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.


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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.

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    14 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    This is a great idea. I wanted to incorporate this idea into my final degree show at university.

    I was wondering if i could ask you some questions about light sources?

    would this idea be possible with a video played through a projector as a projection on the wall?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I am loving this.

    I want to try and make one for a kids Creche.

    I can imagine kids fingers getting all over the sheet? so is this paint permanantly fixed to the sheet? Or does it come off?

    Would it be an idea to use a transparent acrylic sheet against it to make a permanant fixture?

    Also rather than using spray paint can we use a normal paint and just soack the entire sheet in a tub of it?



    7 years ago on Introduction

    I like that this is portable! A blacklight (UV) works good to activate the glow particles, which I learned at Glow Inc. website, also that products will vary in glow intensity and fade rate, hence the wild differences in prices. Kids of all ages love glowing things, don't we?

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    UV lights do work well but all I had was a small LED one. The flash at full power gave me the best results. I tried a halogen light as well but it didn't do too well. And yes, I think all ages enjoy glow in the dark stuff to a certain extent. It always fascinated me growing up.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    If you do end up using this later, you might look at getting a filter sample pack from Lee or Rosco and see if any work well to let through UV while blocking most of the blinding light.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    FYI ... The glow-in-the-dark compounds are ONLY activated by UV Light, which is why the halogen lamp did not work. Sunlight works extremely well to charge the whole sheet. It also shows you just how much Ultraviolet is actually put out by a Xenon flashtube! Other interesting effects can be generated by using a violet laser pointer in the 405nm range.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    the glow in the dark paint is a nice touch ! We used an opaque plastic for a shadow wall in this years haunt and it was very effective, at 8x20' it would have broke our budget to paint it though ! I usually use artist quality paints when using glow in the dark or fluorescent paints and generally on smaller objects, for this years Haunt I was using other quality paints and found it a lot easier to wait until dark and work under a black light. Thank you for sharing this thought invoking idea..

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah those cans of paint are pricey for me. But once you paint it once, it's done. Larger than what I did would be a lot to paint but also a lot to get lit evenly for the cool effect. I showed this to some people and they couldn't have had more fun. My flash actually started smoking it was being used so much. I wish I would have had it Halloween. Maybe next year.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    we used a high intensity work light which worked for our purpose, the actors shadow would be 8' talll and pace along side the patrons on the other side and then just disappear when he got out of the light and they approached a corner, leaving them wonder.. a couple of rooms and turns later they came up to the other side of the wall to the operating room so we got 2 scares for one build. . I've already written this into the notebook for next year with 3 stars, perhaps at the end of a dim lit hall or even in the middle of a wall, depending on materials and our actual setup but Im confident it will be a great scare !


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I wanted to use this in a haunted house at work. Instead of how my video and set up was (person in front and flash in front), we were going to have someone behind the sheet and the flash behind them. This works in reverse. So you get a glowing silhouette but the people can't see the person that made it. This is especially creepy of they are walking by. The actor behind the sheet can follow them and a high flash rate will look like a ghost is following them. Maybe I'll add that to the Instructable to show.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's kind of what I was thinking, the whole wall is glowing under a black light and then a bright light flashes behind the wall to reveal a shadow figure


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The sheet was initially white. The paint goes on a very light green, almost clear. It's barely noticeable.