How to paint a starry night landscape for beginners

In this post I will take you through step by step on how to paint a starry night time lanscape with watercolors.


  • Watercolor 300gsm cold pressed paper
  • watercolor round brushes: Size 18, 12, 4. (you can choose the brush sizes that better suit the size of your watercolor paper.
  • 2 jars of water
  • Paper towel to remove exess water from brush.

Colors used:

  • The sky:
    • Cerulean blue
    • Prussian blue (you can use indigo as a substitute)
    • Viridian
    • White gouche (or opaque white watercolor)
  • The forest:
    • Paynes gray

Step by step tutorial:

Video tutorial

I have linked the video tutorial for this painting with subtitles. However for further explanations you can go through the written steps below:

Painting the starry night sky:

  • Colors to prepare on your palette:
    • Cerulean blue
    • Viridian
    • Prussian blue

Lets get into it!

To begin with I used the wet on wet technique. I simply wet all areas of the paper with clear water.

Next I used added waves of cerulian blue mostly along the middle of the paper. While the paper was still wet I added viridian along the bottom. Finally I added prusian blue at the very top of the paper and along the sides (I avoided the very middle and bottom).

how to paint in layers with watercolor

The first layer was complete! It was time to let it dry…

After the paint was dry I wanted to make it darker by adding a second layer of the same colors. I started by adding viridian along the horizon. In order to create more interesting sky I left some areas lighter than others.

painting the background sky with watercolor.

To finish off the sky I brushed more prussian blue around the top and the sides. I avoided the middle and bottom:

how to paint skys with watercolor. adding a nighttime atmosphere to a watercolor landscape

The background to the starry night time painting was done it was time to let it dry!

Painting the stars!

I used white gouche in this step; however, if you don’t have any with you, you can always use an opaque white watercolor paint.

Only add the stars when the sky has completly dried up otherwize you’ll get unwanted blotches.

I’m too lazy to paint every single dot… so I used my watercolor brush instead. I began by holding it above my painting with one hand and with my other I tapped the brush handle.

Tip: be careful not to use too much water in your brush. Too much water will cause bigger dots and create unwanted blotches!

how to add stars on watercolor painting step by step

As a substitue: If you do not feel comfortable with the frist approach thats alright. You can also use a tooth brush instead, simply load the brush with the paint; then using your finger brush the bristles and let the dots splash onto the paper.

Additional step: You can use the tip of the brush to create small lines indicating shooting stars!

Painting the Forest

Here I used paynes gray and a size 4 round brush.

I painted the background of the trees by adding short brush strokes with slightly pointy tips like in the image below:

how to paint a starry nighttime forest painitng with watercolors

Picking up the size 4 brush it was time to add the trees which are silhouetted by the starry night sky.

To make the painting more interesting and seem more realistic, I added different variations. I painted some tall some short and I even changed the shapes of some of them.

step 7 on how to paint watercolor  starry night time lanscape step by step.

Thats the end to this landscap tutorial! If you are interested in learning more about beginner watercolor techniques that may help your painting process easier, click here.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful! Leave a comment below or email me if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you! 🙂

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