Interference Pigments


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The Phenomenon of Light Interference: The property at work in the Interference Colors is known as light interference, most commonly seen in the rainbow effect created by a thin layer of oil on the surface of water.

Interference Pigments are developed using this property to create a translucent shimmer. The color isn’t from pigment added, it comes from the thickness of the actual pigment particle and how the light moves through it. Some light passes through it and some reflects back.

Information from Scott Bennett

Learning to use Interference colors to get the effects you want takes a lot of experimentation and experience. They do not function like typical pigments. They can cancel each other out, especially if mixed together. But you can certainly layer them. You will have to do some tests to see for yourself what the effects are and go from there.

I would recommend mixing up some test batches of translucent glazes with a number of Interference Colors, using a medium of ours that has the consistency that you like working with. Gloss mediums will allow the interference effect to come through most clearly, while Matte mediums will soften the effect. Dark grounds will greatly enhance the interference effect as will adding darker valued colors to the mixtures you make.

There is an infinite variety of different mixtures you can make so I can only give you some general guidance here and you will need to play around to find what works for your aesthetic concerns.

If you plan to spread or brush out a relatively thin viscosity paint, then you might try using Polymer Medium or Soft Gels, for instance. I find that a smooth surfaced mark made by spreading an interference colored glaze or mixture, using a palette knife or other spreading tool, creates a beautiful sheer surface with a very strong effect. I am giving you my personal opinions here based on my own experience, as I have been using Iridescent and Interference colors in my own work since Golden first made them.

A very little bit of Interference or Iridescent color blended into a lot of medium with a touch of any dark valued color can create some very strong, translucent and beautifully iridescent effects that will change depending on the color you put them on top of. It is limitless.

The initial important things to know about any of our Interference or Iridescent paints are:

  1. They are very translucent.

  2. The particular color effect is angle dependent.

  3. The Strongest color effect is with a thin application over a dark valued color, such as black.

  4. They can be mixed and blended with other colors, but if blended with a very light valued color such as white, they will all but disappear and the interference effect will be blocked. However, this is a ratio dependent effect, and one can create subtle interference and irridescent effects by adding very small additions of white or other opaque and light valued colors. If mixed with darker valued colors, they will make an infinite variety of iridescent colors.

  5. The strongest color effect requires full drying of the acrylic film.
  6. You can blend them with any translucent acrylic medium to create iridescent/interference glazes.

Here are some links with more information for you:

For an article on the Color Travel Interference colors written by Scott Bennett written back in 2007 click here.

Here is a product information sheet on Interference and Iridescent acrylics.

Characteristics of Interference Colors

Characteristics of Interference Colors

Decorative Effects with Interference Colors

Decorative effects with Iridescent Colors

And finally, here are some Just Paint articles that relate to interference and iridescent colors:

This is an early ( #2) issue of our newsletter, Just Paint, with some good description of how these pigments work.

Just Paint Issue #13, Article 2

Just Paint Issue #16, Article 6

Techniques Utilizing Interference Pigments

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