How to Paint a Mural of the Universe

Charong Chow

The universe contains everything humans know: the Earth, the moon, the stars, the planets, the sun and the rest of space. The sun, the closest star to Earth, is 93 million miles away, and the space shuttle would need to travel seven months to get there.

Earth is just a small part of the universe.

The universe is vast, and our solar system of the sun and planets is a small portion of the Milky Way galaxy. There are billions of other galaxies and even astronomers are challenged by the size of the universe. However, you can re-create part of the universe in a wall mural by painting the galaxy.

  1. Place a dropcloth on the floor to protect it from paint splatters. Paint the wall where you plan on painting your universe mural with latex primer and a 2-inch paintbrush. Wait 24 hours for it to dry.

  2. Pour black latex paint into a paint tray. Using a paint roller, roll black paint evenly over the entire wall. Interior black house paint is fine for this project since you need a large amount of it. Wait for it to dry 24 hours and add another coat. Wait for it to dry another 24 hours before you continue with your mural.

  3. Draw a long oval tilting to the right in the center of the wall with a white pencil. This is the bright core of our spiral galaxy, the Milky Way.

  4. Add a spiral arm curving out from the bottom of the oval until it is double the size of the inner oval. Add another spiral arm curving out from the top of the oval until it is double the size of the inner oval. The Milky Way galaxy has two arms that wrap around a central band of bright stars.

  5. Squeeze white, yellow and light brown paints into plastic containers. Paint a white circle in the center of the oval, the inner core of the Milky Way.

  6. Mix together one part white, one part yellow and one part light brown in a plastic container. You want a light beige color for around the central core of the galaxy. Add more white if the color is too dark. Paint the rest of the oval around the white circle with this paint.

  7. Dip a wet sponge into the beige paint you mixed and follow the lines you drew for the two spiral arms. Make sure it is not so wet that it is dripping with water. You want a cloudy effect on the black paint. By wiping the sponge on the spiral arms, you should create a large cloudy, hazy white circle. Wait one hour for the paint to dry before continuing.

  8. Squeeze light blue and white paints into plastic containers. Mix light blue paint with white paint in a one-to-one mixture. Using a stiffer paint brush, blot the paint onto both spirals you drew. Create a speckle effect of old and new stars on the spiral arms. Wait about one hour for the paint to dry.

  9. Mix together one part red and one part brown paints in a plastic container. Add this color onto your spiral arms in random areas, painting small, organic, free-form shapes.

  10. Mix one part red and one art white paint to make a light pink. Add highlights of this color onto the spiral arms.

  11. Paint small distant stars around your Milky Way galaxy with white paint and a fine brush. Use a small cross shape for the twinkling stars. Mix white with yellow to paint more stars. Wait 24 hours for your mural to dry.

  12. Tip

    Experiment with different space scenes for murals. A mural of our solar system is another good way to depict part of our vast universe.


    Open a window if painting inside to ventilate the room.