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Unread 03-06-2010, 06:42 PM   #1
farawen
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Best way to paint craft foam?

Hello everyone!!

So I've tried painting with acrylic paint, lacquer, and Elmer's glue before spray painting pieces of craft foam, and none are giving me the effect I want. I'm looking for a smooth, glossy finish.

Any suggestions?

Thank you
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Unread 03-06-2010, 06:59 PM   #2
Ion
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The easiest way is to get some Gesso and paint a few thin coats over the craft foam before applying your spray paint. Gesso has a little bit of grit to it, but it won't be noticeable under a few coats of spray paint with lacquer over it.

I also have had great luck with wall primer, like for your house. Just prime the foam pieces, spraypaint, and seal.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 07:26 PM   #3
Chipface
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I like sealing my craft foam with Modge Podge. Much better than Gesso IMO. As long as you seal the foam first even before putting primer on, you'll be good.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 07:30 PM   #4
farawen
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what's the best seal in your opinion?
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Unread 03-06-2010, 07:49 PM   #5
Envel
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Personally, I like to seal the foam with mod podge. Then, I coat it with some layers of Gessor OR primer to give the foam one consistent color, since usually my foam pieces are multiple colors.

Makes it a nicer base to paint on when you've put gesso or primer on it, imo.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 10:41 PM   #6
Satori Veda
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Yeah, the shiney gloss doesn't really come from the paint. I usually seal my acrylic stuff with cheap varnish. Mod podge can sometimes leaves a sticky film, but it is cheap,glossy, and easy to find.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 10:54 PM   #7
Fire Lily
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I would actually recommend using FutureWax acrylic floor polish to finish your foam. It's ridiculously glossy and shiny. Just apply a couple of coats using a smaller paint brush (1/2 inch or so) and it should be what you're looking for. Make sure you apply this AFTER painting, though ^.^

For sealing the foam prior to painting, I prefer using a half and half glue to water mixture. Get plain old glue and water it down by 50%. Then paint it onto your foam and let it dry. The water will evaporate, leaving a smooth coating of glue behind. I really prefer this over Mod Podge, as the Podge leaves brush strokes behind, plus it cracks more easily imo.
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Last edited by Fire Lily : 03-06-2010 at 10:57 PM.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 11:03 PM   #8
Yui
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I've tried various spray-on gloss top-coats over the years but they either don't stick permanently, get goopy-looking spots or crack. Brush-on polyeurythene I also liked before, but unless you are trying to get a weathered or battle-damaged look, it tends to craze - and then all those tiny little lines that develop on stressed curves where the foam can still slightly flex end up dulling the smooth surface.

So...if you don't mind hand-painting (several layers, thin looks nicer than thick...it can take up to 7 or so depending on if you primed the foam prior to painting) I have yet to find anything I like better than Liquitex (Flexible) Gloss Varnish for making craft foam smooth for plastic or metal-like looks. & not only does it give you a shiny top surface, but it also makes your paint colors much more vibrant.

Also, I suggest glossing as the last step, after you've cut your foam to shape and attached it to whatever you're making, since it seals the edges to protect them this way.

Example of craft foam just painted, not glossed yet = http://www.flickr.com/photos/ensui/3541995184
Glossed with Liquitex varnish (after being curved/attached) = http://www.flickr.com/photos/ensui/3637394663
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Unread 03-07-2010, 04:13 AM   #9
FullMetalSam
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All good ideas, but I'm with Firelily on how to seal the craft foam.
Gesso and ModPoge will crack (maybe one will be more durable than the other, but it will happen and you'll be angry at yourself when it does) and you can count on this. However using glue (be it regular white glue or something a bit pricier like flexbond) will insure that your sealing product bonds with the foam and will not crack because your foam piece is still flexible underneath. You'll have a durable paint job just because you've got a good "seal"... so the paint will stick to the glue which will stick to foam.

If you want an idea on how glue perform as a sealing agent... have a look at my Odin (from Odin's Sphere) cosplay. I've worn him for a whole day at the con (walked, sat down, bumped into people a lot, etc.) and I went on stage for the mascarade and danced in it... and you know what? After all that, there is not a single spot on the costume where the paint job had chipped/cracked/etc. It's still in pristine condition.

On the glossy finish side... I never tried it, but I was about to recommend Liquitex Flexible gloss varnish. Yui seems to have had great experiences with it... I'd trust the product for what you need.

A thing to remember about any other gloss varnish/lacquer/etc. is that when completely dried it's "solid". The thin film of the whatever glossy product you're using (unless it's stated other wise) will not be flexible. Some will be a bit, but never enough to be able to withstand to the flexibility of the foam that is making up your costume piece. So when that piece of foam will move, warp, be crushed, etc... the film will crack, which will ruin your paint job.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 05:55 AM   #10
Dragon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Lily View Post
I would actually recommend using FutureWax acrylic floor polish to finish your foam. It's ridiculously glossy and shiny. Just apply a couple of coats using a smaller paint brush (1/2 inch or so) and it should be what you're looking for. Make sure you apply this AFTER painting, though ^.^

For sealing the foam prior to painting, I prefer using a half and half glue to water mixture. Get plain old glue and water it down by 50%. Then paint it onto your foam and let it dry. The water will evaporate, leaving a smooth coating of glue behind. I really prefer this over Mod Podge, as the Podge leaves brush strokes behind, plus it cracks more easily imo.

^ This is what I'm using too. It's working perfectly wonderful and is good if you want to keep some flexibility. If you want to harden it, gesso is probably the better choice, thought.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 09:15 PM   #11
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Watered down school glue. Couple of coats.
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Unread 03-11-2010, 08:49 AM   #12
Franquita
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My boyfriend is making a suit of armor out of craft foam right now, and he is using something called Sculpt Or Coat.

http://sculpturalarts.com/foamcoating.htm

It not only helps the craft foam keep its shape, but also seals and hardens the foam and provides a nice surface for painting. However, it is a bit on the pricey side.

Like others have said here, the glossy finish doesn't come from the paint but from a varnish or other clear finish. You can get things like that at any craft or hardware store, like Michael's, AC Moore, Lowes or Home Depot.
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Unread 03-11-2010, 09:27 AM   #13
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I've being used pure fabric paint to both seal and paint my craft foam pieces hat need to be metallic. I takes about 10 thin layers to get the coverage you need but it remain flexible with creasing unless you fold it as a sharp angle.

My first attempt at it and I got better with getting a smooth finish adding thinker layers.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 09:48 PM   #14
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Anyone mind giving me some tips? Just looking to see whether or not to seal my craft foam with mod podge as is, or watered down mod podge. Keep in mind, I'm sealing it so that I can plsti-dip it along with my eva foam in my armor. Thanks!
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Unread 07-09-2014, 06:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlacklightSora View Post
Anyone mind giving me some tips? Just looking to see whether or not to seal my craft foam with mod podge as is, or watered down mod podge. Keep in mind, I'm sealing it so that I can plsti-dip it along with my eva foam in my armor. Thanks!
from the general consensus on here, it seems like elmers glue is the way to go. everyone said mod podge eventually cracks and ruins the paint job.
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