Introduction: Make Your Own Thermocolor (Color-Change) Paint!

About: I am a Mad Scientist and IT gal with a passion for projects. I love figuring out puzzles, solving problems, and finding out new ways to get things done!

Have you ever wondered how items such as cups or pencils that change color when exposed to heat or cold work? They involve some form of thermocolor (also referred to as thermochromic) pigment. This Instructable will show you how to make your very own custom thermocolor paints using those pigments!!

What is thermocolor paint?

  • Thermocolor paint is paint that changes color based on the temperature

Why make my own?

  • There are limited brands on the market, and they can be expensive.
  • With limited brands come limited colors & color combinations, this allows you to mix and match to create your own colors!

Are you sold yet? Lets begin! This Instructable will show you how to make 2-color and a color-to-transparent thermocolor acrylic paints that change colors when exposed to heat.

The 2-color paint is more opaque, and the color-to-transparent paint is very sheer

Here is What You Will Need:

  • Transparent Gloss Medium (For color-to-transparent paints)
  • Acrylic Paint (For base color of 2-color paints)*
  • Thermocolor (Thermochromic) Pigment Powder (You can get this on Amazon in whatever color you want, you want the kind that turns transparent at 70-90 degrees F, such as this)*
  • Some kind of container with a tight fitting lid to save the paint
  • Plastic Spoons
  • Paintbrushes

*Whatever colors you pick for your acrylic base and powder will combine to make the color the paint will be at room temperature. It will turn into the base color when exposed to heat.

Step 1: Pour Your Paint

Now, I usually only make a little bit at a time unless I am doing a big project, so I am doing a small amount because I only need a bit of paint for my upcoming projects. (stay tuned!)

The more paint you use, the more pigment. This isn't an exact art, but I use the same amount of pigment for 1 part acrylic paint as I do for 2 parts acrylic gloss medium, so if you're making transparent paint you will use more paint and less pigment.

I didn't measure, but an estimation was that I used 1 tablespoon of paint for the 2-color (yellow) and 2 tablespoons for the color-to-transparent paint.

Step 2: Add Your Pigment.

This stuff is powdery and gets ALL OVER if you aren't careful.

I added about half a plastic spoon (heaping) to each cup of paint, like I mentioned in the last step, I use the same amount of pigment for 1 part acrylic as I do 2 parts transparent gloss medium.

Once again, this isn't an exact art, so experiment a little with your pigment to get the color you want. You can even mix pigments to create your perfect color. For deeper colors you may need more pigment, but wait until you mix it in to add more, as you can't really remove it once it is there without adding more of your base (acrylic paint or transparent gloss medium).

Step 3: Stir It Up!

Stir it up until you have no more pigment lumps in your paint. You may notice some marbling due to the heat from stirring. Also, it might not be it's final color yet, due to the friction heat from stirring.

If it is lighter than you'd like, let it sit for a few minutes to cool down before adding more pigment.

Also, the paint tends to dry a little darker than it looks in the container, so you may paint a test swatch on paper or cardstock (I used some blank index cards!)

Step 4: HAVE FUN!!!

This paint can change color using just body heat, so once it is completely dry, play around with it to make sure it is what you want!

You can tweak it a bit by adding more base or more pigment to create your ideal thermocolor paint!

This paint isn't glow in the dark or UV reactive unless you used a base paint that is. The pigment has low UV tolerance, though, so it is probably best reserved for use inside the house.

If you enjoyed this Instructable, or found it helpful, please check out my others, and don't forget to vote for me in the contests!

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