Tools of the Trade
OK so what do you need to do create a star mural? Here are the most common tools. I'll provide even more information in my guide.
Glow in the Dark Paint
Obviously you're not going to get very far without some glow in the dark paint. Now where glow in the dark paint is concerned they are not all made equal. They range from real cheap to expensive. Solvent based or water based. Now don't go all cheap on yourself in this department. Quality glow in the dark paint costs more. It lasts longer, has a glow that you thought only Hollywood films could create with CGI. Honestly, when I finally decided to buy some quality glow in the dark paint I searched the pot for the batteries and light bulb!
There are many companies that sell glow in the dark paint. However, some “claim” to have the longest and brightest glowing paint but do nothing to backup their claim. Kosmic Kreations glow in the dark paint is manufactured using state of the art Strontium Aluminate powders. I’ve used glow in the dark paint from many others and still do for colors that I do not manufacture.
If you use a solvent based glow in the dark paint you must wear a good quality face mask designed for work with solvents. You can get one made by 3M for less than $30. Also using solvent based glow in the dark paint will render the room unusable for several hours after painting until the fumes vent out of the window.
I used a solvent based paint for my first two rooms. The first time I never used a mask and had to keep leaving the room. The second time I used a 3M respirator and hardly noticed the fumes. However, when I finished and took off the mask I was horrified at the concentration of fumes. I'm sure if I lit a match the room would have exploded.
It is therefore preferable to use water based glow in the dark paints.
Premixed paint vs Powdered Pigments
Initially I only used premixed glow in the dark paints. They are convenient for most applications but as you get more advanced you’ll start to wonder if there’s a better way. Well the answer is yes. Mixing up your own glow in the dark paint is about as complicated as making a cup of instant coffee. Most premixed paints are rather thick. They are also loaded with a high volume of pigment. By mixing your own glow in the dark paint you can vary the thickness and volume of pigment used to tailor the paint to specific needs. Another benefit of mixing your own paint is that you can make it up for about half the cost of buying premixed glow in the dark paint.
I’ll show you later in this guide how to mix up your own paints for various uses.
Well don't blame me for being detailed here. You'd be surprised what people will miss.
- You are going to need a ladder. Duh. I use a Little Giant, it's a rock solid platform and very adjustable.
- You will need a good UV lamp. Walmart sells a 24" UV lamp for about $10.
- Drop clothes. If you spill this stuff your wife ,husband ,boyfriend ,girlfriend will have a fit. Also the glow pigment is very fine and will happily take up residence in your carpet. Most prefer to use cloth rather than plastic because it's less prone to shedding paint flecks when tidying up.
- Heavy sheets or old drapes to cover up windows and block out the light.
- Painters tape.
- Latex gloves. Getting this stuff off your hands is no fun unless you like that radioactive look.
- Stencil brushes. You can use both brush and the felt type. Felt brushes will waste less paint. I prefer to use stencil brushes only for background stars.
- Custom stencil brushes. I use 4’ dowel rods tipped with felt. This eliminates having to get on the ladder to paint and therefore increases speed.
- Toothpicks. Some people use these to create tiny stars.
- Sponges, stippling brushes and nail brushes. You can use these to create galaxy and Milky Way effects.
- Syringes. You apply thicker paint directly from a syringe. This enables the painting of what some of us call 3D stars.
- Elmer’s glue bottle. Empty one of these out and fill it with the same paint used in the syringes. This helps with painting hundreds of smaller stars.
- Spray bottles. Can be used with certain paints to spray clouds of stars.
- Airbrush. Use a Paasche H with a #5 tip. Ensure that you use glow in the dark paint with very fine particles otherwise you risk clogging the airbrush.
- Airgun. With a tip size of 1mm and greater you can spray any glow in the dark paint that you can find. More expensive than an airbrush but far better to cover larger areas.
Here are some of my tools:
Here’s a selection of sponges, a cheese cloth, nailbrush, Elmer’s Bottle, Syringe, Stippling Brush and a Pouncing Brush
Here’s a One Tuff drop cloth (reusable and better than vinyl or cloth), Clear Glaze (used to mix up custom paint with GID powder).
Here’s a large heavy drape used to block out windows.
Finally, Latex gloves. Buy them and use them, you will not be sorry.
If you're like me you can't just look at the ceiling and paint astronomically correct views of the cosmos. So we use tools to aid us in design.
- GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). This tool is like PhotoShop for tight-wads. Honestly, it's fantastic and free. I use this tool to spec out a rooms design before starting. Find it at: www.gimp.org
- Stellarium. A software planetarium essential for creating astronomically correct star maps. Find it at: www.stellarium.org
- Stencils. You can make large stencils to guide you in placing constellations.
- A toy planetarium. You can use this device to project a fairly accurate star field onto the ceiling.