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All about Interference (or Pearlescent) Acrylic Paints

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Interference (or Pearlescent) paint is a type of acrylic paint that is based on titanium white coated MICA-Interference Powder and has the ability to shift the colour of the MICA when dried.


In fact interference MICA powders appear normally white when wet, in their powder dried form or under direct sunlight. But shift your angle just a bit or wait for them to dry and you will see their hidden hue.


Pearl Paints by Amsterdam Royal Talens

Interference (or Pearlescent) paint is a type of acrylic paint that is based on titanium white coated MICA-Interference Powder and has the ability to shift the colour of the MICA when dried. In fact interference MICA powders appear normally white when wet, in their powder dried form or under direct sunlight. But shift your angle just a bit or wait for them to dry and you will see their hidden hue.


Differences on White and Black Background

On white background all the interference (pearlescent) acrylic paints are visible only under light and when looking at them at a particular angle. On the contrary, on black background all the interference colours give back the best results in terms of brightness and colour saturation.



Mixing of pearl acrylics on white background


Due to the fact that pearlescent/interference pigments are not normal coloured pigments which absorb the light, but they are sensitive to light changes, they don’t follow the rules of subtractive colour mixing models (RYB or CMY) but the light model when mixed (the RGB-Model).


In case of interference MICA Powder the primary colours are

  • Interference (Pearl) Blue

  • Interference (Pearl) Green

  • Interference (Pearl) Red


And their secondary colours are

  • Interference (Pearl) Yellow

  • Interference (Pearl) Cyan

  • Interference (Pearl) Magenta


When all primary colours are mixed together we will get Interference (Pearl) White.


Mixing of pearl acrylics on black background

In order to understand their behaviour I did some tests on both white and black background and mixed with normal acrylic paints.


For my tests I used the pearlescent paints (coated MICA) by Amsterdam Acrylics in the colours:

  • Pearl White (Interference White)

  • Pearl Yellow (Interference Yellow)

  • Pearl Red (Interference Red)

  • Pearl Violet (Interference Violet)

  • Pearl Blue (Interference Blue)

  • Pearl Green (Interference Green)


How to mix Interference (or Pearlescent) Acrylic Paint to normal acrylic paints to create a particular effect.

  1. Mixed with titanium white (transparent) the interference colours lose their effect.

  2. Mixed with oxide black (opaque) the interference colours lose their effect.

  3. Mixed with single (transparent) absorption pigments (PY3, PR, PB15, PG7, PV23, Magenta), the transparent absorption pigments will let the light pass through and, at the same time, absorb it.

  4. Mixed with acrylic paints containing in the pigment combination titanium white (PW6), the interference effect will be reduced or completely prevented.

The passing through light will react with the interference pigments and these are the possible behaviours after mixing and applying the colours on a white background:


  1. Interference White will give the acrylic paints a metallic appearance

  2. Interference pigments of the same hue as acrylic paints will increase the hue give the paints a shimmering effect

  3. Interference pigments mixed with complementary acrylic paints will behave as follows:

    • Interference Yellow + PB: The PB-Pigment will absorb the yellow and desaturate it, because in the RGB-System Yellow is formed by Red+Green and is a complementary to blue. This will make the interference yellow reflect back a white light instead of a yellow light.

    • Interference Yellow + PR: The PR-Pigment will absorb the yellow becoming more orange and reflect back a yellow light. Because in the RGB-System Yellow is formed by Red+Green the yellow will be strengthened by the yellow component in red.

    • Interference Yellow + PV (or a combination of PR+PB): The PV-Pigment will absorb the green component of the yellow, because in the RGB-System Green is a complementary to magenta (or violet). This will make the interference yellow reflect back a yellow-orange light instead of a yellow light (due to the fact that the PV-pigment has a red shade, this will led the reflected light to be more reddish).

    • Interference Yellow + PG (or a combination of PY+PB): The PG-Pigment will absorb the yellow becoming more yellowish and reflect back a yellow light. Because in the RGB-System Yellow is formed by Red+Green the yellow will be strengthened by the yellow component in green.

    • Interference Red + PY : The PY-Pigment will reflect back the red light due to the fact that in the RGB-System Yellow is formed by Red+Green the red will be strengthened by the red component in yellow.

    • Interference Red + PB: The PB-Pigment will mix to the blue and make the interference red reflect back a magenta light instead of a red light.

    • Interference Red + PV (or a combination of PR+PB): The PV-Pigment will absorb the blue and give back the red. This will make the interference red reflect back a stronger red light.

    • Interference Red + PG (or a combination of PY+PB): The PG-Pigment will mix to the red and make the interference red reflect back a yellow light instead of a red light, because in the RGB-System the combination of re and Green gives back yellow.

    • Interference Blue + PY: The PY-Pigment will absorb the blue and desaturate it, because in the RGB-System Yellow is formed by Red+Green and is a complementary to blue. This will make the interference Blue reflect back a white light instead of a blue light.

    • Interference Blue + PR: The PR-Pigment will mix to the blue and make the interference Blue reflect back a magenta light instead of a blue light.

    • Interference Blue + PV (or a combination of PR+PB): The PV-Pigment will mix to the blue and make the interference Blue reflect back a magenta light instead of a blue light.

    • Interference Blue + PG (or a combination of PY+PB):: The PG-Pigment will mix to the blue and make the interference Blue reflect back a cyan/turquoise light instead of a blue light. In the RGB-System the combination of Blue+Green gives back cyan.

    • Interference Violet + PY: The PY-Pigment will absorb the blue and desaturate it and, at the same time due to the rules of the RGB-System, the violet will absorb the green component of the yellow desaturating it. This will make the interference Violet reflect back a very light red if not white light instead of a violet light.

    • Interference Violet + PR: The PR-Pigment will absorb the red component of the violet and, at the same time, mix with the blue component of the violet making the interference violet reflect back a magenta light instead of a violet light.

    • Interference Violet + PB: The PB-Pigment will absorb the blue component of the violet and, at the same time, mix with the red component of the violet making the interference violet reflect back a magenta light.

    • Interference Violet + PG (or a combination of PY+PB):: The PG-Pigment is in the RGB-System a complementary to violet. This will make the interference Violet reflect back a white light instead of a violet light.

    • Interference Green+ PY: The PY-Pigment will reinforce the interference green.

    • Interference Green+ PR: The PR-Pigment will mix with the green and, due to the rules of the RGB-System, this will make the interference green reflect back a yellow light instead of a green light.

    • Interference Green+ PB: The PB-Pigment will mix to the green and this will make the interference green reflect back a cyan/turquoise light instead of a green light.

    • Interference Green+ PV (or a combination of PR+PB):: The PV-Pigment will act as a complementary to green and will make the interference green reflect back a white light instead of a green light.


Mixing of pearl acrylics with normal acrylic paints.


To summarize:

  • Blue Pigment (PB) absorbs Yellow Light

  • Yellow Pigment (PY) absorbs Blue Light

  • Green Pigment (PG) absorbs Magenta Light

  • Magenta Pigment absorbs Green Light

  • Red Pigment (PR) absorbs Cyan light

  • Cyan pigment absorbs Red Light


On a black background the passing through light won’t have any effect. The dark background absorbs the light completely and the interference colours will give back their own hues!


Mixing ratios for interference paints

In the end I tested the effect of interference paints to see how much I needed to make the interference effect visible. These are my ratios:

  • Interference Paint + transparent paint 1:1

  • Interference Paint + semi-transparent or semi-opaque paint 2:1

  • Interference Paint + opaque paint 3:1


I hope I could help you to understand more these wonderful effect paints.


Thank you for reading. If you like the post, feel free to leave a like, a comment and don’t forget to follow my blog, my Instagram and share the content on your social media.


Laura

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