Technique Thursday: A Galaxy Background

All over YouTube I’ve been watching the ‘Galaxy Background’ tutorials. So I took what I learned over the past couple of days and combined them to make my own way of doing galaxy backgrounds. I’ve been crafting for about 4 years and this is the first time I’m actually happy with the result of my attempt of a watercolor galaxy background. I used my Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 pan watercolor palette, I got my palette from for $39.50. There aren’t names (in English anyway) but there are numbers that correspond with the paint colors so I will let you know once we get started. I used Strathmore Watercolor paper that I cut to be a little bit larger than an A2 size card. I did this because I wanted to have an area to tape it down that I could cut off without losing any part of the image I want.

I started out, after taping my paper to a hardboard, by giving the whole paper a water wash so that the colors would move. I chose three colors that are known to make a really good watercolor galaxy- blue, green, and purple. I used No. 62 (blue), No. 52 (green), and No. 139 (purple). I then painted my first layer of color in little areas, spreading them out and swirling them together.

With me doing this late at night and for the fact that I have no patience, I took my heat gun and dried my first layer. Then I took those same colors and went over the colors with another layer, making sure there are deeper and lighter areas to add depth to the painting. To make areas lighter, I take a brush with just water on it and drop and brush it in the areas I want to lighten up. Once I was happy with the coloring I, once again, heat set the image. Remember that the paint will loose some of it’s vibrancy as it dries down.

I did two more layers and then I started with the black. I really like to use those sponge brushes you can get in a pack at Michaels . It picks up a lot of color but it also helps to water it down so when you start painting the black on it won’t black out all of your hard work. I do it in light layers, it’s easier to add than it is to take away. I did two light to medium coats of black and I was really pleased with the result. Remember what I said it’s easier to add than it is to take away. Below is what the background looked like with all of the color layers before I started with the black.

Don’t panic, it’s going to look like a hot mess before the black. This is how vibrant I like to have the colors that way they will shine through brighter underneath the black. Next I took the pearly white color (No. 95) and put it on one of my acrylic blocks and then it took a stiff brush and flicked it over the paper. This dried down a lot but then I took some tube watercolor from Reeves in White and once again put it on the acrylic block, added a bit of water, and started flicking it onto the background. These speckles really stood out because the paint was thicker and had a heavier consistency. Below is what the card looked like at the end. I wound up cutting it to 3 3/4″ x 5″ because when I was peeling the tape off I must have missed a wet spot because it started to rip. Small but enough to change the dimensions I wanted. That’s a big thing to note, do not try to remove your tape if any part of the piece is still wet and to peel the tape back on itself at an angle which will also help to reduce tearing.

I’m not going into to much detail about the card now because this will be the spotlight card for this week. What are your tricks for making galaxy backgrounds? I would love to know! I’ll leave you for now and see you on Sunday for another Card Spotlight!

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” -Jackson Pollock –

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