Make a 3D galaxy shadow box out of this world – 6 easy steps tutorial + gift

Let’s get creative!

Last time we were celebrating the day this blog came to life and I told you a bit about myself. In this episode I will show you how you can make a 3D card (or, if you prefer – a shadow box) that will blow the minds (just kidding, but it actually is quite impressive). Yes, today I have a galaxy shadow box tutorial I made for you! And a gift – so keep reading 😉

3D Galaxy Shadow Box with watercolour background

A while ago I tried watercolour painting and watched many, really MANY, YouTube tutorials on anything related to watercolour techniques. Among others I watched a few on watercolour galaxy background, which I just had to try. And I liked it so much that I made a few of these. And I made this shadow box card using one of these backgrounds.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

A few people asked me about a tutorial on this. Unfortunately, I had not thought of that. But I thought I still had a few backgrounds left so I could make a tutorial to show you how to make this card. It is really very simple. And if you are not so much into watercolours, don’t worry, I’ve got that covered! 😉

Please note that *This page might contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure policy here.

Today’s episode is all about the dimensional card featuring a hand painted bit of the universe captured in a box. The guest star is (drumroll….)

GALAXY SHADOW BOX

with a hand painted watercolour background

Ready? Let’s begin with the list of ingredients… Actually, all you need for this project is a sheet of dark blue card stock (the bigger the better), a galaxy background, mirri card (optional), your trimmer or scissors, your craft knife, a few stripes of acetate (you can use some plastic packaging like I did) and your favourite adhesive. For the stars (I mean the white dots) you can use a white gel pen or white acrylic paint (sprinkled with a brush). But in case you don’t have any of those things, I put the list of products with links to the shops at the end of this article.

Measure, cut and fold

First you need to measure your background, trim the dark blue card, cut out the window and crease for easy folding.

It is very important to get the dimensions right because you will need card stock that will actually be large enough for the project. You can use a square background (like I did for the first shadowbox) or a rectangular one like the one in this tutorial. I will make this one vertical because I don’t have card stock that is long enough to fit the image horizontally. If your galaxy background is too big, you can always cut it to the size you want. Or you can make the box with two pieces. Important thing here: don’t forget to add a few milimetres for those little flaps that will hold the pieces together! I can tell it’s very frustrating when you realize it too late… and it might  be tricky to do it nicely – lesson learned for me on this, hahaha.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowbox #tutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

The first thing to do is take the measurements of your background.

The one here is 18cm by 12cm.

Add 2cm for the frame (1cm to each side) – you will have the dimensions for the large ‘walls’ of the box (front and back).

My shadow box will measure 20cm (height) by 14cm (width).

Now that we have the dimensions for the front and the back walls of the box, we need the depth (or the side walls). This one I made 3cm deep.

How to figure out the dimensions of the cardstock?

That’s quite simple. We want to keep it in one piece but that’s not obligatory. I worked out mine this way:

12cm (shorter side of the BG) + 2cm frame = 14cm

3cm depth

So we need a piece of cardstock that will fit 2 large rectangles (14cm x 20cm – front and back of the box) and 2 small rectangles (3cm x 20cm – side walls of the box). And 1 stripe (1cm x 20cm for the flap) – don’t make the mistake I made ;).

Add up the shorter sides of all the walls to figure out how to cut the cardstock:

14cm + 3cm + 14cm + 3cm + 1cm = 35cm 

Take the height: 20cm

And cut the card down to 20cm x 35cm.

Score the card to mark the walls:

Now cut out a rectangle in one of the large walls leaving a 1 – 1.5cm frame – it should be a bit smaller than your background. I made my frame 1.5cm wide, so cut out a 17cm x 11cm rectangle.

Decorate the frame

You can add some interest to the frame by shading the edges, sprinkling some stars with white acrylic paint or a white gel pen.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

For the whole box to look like a piece of universe captured inside a box, you can decorate the outside walls and the front frame, as well as the area around the background inside of the box. You can do that in many ways, e.g. with some patterned papers, with stickers or with paints, inks, anything you like.

If you want your 3D shadow box to be all about stars and galaxy (just like mine) you can shade the edges with black ink. You can add a bit of transparent gold ink too as it gives the frame some beautiful shimmer. For the little stars I used a white gel pen (because I was too lazy to take out the paint! Instead I spent MORE time drawing all the dots, one by one…LOL). I did the same on the edges around the background for a better look.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Interior decorating – (optional): how to make a simple light diffuser

For a better dimensional effect and to highlight the colourful background you can try this little trick. All you need to do is glue stripes of silver mirri card to the inside walls of the box and to the back of the frame (front wall). The trick works nice for two resons – the side walls reflect the background and make it look soooo cool (that was a nice unexpected side effect) and with additional light the box is ablaze with colours. And that is just gorgeous! So that’s the light diffuser – taaaa daaa 🙂

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

Put the planets in space

Now that the inside wall is nicely decorated, you can stick the background using your favourite adhesive. I used double sided tape for mine and I used a lot of it to keep the watercoloured paper flat.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

To make the planets you can use plain coloured card and ink it, then cut circles in a few sizes. Or you can cut the circles out of backgounds that didn’t go so well. I recommend using circle nesting dies to cut the circles. I had some spare pieces of paper with blobs of colourful inks that I didn’t like so much and used them for the planets. You can also shade the circles with black ink for more a better dimension effect.

Depth and dimension

Attaching the planets can seem a bit tricky – I could use small strips of acetate and stick one end to the circle and the other to the background, but I didn’t want to damage the background should anything go wrong. If you feel confident with this way, go ahead. If not, you can do what I did – it works absolutely fine.

So cut two stripes of acetate: one 13.5 cm long and the other 16 cm long. Then attach the shorter one to the inside of the frame with tape – you shouldn’t be able to see the ends of the stripe and the tape that’s on them. They should be fixed to the back of the front wall (frame).

Take the second stripe and fold it 1cm from each end. Then attach the small ends to the side walls inside the box so that the long part runs through half way between the background and the front frame. This was particularly hard to show in photos but I hope you know what I mean.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

And the final bit – attach the planets to the acetate stripes and…. taaaa daaaa! The shadow box is ready. I decorated the back a little too, leaving some space for a personal message. The final result:

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowbox #tutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

A little close-up:

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

And the back – I made it this way but you can finish the back any way you want.

Learn to make a galaxy shadow box - a 3D design that you can use for home decor or an unusual greeting card. My favourite way of putting watercolour galaxy background into a project - easy to make and very effective! #paperwishart #shadowboxtutorial #dimensionaldesign #memorybox #watercolourgalaxy

If you are interested in the products I used, here are the ones I recommend with direct links, where you can buy them:

Black pigment ink
White gel pen

Freebie alert!

And the most important thing – I am so very grateful for all the support you have given me in the first week that I made something special for my followers. I know some of you might not be into watercolours or don’t fancy playing with paints right now. But you might want to try this shadow box – and here is my gift for you – two watercolour galaxy backgrounds in two sizes each – ready to download, print and use!

The freebie contains two square printable images (6″ x 6″ and 8″ x 8″) and two rectangular images (5″ x 7″ and 6″ x 8.4″) in JPG format and a PDF file with Terms of Use – ready for you to download here (you can also click on the image below to download it). It will be immediately downloaded to your device (for PC users: check the Downloads folder). 

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BACKGROUNDS

Freebie – two hand painted watercolour galaxy images ready to print and use on your crafty projects (click the image to download)

Before you go…

I hope you enjoyed my galaxy shadow box tutorial and feel inspired to create one yourself or make something beautiful with your free backgrounds. If you make a project with your free background – share it on your social media channel with #paperwishartdesign and let me know you have done that in the comment bellow.

See you soon and happy crafting! x

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