Marble Madness! A tutorial on painting marble

Marble Madness! A tutorial on painting marble

When I was painting a little diorama, set inside an old laboratory, I had to choose what kind of floor there could be inside this room. I thought about an operating room, so I chose to realize a marble floor. The following question was: “what kind of marble? ” and, after a deep search on web about this stone, I discovered a universe of different kinds, colours and shapes of marble.

The subject is very complex due to the many variations, so I had to experiment.

I implemented three kind of marble so I wrote down the steps I used to achieve them.

First important rule to know when painting something realistic is “have a real reference”, so I searched photos of real marble tiles and tried to follow them.

Second rule for marble is searching for randomness. Every tile is different, every shape has no logic, moving lines are rining dots contributes to chaos and mess. It’s something fun to obtain!

Emperador Grey Marble

First marble I tried to replicate is Emperador Grey Marble, a kind of grey marble with dark shapes and white lightning-style lines. I found that it fits well in my black&white diorama.

Real Reference

Tools and colors used


The colours I used are: Scale75 white and Scale75 black, adding a Scale75 Birch and a Jo Sonja Turners Yellow because I decided to apply a sort of sepia glaze on it, like an old photo.
Winsor & Newton series 7 n.1 and sereies 7 miniatures n.00 are the weapons to shot with.
Primer was a Tamiya Grey spray.

I started with a mix of Sc75 Birch (70%) with Sc75 Black (30%) and I covered my tiles with this mixture, moving my brushstrokes in different directions for every tile. Those tiles are supposed to be various cuts assembled togheter and not a single marble plain surface, so I wanted no continuity between a tile and next one. It’s not important to obtain a good blending, because every shape naturally formed with brush, contributes to create that randomness I was looking for. (step 1).

I added more Black to mixture (50% and 50% Birch) to paint dark shapes, and I used pure Birch for other light shapes. In this step I wet-blended those two colours (light one and dark one) with original base colours to integrate with the first layer. I worked with colors still wet, to quickly mix them. Because I still didn’t want a perfect blend, but randomness again. Notice that every shape was wet-blended only on one side,leaving a marked line on other side. (step 2). Those steps are made with brush n.1

After creating main shapes, I used brush n.00 to paint some “lightning” lines with pure Birch colour. No logic again, only a trembling hand and thin lines. You can see that some lines are crossing bigger shapes, and other lines follow shape borders (step 3).

I covered almost all tiles with a glaze of pure Birch more diluted (70% water) to brighten light parts. I repeated lightning-lines operation with Black (never pure. with a pinch of Birch). This time I went for less and subtle lines, because I didn’t want to darken it too much. (step 4).

I was near to the end. Some lines could be more convincing than others, so you can decide to keep them or to cover them, following your taste. Next step was to enforce the light lines with pure White (step 5).

Final touch was given with a glaze (70% water) of Birch + Jo Sonja Turners Yellow given over white lines, avoiding darker parts. This final step helps to add a new tone (if you want it) and to smooth all past lines. Helps to integrate these lines “inside” floor, as they are under surface.

To complete this process, I painted a dark line between every tile and I added a pure White line along one edge of all tiles. Same edge for each tile. It helps to perceive three-dimensionality. (step 6)

Alps Green Marble

I wanted a second more coloured marble, so I went for a green type, more dotted and chaotical than the previous one. I used Scale75 Birch, Scale75 White and Liquitex Muted green, a sort of petrol blueish green. Tools are the same old W&N n.1 and n.00 miniature plus a new entry made by me: a chinese chopstick with a ball of bluetac on top to stick a piece of sponge, used for stippling and dotting.

Primer was a Tamiya Grey spray.

Real Reference

Tools and colors used

Again I started with a mix of Birch (70%) and Green (30%, it depends on how dark is your green), painting every tile with a different movement of strokes. Sometimes paint was more diluted, resluting more transparent, other times it was more covering. It’s all a matter of random, again! (step 1)

Again I created bigger shapes with a darker mix (50% Green and 50% Birch) and other shapes, more thin (but not lines yet), with 90% Birch. Again I wet-blended some sides of these shapes wirth base color. On this marble I added a lot of irregular dots and little shapes. This marble should result more various. (step 2)

Now it’s time for lightning lines. This time I painted a lot of thin lines with pure Birch, some more visible and long, others less visible using diluted color. (step 3).

Stippling time: this is a new step, not applied on previous marble. I used a piece of sponge stained with Birch paint, to stamp groups of thin clear dots on most part of tiles.(step 4)

After stippling phase, I put pure White lines inside clear shapes and glazed all light parts with Birch (diluted 70% with water) to smooth it and integrate lines. I also glazed darker parts with pure Green, to use satin/gloss finish of Liquitex colour to enhance depth of the darker parts. (step 5)

I wanted a lot of dots, so in the last step I added another stippling of pure Green over white lines and I retrieved some lines that I have lost with Green glaze. Again I’ve painted a line of pure Birch along the same edge of every tile, for three-dimensionality (step 6).

Sicilian Pink Marble

For a third try, I chose a marble with less dark-light variation, but with more colour changing. This marble has various shapes in different tones of pink, red and orange, a lot of dots and many lines crossing each other almost at right angles.

Real reference

Tools and colors used

I used Scale75 Birch (I love it!), Vallejo MC Salmon, Scale75 Mars Orange and Vallejo MC Flat red. Same brushes, W&N n.1 and miniature n.00 and my stippling/sponging tool.

I painted tiles with a base tone composed with different colours.

My starting base tone was Birch+Salmon (70% Salmon) which I added to a touch of Red for some areas, and a touch of Orange for others. (Step 1).

Like previous marbles, I painted different shapes, adding more Orange or Red (sometimes a mix of both) to the base tone. I understand that it isn’t schematic and it’s difficult to describe, but, again, it’s all randomness and feelings.

Technique was the same previously described , shapes wet-blended on one side, maintaining a strong line on the other side. I added some shapes with a lighter color (60% Birch,40% Salmon), following those strong lines, to add contrasts. (Step 2).

Following the same scheme, I added lightning-lines with pure Birch. According to reference photo, I made a lot of lines crossing each other and some lines that follow bigger shapes. I added also some dark lines, made with Orange + Red. (step 3).

As a final touch I sponged a little, with pure Birch, only on red and orange shapes, and strenghten light lines with pure White. At the end I realized that it came out too reddish, so I added a lot of glazes of pure Birch (minimum 4 glazes) over all the tiles, to lighten all the surface and soften all that reddish/orangy tone. The final result is something similar to ham, but I think it works fine (step 4).

I hope you can find all this SBS useful, and I encourage to try to obtain different surfaces, because nothing is right or wrong with marble. It’s all a matter of randomness!

Thanks for reading!


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