Water Marbling 3D Prints

Written by Ben Malesh

3D printing opens the door to many other forms of creative fabrication and helps us to learn new and interesting talents. These instructions teach how to use a process called water marbling to add a new and creative finishing technique to your 3D prints.


  • A 5 gallon bucket (It will get paint on it so make sure it’s not important)

  • Spray paint – In at least two different colors

  • Fishing line

  • Water

  • Rubber gloves


Note: Read through the steps a few times carefully before starting because some of the steps are time sensitive.

  1. First, select the print that you want to add a marbling design to. When selecting your print, keep in mind that the base color can alter the effect of the marbling. This effect is good look for a lighter-colored print like white or yellow. Darker colors, even black, can work, but the effect by be less clear. It might also be helpful to add a hole somewhere on the design for a later step.
  2. Tie a piece of fishing line to your print to use as a dipping string. If you added a hole to your print earlier, you can use it for this step.

  3. Fill the bucket most of the way up with water, more than enough to completely submerge the print. 

  4. Spray the first color of spray paint in the center of the water for about 3 seconds. This should form a puddle of paint that will sit on top of the water.

  5. Then spray the second color as close to center of the puddle from the first color as you can for the same amount of time. This will create a second color puddle surrounded by the first.

  6. Continue steps 4 & 5 between 5 to 8 times interchanging the colors as you go. This will form alternating rings of paint resting on the surface of the water.

  7. Drag an object (a pencil seems to work well) through the paint sitting on the water to begin mixing and marbling the paint. Move slowly and stir the rings until you like the design that forms. Make sure to do this as quick as you can because the paint will begin to dry.

  8. Once you like the design that’s on the water it is time to dip the print. Slowly submerge the print into the paint – making sure it is completely submerged. Depending on its shape the print may float, if it does be sure to push it down until it is completely submerged (use an object or gloves to completely submerge the print).

  9. Keep the print completely submerged for about a minute. This will give the paint time to dry under the water.

  10. While the print is still under water, use some paper towels to wipe the paint off of the surface of water. Be carful not to hit the print with the paper towels. Keep wiping the top of the water until most of the paint is gone. Wear your gloves to be sure to keep the paint off your hands during this process.

  11. Once you have cleared most of the paint away carefully remove the print from the water. The paint will not be fully dry yet, so avoid touching it or bumping it into anything.

  12. Hold the print in the air for about a minute and then set it somewhere to dry for 30 minutes