Painting a Glow in the Dark Galaxy with Tracie Kiernan
Never used glow paints before? There is a bit of a learning curve at first but you’ll get the hang of it!
Super mesmerizing and so much fun! Have you wanted to work with glow in the dark paint on your canvas paintings but don’t know how? Trust me, I was a little intimidated by it at first too!
For a few weeks I played around with the glow paint, getting the hang of it and understanding the techniques in applying the paint. I recommended you apply the glow paint over the acrylic paint and not mix the two together. Also, the glow paint works best when the acrylic paint under layer is a lighter color, like white. However, in the painting tutorial below, I found that the dark under painting of the galaxy provided an interesting effect with the glow paint.
For FAQ's about Art 'N Glow and our paints, click here!
Art 'N Glow has both a “Fluorescent” style paint and a “Neutral” style paint. Basically, if you want the color to show up on the canvas, you would use the fluorescent. If you want the paint to be mostly clear, you would use the neutral. Essentially, you can make your painting look completely different in the dark, versus what it looks like in the day, with the neutral paint. Keep in mind also, that even when working with the fluorescent, you will need multiple coats to see the pigment because of how translucent it is.
I did find that best results require you to paint with regular acrylics as the base because glow paints are very translucent.
To make it easy, I decided to use one of my already created tutorials but implement glow in the dark paint with it. My Galaxy Space Painting was a perfect fit! You can see that tutorial here but I will also demonstrate how to paint the galaxy on this post too! For this tutorial, I used the fluorescent style glow paints.
Enjoy and happy glow painting!
- 8″ x 10″ canvas (recommend working on a smaller canvas if this is your first attempt at glow painting)
- Glow In The Dark Paint in Fluorescent Colors
- Cerulean Blue
- Yellow Green
- Dark Green
- UV Light (can be optional if you’ll be using the sun to charge your paint; see my note below about charging glow paint*)
- 1/4″ Flat
- Very Tiny Round Brush (#0 or smaller)
- 1/2″ or large flat (just to paint the canvas black)
- Galaxy Sponge (available at Art 'N Glow)
- Star Spatter Brush (also available at Art 'N Glow, or you can use an old toothbrush)
- Paint palette
- Covered workspace
*Glow in the dark paint has to “charge” in order to glow. I did this by shining a UV flashlight directly on the paint. You can also use a black light bulb, a regular light bulb, or even the sun to charge the paint. You can read more about this here.
Step By Step
- Paint the canvas black.
I used an 8 x 10 canvas. Use a large flat brush (any size will do!) to paint the entire canvas a solid coat of regular black acrylic paint.
- Use any kind of sponge to paint a “galaxy stripe” across the canvas.
I always start my galaxy paintings with a bright white galaxy stripe. Basically, dip your sponge in titanium white and sponge a random stipe across the canvas.
- Add magenta over the white stripe.
Next, dip your sponge in magenta (still regular acrylic paint, we’re not using the glow paint yet) and add it on top of the white. You will get a bright magenta color. Blend it in with the white by dabbing the sponge and making the stripe look blurry on the sides. Also use the paint that is already on the canvas to make some more blurry galaxy lines going in other directions.
- Use black to darken the bright magenta stripe then add more magenta over the black.
This part always seems a little confusing. You will need to dim these galaxy stripes so they have more dimension. Then you will need to add more magenta over the black.
Dip a clean sponge in solely black. Sponge over some of the areas of the stripe so the edges are darker. Don’t dab in the middle of the stripe because that needs to stay bright.
Then add more magenta into some of the black. Try not to blend the black with the magenta because you well get gray and we don’t want that. Just lightly dab it on top. Keep in mind that the center of the stripe is brightest so I didn’t dab in that area.
- Use a clean area of the sponge to dab blue.
On the left and right sides I blobbed some areas with blue. Then I repeated the dimming effect with mars black and adding layers of blue back over the black.
- Add the glow paint into the galaxy!
First I used the purple fluorescent glow paint. I worked in the light for this step. Use a sponge to dab on the purple over the magenta stripe the same way you dabbed the regular acrylics to create the galaxy stripes.
Because it is so translucent, you will not see much a difference in pigment. I did 2 layers and there was a slight pigment change. Keep in mind that we are going for a galaxy effect so we really don’t want the glow paint to be solid and opaque. We want dimension.
Fluorescent Art “N Glow Colors: Blue, Purple, Pink and Green (Yellow not pictured)
**Note that I worked in the light for this, for demo purposes so I can take pictures of the process! You can very well work under the UV light here to see what you are doing… or let it be a surprise!
Use a clean part of the sponge to dab on the fluorescent purple directly over the magenta galaxy stripe and “here and there” around the sky.
Then check your progress in the dark. I used the portable UV light to “charge” the painting and then turned the lights out. Pretty cool so far! Interestingly, the purple showed up kind of green in the dark. However, under the UV light, I could see the purple tint!
- Sponge blue fluorescent paint over the blue areas of the galaxy.
Do the same process again and then check your work in the dark!
Add fluorescent glow blue throughout with a sponge.
- Use a toothbrush to splatter on both glow paint and regular white acrylic.
This is where it gets really exciting! First I splattered on green fluorescent paint with a toothbrush. The pigment will show up slightly on the canvas. Splatter it everywhere. Try experimenting with holding the toothbrush at different angles and both close and far. You will get different densities all around the canvas.
Splatter green fluorescent glow paint.
Then splatter regular white! This gave the galaxy so much more dimension in both the light version and the dark glow in the dark version!
Splatter titanium white regular acrylic paint.
Progress checked in the dark!
- Use a tiny round brush to paint some brighter stars and starbursts.
Paint both little dots on your canvas to represent stars and actual starbursts. Also, I added pink fluorescent glow paint over some of the starbursts.
Close up of the galaxy painting!
One coat of pink fluorescent glow paint was added over some of the stars. Don’t mind the paint all over my fingers!
Check your progress in the dark!
So awesome under the UV light!! Note that some of the regular acrylic still shows up with the UV light. That’s where you will see some dimension in some of the brighter areas of the galaxy. This picture was taken very close the the UV light!
- Draw the planets with chalk.
Draw your planets using a piece of chalk! Easy peasy. This will help with painting them in and making sure you like the placement.
- Paint the planets in a solid coat of regular white acrylic.
Because the planets will be bright, we need a solid coat of white applied onto the shapes, for the glow paint to reflect off of. I used a 1/4″ flat brush to paint the shapes in.
- Paint the planets with regular acrylics.
Use a 1/4″ flat brush and the colors: yellow green, dark green, white and black to paint the green eclipsed planet. The brightest colors are on the left and then it gets darkest with black on the right.
Start with yellow green. Then tint in white on the far left.
Add dark green permanent and mars black to shade on the far lower right. This creates the eclipse effect.
Next paint the other planets. You can really choose whatever colors you like for these steps! I chose medium magenta for the lower left planet and upper right small planet. Then I added some black shading, some white highlighting and then used a small round brush and swirled in some white textures.
Saturn was painted with yellow. Then I used a small round brush to paint black and white stripe Saturn texture. The ring was painted white with some black stripes. I used a small round brush to paint the ring.
- Add glow in the dark paint on top of the planets.
I used blue fluorescent glow paint on Saturn’s rings. It tinted the rings a blue hue. Then I added yellow fluorescent glow paint over Saturn.
Pink fluorescent glow paint was painted over the two pink planets.
Then for the green planet, I used both yellow fluorescent glow paint and green fluorescent glow paint. Because the yellow was lighter, I applied it over the brighter part of the green planet. Then the green was added over the darker area.
Note that I also applied several coats of this glow paint over all the planets. I wanted the planets to really glow and stand out. As mentioned earlier, the more coats you apply, the brighter the area will be!
Share Your Art With Us!
I hope you enjoyed working with glow paint and found this tutorial inspiring and helpful! Please share your painting on Instagram and use hashtags #artnglow and #tracie_kiernan. You can also share with Tracie on her Facebook page! We’d love to see your results, or even if you’ve created something else with glow in the dark paint!