In this post you will learn how to draw a galaxy using some very easy techniques that I learned as a kid and perfected as an adult. They are so simple you will not believe it. Follow these steps and you’ll be the master galaxy drawer in no time! I like to use a variety of mediums to achieve the best galaxy effect so don’t be afraid to pull out your charcoal, pastels, aquarelle pencils or graphite pencils and paints.
So for these galaxy drawings, no matter which medium (pencils, charcoal, paint or pastels) you use there is one thing you are going to need to make it work and that is either white paint or a white paint pen like a Posca paint pen to draw the tiny stars effects.
The reason is, galaxies are full of stars and the easiest way to do them in a drawing is to use a white paint of some sort.
I will show you how to apply the paint to create the stars effect for each galaxy drawing.
How to draw a basic galaxy – Let’s look at a real one first
Before you start to draw your amazing galaxy, we need to learn the basics of how a real galaxy looks and that will help us to draw a basic galaxy.
Once we understand how a real galaxy looks, then we can try drawing one using pencils.
The most common types of Galaxies are called Spiral galaxies and that is the type that we are going to learn to draw today.
So what does a Spiral galaxy look like? We need to know so that we can draw a galaxy that is pretty realistic.
Spiral galaxies look like an oval tilted on an angle surrounded by arms that spiral outwards, a bit like when you see water spray spinning in slow motion.
As the spiral spins, the arms go out wider and wider while the centre looks more densely packed.
Let’s have a look at a picture of a spiral galaxy to get an idea what it looks like and then we can start drawing one.
Notice how we will need to have a black background of some sort to represent space.
Then we will need some reds, yellows and whites to capture the older stars in the centre.
We will then need some blues to represent the light coming from various stars in the arms spiralling outwards.
Notice how these arms become more blurred as they spiral further away from the centre.
Finally, notice the specks of white that are the thousands of smaller stars that we will represent using the splatter of white paint or white Posca pens.
Let’s Start with drawing the Basic Shape of a Spiral Galaxy
No matter what we will use to draw a galaxy, whether it is pencil, markers or paints – we will need to know how to draw a basic outline of a spiral galaxy.
This way we can quickly get an outline done and then move onto the fun part of filling in the cosmic details.
The first thing you need to remember is that you should be using a very light pencil like a 2H pencil to start with.
Don’t worry if you don’t have one, any pencil, charcoal or pastel will do just don’t press hard on the paper when you draw.
To support the instructions below, I have provided you with a short video that include images of the galaxy drawing step by step. Feel free to pause, rewind and watch again as you progress your own drawing of a galaxy.
How to Draw a Galaxy Video
Steps on how to draw a galaxy
1. Draw an oval
The first step on how to draw a galaxy is to start by drawing an oval. Make it go on a slight angle. This will be the main outer ring of the galaxy where the spiral arms will come from.
2. Draw a smaller circle inside
Now let’s draw a smaller circle inside the first oval and this is where the yellow/white older stars will be.
3. Draw the spiral arms
The next step is to draw the curved arms that will come off the first oval we drew. These are called spiral arms and they need to go in the same direction.
You will not need to make these perfect, they just all need to go in the same direction.
Remember that these should start close to the oval edge and as we get further away from the centre of the oval, the arms will also move further apart.
Now that we have an outline, we can start to fill in the drawing with either pencils, charcoal, pastels or paints.
As you can see from the video, I have actually used pencils, charcoal, pastels and paints to draw a galaxy.
I find that mixing the media gives you a better final result and allows you to smudge edges and then add bright stars and colors where needed.
4. Let’s draw black space
Whatever you choose to paint the black space, make sure it covers almost all of the paper except for the spiral arms and the centre of the galaxy.
Start by using some black paint or charcoal. If you are finding that this is taking longer than you expected you can use a wash of a type of pencil called an Aquarelle pencil (also known as Watercolor pencils – click this link to learn how to use them).
Find a black one and draw the black area and then with a slightly wet paintbrush, do a wash like you would a watercolor painting.
5. Draw the galaxy
Now to start filling out the arms of the spiral galaxy.
What we want to do here is show some light spirals that blend into the darker areas. If you’re using color pencils, you may want to start adding some dark and light blues for effect.
The next thing you want to do is start smudging around the edges of the spiral arm so that they blend in with the rest of the background. I used charcoal and some pastels for this effect.
If you find smudging has made the spiral arms too light, then add some extra black here and there and blend/smudged that in as well. I suggest using pastels to do this as they blend in really well.
Now we want to add some colors like small blobs of red or orange (for larger stars) and blend those too so that they fade into the darkness of space. You can use pencils or paint for this.
The next piece is the fun part, adding stars and small specks for tiny stars and suns.
6. Let’s add sparkly stars
You can either apply these randomly with a white paint pen (make sure it has a fine tip) or use a fine tip brush.
The reason I use paint is that it looks way better than a pencil and it is also much easier to do.
Use your fine tip pen or brush with a little white paint on the end and place small dots of varying sizes here and there.
If you want to be more daring you can try the technique where you use a brush to randomly splatter white paint.
Watch this YouTube video if you are interested.
Drawing bright white stars is a little hard to do with pencil. If you want to try, you will need a putty eraser to remove the pencil from the paper. Keep dabbing away at the spot where you want a star.
You will then need to do this everywhere which will take you a long long time.
Now you see why I prefer paint or a paint pen. It takes a few minutes for a better and more realistic effect.
This is what my galaxy looks like, I prefer to apply stars individually as I like more control but you choose what you like.
Maybe try one drawing with random splatter and another drawing with carefully drawn stars and see which one you prefer.
I hope you enjoyed this post How to draw a galaxy and I hope you learned a new skill that you can apply to your drawings.
Who knew drawing a galaxy would be so much fun!
If you wish to learn how to draw something else, feel free to get in contact with me using our Contact Us form or DM me on Instagram. By for now!
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com