In this tutorial you will be creating a galaxy style portrait of a dog. This step-by-step process will show you how to use watercolours and gouache paint to achieve a beautiful galaxy look. This is a simple technique that is perfect for watercolour beginners or novices. I hope you enjoy it!
What You’ll Need
You’ll need the following equipment or similar, in order to complete this tutorial:
- 300 GSM cold-pressed watercolour paper
- Watercolours in Permanent Rose, French Ultramarine, Prussian Blue, and Phthalo Green
- Erasable or watercolour coloured pencils in pink, blue, and purple
- Watercolour brushes
- White gouache paint
- Cup of water
1. How to Paint the Galaxy Wet-on-Wet Technique
First, draw the outline of your dog with your coloured pencils. This technique works great on any dog, but it works best on dogs with bicolour, particolour, harlequin, or tuxedo coats. The French Bulldog I’ve sketched out has a tuxedo coat.
Wet the dog’s face area with plain water as the galaxy effect is a wet-on-wet watercolour technique (if you aren’t familiar with this term, it means you apply wet watercolour paint onto wet paper). Don’t apply too much water; you want a good even coverage and no water puddles. Don’t apply water to the inside of the ears, nose, or eye area.
Begin applying your watercolours. Start by applying permanent rose to your brush and dabbing your brush on the paper—you want 30% of the face to be pink. Clean your brush afterwards.
Now, working fast, dab your brush covered in Prussian blue on the face, covering around 50% of the blank space. Don’t worry about blending for now. Clean your brush afterwards.
Lastly, apply French ultramarine to the face by dabbing your pigment-soaked brush over the last areas of white space and any areas you feel necessary. Clean your brush afterwards.
Now it’s time for blending! Get rid of any patchy areas by dabbing your clean brush (but not damp) in between the colours. Clean your brush afterwards.
Now, with your clean brush, do the same as you first did with the face and apply clean water to the body. Don’t worry if colour runs from the face.
Saturate your brush with the permanent rose and dab onto the body. You can even just add long strokes of paint. Clean your brush afterwards.
Dab onto the body with your brush covered in Prussian blue. Clean your brush afterwards.
Fill in the rest of the blank space by dabbing ultramarine blue into the areas. Clean your brush afterwards.
Define the leg area by adding more permanent rose. Clean your brush afterwards.
Now, blend the colours together by dabbing in between the colours with a clean brush. Clean your brush afterwards.
2. How to Add Detail With Watercolour
Define the eyes, legs, and shape of the dog by adding a outline with Prussian blue. Add some fur marks on the chest area by painting small strokes. Clean your brush afterwards.
Add a layer of permanent rose and Prussian blue mixed together to the legs to create depth. Clean your brush afterwards.
Add a layer of permanent rose on the forehead and to the chest area near the shoulders. Once it’s dried, add some strokes of permanent rose to the forehead to define the dog’s face wrinkles. Add some strokes on the shoulder to add fur-like details. Clean your brush afterwards.
Add a layer of Prussian blue to the back legs. Clean your brush afterwards.
Add a layer of clear water to inside the ears. Apply Prussian blue to the outward edge and create a gradient blend. Add some fur details to the paws with Prussian blue. Clean your brush afterwards.
Add a layer of permanent rose to the collar. Clean your brush afterwards.
3. How to Paint Stars With Gouache
Time to add the stars! Squeeze some white gouache onto a clean area of your watercolour pallet. Add a small amount of water to your gouache, enough to create a creamy consistency so you can easily spread around the paint. Then paint numerous vertical 1-2cm lines on the body and face.
Paint horizontal lines through the vertical ones you’ve just painted to make a cross shape.
Paint curved lines to create a diamond shape and fill in the area with gouache. These are the large stars.
Now paint many small crosses near and around the large stars, with a larger number of crosses closer to the large stars. The crosses are the medium stars.
Finally, for the small stars, paint many small dots around the other stars, leaving a few large gaps with no stars.
For the finishing touches, add a few extra stars around. I added a few smaller large stars and medium stars.
4. How to Add Detail to the Eyes and Nose to Make the Painting Pop
All that is left now is the eyes. Add white gouache to the inner corners of the eyes, and a circle of light at the top of the eye. Clean your brush afterwards.
Next, use some green watercolour or any colour of your choice to paint a layer over the eye to create contrast.
Lastly, we’ll work on the nose. Paint the lower area of the nose with French ultramarine in a gradient with the darkest area of blue at the bottom.
Awesome Work, You’re Now Done!
Doesn’t it look great? You’ve successfully sketched out your pet, applied the wet-on-wet galaxy technique, and added starry details to finish your beautiful portrait. What other illustrations can you apply this galaxy watercolour technique to? Please post your creations down below—I’d love to see them!