Black Widow PFG
What is Black Widow 'PFG'? It is a revolutionary way of making a screen the 'DIY' way.
First a very brief history of DIY painted screens and some of the more popular methods and mindsets:
For years the debate was White vs Gray. White is easy and the most forgiving. Of course the better balanced a white screen is the more accurate it will be, but unlike a gray screen White is more forgiving and can be off more and not be as noticeable as a gray screen that isn't a well balanced color. Still even with a white screen, the closer to D65 it is the more accurate it will be.
The same goes with gray screens, the closer they are to neutral the better and more accurate they are.
But what exactly constitutes a 'neutral'?
Good Question. There are many parameters but the main ones are the color balance (L*ab and xyY values), spectral curve, and color temperature.
For years many have tried to make the 'perfect' DIY screen. One that would perform with ambient lighting but also perform equally as well in a dark and dedicated environment.
One of the biggest problems and debates has been what exactly is gray? This has literally been debated for years and rather than explain it all over again the best thing is to refer to the neutral gray thread.
As good as a simple neutral gray is, there has always been a desire to improve upon things. The most popular way up until now has been by the use of mica (pearlescent) and poly coatings. The problem is mica by nature causes a color shift.
So how can we improve on a well balanced neutral gray without introducing color shifting that mica's and interference pigments are known to cause? By using non-interference pigments instead...
PFG stands for 'Pigment Free Gray'. Granted anything added to a white based paint to change the color is technically a pigment, this is a gray that is not created by use of the standard pigments used in paint shops or by other DIY methods. Hence the original name 'PFG', or Pigment Free Gray.
It was found that by adding aluminum based paint (which is a water based paint comprised primarily of aluminum and no other colorants) a gray was created. Aluminum is a very bright and universal element. It has been used over the years as a 'silver' substitute, and has even been used for making mirrors. Needless to say it is very bright and reflective.
That and the fact that it is a non-interference substance it was a very interesting element. The results were astounding.
First let's look at one of the most neutral Off The Self neutral grays made the conventional way with various colorant pigments.
This is about as neutral as it gets with pigment based colorants. Look at the values highlighted in green. The color balance, temperature, and spectral curve all are well within our desired specifications.
Now let's look at what happens to that same ideal neutral when an interference material such as mica is added.
Winter Mist with Pearl Topcoat
Quite a change from the neutral balance seen before, and this was with just one coating.
Next up is a couple of the most well known and popular DIY advanced screen methods.
Again a major change from our well balanced neutral reference.
Next is a 5:1 ratio mix using True Value's Winter Mist, the same as the very first data graphic shown...
You can find the curve for Black Widow Auto Air Aluminum fine here
So what exactly is Black Widow? It is a gray made using Henry Aluminum roof paint added in the proper ratio to a common base paint. You can't just use anything, it has to be a water based aluminum paint so we went with Henry 558. The original material was a plain water based aluminum paint, but unfortunately it was discontinued.
What are the benefits? Well as the Spider says-
- Better Blacks
- Bolder Colors
- Whiter Whites
- Excellent performance with both ambient light and lights out dedicated setups
- A brighter and more vibrant image without the color shifting problems caused by iridescence.
- Sharper image quality and shadow detail
[center]That's some pretty bold claims... seeing is believing though.
The center of the screen are the two original PFG test panels in a 3:1 and 4:1 ratio. To the left is a known performer, Sherwin Williams Gray Screen, and to the right is a generic general run of the mill N8.5 shade of gray.
SW Gray Screen was one of the Kings of Off The Shelf (OTS) grays that provided deep blacks, excellent color reproduction and very white whites. It's no contest between the two.
So PFG wins with blacks but what about color? Another good question...
Color reproduction is just as accurate but has a more vivid look to them. Here we can see that there is no discernible difference in color reproduction between PFG and a known performer. What the camera can't show is the depth and detail is much greater in the PFG screen.
[center]The secret is the aluminum, but the key is not only the lack of color shifting that iridescence cause, but how uniform the aluminum is.
To the left is a PFG sample, to the right is a mica based application. The aluminum has a much denser and more uniform coverage as compared to the larger mica flakes. It's also very easy to see reds, blues, yellows, orange and other colors throughout the mica. That is a perfect example of uniformity and lack of color shifting.
What is really amazing is this is a darker screen but doesn't look dull or muddy like most dark grays look. The aluminum is the performance difference.
It was these tests that led to the current application that we are now ready to present... Black Widow PFG!
The next logical question is how do you make it and how do you apply it.Making it is very simple.
For a 4:1 ratio that's mixed with Luminous White take 8 ounces of Henry 558 and add it to a quart of Sherwin Williams Luminous White, stir and apply. That will make 40 ounces of Black Widow PFG LW4:1. For the 5:1 ratio we used Winter Mist for the base. Add 4 ounces of Henry 558 to 20 ounces of Winter Mist. That's less than a quart but enough to paint the average size screen. The reason I went less was because for a 5:1 made using 8 ounces of HE558 you'd need more than a quart of paint (40 ounces to be exact) and a quart is only 32 ounces... make sense?
For a little more though you can get a full gallon of Winter Mist, so making the 5:1 ratio would be like this, add 8 ounces of HE558 to 40 ounces of Winter Mist... guaranteed to be more than enough to paint just about any size screen.Note:
There is no different in the above two Winter Mist HE558 5:1 methods, the ratio is still the same so performance is the same... You only have 32 ounces in a quart to work with and we're trying to keep this as easy as possible. You 'could' use the full 32 ounces and add 6.4 ounces of HE558, but I personally don't have a 6.4 ounce measuring cup and I really doubt most people do either.
The same ratios apply to Auto Air Aluminum.Right now Sherwin Williams Luminous White and True Value Winter Mist are the only recommended base paints for HE558
. We have tested a wide variety of paints to use as a base and none of them come close to meeting our specs as these two do. When we identify more they will be listed but that will not be a 'change' to the way to make Black Widow, just open up more options for people to use to get the same performance but with other paint brands.The recommended base for Auto Air Aluminum Fine
is either Bermuda Beige (427-2) or Bare Beige (327-2). Those are PPG colors. They can be color matched at Lowe's, Ace Hardware (Benjamin Moore paint) or Home Depot.How is Black Widow PFG applied?
It's just like painting a wall. No special rollers or rolling techniques are needed. Just a good quality low nap roller. Prime the surface with a good primer, my primer of choice is Kilz2, but any good quality white primer will work. Mix up your Black Widow, and roll it on... it really is that easy. Stay away from foam rollers though. They sometimes cause bubbles to form and when the bubbles pop a bright spot is formed. If you see a bubble, don't panic, just roll it out and move on. When finished applying, go back over the area rolling from the top to the bottom, overlapping a couple inches. This helps the aluminum flakes lay flat and eliminates roller marks. If you have a large screen you may want a helper following behind you doing this. It helps greatly to have a work light on a tripod shining at the screen off to the side 30 or so degrees.
It is highly recommended to strain the HE558 before mixing. Use an ordinary straining bag that can be found at any paint store. I like the bags over the cones, they are easier to use and less mess. The Auto Air needs no straining.
Coming up next are some actual Black Widow shots and even a first hand account of making a full size screen and how it performs.
We are also working on making this even easier, but the concept and performance won't be changed at all. The only down side is HE558 may not be in your local store but ask the stores that carry Henry products, ACE said they could get it and other stores may be willing to order it as well.Where to purchaseHE558
The place where muzz and I purchased our gallons was here.
Ace Hardware is supposed to be able to order it as well.Auto Air Aluminum Fine
Can be purchased at Dick Blick online or locally. Call around.The mixes (subject to additions as they come along):Black Widow with HE558
Winter Mist - 5:1 meaning 5 parts True Value Winter Mist to one part HE558. Read the can for coverage and calculate then how much you'll need for your screen.
RGB 188 190 188
L*ab 76.8 -0.96 1.00
xyY 0.313 0.332 51.2
color temp 6491
Luminous White - 5:1 and 6:1 These don't come in true neutral but they are close. Read the can for coverage and calculate then how much you'll need for your screen.
197 199 195
80.0 -1.25 1.89
0.315 0.334 56.7
213 215 214
85.9 -1.21 0.31
0.312 0.331 67.8
6537Black Widow the Auto Air Aluminum Fine
The base color is Bermuda Beige. This is a Pittsburgh Paint and Glass tint. Lowe's, Ace, and Home Depot all are reported to be able to have this tint in their computers. The number for this color is 427-2. As for which base to put it in, many things have been tried and reported to work great. As long as it's the same Bermuda Beige it will work. Ask them what options you have for a base. The latest fad here is apparently exterior latex. And I think it holds merit as if it has to last on the exterior of a house, it should last for a screen. My panels were done in Valspar Ultra Premium Interior Flat Enamel. I bought the enamel as I figured some folks would want a bit more durability. All of the actual number crunching was done using Valspar Ultra Premium Flat Ultra White. Because that's what I had. I've seen no difference, number-wise between the two different paints.
4:1 BB:AAA Four parts Bermuda Beige to one part Auto Air Aluminum (8oz of AAA to a quart of BB) Read the can for coverage and calculate then how much you'll need for your screen.
Measured right here, right now, off of my panel.
186 186 186
75.5 -0.05 -0.08
0.312 0.329 49.1
Paint it like you'd paint your wall, but avoid roller marks and back roll as you go (HE558 is a leafing aluminum and requires this).
I painted all of my panels with a 6 inch roller and had no trouble with roller marks (outside of early tests with a 3:1 HE558 mix). Today I painted another Black Widow (WM - HE558) panel using a 9 inch Purdy 1/4" nap roller. muzz said something once about roller marks and I think it's a great idea - scrape the paint off the edges of the roller. I used a rag and wiped the excess off. It works!
It will be to your benefit to have a light shining on the screen off to the side so that you can see any roller marks. When I rolled poly on my Fashion Grey Screen I used a halogen tripod light.
If you're planning on painting a large screen, have a helper do the back rolling.
Spraying is not an option for HE558 as it is a leafing aluminum and requires back rolling.
Spraying is more than likely an option for the Auto Air as I haven't seen it labeled as a leafing aluminum.
Spraying will be researched further when it warms up and I'm able to do it.