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Airbrush a Space Scene

An airbrush tutorial demonstrating how to paint a space scene through effective use of translucent airbrush paints and white.

Deciding on how you are going to build up an airbrushed art work is usually dependent on the type or style of artwork that you are airbrushing and the medium onto which you will be airbrushing.
Airbrushed space sceneFor this tutorial I will be demonstrating a constructive use for transparent (or translucent) paints and how to effectively implement them.

Blank space sceneSpace scenes are relatively simple to create from scratch, however you can easily follow a reference and add little bits to your universe as you please. For this tutorial, a reference has been made available to you for download at the bottom of the page thank you to our friends at the airbrush forum.
To begin you will need a black canvas of some sort whether it be paper, cardboard, wood or a helicopter - as long as it's black!
If you are confident enough to do so you can simply map out the rough areas in which you'd like to place your shapes such as your planets, moons, earths, stars, sun and nebulas by eye - using a pencil.
Or you could use an overhead projector.

You're going to begin building up your shapes all in white. You will complete 90% of the artwork in white before you can start tinting it with your transparent colors. The main point to keep in mind when airbrushing with your white color is this: where ever you want color to appear on your artwork - you need to have white underneath. 
Because of this, it's better to have too much white applied than too little.

Airbrushed space scenePay close attention to the lightsources within your artwork also, what is it that's making the planets appear round? where is the lightest point on your rounded objects and what is the light hitting? Try to keep consistency with your objects so they all appear to be within the same artwork!
Keep in mind that light wraps around objects, hitting other places before others, it's up to you to study which areas it should be hitting first and to highlight these areas with your airbrush.
To add depth and detail to the artwork you can easily hit it with a speckle effect as mentioned in the'splatter effect' tutorial. Use the white paint to do this in the background and be careful not to hit any objects in the foreground. You may need to do some 'loose' masking!

t this stage feel free to add any gaseous clouds or nebulas by lightly outlining it's shape. Maybe do a google search to see how they look and how the gas acts. If this is in the background of your picture then be sure to airbrush it lightly in order to trick the eye as to it's position.
you could also add a couple of light dots or starbursts on top of the most dominant of your little 'stars', created with your speckle effect.
Time for color!
Airbrush a space sceneLook at the colors in your reference and decided which is the most dominant color - depending on the sort of scene you are painting it could be any color. If you are using the reference supplied then the most dominant color will be blue! So go ahead and put your transparent blue color into the airbrush.

Now simply apply the paint evenly over the white areas - if you have created all of your blends with the white then there is little need to blend with your translucent colors, simply airbrush over the top of the white evenly.
This tints the white color to whatever color you desire!
Repeat this process adding as many different colors as you'd like, as long as you have white underneath you can simply apply any translucent color over the top and the result is a full color artwork! clever, huh?

It's no wonder the airbrush is such a popular art tool - it's so simple to create effective looking designs, there are so many color combinations, ways to build up the artwork that your ability to learn with this art tool is almost endless. I have around 5 years experience airbrushing in total, yet I'm still constantly learning. I just can't get enough of this - hope you got something out of the tutorial!

Airbrushed space scene