Are you looking for watercolor pencils ideas as a beginner artist? Here are some easy planet paintings with step-by-step instructions on how to paint them using only watercolor pencils. Let's paint starting with the closest to the Sun, Mercury, and working our way out the furthest planet in our solar system. Every planet has a clickable simulation from NASA's planetary software. This tool can give you a quick angle of a planet to paint, giving you tons of possibilities for painting! You can read do these painting activities as an absolute beginner, or you can also check out my article with frequently asked questions about watercolor pencil for more information. I use Mont Marte watercolor pencils and Canson XL watercolor paper for this entire demo.
Painting Planet Mercury
Step 1: Obtaining a reference for painting Mercury
Find a reference photo or use this 3D simulation from NASA. You can zoom in/out, and rotate the planet by clicking and dragging your planet around! There are so many possibilities for every planet you may paint.
Step 2: Draw your planetary circle
Draw a circle using a black or brown watercolor pencil using a large circular bowl or other container. I used a watercolor pencil since it will blend straight into your painting, and it avoids a harsh pencil line in your final product!
(draw a circle using a bowl)
Step 3: Use your Watercolor pencils to paint your planet!
Then, start scribbling layers of black watercolor pencil within your circle drawing, starting at the edges and working into the center of your planet. I layered in some dark brown and blue watercolor pencil, to create new tones in the planets. I really put an emphasis on darkening the edges of my planet, by applying more pressure to my watercolor pencil around the edges. Regions I want to keep super light, I did not color on at all, leaving it blank for now.
Start drawing in Mercury's colors.
Step 4: Apply water to your watercolor pencil planet
Next, mix your pencil scribbles by applying water to your brush, dabbing the brush lightly on a paper towel/cloth and gently applying water to the paper. Start at the edges and move towards the lighter regions gradually. Add water to the lightest regions, with completely clean water and cleaned brush, then introduce this clean water layer on the white page to pigmented wet regions on your paper. This will create subtle gradients in your planet. Once you have blended out most of your pencil strokes, allow the painting to fully dry before drawing on your next layer.
blend with water.
Step 5: Apply another pencil layer and blend with water
If you feel like your planet could be darker in certain regions, or you want to outline craters in Mercury depending on the angle you chose, apply another watercolor pencil layer, or as many as you like. Keep in mind, I would recommend using more pressure on your pencil strokes and introduce a new color or two if you want. I stuck to my two accent colors for painting Mercury: blue and brown. Once you have applied your pencil layer, apply water from the darker to lighter regions. You can also try introducing blooms to your painting by dropping in water from your brush to the paper. This will create more texture in your planet's surface.
Step 1: Find your planet's reference angle
For Venus, I have two references. The image with a black background below is a more intriguing look at Venus through the combined eyes of the Magellan spacecraft and NASA's Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Other patterns can be observed on Venus using the planet viewing 3d software below.
Venus photo from NASA (For more information, check out NASA's planet and solar system website.
Draw a circle with yellow watercolor pencil
I use a yellow watercolor pencil to outline the circular shape on my watercolor paper. You can also use orange or brown effectively for the outline.
Start scribbling with light watercolor pencil strokes
I use a yellow watercolor pencil to gently apply a base yellow color to the entire planet. I introduced a light brown into the edges of the planet and lightly into the center as well.
Blending with water
I then blended the colors with water and allowed time to dry before repeating my scribbles. Once it was completely dry, I added darker lines using the same light and dark brown watercolor pencils and added a little bit of black around the edges. Then, I blended with water again! I avoided adding color and darkness to the lighter regions in my reference photo of Venus.
Earth in watercolor pencils
Choosing a reference photo for painting Earth
Outline your planet with light blue watercolor pencil
I used a light blue watercolor pencil to outline my watercolor pencil planet as usual. I had more outlining to do than usual this time, and so I also needed to outline using this pencil the land masses on Earth. These land masses will be different shapes depending on where in the world you chose for your reference above!
Scribble and blend your light blue watercolor pencil
To paint the oceans on Earth, take your light blue watercolor pencil and apply short strokes to the watercolor paper. My reference angle of Earth using the NASA simulation above gave me cool tones of water that I tried to implement in my colors. I used lots of light blue scribbles on the outside and dark blue on the inside of the bodies of water.
(Using light and dark blue watercolor pencils for water)
Deepen water regions on Earth using other colors
I started at the darkest regions of water and worked outward to the lighter regions. I applied fresh water, in the form of blooms, to the lighter regions to create more depth. This layer will take some time to dry.
I added a final layer of blue by applying a lot of pressure to my paper with the blue watercolor pencil. I used a combination of light and dark blue to make different tones in the water. Then I applied water to these regions, using less water than the previous two layers.
Paint Earth's land masses with green, yellow and brown watercolor pencils
Once the paint has dried from previous layers, use your yellow and green watercolor pencils to fill in the land. Draw with your brown watercolor pencil lightly and along the land edges for an accent color. Apply water to these regions and blend with the water slightly so that it doesn't look too cut out.
Painting Mars with Watercolor Pencil Planets Artist
I am a huge fan of Mars research and have been following it for years out of interest! I am excited to share this painting exercise with you in this tutorial segment: painting Mars, 'the Red Planet'.
Easy Planet Painting of Mars
Scribble yellow watercolor pencil as base
I started by scribbling softly on the entire planet with a yellow watercolor pencil and blended it with a watercolor brush, as described in previous planet descriptions above. To summarize, apply water to your brush and mix from the edges inward. After the first scribble and blend, allow time for your paper to dry.
Painting watercolor pencil planet yellow.
Applying additional layers to your planet paintings
After allowing my paper to dry, I added a ton of different colors in watercolor pencil. I used light brown, purple, red, yellow and dark brown to diversify the brown rusty color of Mars. You can continue to add more layers for different effects, but I would advise you to try using Arches 100% cotton paper for this method, since it can absorb a lot of water.
Painting watercolor mars using watercolor pencils and brush.
And there you have it! A beautiful painting of Mars, the Red Planet. Check out the final piece below.
So much fun to paint Mars in watercolor with this easy planet painting tutorial.
Jupiter in Watercolor Pencils
This next watercolor pencil planet project was my absolute favorite to complete! Jupiter is a stripey beautiful planet, depicted in 3d below. Think "free" and "movement" while drawing and painting this celestial piece.
start by drawing yellow and then brown lines from left to right, just like the planet's stripes. (see below)
I started by selecting one of the many awesome angles of Jupiter using this visual simulation below. There were so many cool angles to choose from, so I hope to revisit this reference in future projects! There are also tons of cool photos online of Jupiter in many angles and using many different cameras and satellites. Check them out for yourself!
Draw the stripes of Jupiter in watercolor pencil
The next step in this painting exploration is to scribble on a light yellow and/or light orange watercolor pencil for a base layer. I then blended this color with brown pencil in 3 horizontal rows, as I scribbled my way up the page. At the top of the planet, I kept the watercolor pencil strokes light since I wanted this to be the lightest region in my painting.
complete the stripes using watercolor pencil for painting Jupiter
Apply Water and marvel at your creation!
Apply water using your paint brush to the painting freely. I was so satisfied with how this painting turned out that I stopped drawing after just 1 layer!
Using your watercolor brush, mix the watercolor pencil sketch with water. The final product was really pretty, and I'm super happy with the result. I'm sure you will be too!
the final result of painting Jupiter in watercolor pencils. Look at how easy these planet paintings can be!
Saturn - Its rings in watercolor pencil
Visualizing Saturn before painting
I had a lot of fun painting Saturn, including its rings! I decided to rotate my Canson 9x12 watercolor paper so that it was landscape rather than the usual portrait orientation. This is to fit the large ring around Saturn! I found a nice bright angle of Saturn using the visualizer below, and sketched out my circle. Then I started to think about the ring.
Sketching Saturn's ring
I used a blue watercolor pencil to sketch both Saturn's circle and ring. I free-hand drew it based on the reference. Don't worry about making your rings absolutely perfect! You can adjust the shape using pencil strokes and water with your paint brush later.
sketching Saturn and its ring in watercolor pencil
Sketch using blue, yellow, and brown watercolor pencils
Layer up your watercolor pencils using different colors. Focus on creating stripes that bend across the planet. Create a blue-yellow gradient with the rings by focusing these colors on opposite sides of the ring. Have fun and be free with the color combinations you apply! If you add brown, it can help neutralize your colors, making it less neon/vibrant.
sketching Saturn in watercolor pencil using yellow, brown and blue.
Blend sketch with water and a brush
Using a scarce amount of water to your paint brush and removing excess water with paper towel, apply your brush to the darkest colored regions in your sketch. Mix all of it and add fresh water to the lightest regions. Do the same for Saturn's ring.
Blending out with a watercolor brush to finish the planet painting! After blending out the painting and allowing it to dry, here is my result.
The final products and what I used to get this painting to look like Saturn.
Planet Uranus watercolor pencil planet
Painting Uranus takes just two watercolor pencil colors: light blue and brown. Apply light strokes of light blue watercolor pencil to your planet, and then introduce the light brown pencil to neutralize how bright the blue will turn out. Apply water to the center of your planet, then add water to the edges, mixing it with the pale center. Try and remove the pencil lines by rubbing water into the paper gently.
Uranus painting from start to finish, just one step.
Neptune in easy watercolor pencil tutorial
Painting Neptune using watercolor pencils is much like painting Uranus! Apply the same techniques as above, adding a layer of dark blue watercolor pencil especially on the outer edges of the planet. Then add water. Check out the last simulation below!
Did you like this easy planet painting tutorial?
If you loved these easy planet paintings and want to see more, check out my other watercolor pencil tutorial on drawing watercolor galaxies!
Special thanks to NASA and their awesome resources online for providing the planetary simulation code for this blog post (publicly available through their website). Check out more informational resources here: solarsystem.nasa.gov and get lost in the science of space!