Introduction: Gigantic Glowing Resin Koi

About: Help! I can't stop making things!

Thank you to those who voted! :)

When I was younger, I had glowing stars on my ceiling. As I grew older, I felt I had grown out of them (they also fell off in the middle of the night and bonked me on the nose because they were held by poster putty). But now, my ceiling feels boring and blank. So I figured, why not have a gigantic glowing koi??

What, you didn't ask that question when you were a teenager? Weirdo.

Maybe you also want gigantic glowing koi on your ceiling. Or maybe not exactly gigantic glowing koi, but you still want to create neat glowing resin animals. Perhaps an aquarium, or a mountainscape! Glow the world away!

(My koi is named after Yue, the princess of the Northern Water Tribe in "Avatar: The Last Airbender").

Sorry about the awful quality of the pictures, they are screenshots from the video above because I never took any pictures.

Step 1: Create Cardboard Bases

Video Time: :34-1:00

The cardboard is possibly one of the most important steps. This is the base of your entire project. I used cereal boxes, but if you prefer a more 3D effect, use corrugated.

║Sketching Stage║

✧ Look at koi references to get an idea of what you're drawing. It doesn't have to be 100% realistic or stylized, just draw what you want! Koi generally have teardrop shapes bodies.

✧ Their heads are triangles with very rounded corners.

✧ The details of the face are up to you, but the eyes generally aren't as pronounced as Yue's eyes, or as centered in the head.

✧ The pectoral (biggest) fins are half-spheres that are slightly tilted up.

✧ The pelvic fins are basically the same, but more angular, and they aren't directly against the body.

✧ The anal fin is just a triangle pushed against the body.

✧ The caudal (tail) fin is heart shaped.

✧ The dorsal (the fin in the middle of the body) fin is a skewed triangle (so many triangles!!).

║Cutting the Cardboard║

✧ Outline your sketches in sharpie so they are clearer.

✧ Cut the fins out, and tape them securely to the body.

✧ Don't worry about the barbels (whiskers). We'll be sculpting them without cardboard.

Oof! That was a lot of details... But this really is crucial, because, after the base, you go straight to sculpting. So make sure the body is exactly how you desire.

Step 2: Sculpting Ze Head

Video Time: 1:00-1:14

This is the easier sculpting part, the calm before the storm.

║Base Layer║

✧ Spread an even layer of Magic Sculp (here's more information about this substance) over the head shape.

✧ Smooth with water.


✧ Use a silicone tool to make indentations and details.

✧ Make deep indentations around the eyes to make them pop and look rounded.

✧ Smooth with water.


Follow this video if you want to have the Magic Sculp set quickly:

✧ Roll a snake, then attach it to the head, and BLEND IT WELL so it doesn't fall off. I failed at this task...

✧ Shape the snake into a squiggly snake. Yes, you heard me. That's the technical term.

Step 3: Sculpting Ze Scales

Video Time: 1:16-3:51

Now, the most time-consuming part of this entire project. It took me a total of 8 hours to do these.

║Scale Technique║

✧ Make many tiny Magic Sculp circles, all around the same size. Do them by row, not all at once.

✧ Start from the bottom.

✧ Flatten the circles, layering each new disk over the last disk.

✧ Sculpt the back of the scales so they are triangular.


✧ After each row of scales, scratch lines onto each individual scale.

✧ With each new row, overlap the old row, but not so the scales line up. Have the new row be slightly above or below the older one.

You can do this in one afternoon, or a bunch of mini sessions. If you value your sanity, family, and state of being; do the mini sessions.

Step 4: Sculpting Ze Fins

Video Time: 3:51-7:08

Because Yue is a butterfly koi, she has very large, flowy fins. They look similar to fabric folds.

✧ Spread an even layer of Magic Sculp over each fin, 2 at a time.

✧ Wait until the mixture is firmer than when you first mixed it.

✧ Take jagged chunks out of the top of the fin.

✧ Drag a tool from the bottom of each chunk to where the fin meets the body, like a rainbow.

✧ Smooth out the lines with a wet brush (then be prepared to wash it, or the brush will be wrecked).

Step 5: Painting

Video Time: 7:08-9:18

Painting a sculpture usually makes it "come to life". Of course, that would be concerning, because I'd have to throw Yue in the bathtub!! Jokes aside, there are so many variations of koi paint, from metallic to jet black (her pattern is meant to resemble a Shusui koi). Remember, you don't have to stick with traditional koi colors. Vibrant oranges and reds are still gorgeous, but I picked blue to suit my theme. I also tried to give her a watercolor effect, with lots of blending and gradients.

║Body Pattern║

✧ VERY LIGHTLY spray paint the koi (I chose white).

✧ Paint a very light outline of your pattern.

✧ Fill it in with one color of acrylic paint.

✧ Do any blending of the scales while the paint is still wet for the watercolor effect.

✧ Clean up any edges with the same color you spray painted.


✧ Paint a thin layer of paint where the fins touch the body.

✧ Blend that out with water and paper towel.

✧ Add another layer, but with a darker color, then blend that into the original paint.

Step 6: Glowing Resin

Video Time: 9:18-10:12

For this project, I used a resin I've never used before: EPOXY RESIN CRYSTAL CLEAR 32 oz Kit. FOR SUPER GLOSS COATING AND TABLETOP

It was perfect because as it's meant for flat surfaces, it cured evenly with a beautiful gloss.

║Mixing Instructions║

✧ This resin recommends the room temperature to be 75-85 degrees F.

✧ Pour part B into a measuring cup (if too thick, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds).

✧ Dump half of the glow powder into part B, and stir, then add the rest until uniform.

✧ Step into a dark area and fangirl about how bright and bee-utiful the glow is.

✧ Pour part A into a measuring cup.

✧ Pour both parts into a large cup, and stir for 5 minutes straight. Use a plastic stirring stick/spoon to not trap moisture. Stir as you would with normal resin, scraping the bottom and sides. Don't whip it or lift the stick up too much.


✧ Pour resin in one area, then spread it gently with a finger or tilt it. Don't use a knife, like me.

✧ Stir frequently so the powder doesn't fall to the bottom.

✧ Mix a little more resin than you think you need.

✧ Be sure the powder is evenly spread. This is best done in an area with a black light, but I did not have that, so it's sort of patchy.

✧ Use a lighter or toothpick to pop big air bubbles in the resin.


✧ The resin was safe to hold in 12 hours and was fully cured in 24.

Step 7: Photo Time!

We made it!! Yue is sparkling in the sun, looking fine and fresh. But wait! How do you capture her magical glow? If you have a DSLR camera (or any camera really), don't fret!

║Camera Settings║

✧ These were my camera settings, but every camera is different.

1. 1"3

2. ISO 6400

3. F 4.5+

4. Daylight

5. Exposure 0

Use a blacklight to make the glow even stronger!!

And now, the age-old question:

║Where do I Put a Giant Glowing Fish?║

✧ Stick, drill or hang from your ceiling. This way, it charges during the day so it glows at night!

✧ Hang on your wall as wall art.

✧ Strap, glue or drill flotation devices to the koi so it can float on your pond (be careful about resin seeping into the water, that could harm the wildlife).

✧ Throw it at your friends and make them figure out what to do with it! (don't do that, that's a bad idea)

And we're finished! Thank you for reading and attempting this project for yourself! Yue sends you plenty of koi kisses. :)