Introduction: Resin Basics - How to Mix Resin Colors
I love the gorgeous jewel tones and vibrant palette of colored resin. It's incredibly satisfying to watch the color develop as you stir a little pigment into the clear medium. In this tutorial I'll show you the basics of color mixing to help you create fabulous colored resin for your projects.
Step 1: A Little Color Theory
Let's start with some basic color theory, and how the color wheel relates to resin colorants.
Red, blue, and yellow are the primary colors. This means they can not be mixed from any other colors, and you can mix most other colors using a combination of these three. This also means that if you only buy a few bottles of resin dye, these are the most important colors to have.
The three secondary colors are orange, purple, and green, and are exactly what they sound like. They are the colors you get from mixing any two of the primary colors together. The white triangle in the color wheel diagram shows you how each pair of primary colors makes one secondary color. This works well when painting with commercial artist paints. However, when mixing resin dyes together, it is important to know that different kinds of colorants may use different formulas to create primary colors and yield different secondary color results.
Tertiary colors are the colors you get when combining a secondary color with an adjacent primary color. This will give you colors like amber (yellow+orange), violet (red+purple), and lime green (yellow+green). Use the color wheel diagram to see which combinations yield which tertiary colors. Increasing or decreasing the proportion used of each color will give you an infinite palette of colors.
Note: Mixing non-adjacent primary and secondary colors will generally yield muddy or brownish colors.
Many resin colorant sets include red, yellow, and blue, plus premixed secondary and/or tertiary colors. Often these are used straight from the bottle. However, if you want to combine secondary and/or tertiary into new colors, you’ll need to test them first to make sure you get what you expect.
Step 2: What You Need
In this color mixing demo, I’m using IntoResin2-part clear epoxy resin, transparent dyes, and paste colorants to compare transparent and opaque colors. I also use paper mixing cups, toothpicks, mixing sticks (like popsicle sticks) - one for each color, gloves, parchment or wax paper, a valved respirator, and a postal scale (optional).
Disclaimer: IntoResin supplied me with resin and colorants so I could write about color mixing.
Step 3: Getting Started
Every resin project starts with mixing up a batch of clear resin according to the package directions. The resin I'm using mixes 1:1, parts A and B. I measure using a postal scale lined with wax paper to make sure my proportions are exact.
This resin has a slow cure time so I’m mixing a few ounces and coloring portions of this batch as needed. You can do this, or you can mix a separate batch of resin for each color.
I’m starting with transparent dye primary colors, so I’m adding a portion of my mixed resin to each of three cups.
Step 4: Adding Color
First things first:
1) Always choose colors according to the name on the label, or by a sample of the color. You can’t always tell a color by what it looks like in the container because the dyes are so concentrated.
2) Shake color bottles very well and often. Most dyes are a suspension of color particles, so you need to make sure the dyes are well mixed to insure consistent color results.
Optional, but helpful: Keep notes of your color mixing so you can reproduce what you want.
3) Always start with the smallest amount of pigment and add more in tiny increments. It’s much easier and more economical to add dye than to have to lighten a color by adding more resin. When you’re familiar with a particular product, you can add color a little more freely.
Starting with the 3 primary transparent colors I added one drop of red, blue, and yellow into each portioned cup of resin.
The dyes begin to spread.
Step 5: Color Mixing
Mix well, but gently so as not to incorporate a lot of extra bubbles. When the dye is fully incorporated, check the color. Use the intensity of the newly mixed color to determine how much more dye to add. If you get a big change in color, proceed by adding only one drop of dye at a time. If you only get a faint color, you can try a few drops at a time.
Important note: Color intensity will be different for every brand of dye, and every color even from the same brand.
As you can see in the photo, one drop of dye produces a very faint result. The yellow and blue are simply light, though the red looks a little pink. I'll show you the color progression as I add more dye.
Hint: Mixing in a white cup will allow you to see the true colors more easily as you mix.
Step 6: Increasing Color Intensity
Continue to add dye a drop or two at a time and then mix until you reach the depth of the colors you want.
This method will give you a lot of control and allow you to achieve different intensities of color straight from the dye bottle. Some dyes will appear to change color, like my pale pink becoming red.
The darkest colors in my photos used about 11 drops of pigment each. You can see the comparison of cured resin using 8 drops and 11 drops. The drop number will be different for you depending on the volume of clear resin you're using and the formula of your dye.
Step 7: Mixing More Colors
There are two main techniques for mixing up your own secondary and tertiary resin colors.
You can add multiple dyes straight from bottles and mix into one portion of clear resin.
Or you can mix colors separately like I just showed you and then mix those colors together in another cup.
Here you can see how I used a combination of both; mixing the red resin and yellow resin together, and then adding a little extra yellow from the bottle until I got the orange that I wanted.
Watch as you add dyes and mix well after each addition to see the true colors you get when mixing.
Step 8: Secondary Transparent Colors
Now we come back to the color theory from earlier.
Using a clean cup and a clean stirring stick for each new color, pour in a little of each primary color as shown in the color wheel to create a new secondary color. I wish I could tell you to just add equal amounts of each primary color, but resin dyes don't really work like that. (Though, you can start with equal parts if you want and then adjust from there.)
Mix well and check the color. Add more of either primary color as needed. If you need a lot more intensity of one color, try adding a drop or two directly from the dye bottle.
Hint: Use this same process for creating tertiary colors, too!
Step 9: Opaque Color
If you want more intensity from your colors, or you simply want resin that you can't see through, you can use opaque colorants. I'm using IntoResin opaque paste colors. (Opaque pigments can be used with epoxy resin and polyester resin. Test first if using UV resin, since light is needed for the resin to cure.)
Just like with the transparent colors, I started by making three portions of clear resin in separate cups.
The pastes are thick like the name says, so you'll need a stick or a toothpick to stir them and then remove a bit of the paste. Add a little red, yellow, and blue paste to each clear portion.
Step 10: Stir in the Pigment
Stir each primary color well to fully incorporate the paste into the resin.
Add more pigment if you want more intense colors. I used the paste left on the sticks from stirring and that gave me dark, rich colors. The yellow came out a little on the golden side, but I left it because I like the color. I could have added some clear resin to lighten it if I wanted a more lemony yellow.
Step 11: Secondary Opaque Colors
The process for creating secondary colors from your primary colors is the same as with the transparent dyes. However, you'll find the proportions may be different, like going lighter when adding the blue resin to other colors. You can see how dark the purple comes out with the paste. I could have added less pigment if I wanted a lighter purple. I could also have added more clear resin.
A note about white dye: White will also lighten dark resin, but always test a little to check your result. Sometimes it changes the color. And sometimes you get a pastel.
Step 12: Primary Colors - Transparent Vs. Opaque
Here are all the blue, red, and yellow resins I mixed in this tutorial. The top row is the resin colored with transparent dyes. The bottom row is the resin colored with opaque pastes.
Note: Yes, it's okay to combine the two kinds of colorants to get different effects. Experiment and have fun!
Step 13: Secondary Colors - Transparent Vs. Opaque
Here are all the green, purple, and orange resins I mixed in this tutorial. The top row is the resin colored with transparent dyes. The bottom row is the resin colored with opaque pastes.
Step 14: After Coloring
Once your color is mixed, you can continue to work with the resin until it begins to set. The amount of working time will vary depending on the brand, the temperature, humidity, etc. You can pour your colored resin into molds, or make freeform shapes on parchment paper. You can also fill bezels and make necklaces, keychains, doorknobs, and much more!
Step 15: Finished Colored Resin Projects
I hope this tutorial gave you some useful tips on coloring resin. If you care to share your projects, I'd love to see what you do! Here are a few of mine :-)
Runner Up in the
DIY Summer Camp Contest
1 year ago
For some reason I can't get my phone to reply to your answer 🙄 so this is my reply:
Brilliant! Makes perfect sense! Ty for explaining that for me. I'm kinda new to the resin casting world, but I know what I'm doing overall. I'm on a quest for learning new techniques other than the standards such as petri dish. Your viewpoint from a color perspective has really tickled my creative nerve! Thanks again
Reply 1 year ago
Great - So glad I could Help!
You can also email me through my website if you have other questions, just remind me you're from Instructables :-)
1 year ago
Any hints on how you made the rainbow cabochons? Did you layer and dry each color individually? Great idible!
Reply 1 year ago
Whoa...those need their own tutorial, but I'll give it a try :-)
I used polyester resin to make long strips of rainbow and punched out (with a scrapbook punch) rainbow circles that I embedded in epoxy resin. The rainbow strips were made by quickly laying a long, narrow line of each color next to one another, so they had time to barely mix before setting (hence the polyester resin). The punching was best done when the strip was still pliable, but not sticky anymore. I hope this helped!!
Tip 1 year ago on Step 15
There is a great site for watercolor reference called Handprint, and Sinopia Pigments has wonderful pigment supplies for doing things like making soft pastels and frescoes. Pigments are incredibly lovely.
Reply 1 year ago
Thanks for the suggestion :-)