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Can You Paint A Snowball?

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GoodGame Inactive Member writes:

Do you shade them grey or blue? :*)

Revision Log
5 September 2006page first published

3,941 hits since 5 Sep 2006
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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So then I got to wondering - can you paint these things? I mean, they're covered with flock - will the flock come off? Will it be hard to get a good basecoat?

My first experiment was to try spray painting. At worst, the paint would react with the styrofoam and "melt" the ball - but perhaps the flock and glue would form a barrier to penetration. I had six snowballs, so I could afford to give it a try...

Spray painting a snow ball doesn't work

Well, toss that one away!

So I resorted to brush painting using acrylic paints. The technique I eventually evolved was to paint one half, let it dry, then paint the other half. Then look for missed spots, and touch it up. And touch it up some more. And some more.

The problem with these darned snowballs is that there always seems to be some spot that gets missed!

With the first coat of paint, I've found that you don't want to thin the paint too much, or the styrofoam will just "drink it up" and you won't get good coverage. Also, dab the paint on rather than brushing (because once the flock gets wet, it easily brushes off). The first coat soaks up a lot of paint!

When you're doing the touch-ups, I at first thought that thinned paint would fix things better because it would flow into the spots that got missed. However, I've come to the conclusion that it is better to use not-so-thinned paint, and to use a stiff brush to "poke it" into the missed spots.

I found that while doing the basecoat was a good time to check the flocking for problem bits - big clumps of flock, or oversized bits of flock. It's usually a good idea to pluck these out, as a bare spot looks better than a glob.

For example, I decided I needed a lava planet - or maybe it's a red dwarf sun. So after several coats of paint, here's a red snowball:

Red snowball

Note that the flocking is no longer fuzzy, but has become matted down with the paint.

Getting a consistent basecoat was the hard part. Now, I gave it a thorough drybrushing with orange:

Red snowball with orange highlights

And finally, a lighter drybrushing for yellow highlights:

Red snowball with orange and yellow highlights

By now, you're probably thinking to yourself: The snowballs pack only cost $1 USD, so why does the title of the article say $2 USD???