much lighter so that we've got a balance of contrast. You don't want way down your paper too much with too much pain. You don't want to, Philip, Every single space again. One of the fun parts of watercolor is Did it kind of gets to do it. So one thing you don't know exactly what the end result is gonna be like every time I paint each piece is a little different. I don't necessarily go into it with a huge plan. And that's something that I love about using watercolor and especially using this technique and doing watercolor skies. So now I'm taking the lighter blue and just adding it in along the edges of the milky way again just to give it a little more pop and have some fun with it. Play around as you're doing yours. Yours doesn't have to be the same as mine. You could have a sharper angle on your Milky Way. You could do all kinds of different things, so I let my paint painting sit and dry for a little bit. I gave it probably 10 to 15 minutes to dry off. Now I'm going back in just to darken up some of the pieces of a little bit more. Add just a bit more definition to our corners to the Milky Way, before we then go back in with stars and the trees again. Just using the water to help kind of spin it out, get a little bit more translucency in your paint, filling in any spots that looked like they should just be a little bit darker. And again, this is entirely up to you where you think there should be darker areas. I definitely tend to stick towards the corners and the edges of the peace. But if you feel like you want a dark, heavy area in the middle, go for it. Try it out and see what happens. The worst thing you can do is decide you don't like it and start over. But you also might learn that you found some awesome techniques or new concept that maybe I haven't tried. Maybe no one else started. I don't know. No, I'm just dragging the paint downs to fill in all the areas at the bottom again. The areas the bottom are going to be covered partially with trees at the end, so we don't need to give that too much focus. Bringing in a light blue again. Just fill in that spot that I felt like was a little too light. I wanted it to have just a bit more color than it did. I'm going back in with some of the pink, and I'm letting the pink mix with the blue on my brush, not being too careful about making sure that my brushes super clean as I switch back and forth. One of the things that I like to do when I paint is let colors blend together on my brush as opposed Teoh on a paint palette. And that again kind of comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a paint palette, you absolutely can use one. But for me it wasn't necessarily my first choice, so I like to let him mixed together. So now that the paint is dry, we're going in with Are you nibble gel pen and adding some stars. And so for this, I tend to follow the sharper lines that are created in the watercolor. So if you've got a harsher line, I tend to put a little more stars There may be some bigger ones there in the spaces that air lighter. Think of those areas as not really having stars, so you kind of tend to avoid those areas. But where it gets dark and where you get sharp lines is where I tend to group my stars and you can include shooting stars. You can put twinkling stars if you like. For this piece, I'm just going to stick to your standard stars dot Nothing fancy Onley because they think the Milky Way going through this guy kind of creates enough interest that it doesn't need anything more. But again, it's entirely up to you and how your painting is going right now. If you want to put a shooting star in it, absolutely go for it. You see, again, I'm gonna following where the harsher lines are in the piece, putting less in the lighter areas and trying to cluster the stars around the darker areas and sky going back through and adding a few more in places that I felt like could use a couple larger stars. So now we're gonna grab r 05 micron pen and start drawing out the trunks of the trees. Do you know what I start in the middle and Roy straight line down, adding a few more to either side, varying the heights of them. You kind of want to make sure they're all a little bit different. You don't want to next to each other than with the exact same height. Try to stagger them back before. So this is where the bullet tip my grand is gonna come in again. If you don't have one, you can use the 08 But I like to use this because of the thicker tip in order to do the branches of the tree. And so for this, what you're gonna do is you're going to start at the top and slowly fan out at a slight angle, moving down and getting larger as you go down the trunk of the tree. And they don't need to be equal on either side. Think about trees in real life. Think about how the branches look. Trees are relatively symmetrical, but then when you look close, you'll notice that their summer into someone said that are a little bigger than others. There's some space. Is there some gaps, especially towards the tops of the trees. You're going to get more spaces. You're gonna get more uneven branches. So don't worry about making it perfect or making everything even. Just start drawing the lines and had a bouncing back and forth across your trees and your and come out with these shapes again, just moving back in four. And as I'm drawing the trees, you'll see I kind of very how I'm drawing each branch. Sometimes I will just us one sweeping motion across both sides of the tree, and other times I'll go in and just raw one side for a little bit and then go back to the other side like I just it there. Really, What you're doing is you're creating a little bit of variety in the branches of the trees, which is helpful, especially when we're drawing trees like this where they are pretty similar across all of them. There isn't really a whole lot of variation in these trees, so getting the little bits of variation in the branches and how they shape and how they move down the tree is gonna really help this piece sing and make it look awesome. And you'll see there's also some spaces between my branches. They're not perfect. They're not completely filled in. And that's part of what I like about it is again. If you live in a tree, it's not a black triangle shape you can see through some of the branches. I changed my mind about how many stars I wanted after growing the trees and decided I was gonna go back in and out a few more stars. You're welcome to do so. If after seeing your peace with the trees you thought the same thing I did of Oh, it could totally use more stars again personal preference for me. And I just felt like I needed a couple more larger stars to sort of balance out the sky. Now that are, painting is completely dry. We're gonna go ahead and remove the tape so that we can see what our final painting looks like again. Makes obviously make sure that your painting is dry. If you're painting, is what you're gonna rip your paper, and that's certainly not at all what we want. But it should be dry, given that we were just drawing on it with a marker and ink pen. But if you're worried, please go ahead and just leave your painting teeth down for a little bit longer. And just to ensure that you don't accidentally rip your masterpiece as you're taking it off and there you have it, we have officially completed a galaxy Milky Way painting. Hope you enjoyed it.