Introduction: Make a Silhouette Glow Wall

Some of us were talking at work and thought it would be cool to make a glow wall for a Halloween party at work. I never got around to it unfortunately. I have wanted to do this since Halloween but haven't had the time to until now. Overall this was a fun project even if I made and tested it alone :(. This could be a hit at a party or really almost any event. It just has to be in a low light or dark room. Other than that it should be fun for all ages.

Also, I try to learn a little about something I make that I didn't know before. Apparently after reading a lot, I didn't know too much about glow in the dark stuff. Now I know. So here's your gooey morsel of science for the day.


Step 1: Supplies

I picked the sheet and paint up at WalMart for $20. One sheet and 3 cans of paint is around $20. If you have a sheet you can toss out, use that. That should save you around $5. You might be able to get glow spray paint cheaper online, but I didn't see it cheaper than what WalMart had (under $5 a can). The paint seems to have radically varying prices online ($4-$35) as well.

1 sheet
3 cans of glow spray paint
and a BRIGHT light source

camera flash (with remote)
spray paint gun
some thumb tacks or mounts to hold up sheet

Step 2: Painting

To actually paint the sheet, first get somewhere to paint where it isn't windy, open space to get rid of fumes and you feel OK painting in. I used my back porch that is screened in. Spread out the sheet as flat as you can and hold the corners down with whatever is around. I used some tiki candles and my other paint cans. Once it is all laid out, start painting.

It's hard to see what you are painting because the paint is a very light green color. This of course led to blotches in my paint job unfortunately. In a dark room where you can keep checking your work would be ideal (like a dark garage or even my porch at night), but I did not have that at the time. The sheet was sort of broken down in to creased sections due to the folding. So I just painted by section until it was done by dividing it in to 4 squares. Once done, give it some time to dry. Since you are spraying on cloth, it drys pretty quick (about 30 minutes was more than enough). Once dried, it will be a little crusty but still foldable. I doubt you'll get it folded back to how it came in the package, but you can fold it for whatever works for you.

Step 3: Using the Glow Wall

Once you are ready to use it, just hang it up somewhere dark and go at it. I hung it at the doorway to my house with two thumb tacks. You can probably use a halogen light or equivalent to make the silhouettes but I have a rather powerful camera flash that does the job ok. Along with my flash, I have a wireless remote system to trigger it. I didn't include this in what is required because it technically isn't. But if you want one, it can be picked up at for about $30. I got it for $20 a few months ago.

Have the "user" make a pose right up against the wall. You want them right on it (literally touching) so they get as little light leaking behind them as possible. I was using my flash off camera and right up on the glow screen. It was just set to Manual mode full power (1/1). If you use a flash, don't use it in Auto mode if you can help it. For this, you don't need to care about proper exposure, you just want all the light you can get. Once they are ready, have them close their eyes and fire the flash (or whatever light source). Closing the eyes is important as well for the user. Since it will be dark when using this, you don't want the light to dilate their eyes. If it does, it will make it harder for them to see what they just made! I know from experience.

Testing mine, you could do a shot about every minute for the best results. The low hold time for the glow really helps with this. You can take shots back to back without waiting, but you get some silhouette bleed over if you don't let the glow die down fully (see examples).Above are some examples taken a few seconds after I set off the flash in a pose. I have the wireless remote in my hand for all of these shots. I had to run back to the camera each time, only about the first 2 seconds are the brightest. So these pictures don't do it too much justice. These are 2 second exposures. Overall I had a lot of fun playing with this.

Make It Glow Challenge

Participated in the
Make It Glow Challenge