How to Paint Constellations on Ceilings

Written by beverley gee
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How to Paint Constellations on Ceilings
Re-create constellations on your ceiling. (starry skies image by Allyson Ricketts from

Imagine drifting off to sleep with a clear night sky glowing above you. Use photoluminescent paint to re-create your favourite constellations on a bedroom ceiling and have that sleeping-under-the-stars experience all year round. This project is excellent for children's rooms. It may even help your difficult sleeper slip into the land of nod more easily.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Constellation map
  • Large sheet of paper, 22 by 30 inches
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Old sheets
  • Protective goggles
  • Latex gloves
  • Stepladder or decorating platform
  • Photoluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) paint
  • Round artist's acrylic brushes, various sizes
  • Toothbrush

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  1. 1

    Plan your sky. Using a ruler and pencil, lightly draw a grid of 1-by-1 inch squares on your paper. Refer to your constellation map to mark in the main stars you want to see on your ceiling. For example, you could choose the constellation that corresponds to your birth sign.

  2. 2

    Move as much furniture out of the room as possible. Cover the remainder of the furniture and the floor with old sheets. Ensure the ceiling is clean and dry. The stars look best against a dark blue ceiling but will work well on any colour.

  3. 3

    Stand on the stepladder. Transfer the plan by making a corresponding grid on the ceiling with very light pencil lines, making the squares 6 by 6 inches. Mark in the larger and smaller stars with circles. You may wish to restrict the constellations to the area right above the bed.

  4. 4

    Prepare the paint brushes by spreading the bristles outward around the ferule. Trim the bristles, if necessary. The painting of the stars requires you to gently smudge the brush perpendicular to the ceiling. The bristles will spread, causing a small star shape to be formed. Practice on paper with ordinary acrylic paint before starting on the ceiling.

  5. 5

    Don your protective goggles and latex gloves. Using the brushes and glow-in-the-dark paint, make star smudges on the ceiling where you marked the stars. Produce large, medium and small stars by using different sized brushes. Don't put other stars near the main constellations; they need to stand out.

  6. 6

    Take the toothbrush, dip into the paint and, with your thumb, bend the brush bristles back and spray the ceiling. It's a good idea to practice this technique on paper. Use the toothbrush technique sparingly to give the effect of distant stars and galaxies. Leave plenty of blank space so the "sky" doesn't look overdone and fake. Finally, erase any visible pencil marks.

Tips and warnings

  • You don't have to follow a constellation map; create a fantasy night sky if you wish.
  • Look at photos of different astronomical phenomena and re-create them on your ceiling.
  • If painting a child's ceiling, add a spaceship and shooting stars. Or hang space toys on thread.
  • Instead of using a pencil grid you can use a planetarium toy to project the stars on to the ceiling to produce realistic constellations. You will need to paint in very low light for this technique to work.
  • Ensure the room you are working in is well-ventilated.
  • Photoluminescent paint can drip easily, so practice on a less obvious part of the ceiling before you begin
  • Use old bed sheets or tarpaulin to protect floors and furniture rather than plastic. The paint dries fast but does not adhere to plastic and may drip onto the carpet.

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