loading

Before I even had kids, I started painting my guest room in a star/night-sky theme because I am really, really, REALLY nuts for outer space and all things star-related. Like the "all-I-ever-wanted-to-be-was-an-astronaut-ever-since-I-was-a-little-girl" sort of obsession that has just grown stronger with time. Since I couldn't name my children after stars (I dunno--Moonbeam Stardust does have a nice ring to it!), I settled for naming my ferrets after stars: Castor, Pollux, Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Vega. Turns out, near the end of painting my guest room, I found out I was six weeks pregnant with my first child and quickly turned it into the baby's nursery. Three children later, this nursery has been the perfect room for both my girls and my boy to grow up in. It has a non-babyish quality to it that will allow my 3-year-old son to stay in it until his teenage years, when we can add a cool metal desk made out of tool chests topped with a laminate counter, pushed up against a metal bulletin board on the wall.

Oh, and the best thing of all about this room: GLOW IN THE DARK accurate representation of the night sky! That was a must for this room, because how can a star/night sky themed room NOT have stars and planets that glowed in the dark when you shut the lights off? Another positive feature of this glow-in-the-dark room: no need for a night light. My children have never needed a night light in this room, since the stars glow brightly when the lights are shut off, and then dim over time to complete darkness by the time they fall asleep.

Step 1: Base coat and sponge painting the walls.

So I'll start off by saying that I'm sorry I have no before pictures, but I made you a video of the sponge-painting process on a piece of foam board.

This room was done twelve years ago and it really is an easy process to paint this effect on the wall. I had never sponge-painted, or even "normally" painted a room before this project. You really don't need any artistic skills in this project either, but don't tell my friends and family that, I like them to continue to think that I have amazing painting skills!

Depending on how your room is shaped, you need to decide which walls are the night-time walls and which walls will become the day-light walls. I decided to split my room diagonally down the center and do half and half. I do caution against painting your entire room in the dark night-time themed colors, as I would think it would optically shrink your room and you would need lot of light in the evening hours to see comfortably. But it is your room--if you want a cozy, dark, cave-like feel to it, then go ahead and paint it all night-time!

Materials and supplies needed:

Blue painter's tape

Latex primer

Pale yellow latex paint for base coat of daylight walls

Light blue latex paint for base coat of night-sky walls

Paint rollers with roller covers

Paintbrush for painting edges and corners

Small craft and stencil-type brushes

Acrylic paint in green, purple, dark blue, deep hue yellow, red paint pen, black paint pen, gold paint pen, glow-in-the-dark paint

Latex glazing medium (can find larger containers of this at the home-improvement stores)

Natural sea sponges

Resealable plastic bags

Plastic bowls for mixing paints

Night sky stencils (or make your own)

Large sheets of thin paper

Graphite transfer paper

Computer printer paper

Yardstick, pencil, and a string

Old toothbrush

Daylight walls

Using your blue painter's tape, tape off your baseboards, your window frames, your doors, etc., on your daylight walls. Also tape off the edges of where the night-sky walls will meet your daylight walls. Prime, if necessary, and paint your walls with the pale yellow latex paint. Apply a second coat if needed and let dry completely.

Partially mix 1 part "deep hue" yellow (it is more light orange/dark gold in color--if you can find a light hue orange, you can use it as well) acrylic paint and 1 part glazing medium in a plastic bowl. By only partially mixing the acrylic paint and the glazing medium, you get bits of stronger color when you sponge the wall. Wet your sponge and wring it out some, but not all, of the water. Dip the sponge in the paint/glaze mixture, then dab the paint onto the wall in an up-and-down motion, all around your pale yellow walls to the edges. With your other hand in the plastic baggie, blot the edges of the color to soften them, or use a clean part of the sponge to blend and mute the sponge's marks. You may need to use the small stencil brush to get into the corners of the room where the sponge can't fit very well. Just dip the end of the stencil brush into the paint on the sponge and dab the brush onto the wall to continue the mottled effect. With the same damp sea sponge, apply a little of your pale yellow latex paint onto the wall in an up-and-down motion and work it in using the plastic baggie method or a clean part of the sponge. Allow the paint to dry.

Night-sky walls

Using the blue painter's tape, tape off your baseboards, your window frames, your doors on the night-sky walls. Also tape the edges of where the daylight walls meet your night-sky walls. Prime the night-sky walls with the latex primer, if necessary. Paint with the light blue latex paint; allow the paint to dry. You probably don't need a second coat of the light blue paint because of how dark the acrylic glazes are on the wall, but if you feel the need to, apply a second base coat as well. Allow to dry completely.

In separate bowls, mix the dark blue, green, and purple acrylic paints with the glazing medium (1:1 ratio). Using the dark blue paint/glaze mixture and a new damp sea sponge, dab the paint onto the wall in an up-and-down motion, leaving areas of light blue background. Using the same sponge, dip into a second color (purple) and dab randomly over the first areas of color. Continue sponging outward, adding and mixing the colors on the wall. Avoid creating small isolated patches of color, think big and connect masses of the same colors to give a continuous feel to the night-sky. When you come to a corner, use your stencil brush to continue the mottled paint effect where the sea sponge can't fit well. Allow the paint to dry.

Why do I need to add the glazing compound to the acrylic paint before sponging it on?

The purpose of the glazing component in faux finishing/faux painting is to extend the drying time of the acrylic paint and make the paint color more transparent. This helps to be able to continue to blend larger sections together as you move across the wall. This is also the reason that you want to be able to finish at least an entire wall in the allotted time--and not stop halfway through--because the acrylic paint (even with the glazing compound) will eventually dry completely and you will not be able to blend and join the larger sections together seamlessly. You will be left with a darker edge in that case, where the other paint just layered on top of the dried paint instead of blending in with it. If you think you can only do one wall a day, put blue painter's tape on all the other adjacent wall edges, even the finished 'faux'ed walls, to keep the new paint from just sitting on top of the dried paint and leaving behind a funky darker edge.

<p>Is there a way to remove it?</p>
<p>Hi, This is Amazing. Thank you so much for providing this instructable. I will try to paint my son's room accordingly. </p><p>Can you please tell me approximately how much acrylic paint I will need for similar size room or 10x10 room? Also, can I use cheap Acrylic paint from craft section in walmart or do you reccomend the Liquifax ones as you have bought?</p><p>Thanks for you help. </p>
<p>A black light might enrich the glow-in-the-dark effect. An industrious person might add a series of them to energize the effects, but I might be over-geeking the intended effect since I have a weakness for starscapes on the ceiling. ;)</p>
<p>This is VERY nice, but i feel something is missing. In the picture where we see the ceiling and the hanging planets around the sun shaped lamp, why not draw on the ceiling the orbit the planets have around the sun? It would give a much better perspective on why the planets are hanging there around the sun, they are not just random locations.</p>
<p>Whoa. This is awesome!</p>
Are you the little girl from the Disney movie Tomorrowland? Lol
I LOVE IT....I'm also in love with space and this has inspired me to do more crafts that are related to space.<br>(Thxs I owe you one)
<p>I think the &quot;astronomically correct&quot; part has great educational value, especially nowadays when most people don't get to see the stars too well due to the constantly lit city environment.</p>
A beautiful job. I did a star ceiling as well and attempted to do glow paint. I was disappointed at the intensity of the paint. The project succeeded without it. You can see the results here: http://m.instructables.com/id/NEW-DAD-TAKES-A-STAR-CEILING-TO-A-NEW-LEVEL/<br>But I wish I could have found a way to insensify and prolong the glow effect.<br><br>I might look into DIY-Guy's suggedtiin from the comments below.
<p>A lot depends on the type of phosphorescent paint you use. The old Zinc Sulphide type glows poorly and for a short time. The newer Strontium Aluminate type glows much brighter and much longer. You do have to 'charge' it for a longer time or with a brighter light source. Try using an old electronic flash-tube type camera flash, available at thrift shops for a few bucks. That's the fastest way to charge the paint. Or you could have a few black light 'BLB' fluorescent tubes placed along the edges of the ceiling, turned on a short time before viewing, and then turned off. Also, the size of the paint 'grains' does matter, with the larger sizes producing brighter, longer lasting glows.</p><p>See <a href="http://www.ebay.com/gds/GLOW-in-the-DARK-Paints-What-to-expect-and-How-to-USE-/10000000176467155/g.html" style="font-size: 15.0px;">GLOW in the DARK Paints What to expect and How to USE</a> and <a href="http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/glow.htm" style="font-size: 15.0px;">Super-bright glow-in-the-dark paints</a> for more information.</p>
My son would love that in his room I'm going to have to try it
<p>Awesome! I hope you do! My kids love the room and they have a space station tent in one corner for play. The furniture and toys can be switched out as they get older. I was thinking of painting the Millennium Falcon (small) or the Death Star (small) on the blue wall, just to give something new to look at in the room and to nerd it up some more! </p>
<p>Why not get a small Millenium Falcon toy (or model kit) and hang it from the ceiling for a neat 3-d effect? Or get some Tie Fighter models and recreate the Falcon's escape the Death Star...</p>
<p>Wow, nice job! I've been 'thinking' about doing a glow-in-the-dark star mural for years, but nothing like this. I really like the 'day' mural idea. Those stencils are expensive. I think I'd opt to print them out. One thing I would change is the color of the luminous paint for the stars. Green is not at all realistic. Blue is. And maybe red, green, and yellow for bright (low magnitude) stars in some of the constellations. I remember arguing with a girl in grade school, who was regarded as a good artist, and who always won blue ribbons in the art fair, about her depiction of the night sky using YELLOW stars. I told her that if she looked at the stars tonight, she'd see that they were mostly blue, but she insisted that they were yellow&hellip;</p>
<p>Bravo! Very well done! </p>
<p>Papyrus font is cool. What else are you going to use in this application that has any real character, half-uncial? Love this. You - and it - are amazing.</p>
<p>Haha! Thank you for making me feel better about it!</p>
<p>We love it , can't wait to try this ourselves.</p>
<p>This is still one of my favorite instructables!<br>Old style glow paint does fade pretty fast. Some people like a long lasting glow. In our home we have a jar of pigment powder that we hit with an ultraviolet laser from time to time and it glows all night. <br><br>If you want pigments that will glow for up to 12 hours, check out what this company says. (Disclaimer: I use their pigments but an not associated with the company except as a normal customer.)<br><br><a href="http://glotechint.com" rel="nofollow">http://glotechint.com</a><br>&quot;Natural light-storing <br>rare-earth mineral crystals form the basis of GloTech's photoluminescent <br> products. These crystals are non-radioactive, toxic-free and harmless, <br>and can be recharged an infinite number of times. GloTech's premium <br>grade photoluminescent pigments are of the highest quality with <br>excellent afterglow effects, acknowledged to be among the best and <br>brightest in the industry. They are utilized in the manufacture of our <br>complete range of products including:</p><p><strong><u>Photoluminescent Powder Pigments</u></strong></p><p>Photoluminescent glow-in-the-dark powder is actually <br>called phosphorescent crystals or pigments. This powdery substance <br>absorbs light and then re-emits it over a length of time. This occurs <br>when electrons absorb energy in the presence of light and move up to a <br>higher orbit. In the absence of light energy, these same electrons fall <br>from a higher energy level to a more stable energy level. When this <br>occurs, they emit energy in the form of visible light. No chemical <br>reaction actually occurs.</p><p>There are basically two types of photoluminescent powder. <br> The first generation of photoluminescent powder that has been around <br>for many years is Zinc Sulphide. The afterglow characteristics of Zinc <br>Sulphide have much to be desired and is commonly used in the manufacture <br> of toys and many non-critical application areas. GloTech supplies the <br>latest state-of-the-art photoluminescent powder pigments that glow many <br>times longer and is many times brighter than the first generation Zinc <br>Sulphide and second generation Strontium Aluminate. They come in a <br>variety of colors and different particle sizes to suit many <br>requirements.</p><p><strong>45-85 um or 200-300 mesh size - Large</strong></p><p>* Relatively large particle size</p><p>* Very high afterglow intensity</p><p>* Suitable for many applications such as brush painting, spray painting, candle making, and glass molding&quot;</p>
<p>A starry night ceiling has been on my &quot;to do&quot; list for 11 years for the kids. Have had the glow in the dark paint and stencils just sitting there. This has inspired me, plus the boys' room is already painted a lighter blue! One step done. We just spent two weeks at a lake cottage in Canada where we star gazed and enjoyed the Milky Way every night. This is just perfect!</p>
<p>I'm so happy that you are going to do it! I have projects that I have put on hold for years and years as well. Kids grow up so fast and the projects I have in mind would be too young for them now. :( I'll have to wait for my grandchildren to complete some crafts (or nieces and nephews).</p>
<p>This is still, by far, the BEST tutorial on the internet! I have one last question. What is the purpose of the glazing component? Does it enhance the paint somehow? Just don't want to mess this up! </p>
<p>You are too kind! That is a really good question and I should add it to the body of this instructable so others know the reason behind it as well. The purpose of the glazing component in faux finishing/faux painting is to extend the drying time of the acrylic paint and make the paint color more transparent. This helps to be able to continue to blend larger sections together as you move across the wall. This is also the reason that you want to be able to finish at least an entire wall in the allotted time--and not stop halfway through--because the acrylic paint (even with the glazing compound) will dry completely and you will not be able to blend the joining sections together seamlessly. You will be left with a darker edge in that case, where the other paint just layered on top of the dried paint instead of blending in with it. If you think you can only do one wall a day, put blue painter's tape on the other wall edges, even the finished 'faux'ed walls, to keep the new paint from just sitting on top of the old dried paint and showing a funky darker edge. I hope this helps explain the reasoning behind it, and not just raise more questions! </p>
<p>That makes perfect sense! THANKS for the detailed info.</p>
<p>Wow. This is so cool! Great detail to the room, too!</p>
<p>Thank you. I'm glad you like it!</p>
<p>Great job, this is super pretty.</p>
<p>Thank you! </p>
<p>Wow i want to use your great idea for the inside of my camper van It is so awesome!! Thank you!!!!!</p>
<p>Very funny to paint the inside of a *camper* with the night sky!<br>I go camping to SEE the night sky. :)<br>Keep it up!</p>
<p>I'm so happy that you are going to do it--it is a very easy painting effect. The outside of my car has a pretty bad paint job, my husband was joking that I should sponge paint the night-sky onto it as well. I think I'd have to research automotive paint first! Post a picture of your camper when you do it! I would love to see how it comes out.</p>
well done!
<p>Thanks! I hope the newly posted video will show people how easy it really is.</p>
<p>wow, that is an amazing project. Kutos to you!</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>omg wow, SOoo much better than generic nursery themed rooms. Very refreshing. I absolutely love it!! I will be making it!</p>
<p>Yay! Excited for the company of another nursery room decorated in a starry-night theme (without having to pay for a muralist). We are going to raise a generation of kids who love outer space and sci-fi. My plot to take over the world one nursery room at a time is working! </p>
<p>sweet paint job!</p>
<p>Wow i want to use your great idea for the inside of my camper van It is so awesome!! Thank you!!!!!</p>
Wow
<p>I'm glad you like it!</p>
This is so cool!
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>This is *glorious*!</p>
<p>Thanks!</p>
<p>Very good stuff.</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>You have very fortunate children. You did a remarkable job and I love that you made the night sky accurately; what a great idea to splatter paint for the Milky Way! Your directions are great (especially if you have ever painted using any of the glazing techniques); I agree with gravityisweak that a demo video would only make it better. Any suggestions on how to convince my wife that I should do this with my home office?</p>
<p>Video posting shortly! I was going to use this guest room as my craft room before I found out I was preggo and turned it into the baby's nursery. Soooo, she should totally let you paint your home office like this! The kids shouldn't get all the fun, you know?</p>
you went above and beyond on this project. so awesome.

About This Instructable

73,888views

1,393favorites

License:

Bio: Once a mechanical and materials engineer that worked on rockets, I am now a stay-at-home mom to three incredible children who let me craft and ... More »
More by kellechu:Pokemon Detecting Wristband Easy and Cute Amigurumi Thanksgiving Turkey It's Hammock Time! (Ferret Sleepsack) 
Add instructable to: