Creating a nice marble effect is actually quite easy. It just needs a little patience and the right tools. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Inks: The possibilities here are endless. Use two similar (semi-analogous) colors (colors that are next to or near each other on the color wheel), a white, and then a color that is on the other side of the color wheel. In other words, you could have 2 lighter shades, white, and a darker shade.
- Chiseled Writing Tool: calligraphy nib or brush. However, this effect works best with gothic letterforms due to their thick bodies.
- Eye Dropper and/or Separate Brush: these are used to incrementally layer inks on top of each other. Using a dropper for ease of use, but you can also use a brush.
- Paper: The thicker the better. If you use thin paper, the ink will eventually bleed and/or warp the paper.
- Paper Towels (Optional): These are useful for soaking up accumulated ink and creating texture.
- Water: You will need 2 bowls or other type container filled with water. One bowl/container for cleaning your pens and brushes, and the other for clean dip pens and brushes. This way, you have a dedicated cleaning bowl that will become tinted with washed pigment and the other bowl of perfectly clear water to be laid down on the paper.
- Ruler (Optional): Rulers laying out your project.
Practice first on some scrap paper to get a feel for how the inks you are using, and how much water you need to apply for the grade of paper you are using.
Use the eyedropper or brush to drop some ink into your invisible wet stroke and watch the ink spread!
If the ink is not going all the way to the edges of your thinner strokes, you can use your pen or brush to tease the water/ink mixture to the edges of your stroke.
Once you’ve soaked your letterform by adding a couple of colors, the lighter colors will start to disappear into the darker colors. This is where our paper towel comes in.
Wrap a layer or two of paper towel around your index finger and gently dab the soaked areas of the letterform, soaking up most of the excess ink,taking care not to press too hard, as this will push excess ink outside of the edges of your letterform.
By adding white you will begin to reveal the base of your marbling structure. but, if you are finding the white disappearing into the other colors, it’s because you didn’t remove enough excess ink with a paper towel. To solve this just remove the excess ink until the white shows.
Once the white becomes more pronounced, you’re ready for the darker color. note: The dark color will not dominate too much, but brings out other tones from the previously applied colors.
Let it dry! As this is going to take some time to dry, avoid moving your piece, because if you are not careful the the ink will run outside the edges of your letterform as you might the tilt the surface when moving.
Do not blow on your piece to speed up the drying process as the ink will feather off in different directions.