Top Ten Tips For Painting With Glow In The Dark Paint

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Top Ten Tips For Painting With Glow In The Dark Paint

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Thanks for checking out our top tips on how to paint with glow! Glow in the dark paint is extremely rewarding to work with but requires some special considerations to get the best results. We've compiled this list from our firsthand experience and feedback from our customers in hopes of saving you time, frustration, and even some money. We've got lots to cover so let's get started!

  1. Most of our paints go on nearly invisible for the first few coats. The neutral (daytime white) glow paints will go on invisible for the first two or three coats and the fluorescent colors shouldn’t be noticeable over a colored background in one or two coats but they may tint a white/light colored background. For more info specific to fluorescent glow paints please check out our blog post about their uses and limitations.

    The following image has aqua, sky blue, and yellow-green neutral glow paints over regular acrylic paint. As you can see, they are invisible during the day but glow brightly at night with only a single coat.Side by side images of a glow in the dark acrylic painting of a hummingbird, daytime and nighttime views
  2. The lighter the background, the brighter the glow. Since most of the glow you see is actually reflected light, the lighter the background color, the brighter the glow will appear. The following image shows two coats of fluorescent glow paint over a white (top row) and black (bottom row) background.
    Comparison of various colors of glow paint over white and black background
  3. Use less paint than you’re used to. Start with less than you think you’ll need on your brush, spread it thin, and then add more paint if necessary. Painting this way will avoid raised edges that glow brighter than the rest of the brush stroke.

    A great way to implement this technique and get smooth brush strokes is to place your brush in the middle of where you want the final stroke to be and then pull the paint in opposite directions to create the stroke. It's not an intuitive technique and it's definitely not the only way to get great results, but many of our artists swear by this method.

  4. Use a black light or ultraviolet flashlight to check the evenness of the brush strokes while they’re still wet. Since the paint goes on clear, you won't be able to see if the paint you just laid down is consistently smooth or if it has slightly raised edges. You can easily check this, even in a brightly lit room, by looking at the paint under one of our UV LED flashlights (you may need to shade the image with your hand). Taking the time to do this will ensure that the edges of your stroke aren't brighter than the rest of it. You'll find yourself having to check this less and less as you figure out the correct amount of paint to apply to your brush and the canvas.

    Here's an example of a stroke with raised edges. Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with this if it's the effect you're going for and everyone's preferences are different. I think it looks pretty cool and adds some dimension personally.
    Glow in the dark heart as an example of raised edges in a brush stroke
  5. Let the paint dry for 10 to 15 minutes between coats. Rushing the second coat will actually remove the glow from the first coat and leave you with a dark spot.  Please make sure the paint is completely dry before adding additional coats for the best results. You can also use a hairdryer on its low setting to speed up the drying process if you want.

  6. Many people are happy with a single coat of glow paint but if you want it even brighter you can add another coat or two for maximum brightness. Additional coats after the first 3 will not make much of a difference in the brightness of the glow.

    This neon sign painting has just two coats of each color over white paint. 
    two coats of green and aqua glow paint glowing very brightly!
  7. You can use a toothbrush and toothpicks to create three dimensional star field effects. Using paper or tape, mask off objects in the foreground so that they will appear to be in front of the stars after they’re applied. To apply the stars, dip the tips of the toothbrush bristles into aqua or green glow paint, hold perpendicular to the canvas and with the bristles a couple of inches away run your thumb up the bristles towards you, away from the painting. This will flick hundreds of stars onto the painting! Use a toothpick to add some larger stars for a three dimensional effect.

    The mountains in the image below were masked off using painters tape so that the stars appear to be behind them. In both images some of the stars are noticeably larger than others which adds depth and realism to the image.
    star mural painting tutorial
  8. For best results, charge with an ultraviolet flashlight, black light, or the sun. Household lights will not charge the glow paint to its full potential so please charge your painting with one of our ultraviolet lights or the sun for the brightest, longest lasting glow!  If you want an even more powerful charging light, here are several that we have tested and seen that they work well:
    - American DJ Black Light (Amazon Link)
    - OPPSK UV LED Light Bar (Amazon Link)
    - Sunlite Compact Fluorescent Black Light Bulb (Amazon Link)
  9. Experiment and have fun! The possibilities with glow paints and powders are endless so get creative and don’t be afraid to try new things. Check out our project ideas page to get inspired by tons of glow in the dark projects and guides.

    Resin, glass, wax, rubber, epoxy, plastic, ceramics, safety markings, fishing lures and more are all potential uses for our products. What will you create?
    glow in the dark project ideas. resin, glass, and painting
  10. Check out all the different colors of Glow in the Dark Paint that we offer to start enjoying the magic of glow today! Don't forget a charging light so that you'll have everything you need to create your own glow in the dark painting. Invite some friends over for a paint night or plan a birthday party that will be remembered for a lifetime. Whatever you end up doing, be sure to send us some pictures or tag us on social media!


We hope you found this guide helpful, but we know that there's a lot of information we didn't cover. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments, by emailing us at info@artnglow.com, or by contacting us via Facebook messenger. We love helping people out!

For a more in-depth guide on creating a glow in the dark canvas paintings, please check out our How To Guide.


73 comments

  • Kathy at Art 'N Glow

    Hello Susan,
    We would recommend using our Neutral Glow Paints for your project. You can paint the ovals with regular paint in the colors you would like to see during the day Then apply our glow paints over the base paint. Our glow paints are designed to be thinner than regular acrylics, so they go on nearly transparent for the first few coats. This allows them to be layered over regular paints to create hidden glowing details in paintings of all sorts.

    It only takes a few minutes of charging for the glowing effect to be visible. However, working with glow-in-the-dark products outdoors can be a little tricky, since there are a few hours between when the sun goes down, and when it actually gets dark enough outside to see the glow. These products are best appreciated in complete darkness, with minimal light pollution.
    Here is an article from our blog that goes into further detail about the use of glow in the dark products outdoors: https://www.artnglow.com/blogs/news/can-i-use-the-sun-to-charge-outdoor-glowing-materials

    We would suggest having a UV light source handy to quickly and easily charge your project after dark.

  • Susan

    We are in a Christmas parade, our theme is a carousel, it will have many lights, multi colored and the top light bright white and red. Where I want to paint is on the shaped white pieces of wood, they have multi colored mini led lights and I want to use glow in the dark paint for the Christmas scenes in each of the ovals approx. 11 × 11. What method do I use to have color during the day time and glow in the dark. We will be on the water.

  • Kathy at Art 'N Glow

    Hello Holly,
    It only takes a few minutes of charging for the glowing effect to be visible. However, working with glow-in-the-dark products outdoors can be a little tricky, since there are a few hours between when the sun goes down, and when it actually gets dark enough outside to see the glow. These products are best appreciated in complete darkness, with minimal light pollution.It is true that lots of our glow colors are so bright shortly after charging that you can see them even in a well-lit room, but once the charging source goes away (the sun in this case) they start transitioning from their brightest output to their afterglow stage. The afterglow is what is commonly referenced as lasting 6 to 12 hours for strontium aluminate pigments like the ones we sell. During this afterglow stage, you probably need to be in a very dark environment to see the glow at all, due to the glow fading and the fact that your eyes are much more sensitive once they are adjusted to the dark.Here is an article from our blog that goes into further detail about the use of glow in the dark products outdoors: https://www.artnglow.com/blogs/news/can-i-use-the-sun-to-charge-outdoor-glowing-materialsWe would suggest having a UV flashlight or similar UV light source handy to quickly and easily charge your glow product after dark.

  • Holly

    I have neutral white glow paint. I put 3 coats on a watering can. It has had plenty of sunlight and still doesn’t glow? What do I need to do diff? Tks

  • Kathy at Art 'N Glow

    Hello Valerie,

    We would not recommend applying an opaque acrylic paint over our glow paint, as this would hinder its ability to be charged by UV light or sunlight and affect its ability to glow. 

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