Green Screen Paint – How to Pick the Right One

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CheatSheet CoverThe best green screen work starts with a smooth flat green screen with good color saturation and even light reflection. The best way to achieve a green screen like this is to paint a wall in your studio space. This eliminates all the hassles of getting the wrinkles out of a fabric screen. Painting also frees up a considerable amount of floor space by eliminating the need for stands and other support gear.

It is tempting to run down to the local paint store, order up a gallon of their greenest looking paint, and start painting. But, choosing the wrong paint will start a frustrating chain of events that delivers nothing but wasted time and disappointing results. The whole green screen process is a balancing act. You need a very narrow range of colored light to reflect off your screen and get captured by your camera. The paint you choose will have a major impact on what your camera sees.


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The Difference Between Professional Green Screen Paint and DIY Options

Rosco Chroma Key Matte Green PaintProfessional grade chromakey green paint,  like Rosco Chroma Key Matte Green Paint, can cost as much as 3 times the price of a gallon of good quality house paint. The question most people on tight budgets ask is, “does it make a difference?”

The short answer is yes, pro paint is better!

Watch the video at the top of the page and you can see a thorough demonstration of the difference between the Rosco paint and a custom mix interior house paint. The pro paint gives a much more even light reflection and a tighter, more consistent, color range.

Here is the reason for the difference. The color of house paint is created by mixing together different color pigments to create the desired color, just like you did in 3rd grade art class. The Rosco paint is made using a single pigment that is carefully chosen to be the optimal color. The resulting green color is more pure and less likely to reflect any colors that would cause problems in post production. The ultra-flat matte finish of the paint has no sheen. The flat finish of interior house paint still has  small amount of sheen/gloss. The result is more even lighting with less chance of surface reflections coloring the image.

If you will be shooting challenging subjects like translucent fabrics, liquids, fine blond hair, etc., spending an extra $50 on paint could end up saving many frustrating hours in the editing room struggling with lower quality footage. But, if your subject matter is a bald guy in fully opaque clothing, you can get acceptable results with the DIY option.

Before you make your decision, think about this. If you compare making a green screen video to building a house, choosing the paint is like buying the wood and nails. If you start building a house with warped, weak wood and nails that are too small, all the craftsmanship in the world won’t result in a strong house. Plus, you spend a huge amount of extra time trimming and bracing everything to compensate for the weak  material. Any cost savings are quickly offset by the added labor and lower quality results.

If you must start out cheap, plan to upgrade as soon as your budget allows.

Best DIY Chroma Key Green Paint Colors

If you made it this far, you may have decided to throw caution to the wind and use a DIY house paint option for your green screen. So, let’s make sure you use the best paint color possible.

I have done substantial research on the color options for DIY green screen paint and compiled a list of the best paint colors available. Behr Sparkling Apple paint is the top choice of DIY fans, and the others are solid options if you don’t have a Lowes store nearby.

  • Behr Premium Plus S-G-430 Sparkling Apple
  • Behr Premium Plus S-G-440 Green Acres
  • Valspar #6010-7 Luscious Green
  • Sherwin-Williams #SW 6925 Envy
  • Benjamin Moore #2032-10 Neon Green (very close match to my actual fabric green screen)
  • Benjamin Moore #2032-20 Traffic Light Green
  • Glidden #PPG1225-7 Leap Frog
  • Dulux #S24h9 Vitalize

Remember to always ask for a FLAT FINISH paint. You want no sheen or gloss of any kind in the finish.

If you can get a color sample of a true green screen backdrop (fabric, paper, or a paint chip) you can take it to the paint store and have them analyze it and create a custom color mix from it.

Tips for Enhancing Your DIY Green Screen Paint

You can improve the color of a DIY painted green screen by tinting the lights shining on it with green lighting gels. Lee and Rosco both make chroma green gels you can use to tint your lights. Try the Roscolux Chroma Green or the Lee #738 JAS Green. Do not use gels if you are working in a very small room as that will increase the chances of green light spilling onto your foreground subject.

Resources Mentioned:

ONLINE COURSE: Create Stunning Videos at Home Using Green Screen

Andrew Seltz

Andrew was born in Michigan, raised there and in Tennessee, and has since lived outside Orlando, in Chicago, New York City, and now Birmingham, Alabama. He produces videos and websites for a living and is married to a beautiful, generous, loving woman who also happens to be a talented actress and writer - www.ellenseltz.com. They have two daughters.

8 thoughts on “Green Screen Paint – How to Pick the Right One

  • November 2, 2017 at 2:30 am
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    Sir,
    I am planning to set up a Green Screen Studio @ Kochi (Cochin), Kerala.
    Rosco Paint is not available in India (searched a lot including amazon.in).
    Can you please suggest any paint locally available in India?

  • November 6, 2017 at 3:19 am
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    I do not have enough knowledge about markets in India to know what paints are available to you. The Rosco paint is ideal, but you can create a successful studio with other paints. If you are able to obtain a small sample of green screen fabric you can use it as a guide for local paint suppliers to mix colors for you. ~Andrew

  • May 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm
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    BEHR is only available at The Home Depot, not Lowe’s

  • May 8, 2018 at 9:35 am
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    Thanks for the note. I’ve corrected the reference in the post. Now, I’ve got to find an equivalent color at Lowes. They carry a line of Sherwin-Williams paint that is co-branded with HGTV, but I’m not sure if they include the specific color I listed as one of their premix color options. I’m going to grab some paint chip samples from their Valspar house brand and see which one best matches my muslin green screen color. Once I get that done, I’ll add the color reference to the list.

  • March 26, 2020 at 1:31 pm
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    I have a nice large older retractable projector screen that I thought might be great to use as a background for videocounseling sessions — if…..it is possible to paint with green screen paint. I know this might not be a question you can answer — but any thoughts?

  • May 17, 2020 at 7:03 pm
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    That sounds like a great solution that will be easy to setup and take down. Pick a good flat paint and let it dry completely before you roll it back up. I’d also store it in a climate controlled area so it doesn’t get hot or humid. Having the paint stick to the back of the screen when rolled up is the biggest worry I would have about this solution.

  • May 26, 2020 at 9:50 am
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    In my green screen paint searches, I found this comment: “Make sure to have at least 5-6 feet of spacing between the subject and the screen.” Is this true? This may be a deal-breaker for our project.

  • June 5, 2020 at 5:58 pm
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    5-6 feet between subject and screen is optimal, but you can work with less. The closer you are to your screen, the greater the chance that the green will be reflected onto your subject and that your subject will cast shadows onto your screen.

    If you use a backlight on your subject that is above and behind them and aimed at the shoulders and hair, you can overpower the green spill on your subject. I like using a small dimmable LED panel like this one that runs on batteries for this purpose. It’s light weight and easy to mount overhead and you can adjust the color temperature and brightness to fine tune the effect.

    As for shadows, the best option is to make sure you have separate lights like these lighting your screen that are behind your subject. They are small enough to tuck in to a small space and you can dim them to adjust the brightness so they don’t over light your screen. This will help to minimize shadows from your main lights. You can also adjust the position of your key lights to minimize shadows. Raising the lights and moving them further to the sides will cause the shadows to be lower in the frame and off to the sides where they will be away from the edges of your foreground.

    If you are just doing something simple like background replacement on webcam virtual meetings or using a tool like OBS to place yourself in the lower corner of the screen over a computer display or video game footage, the quality will be good enough for the task. Viewers don’t expect Hollywood level perfection in those circumstances.

    If your aspirations are higher, quality results are still possible. If you have good software (I use the free version of DaVinci Resolve) it will have garbage matte, matte adjustment, and spill suppression tools to compensate for less than perfect greenscreen shots. In a recent project I was standing 4 feet from my greenscreen and casting shadows on it like crazy, but was able to generate a very nice result using the tools in Resolve in just a few minutes. It’s not a simple push button process, but the steps involved are not difficult to follow and the results are far better than any push button tool I’ve ever seen.

    If you’d like suggestions more specific to your project, let me know and I’ll get in touch via email and you can tell me more specifics about your project.

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