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(This article originally appeared on the Mining Co AD&D [now RPG] web site, as part of a series of painting articles on doing basic textures)

This time around, I'll be tackling marble. Marble is a little more tricky than the previous two techniques I've showed you and requires a little bit of practice to master, but the effect is well worth if, especially if you’re working with other-wise, plain large surfaces that need jazzing up (walls, floors, columns, altars, etc).

Technique-wise, painting marble is similar to the technique for making granite from my last article; both require that you add texture to the stone using tools, though with marble it’ll be a sponge, and not a toothbrush, that I use. There is a little more finesse involved in this technique, though, in getting the "veining" of the marble to have the right look (more on that later).

Since I didn’t have any pre-made resin columns lying around, I began the project by making a typical-looking marble column out of some old plastic pipe, with modified 2-liter bottle mouths for the gold base and cap. The pieces were glued together with 5 minute epoxy and primered white.

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There are a wide variety of marble colors and textures to choose from. As with any texture technique, it’s a good idea is to obtain a piece of marble in the color you'd like to paint. However, unless you have access to marble scraps from a building materials’ supplier, it can be pretty expensive stuff to come by. The next best thing is to get a book or magazine with a close-up photo of the color and texture you want to mimic. I decided to do green marble, which shows the technique off well.


(As usual, I use only Ral Partha Paints, unless otherwise noted, and Citadel inks).

Step 1 -

The first step is pretty easy. I applied a plain basecoat color of Black. This matte Ral Partha paint will assist the next step too, since it acts as a primer for the sponged paint that’s to follow.

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Step 2 -

The next step is to sponge on the marble texturing. Here, I’ll take a small sea sponge (available at hobby or craft stores) and use it to lightly apply paint to the black undercoat. A sea sponge has a natural "grain" that makes a believable marble texture. Don't use a synthetic sponge for this step: the grain is too even. However, since even the smallest sponge is pretty big compared to a miniature, I cut off a smaller piece to actually work with.

Working from my reference photo, I used two green colors, Storm Giant Green and Troll Flesh Green, to best mimic the natural shades in the stone. Again, your color choice will vary with the type of marble you decide to paint; there are a variety of shades and colors to choose from.

I mix up some of each color with some acrylic gloss medium (one to one proportion), which make the paints semi-transparent, as well as helping them adhere better to the black undercoating. Unlike the granite technique, you can work dark to light here, since the transparency of the gloss medium makes each layer of color show through the one on top of it a little. This also mimics the way the minerals and colors seem to intermix in real marble.

Make sure not to cover all of the black undercoat with the green paint, though. The black needs to show through a little, since it's a natural part of the green marble.

I take the sponge and dab it gently into the Troll Flesh. Excess paint is dabbed off on a paper towel, before I press the sponge onto the black paint. I try to never drag it, but push lightly to apply the green paint. (Dragging the sponge makes the paint smear, which doesn't look too realistic...)

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After the first layer is applied and allowed to dry, I repeat the process with the Storm Giant Green:

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Sometimes it may take some work to get the right look: after I finish with the Storm Giant, I decide the effect’s still a little spotty looking, so I add another layer of Troll Flesh on top of the Storm Giant. Finally, I’m satisfied with the effect:

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Step 3 -

Next I need to add the characteristic marble "veining". Marble usually has these threads of colored rock running trough it; to simulate this on miniatures, I’ll mix up the appropriate color of paint (in this case white), with the same amount of gloss medium as I used in the green paints. Again, the medium helps create a transparency to the color that makes the green show through a little, as it would in true marble.

Applying the veins is the difficult bit of the marble technique: when you’re finished, the lines of paint should look like the threads running under the surface of the marble. To apply the paint, you can use a paintbrush, or the traditional implement, a feather. Using a brush yields decent results, but for some reason I haven’t had too much luck with it. Brushes tend to lay too even a line of paint to look like true veining.

A feather leaves a more natural seam of color, since you can easily vary the thickness of the line it lays down. Coupled with the transparency of the paint, this results in pretty natural-looking veins.

A normal feather was a bit to big to work on my column, so I cut it down to a smaller tool before I began the process. When painting veins with the feather, it’s best to use a light hand; you’re not so much pushing as you would with a paint-brush, but letting the feather glide gently over the surface. As you pull the feather, turn it randomly (even to the point of letting the feather flatten against the column before tilting it back).

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These veins generally run parallel to each other in marble, so try to keep them moving in the same direction. Making some branches in the veining as you add it will also help make it look like true marble. It’s best not to cover more than a third of the marble surface with the veins or paint them too close together, though, or the piece begins to look too "busy" and unnatural.

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Step 4 -

To finish up the column, I painted the top and base in gold. Finally, a marble detail item like this should be coated with a heavy gloss coating to give it that look of polished marble. I used some of the same gloss medium I’d been mixing the paint with, but even that didn’t seem glossy enough. I finally used some of my wife’s oil-based craft coating (specifically, "Treasure Crystal Coat"), which gave the column that nice, polished-marble sheen to it.

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If you’re using any oil-based coating like this over acrylics, just be sure the acrylics are completely dry before applying it. I recommend using an old brush that you can throw away, too, unless you use oil paints regularly at home, and have some turpentine handy to clean the brush with.

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Text and Photographs (c) 2002 Laszlo Jakusovszky