As a professional resin artist, I am always looking for new ways to get color and hue and one of my favorite ways is by using alcohol inks in resin. There are oodles of resin pigments out there but understanding how to use alcohol inks in resin opens a whole new world of custom colors for your resin projects, be it resin painting, or other projects like resin jewelry making. Here are some basic I wish I would have learned at the outset, but can now confidently share with you.
The Basics About Using Alcohol Ink For Resin
Alcohol Inks are an ideal candidate for coloring resin because they are alcohol-based. The alcohol quickly evaporates and leaves pigment without disrupting the curing of the epoxy resin. With regards to inks, ONLY alcohol-based ones can be used in resin, NOT water-based ones such as acrylic inks or the like. Water disrupts epoxy resin curing chemical processes catastrophically. Here’s what is great about alcohol inks in resin:
TRANSPARENCY CONTROL. You can control the transparency of the color easily. Just a few drops of one of our inks in a resin cup will result in a very light but vibrant transparent coloring. Add more and it will get increasingly saturated in vibrancy. This is very customizable. You can mix and match colors, tweaking it until it is just right for your project. To get an opaque (meaning not see-through) color, you will need to use a physical barrier for the ink to bounce off of and retain color. I like to use a touch of a non-metallic white pigment powder for this. It lets the light pass through the resin and the colored ink and hold some body to it. Here is a video of me doing that:
AWESOME EFFECTS. Dropping inks on top of and across most poured resins results in a killer effect that is cellular, or nebulous. The inks disperse across the resin creating webs and this effect is enhanced with a heat gun or a blow torch (always follow safety precautions when using any of these). As the alcohol evaporates the ink sets into the resin.
Alcohol Inks work great for Petri Dish effects and make gorgeous coasters. Petri Dish art is often used to make coasters and vibrant inks are key to their aesthetic. There will be an article soon to come on that style.
Alcohol Inks for resin jewelry making is a natural fit. A lot of things marketed as resin pigments out there are super chunky or 100% opaque and that’s not necessarily the look everyone is after while making jewelry with resin, such as pendants and earrings. Often a translucent effect is preferable and alcohol inks offer that in spades.
How to Use Alcohol Ink in Epoxy Resin
Start Slow! Add small drops and mix the resin a little bit at a time remembering that the resin in the cup will look much darker than resin when laid down thinly into a mold or a painting. I like to mix and then pull up a glob of resin on a plastic knife and hold it up to the light to get a feel for what it will look like thinned out. Adjust by adding more drops.
Here is a brief video where I explain that:
If you want opaqueness (meaning a solid color that is not see-through) add in a tiny amount of base white mica powder that is not metallic (unless you do want a shimmer to it).
Once you have applied it to a mold or panel, blow torch bubbles out of the resin to help it set smooth or follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most resins take 72 hours to fully cure. You can also pour resin, let it cure, and then use that layer as a canvas to paint with alcohol inks on. Our inks work in and on top of resin.
Epoxy Resin Colorants: Alcohol Inks VS Pigment Powders
You will come across mostly two categories (although there are others too) of ways to color your resin. First, there are liquid-based colors: Indian Inks (see this article to learn how India Ink is different), Alcohol Inks, and Resin Tints (which are basically alcohol inks). And secondly, Pigment Powders. Alcohol Inks offer transparency and many custom colors. Pigment powders offer opaqueness and body. One huge pro tip to note here, I have noticed that pigment powders in resin result in a distinct cellular unique look when the resin sets. It may not be what you want for all projects, but it is quite beautiful for the right thing. Alcohol Ink resin is great to use as top layers as you can make them transparent and build depth by allowing the underlayer to show through. It is also awesome to use over alcohol ink on yupo paper artworks. This magnifies the artwork and lets it bathe in light.
Resin and Alcohol Inks Are a Winning Combo
Not only are alcohol inks a perfect match for resin tinting but oftentimes alcohol inks are far more affordable than specially marketed resin tints that come in teeny tiny amounts. For example, our 12 bottle starter pack is $29.99, whereas most resin tint packs are about 1/5 the product amount and about the same price. It is a DIY hack to use alcohol inks instead of resin tints, but one that is tried and true by yours truly. Pair it with pigment powders when you need opaqueness, and you will have a full customizable resin colorant system!