Airbrushing with Glow in the Dark Powders
Airbrushing is a wonderful art that requires a graceful hand and great technique to get a good result. Hours of practice go into just learning the art of mastering brush strokes. Use of the trigger combined with the distance of the brush is very hard to get the hang of. But if you have ever watched a talented airbrush artist you will be amazed at what they can create. It is to those artists this article is directed. I suggest you try to make your art Glow!
Glow in the dark powders have been around a while. The zinc sulfide type was developed way back in the early 1800's. These are still cool, but the longevity of glow is only around a half an hour at best. Within the last twenty years, glow in the dark powders have come a long way. A compound called Strontium Aluminate was developed and scientist added an activator called Europium and bang! You have a substance that glows up to 13 hours. I will not go into the details of how it stores and releases energy here, but I do want to cover how it works in an airbrush.
Glow in the dark powders come in 8 different colors. Red, White, Blue, Teal, Violet, Green, Yellow, and Orange. The yellow and orange are a yellow-green with added dyes to make them glow yellow or orange. The rest are their true colors. They can have many different daytime colors. The red, purple, blue, are white in the day light. The green and teal are an off white with a slight yellow green tint. The orange and yellow have like colors in the daytime. The white has a daytime color of white. These colors can differ from suppliers, and the colors listed are those of Glonation.com.
Glow times are 12 hours for the green, 8 to 10 for the teal and blue, 4 for purple yellow and orange. The red is half an hour and the white is around 10 minutes.
The powders also come in different mesh or grain sizes. For airbrushing I highly suggest using the finest mesh glow in the dark powder available. See the chart below.
A) Smallest size 12-25 micron
B) Medium size 25-55 micron
C) Large size 55-100 micron
You will also get varying degrees of glow time from your glow paint depending on the size of the particles. The smaller the size, the less the glow time. But adding layers enhances the glow intensity.
This is the tricky part of airbrushing with glow in the dark powder; because it is grainy, it tends to clog the brush more often than just using airbrush paint.
You can see from the illustration above that the paint and powder go through a very narrow needle valve. So it is key to get the fine mesh powder to mix with your paint.
But do not shy away, because with some small changes and a couple of easy hints you can do this with no trouble and no headache. You will get great results and stunning reactions.
Follow these steps and you are on your way to making great art.
1) Use the clearest airbrush medium possible. Liquitex airbrush medium is very good with our powder. Glow in the dark powder works great in clear coats and varnishes and lacquers. Do not mix too much powder to paint. The usual ratio is one ounce of powder to five of clear medium. Add a little at a time and then test it by exposing it to a bright light 150 watt or above, or black light to activate the glow. Test your mixture on a piece of thick paper first, letting it dry, then check with a black light. Black lights are rich in Ultra Violet light and charge the powder well.
2) Use a gravity feed airbrush. This will allow the medium to mix with the powder and flow through the brush better.
3) Spray in a dark room with a black light. This will let you to see the glow activated so you know what it will look like while glowing.
4) Always use light thin coats and layer many times for best results.
5) For larger areas use a small HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) detail spray gun. These work great for spray painting larger objects.
6) Clean your brush between each coat. This helps avoid clotting.
So that's all there is to it! You can make some really great looking art with glow in the dark paint. It adds an extra dimension to your craft that maybe you have not thought about.