Creating Northern Lights Resin Art (step by step)

Updated: Aug 22

There is a YouTube video on this creation as well. For those who prefer to read & have written directions, here is a guide for you.

Get your supplies ready, your substrate ready, your workspace area ready, and you ready first. 😉 Before starting any resin project, always have everything ready first, and keep it handy by your work area.

1. ArtWorks Resin - Suggested total amount for an 8x8” wood panel is 2 oz (1 oz of hardener with 1 oz of resin). I often suggest when learning a new technique to use a bit more so that as a beginner you get proper coverage. In the YouTube video I did, I used a 12x16" panel, and made 10 oz of resin (if just top coating, I would only make roughly 7 oz. But I made extra in case I needed it, & the leftover resin was poured in to coaster moulds). If you’re using a different size panel, see the Resin Calculator page to determine total amount of resin needed. In the 10 oz I made, I also used more colours on this piece, then most will. I used 4 colours on the base, and had 8 more cups of colours for the northern lights section (mostly to showcase how these colours work as well). So if you're not using very many colours, you may be fine with just recommended amount of resin from calculator.

2. Clear plastic or silicone measuring cup for mixing ArtWorks Resin (get a larger cup than volume amount needed. Measuring cups available at ArtWorks.

3. Support & Colour Mixing Cups – need 4 cups to supoort panel under wood panel/canvas while working, plus more cups to mix individual colourants with ArtWorks Resin in. Plastic solo cups for support under the panel can be reused over and over for other projects. For colourants, you can use small plastic cups, paper cups (they are economical & can be squeezed easily for pouring strips) or silicone cups. You will need one cup per colour being used on this artwork layer. We have one size of Silicone cup available at Artworks (for convenience) on Accessories tab. The dollar store & Walmart often carry the small paper cups.

4. Long sticks for stirring and spreading resin (can use popsicle sticks or even better, use plastic or silicone stir sticks suited for size of project). ArtWorks has some plastic stir sticks often in stock.

5. Disposable NITRILE gloves (latex, vinyl & rubber are not suitable since they’re not chemical resistant. Nitrile gloves available at many places including grocery stores, Costco, hardware stores, pharmacies, Walmart & many paint stores).

6. Paper towels & wet wipes are handy too.

7. Some type of cleaner to help remove resin off items if needed. Clorox Wipes work great (if you can find them), or Isopropyl alcohol or Windex sprayed on paper towels. Baby wipes or Kirkland make-up wipes.

8. Propane torch, or butane chefs torch. (propane torches available at hardware stores & butane chefs torch available at kitchen shops & both might be available at Canadian Tire stores). For large pieces I prefer the propane torch with a wide angle flame attachment.

9. Optional: Heat gun &/or blow dryer is often used to create effects in resin art. If an extensions cord is needed have it plugged in & ready to use before you begin. On this piece I used a heat gun to manipulate resin on this Northern Lights piece.

10. Birch wood or hardwood panel, 8” x 8” size is a good beginner size to start with (I used a 12x16". Wood panels are available at many artist supply stores in their canvas sections, or available online. When working with resin art, we do not typically recommend canvas, as it can sag in the middle from the weight of the resin, plus there is often issues with resin pulling and not covering nicely along the edges. Some people do still use canvas, and if you choose to, you need to do extra steps to reinforce it on the underside so it will not sag & pull to the middle. Some people resin the back side and once cured it is more stable (but resin is kind of expensive to use on the backside). Some people place a box or foam to fit the back and support it, so it is perfectly flat. There can be no ridges or bumps from the support underneath, or it will transfer to an uneven piece.

11. Primer/sealer for wood (minimum one day prior to resin work). You can prime with one coat of an artist grade primer sealer if you have it. If you don’t have that, many people also use Kilz2 Primer/Sealer or Zinsser Bin Primer/Sealer or Krylon (or whatever options are available at your closest hardware/paint store), plus one coat of a semi-gloss paint, or some people just do two coats of primer/sealer. Lightly sand, then clean between coats. Recommend that you do NOT use Rustoleum products (whites or clears) for any parts of priming or sealing with resin related projects (as they have been known to cause yellowing in projects). Some people use polycrylic (I have not used this myself). Some people like to paint their base coat colours as part of their priming process. Again, just be sure it's cured cusing resin on top.

12. Blue painters’ tape or Green Frog Tape, (available at hardware stores & paint stores, (dollar store tape doesn’t work great with resin art). Pre-tape your panel/canvas along bottom edge of birch wood panel to catch drips. Then tape along the sides, right up to top edge of the panel as well. Be sure to burnish tape (press it into the substrate by rubbing over top of it with the back of a spoon or popsicle stick) so it’s attached thoroughly to panel (to prevent any leakage).

You have a choice for your artwork sides. You can either tape off the sides of your birch panel (to leave what is referred to as a clean edge, and you can paint or stain the sides later with a complimentary colour), or you can let resin drip over the sides of the panel. For beginners, it is less stressful to have to worry about covering sides fully while trying to work within time constraints of resin, so ideally, plan to tape the sides, then you only have to focus on coverage of the surface area. If you choose to carry the resin over the sides, plan to keep checking that your colours have fully covered the sides.

13. Colourants. You can use a huge variety of colourants in resin art. Some colourants will produce better results than others. You can use resin pigment pastes, resin tints, pigment powders, mica powders, acrylic paint (higher pigmented ones work better), acrylic inks, india inks & more. ArtWorks has a selection of over 400 colourants for resin art.

For this project with abstract Northern Lights scene, I used all Colour Passions pigment colours (I will add names & links at the bottom).

- I used two blacks for the illusion of hills on the ground area.

- A navy for the upper section of sky area and a dark purple for the lower section of the sky (area above the ground) .

- For the Northern Lights, you can choose just green, or a few colours. I used green, blue, violet & red (all listed below).

14. Plastic sheet to protect work surface area. Put all items on top of plastic sheet. I like to cover the whole table surface in the plastic, and the floor near me. Then I also add parchment paper over that in the area where I'm working, and mixing (resin peels off once cured). (Heavy Duty plastic sheets work best for Resin jobs. Cured resin will peel off it easily. Available at ArtWorks (one type of heavy duty sheet is often in stock in our store for convenience), hardware stores, paint stores, dollar stores, etc).

15. Tweezers & toothpicks. Needed to remove dust, hair, flies & other items that love to land in your ArtWorks Resin. Wipe resin off tweezers with alcohol sprayed paper towels or wipes (like Clorox or Baby wipes) between each use.

16. Level – Always use a level to check that your substrate (wood panel/canvas) is level prior to pouring resin.

17. Optional –

Disposable paint coveralls (I reuse them until the zipper quits working or they’re ripped). I have ruined many of my clothes from resin. Resin cannot be removed from your clothes. Regardless, my main reason for wearing painter coveralls, is to help prevent items from your clothing (such as hair, yours or pets, or fuzz, & dust), from falling off your clothes into your project. It really helps!!! (for convenience we occasionally have some disposable painter coveralls available at ArtWorks plus anywhere house paint is sold).

18. Optional - Infrared temperature guage/thermometer. This is very handy to take the guess work out of knowing if your room is the correct temperature for best resin cure. Also to aim at the resin bottles to see if they are cold. Cold resin will create extra bubbles.

19. Wear a cap/hat to keep your hair away from your resin work, and if your hair is long, tie it back. (many of us learned this the hard way & had to cut resin covered hair off).

*If working in a non-ventilated area, or using epoxy resins at home, organic vapour respirators are suggested for regular usage with any resin (artists discretion much like spray paint, alcohol inks and numerous other mediums). More info on this available on website.