In this watercolor night sky tutorial, we’ll use deep, rich colors to create a dazzling sky full of stars and a big, shiny moon.
Join me! We’ll be painting this pretty night sky with a full Watercolor Night Sky Tutorial from my YouTube Channel!
This tutorial is fairly easy for painters just starting out. You’ll learn how to paint a watercolor night sky with a moon and stars with just a few simple supplies like watercolor paints, brushes, and paper.
We’ll start with a quick line drawing, then move on to blending rich, beautiful colors into the sky. We’ll have some fun with splattering stars and then move on to painting in mountain silhouettes and a big, shiny round moon.
Who is This Tutorial For?
This painting is deceptively simple to paint. The deep, swirling colors and abundant stars in the sky make it look much more difficult than it really is.
If you’re an absolute beginner, who’s never picked up a paintbrush, this may be a little tough to start out with.
But if you’re done even a bit of painting, even if you’re not super experienced, I would encourage you to give the Watercolor Night Sky Tutorial a try!
Supplies for The Watercolor Night Sky Tutorial
Here are the supplies required for this tutorial, including affiliate links to some inexpensive options on Amazon.
- Watercolor Paints (I’m using Sakura Koi Watercolors but Meeden Watercolors are also good)
- Watercolor Brushes (this Dugato Watercolor Brush Set is great)
- Watercolor Paper (Amazon Basics Watercolor Paper Block is a good option)
- A Paint Palette (Hulameda Plastic Palettes are a good inexpensive option)
- Masking Tape (Mr. Pen Masking Tape is great, but any masking tape will do)
- Sponge or paper towels
- Clean water
Nice to Have Supplies (Optional)
- Silver Metalic Paint (Kuretake Starry Colors Metalic Paints are my favorite)
- Watercolor Pencils (Arteza Watercolor Pencils are a good starter set)
Video Instructions – Full Watercolor Night Sky Tutorial
If you like to learn by video, here is my full video tutorial for this project. I had to speed the video up a bit for the sake of keeping the tutorial reasonably short (no one likes an hour-long YouTube video!). You can pause it as you go an take your time painting at your own speed!
Today we’re painting a watercolor night sky filled with thousands of tiny glittering stars and a big shiny moon. Grab your watercolors and let’s get started.
1. Gather Supplies for Watercolor Night Sky Tutorial
So the supplies we’re using for this project are pretty basic watercolor supplies. I’ve got a 9×12 block of watercolor paper a little palette to mix the paints on.
I’ve got a few different shapes of watercolor brush – I like to have a rounded one for doing the sky stuff and a flat brush for cutting in the mountains in the background.
I’ll also need a small detail brush for putting the trees on the mountains and a really nice, stiff brush for flicking the stars onto the painting.
And I’ve got some tubes of watercolor paint – these are just cheapy practice paints – they’re not great. But I’ll put a link to all of the exact supplies in the description below so you can see exactly what I’m using.
The colors i’m using are Ivory Black, Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Purple, Carmine Red, Deep Yellow, and Chinese White.
And then I’m also going to use some metallic paints which I’ll talk about a little bit more later on… but they’re called Kuretaki Starry Colors and those are nice shiny watercolors that I’m going to use for the moon and some of the stars.
But if you don’t have metallic watercolors don’t worry about it – you can just use white.
I have some masking tape to mask off the corners of the paper. I have a little jar of clean water to wash out my brushes and I have a little sponge that I like to use for wetting the paper. But again you don’t need that – if you have one great, if not use a paper towel.
I have paper towels to keep my brushes clean and dry when I need to and lift some of the paint back up off the page in places. I also have a watercolor pencil that I like to use to draw in the background and the mountain shapes but again not totally necessary. If you don’t have one just use a regular pencil and draw softly so that the paint will cover it up.
2. Draw the Line Sketch
So I’ve drawn a horizon line about two-thirds of the way down the page and then I’m drawing in some mountains to the left and right and don’t forget that everything needs to reflect in the lake water below. So we’re gonna sort of draw the same shape reflected upside down below the mountains.
This is just really loose – it’s just to give us an idea of where the color is going to go so don’t worry about it too much. But again if you’d like there is a line drawing that you can trace – the link is down in the description below.
3. Begin Adding the Blue Paint to the Sky and Water
I’ve put a little bit of water on my sponge to dampen it a bit and I’m going to use that to wet the paper. You don’t want it soaking wet with like puddles underneath it but just a little bit of moisture so that the paints will go on more smoothly.
And now I’m starting to add color so this is the Ultramarine Blue which is sort of the main color for the sky and I’m going to add that first. The way the colors will blend down are kind of like a sunset, so they’re going to go from darkest at the top to the lightest color at the bottom.
And I’m just putting the color on really loosely and adding lots of water into it because you do want the colors to sort of swirl and get that nice watercolor look to them as they’re mixing together.
So make sure your paints are not too dry at this stage. You do want lots of water and again, everything that I do on the sky I’m going to reflect in the water down in the bottom third of the paper.
And now I’m using some of the darker Prussian Blue along the top and the corners and again we’ll reflect that down in the water below.
You want to let the colors sort of blend in as they go. Don’t make harsh lines with them.
I’ll use the water and the paintbrush to blend the colors together and let them swirl around and do their watercolor thing.
I am also filling in the mountain shapes with the blue paint this is just because when I go to put the black paint on afterward, I don’t want a lot of white showing through. I’m going to let the colors go into the mountains as well and then that will be covered up with black later on.
4. Add Purple, Red and Yellow to Create a Sunset
Now that we’ve got most of the sky colored in blue we’re going to start adding some of the other colors down towards the bottom. So this is supposed to look like a sunset going down just on the horizon.
We’ll have a little bit of purple going in next and again, you want to make sure that you blend them in with the blue in the sky so that it looks like a natural progression. It doesn’t have harsh lines dividing them.
Now we’re starting to add in some of the red and the yellow and letting those blend together to make a nice orange color. The yellow is going to be just barely visible along the horizon line and again don’t forget to reflect these below in the lower third – the water part of the painting.
5. Add Dark Blue Around the Edges
I mixed a little bit of the black into the Prussian Blue to make it really, really dark and I’m just going to use that around the edges. You don’t want too much of that super dark color, but a little bit around the edges to give the impression that the sky is getting darker the further you go away from the sun.
6. Mix and Blend the Layers of Color
Now that the whole painting is covered in paint and color I’m going to use the paintbrush to sort of mix the colors together. The brush is nice and wet, but it doesn’t have a lot of paint on it, and I’ll keep cleaning it as I go so that the colors don’t mix in a way that i don’t want them to.
If you bring too much of the dark blue and black down into the purples and red and yellow it’s going to start looking really muddy, so we’ll kind of mix two layers at a time just using a tapping motion and lots of water.
7. Use Paper Towel to Remove Some Paint
I’m going to use some damp paper towel to lift off some of the colors in places. When you look at the night sky on a really starry night out away from the city where there are no lights, you can see that there are lighter parts and darker parts, that are kind of… I think they’re galaxies swirling? Pretty sure that’s what’s going on (laughs) of lighter color in against the dark sky. I’m using the paper towel to lift a little bit of the dark color off and allow some of the lightness of the paper to show through.
And you can add a little bit more color as you go. I’m taking the purple up into the sky a little bit more and then again, reflecting anything that I do in the sky down into the water below. We’ll add a little bit more purple in the water as well.
8. Add Splattered Stars Using White & Metallic Paint
Now comes the really fun part of adding some stars into the painting. I’m not watering it down too much because we want the white to be really opaque, but I’m using that stiff paintbrush and loading it up with some really opaque white paint and then I’m going to flick it onto the page using my fingers. This is going to spray the paint onto the sky and give the effect of stars. And again, don’t forget that you want everything you do on the top to reflect in the water below, so make sure you add some stars in the water below.
These are those metallic Karetaki Starry Colors watercolors that I was talking about earlier. They give a lot of nice shine.
I like to add them as an accent on the paintings. This one that I’m using is the number 905 – it’s like a silver color. The way they work is you just add a bit of water and you have to really mix them up a lot more than you do with regular watercolor. But I’m using the same stiff brush to get a lot of the silver color up and I’m going to flick that on the same way that we did with the white paint to add some kind of glittery stars.
If you’re curious about these metallic watercolors – this is something I had not really seen before until a few years ago – but they are pretty cool. I’m going to add a review of these so I’ll put the little link to it in the card, and also in the description below. I think I went a little bit overboard with the stars in this picture. Let me know what you think down in the comments below. Too many stars? Not enough stars? My husband said too many stars but I’m really curious to know what you guys think.
9. Paint the Black Mountain Silhouettes
Now we’re going to start filling in the silhouette of the mountains that are showing against the sky. I know you can’t really see it in this video but I can still see the pencil lines that I drew, so that’s what I’m following to get the shape of the mountain. Again, they don’t need to be perfect. You want them to look kind of loose, hand-done.
Just make sure you’re reflecting the lines that you’re doing for the mountains in the reflection of the water in the lower third of the painting. And this is just pure black that I’m using.
I’m adding a second layer of black to make sure that the mountains are really opaque. You don’t want a lot of color showing through them because if you were looking at an actual sunset you wouldn’t be able to see through the mountains, right? (laughs)
10. Add Trees at the Base of the Mountains
Then I’m adding in a few trees and forest towards the bottom of the mountains.
Again, looking at them naturally, mountains don’t have a lot of trees on the top. They’re around the bottom valley part, so that’s where I’m putting a few trees and of course, we’re reflecting those trees in the water below.
11. Add the Moon with Metallic Paint
Now we’re going to pick up a little bit of white paint to paint the big round moon over top of the right side mountain. This part is a little bit nerve-racking because you want to get it right. So definitely start smaller, because you can always add a little bit of paint out to make it bigger, but you can’t take the paint away. You want to make sure you get it right on the first try. You could definitely use something like a coin and go in with your pencil and draw a circle if you’re not comfortable with painting a circle, but I think I’m okay with just freehanding this one.
And the moon doesn’t have to be 100% opaque white, because again when you look at the moon it’s not pure white. It is white, but it also looks like it’s got some gray spots on it. So letting a little bit of the color come through will actually give the moon a bit of texture – so you don’t have to fill it in completely white.
And I’m using the paper towel to lift up a little bit of the white again, to get a bit of that color showing through, and give the moon a bit of texture.
Once I’m happy with the shape of the moon I’m going to go back in with those starry colors metallic watercolors and again, this is the silver color number 905. I’m going to use that to give the moon a bit of shine. I do know the moon isn’t really shiny, but I do like the way that the metallic watercolors reflect on the finished painting, so I’m going to use some artistic license and do metallic on the moon.
12. Add the Final Details
To finish off the watercolor night sky tutorial painting I’m just adding a little bit of detail here and there around the picture. So I’m adding a few lines of reflection in the water below and a little bit of dark gray in the mountains to give them a bit of depth as if there’s a tiny bit of light reflecting off of them. I also brightened up a few of the stars and made sure to reflect those in the water below, so that it really sells the reflection idea.
I’m using my flat brush to go in and add a little tiny bit of really dark gray to be a bit of a reflection from the moon on top of the mountains. So there are some lighter parts showing through, but this is really subtle, you don’t have to do a ton of it.
13. Remove the Masking Tape
Now we just need to peel off the masking tape to reveal the white border underneath and hold on one second. The painting’s done but I’ll show you the way the metallic watercolor sort of shines in the moon. The paint bled a little bit under the masking tape but it’s not a big deal. I’ll go back and touch up those bits with white gouache after.
Watercolor Night Sky Tutorial Wrap Up
I think a moon is a perfect place for a little bit of shine in this painting and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
As always, thank you so much for watching! Don’t forget to hit like and subscribe and if you want to see more fun watercolor projects check out my easy watercolor playlist on Youtube. See you soon!