Introduction: Glow Paint Vs. Glow Powder for Resin Cast Props
Adding glow to a resin cast could be just what your prop needs to give it that little something extra! Art n Glow makes both glow paints and powders that utilize strontium aluminate to create a natural, fluorescent glow in a variety of colors. In this guide, I will be testing the merits of both their paint and powder products in two different colors to see which product is the best fit for these particular resin casts.
- Plastic Measuring Cups
- Kitchen Scale (Optional)
- Resin for Casting (Mine is Art n Glow Clear Casting 2 Part Epoxy Resin)
- Wooden Stir Sticks
- Mold Release
- A Mold for Casting
- Measuring Spoon
- Art n Glow Glow Powder in Fluorescent Green and Fluorescent Blue
- Alcohol Dyes (Optional)
- Sponge Brushes
- Art n Glow Glow Paint in Neutral Green and Neutral Aqua
Step 1: Creating the Resin Casts
I will be making four resin casts total in preparation to compare the glow paint to the glow powder. I will make one Heart of Te Fiti with the green powder mixed into the resin, and one tinted with a small amount of green dye which will then be painted with the green glow paint. I will repeat this process with Moana’s shell necklace design: one made with the blue powder mixed into the resin, and one tinted with a small amount of blue dye which will then be painted with the blue glow paint.
When mixing the two resin casts with the glow powder, I decided to add ⅛ of a teaspoon of the powder to each respective mixture and stirred thoroughly, checking the bottom and sides of the cup often for clumps of powder. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the powder stayed suspended in the resin mixture as it cured and did not all sink towards the bottom of the mold during this process.
For the remaining two resin casts, I added a few drops of alcohol dye to each so that they would be slightly tinted.
Once fully cured, I applied five coats of the glow paint to the surface of these two resin casts, making sure to wait for each coat to dry fully (about 15 minutes) before applying the next coat. I used sponge brushes, and while the paint is mostly sheer, I can still see some streaks on the surface. You might get more even coverage by using an airbrush to apply the paint, but the paint would definitely need to be thinned prior to airbrushing, and I’m not sure how this would affect the number of coats required or the amount of glow you will ultimately be able to achieve.
Now that all four resin casts are prepared, it’s time to see how the glow powder and glow paint measure up to one another!
Step 2: Comparing the Prep Time
Pictured above are all four resin casts, fully cured and with paint applied to the blue cast on the right and the green cast on the left.
The resin casts with the glow powder mixed directly into the resin took less time to make overall than the resin casts that were painted over. Each coat of paint requires about 15 minutes to dry before the next coat can be applied. The Art n Glow website recommends applying about 3 coats of paint for maximum glow. I applied about five coats to mine, just to be sure I had attained the most coverage. Furthermore, because my props had lots of small details, nooks, and crannies for the paint to get caught in, I spent a lot of time between coats attempting to brush the paint out of these crevices. Overall, the glow paint method did take longer to complete, but only by about an hour and a half.
Step 3: Comparing the Natural Light Transparency
In the pictures above, you can see the opacity of each of the casts when placed in front of natural light. I put one finger behind each cast in the same position to further test this transparency. The painted casts are far more transparent, but the casts with powder mixed in are not entirely opaque, allowing some light through and the shadow of my finger to be partially visible. If it is necessary for your resin cast to be transparent, then casting with less powder or forgoing the powder in favor of the paint may be the way to go.
Step 4: Comparing the LED Light Transparency
The two green casts were placed directly on top of a strip of green LED lights, while each of the blue casts have a single LED placed against the backs shining forward. The green powder cast did a much better job of diffusing the LED lights behind it than its painted counterpart, which barely scattered the light at all. However, the blue powder cast hardly allowed any of the blue LED light to shine through while its painted counterpart did a little too well, showing the exact outline of the LED behind it.
Step 5: Comparing the Glow
The results of the glow test show just how different the final effect of these two different products can be! Each cast was charged briefly with a blacklight before being placed in an entirely darkened room for the pictures that you see above. Here are some of my observations:
The Powder Casts: The green one is so bright, that when charged with a blacklight it emits a glow even in broad daylight. You can see in the dark how much the glow from the two powder casts alone is able to light up my hand. I like the neon shades of the two powders and how the color is consistent throughout the entire cast. However, much of the detail in each of the casts is completely lost. I would have to paint the details in a darker shade in order to make them pop while glowing in the dark.
The Paint Casts: The green one has a much dimmer glow than its counterpart, while the blue is nearly as bright as the powder version. The look that is achieved with the paint may not glow quite as bright, but it is still a very cool one. I like how much the details stand out, definitely due in part to how much glow paint got caught in the nooks and crannies of each cast. I also like the semi-transparent quality that the casts have, even while glowing. I am not a big fan of how the brush strokes are visible, but this may be a perfect texture for other props. As noted above, it might be possible to attempt to use the glow paint with an airbrush to avoid this issue. As the charge from the blacklight wore off, both painted casts grew dimmer more quickly than their powder counterparts.
Step 6: The Final Verdict
Overall, I am impressed with both of these products and the glow they are able to achieve. The casts ended up with very different looks depending on the method used. When deciding whether to use glow paint or glow powder, it really depends on the look that you’re going for with your particular prop! However, if you need your resin cast to glow, strontium aluminate is the way to go! I hope this guide will help you decide whether you want to try out the paint or the powder first. Thank you for reading!