Candy paint – what exactly is it? For those of you that are new to the custom painting world, this term could be associated with something sweet and maybe minty like a traditional candy cane. And that’s understandable, most likely that was an inspiration for the name of these colors. When automotive guys talk about candy colors, they mean exactly that – something that looks vibrant, transparent, and deep like a colored corn syrup. But don’t let the term trick you, automotive candy paints are NOT a food grade product.
Candy paint, or as some old-school people would say: Kandy paint, is a category of custom colors which are translucent, colorful, and pigment-free. That’s right, there are no color pigment in a true candy coating, just coloring agents. Technically they are Kandy dyes or tints, but we will stick to the popular term of candy paints.
What makes candy paint so popular? The answer to this is easy: their versatility. Originally created in the 60’s as a kustom kulture attribute for hot rods and other fancy vehicles, kandy colors became a must-have in so many different industries:
- Autos and motorcycles still respect these colors a lot and some automotive manufacturers even had candy type colors as OEM option.
- Scale modelers use these paints in many genres, from replicating hot rods in a small scale to effects on spaceships and weathering.
- Fishing lure creators use these highly transparent colors to achieve desired tint and natural look of their bites.
- Special effect and prop makers use candy paint for some of the most incredible looks we see from big screens.
- Fine art received a whole new palette of looks when kandys were introduced there.
- Anodized effect, which is possible to achieve with paint only by using candy colors is one of the hottest targets for many painters our days. That’s how 60+ year old trend achieved a modern look today.
Red candy paint is the most popular of all colors for it's bright and hot look and outstanding appearance.
How does candy paint work? As we mentioned earlier, these colors are highly transparent, they play with the reflection of light created by the color under them. Which means you can’t simply spray apple red candy over black surface and expect it to look like red apple. You won’t see much change because black doesn’t reflect a lot of light back to our eye. But don’t get disappointed in these magical colors by not achieving desired look right away. These are truly the most creative colors out there. By changing the base color, you can completely change the outcome. The same candy color will look different if sprayed over white (preferably pearl), silver, aluminum, gold, or other metallic/pearl colors. You can use solid colors as well, but metallics and pearls give more of the sparkly light reflection, giving that magical look to the final product.
Also, because of the transparency of kandy paints, it’s almost impossible to block the light reflection completely. That opens another flexible aspect of these dyes. You can control intensity of color by the number of layers sprayed. Give apple red candy a couple of coats and you will get a fresh red “sporty” look. Go for 7-10 coats and the red color becomes deeper and stronger.
Most of the manufacturers make their candy colors concentrated enough to play with reduction rates. Mix Kandy 2:1 with resin and the paint will have better coverage but less depth. Change the ratio to 1:7 and with more coats you will get a unique deep look on your surface!
Don’t forget that candy paints are mid-coats. You might feel that the deep look is not there after few coats of kandy were applied but that’s because the clear coat is not there yet. For deepest look, use UHS 2K clear. This is another way to change the look of your painted surface. It can be high gloss clear, satin, or even matte and the result will look different again!
Another trick you can do using candy paints is to pre-mix them with other paints. Not just candy with candy, which is possible of course and this way you can create endless new colors to play with. They can also be mixed with pigment paints. Especially metallics and pearls. The result won’t be the same as applying metallic first and candy over it but mixing with metallic will create a new look. Again. Sometimes manufacturers pre-mix these for you and that type of paint called Candy Base Coat or Pearl Modified Candy.
Everything about this product sounds magnificent so far, so is there a downside? There is one, and it’s somewhat significant. Due to pigment-less nature of these paints, they are not as lightfast as standard automotive paints. Which means that exposure to UV (sunlight) will fade these paints faster. That’s why most of the custom painted vehicles always kept under cover or inside a building and taking out only for a cool day ride or showtime. If you’re painting something which will sit inside most of the time – no worries. For the surfaces exposed to sun daily – you must remember that deep fancy color can disappear as fast as 1 year. Applying a few extra coats and covering these paints with a thick layer of UV protective clear coat helps. But not protect candy colors from fading over time. It just slows down the process. Keep in in mind when approaching your custom painting project.
Kandy kolors originated as solvent paints and there are still a lot of brands to choose from. Here at SprayGunner we carry Custom Creative solvent-based candy paints. Great quality products made in Spain. Vibrant colors, easy to use. What’s more desirable than that? Well, water-based candy paint. That technology is much newer and takes traditional colors to the future. Non-toxic, practically odorless media which can be cleaned with tap water. Easier to ship, easier to clean-up, and most importantly – easier to apply for hobby and DIY guys. It’s the same automotive-grade product, widely used by professionals, but now it’s more user-friendly and opens the magic world of candy paint to everyone who wants to try it.
One of the leaders of water-based candy paint manufacturing is Createx Colors. Their candy2o products are all what painters can wish for. Variety if colors to choose from. Easily mixable with each other to create endless palette of variations. Amazing medium to mix with – 4050 UVLS Clear. It’s forgiving and predictable. Allowing to mix in any ratio, even if one decides to go 1:10. Sprayable with any airbrush of spray gun. Createx 4050 is a unique product itself. It can be used as adhesion promoter for many hard surfaces, it’s also intercoat, flake carrier, and topcoat. That’s what we recommend using with candy2o.
That’s all the general information about candy paint. We hope that knowledge gave you some inspirations and make sure to share pictures of your custom paint job with us. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to SprayGunner’s Team, we have experienced painters who used all these products to help you find all the answers you’re looking for.
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