Improve Ebru Art Skills: 10 Practical Turkish Marbling Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Prepare your materials for Ebru Art
  2. Create bright and even colors
  3. Practice the basics of painting on water
  4. How to create the marbling effect
  5. Learn to control flow of paint
  6. How to transfer Ebru Art onto paper
  7. Incorporate traditional Turkish designs
  8. Experiment with different paint mixtures
  9. How to maintain your Ebru Art equipment
  10. Learn to appreciate the unpredictability of Ebru Art

Getting better at Ebru Art, also known as Turkish Marbling, is akin to learning a beautiful new language. It's a journey that lets you express your creativity on a fluid canvas, the surface of water, using vibrant colors and intricate designs. This blog post is your friendly guide on this journey, offering 10 practical tips to improve your Turkish Marbling skills. Let's dive right in!

Prepare Your Materials for Ebru Art

First things first: gather your materials. Proper preparation is the foundation of getting better at Ebru Art. Here's a handy list for you:

  • Ebru Paints: These specialized paints float on water and are key in creating the marbling effect. You can find them at most art supply stores or online.
  • Thickened Water: Ebru Art is all about painting on water. However, regular water is too thin for the paints to float. So, you'll need to thicken it. Carrageenan, a type of seaweed available in powdered form, does the trick.
  • Bruce Brush: Also known as a marbling comb, this tool helps in creating the marbling effect. It's a row of horsehair bristles attached to a rosewood handle.
  • Tray: You'll need a shallow tray filled with thickened water as your canvas.
  • Special Paper: Regular paper won't work for Ebru Art. Look for absorbent paper, like Kitakata or Hosho. They absorb the color without getting soggy.

Remember, quality materials make a difference. Investing in good quality paints, brushes, and paper can take your Ebru Art to the next level. So, gather your materials and get ready to create some fantastic Turkish Marbling.

Create Bright and Even Colors

Now that we've gathered our materials, let's talk about colors. In the world of Ebru Art, colors are like the words you use to tell your story. Bright and even colors can make your designs pop and bring your art to life. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Mix your colors properly: Ebru colors are usually sold in a concentrated form. Mix them with water until you reach a consistency similar to milk. This will ensure that your colors are light enough to float on the surface of the water and bright enough to make your designs stand out.
  • Test your colors: Before starting a piece, test your colors on a small portion of your water canvas. This can help you gauge their brightness and evenness before you dive into the main design.
  • Use White Wisely: In Turkish Marbling, white is not just a color. It's a tool that can help you create depth and contrast. Use white to break up your design and make your colors pop.

Remember, getting better at Ebru Art is not just about mastering the technique, but also understanding the role of colors. So, don't be afraid to experiment. The more you play with colors, the more you'll learn about their potential in this wonderful art form.

Practice the Basics of Painting on Water

Painting on water, huh? Sounds like a magic trick, but it's the heart of Ebru Art. To get better at Turkish Marbling, you need to master this unique skill. Here's how to start:

  • Start with a still surface: Before you begin, make sure your water canvas is still. Any movement can disrupt your design. A quiet and calm environment can be your best ally here.
  • Drop, don’t drag: When you're ready to paint, remember to drop the paint onto the water, not drag it. This will allow it to spread naturally and create beautiful patterns.
  • Patience is a virtue: Ebru Art is not a race. Take your time while dropping the paint. The slower you go, the more control you have over the design.

Practicing these basics can make a world of difference in your Ebru Art journey. But remember, every great artist was once a beginner. So, don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out as expected. Keep at it, and before long, you'll be painting on water like a pro.

How to Create the Marbling Effect

Creating the marbling effect is the most exciting part of getting better at Ebru Art. It's like watching a flower bloom — a little bit of magic, a little bit of science, and a whole lot of art. Here's what to do:

  • Swirl, don’t stir: After you've dropped your paint onto the water, use an awl or a needle to gently swirl the colors together. Remember, the goal is to create a marbled pattern, not a blended smoothie. So, be gentle and let the colors flow.
  • Use contrasting colors: To really make your marbling pop, use contrasting colors. Pair light shades with dark ones, and bold colors with pastels. This will give your artwork depth and dimension.
  • Let the water work for you: One of the best parts about Ebru Art is that the water does most of the work for you. Once you've swirled your colors, step back and let the water continue to move the paint. You'll be amazed at the beautiful patterns that emerge.

Remember, creating the marbling effect in Ebru Art is like cooking a great dish. It takes time, patience, and a little bit of instinct. But with practice, you'll soon be creating marbling effects that are as unique and beautiful as you are.

Learn to Control the Flow of Paint

Mastering the flow of paint is key to getting better at Ebru Art. It's kind of like driving a car, the better you can control the speed and direction, the smoother the ride. Here's how you do that in Turkish Marbling:

  • Control the drop: When adding paint to the water, how high you hold the paintbrush will affect the flow. Hold it higher for a larger, more spread out effect, and closer to the water for a more concentrated drop.
  • Use the right tools: Different tools give you different effects. Brushes will give you splashes of color, while sticks and needles allow for precision work. Experiment with various tools to find what works best for your style.
  • Adjust the paint consistency: The viscosity of your paint can also change how it flows. Thicker paints will stay more localized, while thinner paints will spread out more. Play around with this to get the desired effect.

Remember, controlling the flow of paint is like learning a new language. It might feel awkward at first, but the more you practice, the more fluent you become. Soon you'll be controlling the flow of paint in your Ebru Art like a pro!

How to Transfer Ebru Art Onto Paper

Now that you've created your masterpiece in water, it's time to bring it to life on paper. This is a pivotal step in getting better at Ebru Art. Here's how to do it:

  • Choose the right paper: Not all paper types are created equal. Some papers absorb the paint too quickly, while others might not hold the design well. Traditional Ebru Art often uses abaca paper, but feel free to experiment with other types like rice paper or watercolor paper.
  • Prep your paper: To help the paper absorb the paint evenly, soak it in a mixture of water and alum. This preparation step will make the colors pop and keep them from fading.
  • Gently lay the paper: Once your design is ready on the water, carefully lay the paper on top. Be sure not to shift the paper once it's down or your design could get smudged. Patience is key here!
  • Peel off carefully: After letting the paper sit for a few seconds, carefully peel it off starting from one corner. Then, lay it flat to dry. Voila, your Ebru Art has been transferred!

Remember, transferring your design from water to paper can feel like a nerve-wracking task, but with practice, it becomes a seamless part of the process. So, keep practicing, and you'll be transferring Ebru Art onto paper like a seasoned artist in no time!

Incorporate Traditional Turkish Designs

One surefire way to make your Ebru Art stand out is to incorporate traditional Turkish designs. These designs, known for their intricate patterns and bold colors, can take your marbling to the next level. Here are a few design elements to consider:

  • Floral motifs: Flowers, leaves and vines are classic elements in Turkish art. Adding these to your Ebru Art can create a sense of harmony and natural beauty. Try creating roses, tulips or carnations for a start.
  • Geometric patterns: Turkish designs are renowned for their complex geometric patterns. Incorporating these into your artwork can give it a unique and mesmerizing twist. Start with simple shapes and gradually add more complexity as you get better at it.
  • Calligraphy: Beautifully flowing Arabic script is a hallmark of Turkish design. You can add words, names, or even inspirational quotes to your artwork. While this can be a bit challenging at first, it'll certainly make your Ebru Art one-of-a-kind once you master it.

Remember, the beauty of Ebru Art lies in its flexibility and room for creativity. Don't be afraid to mix and match different elements to create your unique masterpiece. After all, getting better at Ebru Art (Turkish marbling) is all about learning, experimenting, and most importantly, having fun!

Experiment with Different Paint Mixtures

Another exciting aspect of Ebru Art is the endless possibilities you have with paint mixtures. When it comes to getting better at Turkish marbling, experimentation is key. Here are a few suggestions on how you can mix things up:

  • Change your paint ratio: The thickness of your paint can greatly affect the outcome of your artwork. If it's too thick, it may not spread well on the water; too thin, and it may not stick to the paper. Try different ratios until you find the one that gives the best results.
  • Use different types of paint: While traditional Ebru Art uses natural pigments, there's no rule against trying out other types of paint. Acrylics, watercolors, even metallic paints can give your artwork a unique twist. Just remember to adjust your paint-to-water ratio accordingly.
  • Mix colors: Don't limit yourself to single color designs. Mix different colors to create new shades, or layer them to achieve a multi-dimensional effect. The sky's the limit when it comes to color combinations!

Remember, there's no right or wrong when it comes to experimenting with paint mixtures. What matters is that you enjoy the process and learn from it. So go ahead, roll up your sleeves and start mixing!

How to Maintain Your Ebru Art Equipment

As with any art form, taking good care of your tools is a critical part of getting better at Ebru art. Proper maintenance not only extends the life of your equipment, but it also ensures that you get the best results every time you start an Ebru project. Here's how you can maintain your Ebru Art equipment:

  • Clean your brushes regularly: Avoid letting paint dry on your brushes, as this can damage the bristles. After each use, rinse them thoroughly in water until the water runs clear. Then, reshape the bristles and let them air-dry.
  • Store your tools properly: Keep your brushes, combs, and needles in a clean, dry place to prevent them from getting damaged. If possible, store your brushes with the bristles facing upwards to maintain their shape.
  • Take care of your tray: The tray where you create your Ebru Art is a crucial part of your setup. Keep it clean and free from any debris that could interfere with your designs. If you're using a metal tray, be sure to dry it thoroughly after each use to prevent rusting.
  • Use quality materials: High-quality paints and papers can make a big difference in your Ebru Art. They're not only easier to work with, but they can also produce more vivid and long-lasting results. So, don't skimp on your materials if you're serious about improving your Ebru Art skills.

Remember, maintaining your equipment is an ongoing task, not a one-time thing. By keeping your tools in good shape, you're setting yourself up for success in your Ebru Art journey.

Learn to Appreciate the Unpredictability of Ebru Art

One of the most fascinating aspects of Turkish Marbling, or Ebru Art, is its unpredictability. It's a dance of colors on water, a surprise waiting to happen. The way the paint spreads, folds, and mixes in the tray, it's different every time. It's like magic—and isn't that partly why we all find ourselves drawn to art in the first place?

Getting better at Ebru art involves embracing this unpredictability. It's about letting the paint take you on a journey rather than trying to control every single detail. This doesn't mean giving up on techniques or not striving for particular effects. It's about finding a balance between control and freedom, between intention and spontaneity.

  • Let go of perfection: No two Ebru art pieces are the same. Embrace this uniqueness—don't chase perfection, chase beauty instead. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. That's how you grow as an artist.
  • Enjoy the process: Ebru art is not just about the end product—it's about the journey. The swirls of paint, the gentle lapping of water, the quiet focus—it's almost meditative. So, slow down, breathe, and enjoy the process.
  • Explore: Don't be afraid to try new things. Experiment with different colors, patterns, and techniques. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Remember, Ebru art is an exploration, not a destination. So, let the unpredictability of this beautiful art form guide your brush and open your heart to the possibilities it brings.

If you're eager to further develop your Ebru Art skills, we recommend exploring the wide range of workshops available on Daisie, including those focused on traditional art techniques. While the workshop 'Creative Ways to Use Traditional Hand Embroidery Techniques' by Irem Yazici may not be directly related to Ebru Art, it could still provide valuable insights into incorporating traditional techniques into your creative process. Don't forget to check out Daisie's classes for more inspiration and resources to help you grow as an artist.