Drawing Surreal Galaxy: Step-by-Step Colored Pencil Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Select your tools
  2. Start with a sketch
  3. Add base colors
  4. Create depth with shading
  5. Layer colors for galaxy effect
  6. Add stars and nebulae
  7. Draw planets and other objects
  8. Polish and refine your drawing

Imagine being able to capture the mesmerizing beauty of the cosmos with simple colored pencils. That's exactly what you'll learn to do today: how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils. We'll walk through each step together, from the initial sketch to the final touch-ups. So, grab your favorite set of colored pencils and let's get started!

Select Your Tools

Before we dive into the process of creating a surreal galaxy, you'll need to gather the right tools. The quality and type of your tools can significantly influence the final outcome of your drawing. Here's what you'll need:

  • Colored pencils: A good set of colored pencils is key. Look for something like Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, which offer a wide range of vibrant colors.
  • Sketchbook: A heavy-duty sketchbook is best for this type of artwork. Canson XL Series Mix Media Pad is a solid choice as it can hold up to the many layers of colored pencils.
  • Pencil sharpener: Keep your pencils sharp for precise lines and details. The Staedtler Metal Double Hole Sharpener is a reliable option.
  • Eraser: For mistakes or lightening areas, a high-quality eraser like the Sakura Sumo Grip Eraser does the job well.

Now that you have your tools in order, you're all set to explore how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils. Remember, the magic lies not just in the tools, but in how you use them. So, let's move on to the next step: sketching out your galaxy.

Start with a Sketch

Starting your surreal galaxy drawing begins with a basic sketch. Think of it as a roadmap for your artwork. This initial step might seem simple, but it sets the foundation for your entire piece. So, how do you sketch a surreal galaxy?

  1. Spatial Layout: First, decide how you want your galaxy to be positioned on your paper. A spiral galaxy? An irregular one? It's your surreal world—go wild with your imagination! Draw lightly so you can make changes if needed.
  2. Objects and Details: Next, lightly sketch where you plan to add stars, planets, and other celestial bodies. Remember, it's a surreal galaxy, so you can place objects wherever you want. Don't worry about getting it perfect at this point; these are just placeholders.
  3. Check Your Work: Before moving on to coloring, take a moment to look at your sketch. Does it have a good balance of elements? Does it feel like a surreal galaxy? If something doesn't look quite right, now is the time to fix it.

With your sketch finished, you've taken the first big step in learning how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils. It's just a rough draft right now, but soon it will be a vibrant, surreal galaxy that's out of this world!

Add Base Colors

Coloring is where your surreal galaxy will begin to come alive. But before you dive in headfirst, let's discuss the basics of adding base colors. What colors should you use? How do you apply them? Let's find out.

  1. Choosing Your Colors: For a galaxy, you'll want a mix of dark and vibrant colors. Blacks and blues can serve as your dark colors, while purples, pinks, and whites can add a vibrant pop. Remember, this is a surreal galaxy, so don't be afraid to experiment with unusual color combinations! You might be surprised at what works.
  2. Applying the Colors: Start by lightly applying your dark colors to the areas you've designated for the galaxy. Use a soft touch—colored pencils can be layered, and this is just the first of many. Then, add your vibrant colors in streaks or clusters to represent different areas of the galaxy.
  3. Smooth Blending: After applying your base colors, use a colorless blender pencil or a white colored pencil to smooth out your colors and blend them together. This will help create a more cohesive, galaxy-like effect.

Now that your base colors are down, your sketch is starting to look more like a surreal galaxy. But we're not done yet! The real magic happens when you start to add depth and detail to your drawing. So, let's move on to the next step in our "how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils" guide.

Create Depth with Shading

Now that you've laid the foundation with base colors, let's add some depth to your galaxy. Shading is a powerful tool in your "how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils" journey, as it can make your drawing feel three-dimensional. Here's how to do it:

  1. Identify Light Sources: In any drawing, it's important to establish where the light is coming from. In a galaxy, the light sources could be stars, planets, or even nebulas. Once you've determined your light sources, you'll know where to add highlights (the brightest spots) and shadows (the darkest spots).
  2. Layer Darker Tones: To create shadows, you'll want to add layers of darker colors. Start with a light touch and gradually build up the intensity. Remember, it's easier to add color than to take it away!
  3. Add Highlights: Now for the fun part—adding highlights. Using your white pencil, lightly dab on the areas closest to your light sources. This will give the illusion of light shining through the darkness of space and onto your galaxy.

By adding shadows and highlights, you've just taken a big step in your "how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils" journey. Your galaxy should now have a sense of depth, making it feel more real and three-dimensional. But the fun doesn't stop here. Let's keep going!

Layer Colors for Galaxy Effect

Alright, your galaxy is starting to take shape. It's time to move onto the next step in our "how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils" guide: layering colors for that galaxy effect!

  1. Choose Your Galaxy Colors: Galaxies are known for their stunning mix of colors. Some are vivid with pinks and purples, others are more muted with blues and blacks. Decide which colors you want in your galaxy and make sure you have those colored pencils ready.
  2. Start Layering: Begin by lightly layering your chosen colors over the base. The key here is to blend the colors together smoothly. To do this, use a light hand and build up the color slowly. Patience is the name of the game here!
  3. Blend, Blend, Blend: To create a seamless galaxy effect, you'll need to blend your colors. You can use a colorless blender pencil or a white pencil for this. Remember to blend in the direction of your color layers for the best effect.

Voila! With your colors layered and blended, your galaxy should now look vibrant and dynamic. But we're not done yet. Our "how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils" guide still has a few more steps to go. So, let's move on to the next one and add some stars and nebulae!

Add Stars and Nebulae

Now that your galaxy is bursting with stunning colors, it's time to sprinkle in some stars and nebulae, adding that surreal touch to your drawing. So, here's how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils complete with stars and nebulae.

  1. Add Stars: Stars bring life to your galaxy drawing. You can create stars by using a white pencil or a gel pen. To draw stars, make tiny dots of varying sizes all over your galaxy.
  2. Create Nebulae: Nebulae are like the cotton candy of the universe—fluffy, colorful clouds in space. To create a nebula, choose a lighter color (such as light blue or pink) and draw irregular, cloud-like shapes in your galaxy. Then, blend the edges for a soft, cloudy effect.
  3. Add Depth to Your Stars: To make your stars shine brighter, surround them with a little darkness. Take a black pencil and lightly draw around the stars, then blend it out. This will make your stars pop out more.

And there you have it! You've just added stars and nebulae to your surreal galaxy. But we're not quite finished. We still have a few more steps in our "how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils" guide, so let's keep going!

Draw Planets and Other Objects

Now that we have a galaxy sparkling with stars and nebulae, let's add some planets and other celestial objects. Remember, in a surreal galaxy, you're not bound by the rules of our universe. You can let your imagination soar.

  1. Draw Planets: Start by deciding where you want your planets to be. Draw a circle for each planet. Then, pick a base color and fill in the circle completely. To give your planet dimension, add some shading. Choose a light source and shade the opposite side of the planet darker. Don't forget to add a shadow on the galaxy itself where the planet blocks the light!
  2. Add Rings and Moons: For an extra surreal effect, you can add rings or moons to your planets. Draw a thin oval around your planet for a ring or a smaller circle nearby for a moon. Apply the same coloring and shading techniques to these as you did for the planets.
  3. Include Other Objects: This is where you can really let loose. Want to include a floating castle, a cosmic whale, or a spaceship? Go for it! Just remember to consider the light source when you're adding shading and highlights.

Remember, the key to learning how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils is to let your creativity flow. Make your galaxy uniquely yours. Next, we'll learn how to polish and refine your drawing to create a finished masterpiece.

Polish and Refine Your Drawing

At this stage, you're almost at the end of your journey on how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils. But, don't rush to finish. Patience is key when it comes to refining your artwork.

  1. Smooth Out Colors: Use a blending pencil or a white pencil to smooth out the colors. This will help merge the different shades together, creating a more realistic blend. Remember, you're not trying to erase your hard work, but to enhance it.
  2. Accentuate the Highlights: Using a white or light-colored pencil, go back over your brightest points. This could be the lightest part of a planet, the brightest star, or the most luminous part of a nebula. These highlights will add a touch of brilliance to your galaxy.
  3. Deepen the Shadows: Contrast is key for making your drawing pop. After you've emphasized your highlights, revisit your shadows. Deepen them where necessary with a black or dark-colored pencil.

And there you have it—your very own surreal galaxy! With practice and patience, you now know how to draw a surreal galaxy with colored pencils. The beauty of this art form is that every galaxy you create can be a unique expression of your creativity and imagination. So, why not start another? There's an entire universe waiting to be drawn!

If you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on drawing a surreal galaxy with colored pencils, you'll love the workshop 'Creating the Cosmos with Procreate' by Jeffrey Thelin. In this workshop, you'll learn how to create stunning cosmic scenes using Procreate, a powerful digital art tool. Expand your artistic skills and explore new ways to bring the beauty of the cosmos to life in your artwork.