You’ve probably worked with watercolors, chalks and pencils. You might even be an expert at shading with alcohol markers - like Chameleon Pens and their innovative Mixing Chamber. But have you ever thought about trying gunpowder art? Unique and mesmerizing, it’s a truly explosive way to make a statement with your artwork. Here’s how to make gunpowder art - safely.
Why gunpowder can give your artwork an edge
Gunpowder might be best known as an explosive, but it can also be used for art! After all, art’s all about taking your creativity to new heights. If you’re bored of just drawing, painting and sketching, getting handsy with fire can be a great alternative. Just take a look at Dino Tomic’s impressive gunpowder artwork of Darth Maul below.
He used a mixture of Chameleon Pens and gunpowder for a unique, vivid result. The red ink stood out against the burnt gunpowder and helped make Darth Maul appear even more sinister.
See more of Dino Tomic’s work on his Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or DeviantArt pages. He’s an insanely talented Croatian tattoo artist based in Norway and has created masterpieces with pencils, sand, salt and water - among others. Prepare to be blown away…
Gunpowder art: Let’s get started
Important note about safety before we start…
While it’s creative and will certainly give your masterpieces a memorable edge, gunpowder art should never be attempted without the supervision of an expert. Gunpowder is explosive so unless you know how to control it, you can end up harming yourself or others around you.
Now that you know and understand the importance of safety, it’s time to learn how to make gunpowder art.
What you’ll need
- Medium to fine grain gunpowder. This is because smaller grain powder is easier to arrange for art and doesn’t create a large fire. Top tip: Avoid getting coarse grain powder if you’re a beginner.
- A squeeze bottle with a narrow nozzle. Like the ketchup or mustard bottles you see in diners. This will help you spread the gunpowder out more precisely and achieve more precise detailing.
- Acrylic coated paper, canvas or untreated wood. This is the base of the artwork.
- Chameleon Pens. Ideal to withstand the intense heat.
- An object with a small, sharp/fine edge. Something like as a metal nail file or edge of a small pair of scissors.
- Matches for igniting the gunpowder.
Top tip: Work on a hard, fire-resistant surface like a concrete floor. If possible, work outdoors unless it’s excessively rainy or windy as you’ll struggle to keep the gunpowder and fire under control. If you have to work indoors, do not work in a place that can be a fire hazard, such as inside your house. A well-ventilated garage or workshop with a concrete floor is preferable.
What to do
- Start by coloring with Chameleon Pens. Like Dino did in his video, mark out and blend all of the colored areas using a Chameleon Pen.
- Fill your squeeze bottle with gunpowder and begin distributing powder where you need it. Dino Tomic’s put it where Darth Maul’s face is darkest, but you don’t have to arrange it in the shadowy areas (though this is the most logical approach). Art is all about being creative so go ahead and place gunpowder where you want!
A narrow nozzle comes in handy here - you can control the flow of gunpowder much more easily. The powder doesn’t have to be particularly neat or evenly distributed, as you can see below, but make sure it’s mostly where you need it to burn.
- Use your small sharp object (e.g. metal nail file or small scissors) to scrape lines in the gunpowder where desired. Dino used the edge of a small pair of scissors to push the gunpowder around. This allows you to add some additional detail to your work.
- Light a match and prepare for the spectacle. Once you’ve finished distributing gunpowder and marking lines, it’s time to set your work aflame. Take a match, light it and carefully set fire to the edge of your work (the bottom, top or sides). Retreat to a safe distance and watch the flames unfold!
- Once the flames have disappeared, you can approach your work. It’s important you wait because you don’t know how tall the flames might be or if any stray ones will linger and injure you.
And that’s that! Chameleon Pens don’t need to only be used for creating awesome one pen blends (though they’re fantastic for that). You can experiment with them alongside other creative techniques - like Dino Tomic did by combining the markers with gunpowder - to produce some incredible-looking artwork with a mega-dramatic production process.
Want to discover even more ways to use Chameleon Pens?
Download our free guide and find out even more ways to color like no other with our markers. From the basics like blending techniques and the importance of light source to more advanced tips like gunpowder art, you’re sure to push the medium to the maximum.