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Pigment Recipes : Painting : Painting the Cosmos

Painting the Cosmos

Base Paint

You can paint your star field onto any existing paint.  For a daytime invisible effect, we suggest white or a near-white color.  Assuming that your room is fairly dark at night, the color of the room will not make a difference to the look of the star field when the lights are off.  Therefore, we suggest that you choose a color that is appealing when the lights are on. Use common sense preparation techniques.  The base paint should be clean, smooth and dry. 


Pick a brush and bend its bristles away from the center at 90-degree angle so that they form a flat surface that is perpendicular to the brush. Dip a brush into the glow in the dark paint.  Wipe off the excess paint back into the container. Squash the paintbrush straight down onto the surface that you intend to paint.  This will cause the bristles to spread out and form the pattern of a star.  Lift the brush straight back up.  This leaves a very realistic looking star on the surface.  Since the bristles will never move the same way, each star will also be unique.  Different sized brushes create different sized stars.


Use the same technique as for Stars.  However, instead of lifting the paintbrush, drag it along the surface releasing pressure as you go.  This will create a star head with a following trail.


If you want a dense pattern of little dots, use sponges to apply the paint.  Craft or hardware stores sell a variety of sponges specifically designed for different paint effects.  Look for a sponge that will create a density of dots that match your tastes.

Meteors, Moons and Planets

Typically, these are relatively larger than the stars.  Purchase a sponge that is in the shape of a circle, but has a flat bottom.  You can also make one yourself with a kitchen sponge and a razor blade.

The best meteors use more than one color of glow in the dark paint.  For multiple colors, apply the color with the highest glow brightness first.  To create, dip the sponge in the glow in the dark paint and lightly stamp it onto the surface you intend to paint.  Allow it to fully dry.  Now dip the sponge into the second color and lightly stamp it over the first.  This should create a textured, multicolored circle that surprisingly looks like a meteor, moon, or planet. How much pressure to use with the sponges is a learned skill.  A quality meteor should show equal amounts of both colors, without having any non-painted areas.  We would recommend using a bit more pressure for the first color and then lighten up a bit for the second color. For advanced users, you can give more of a 3-D round look by adding a modified sponge to the technique.  The first color is applied using the standard round, flat-bottomed sponge.  For the second and succeeding colors, you need to make a specialty sponge.  Choose a sponge similar to the round sponge above.  Use a sharp razor blade to shave a mound out of the flat bottom.  You are basically rounding the surface.  Use this special brush for the second color.  Now when you stamp with this brush, the center is denser than the outer edge which creates a 3-D rounded look.  This technique is for advanced users and will take some time to master.

Changing Meteor

This is a meteor that uses glow in the dark paints of different durations to create a comet that literally changes as you watch it.  If you contrast it against a bright, long duration star field, it is truly an amazing effect. First, paint a star ceiling with Ocean Blue Stars, Comets, and Galaxies.  Find a 1-inch painters brush.  Dip it in Natural Green pigment and paint mixture and create a large comet as described above.  Then create a standard meteor using the standard and rounded sponge technique.  The first color to use is Oriental Orange pigment with the flat sponge. The Pumpkin Pink, Baltic Blue, and Oriental Orange will loose their brightness rather quickly, but at different rates.  You will see the comet continually change for about 15 minutes.  After an hour, it is almost completely invisible.  As stated earlier, it is important to contrast this against a very bright star field.

Aliens and Spaceships

Large craft stores have an extensive selection of professional stencils.  There are typically hundreds of stencils for a space theme alone.  Stencils are a great way to add professional shapes to a scene. Craft stores also offer a mini stencil roller with tray and stencil glue.  Paintbrushes do not work well with stencils because the bristles push the paint under the edges.  You can use a sponge, but the roller makes it very easy. Stencil glue is similar to the glue on the back of Post-It notes.  It is tacky and will hold a stencil on your ceiling without damaging the surface when removed.  This allows you to have better control because you now have a free hand.  It also keeps the stencil from sliding. Coat the back of the stencil with the stencil glue and allow it to dry.  Apply several stencils to the ceiling in their position.  Poor paint into the roller tray.  Roll the brush into the paint and roll off excess.  Then roll one layer over the stencil.  Allow the paint to dry before removing the stencils.  This also allows you to add additional layers if needed.

Technically correct Constellations and Night Skies

A technically correct star pattern can be created using a toy planetarium projector.  They are available for at any large toy store.  Depending on the slide that you use, they project little white and colored dots on your ceiling to represent night skies during the different seasons.  Choose a slide and simply paint a glow in the dark star of the appropriate size everywhere you see a dot.  If there is a planet, use a stencil or the meteor technique to recreate it.

One Ceiling, Two different Star Fields

For an interesting effect, paint your ceiling a dark blue.  Then paint on a star field using the above techniques using white or blue standard non-glow paint.  Now, paint a different star field using the Glow in the Dark Paints.  This gives you one scene when the lights are on and a totally different scene when the lights are off.


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