Painting Planets – First phase of work

As promised, based on my previous article, I wanted to show you some of my first attempts at painting planets.


I was intrigued by paintings of galaxies and stars using watercolors which I discovered in youtube so I thought I would give it a try myself.


I purchased a set of Winston Newton watercolor set from the Michael’s store which really got me off to a good start and you can see this in my previous article above. Having gone through a whole pad of water color papers really rapidly, I thought I would be economical and create several concentric circles using the base of a glass and a pencil on the pad. This allowed me to be conservative with the water color paper and do an umpteen number of experiments.


Here are my findings:

1. To get the effect of intermixed stellar gases that exist above the planets surface, I originally thought that the way the colors expand on a moisturized water color pad would do the trick. I found it very hard to create the effects I was looking for and you can see a couple of my many attempts below.


Painting planets in watercolor to get effects

Painting planets in water color and watercolor pad


Painting planets with watercolor - set 1B

Painting planets with watercolor by adjusting the moisture content


2. Moisture retention – What I found as I went through many of these experiments was that water retention played a big part in the type of effects one gets on the pad. What I mean by this is that, depending on whether you wet the pad and then how much you dilute the paint pigment AND the amount of water already in the paintbrush all play a big part in the overall application of the paint and effect. I even tried drying the pad slightly with a hair dryer and then applying paint. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the result.


3. Using a combination of acrylic paints – With the watercolor I found that there were too much diffusion and dispersion of the paint that interacts with the fibres of the watercolor pad that did not give me the truly desired effect of a gaseous surface. What I was looking for was a quality of swirling gaseous mixture that looks like the surface of Jupiter. You guys can probably picture the image of the planet Jupiter with its unique swirling mass of gases that forms ‘ring’ at its largest circumference. Interestingly as I was trying acrylics which are water soluble, I found I could just about get some of these effects. Below are those attempts with various types of media including normal drawing paper, Canson mixed media paper etc.


Painting planets using mixed media

Painting planets using acrylics and mixed media


Painting planets with mixed media - acrylics and watercolors

Painting planets – mixed media, acrylics, watercolors


I must have used every format of laying down the paint using, paper, toothpick, painters knife, brush, sponge. What I found was that acrylic does mix and gives somewhat the ‘swirly’ character of a planets surface, it needs to be very well controlled. I found that the knife gave me the effects I was looking for. However, I get the feeling that I would need to experiment more with the watercolor and acrylics somehow working together.


My next set of experiments I have in store include using ‘oils’. I did try this briefly and got similar swirly effect as with acrylics but it wasn’t quite there. I am thinking of using some other oils along with the oil colors to do the mixing. Also, something which I have not mentioned here which also constitutes the realism of the planet is the underlying sphere. We know that even with its semi-translucent gases and a rich variety of colors that sit on the upper surface of the planet we still have a sphere which has reflections and highlights just like an orange. To see this effect I came across this superb painting of the planets created using spray cans shown below. You can clearly see that the painter is well acquainted with highlights of the sphere to give that three dimensional feel and look.


Planets painted using spray paints


Will report more results in my next round of planet painting!

One Response to “Painting Planets – First phase of work”

  1. Soum says:

    Good try, carry on….
    Below webpage link using spray paints, which I think a easy and good trick to produce the desired effect, you are looking for.


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