Ebony Woodgrain


Here is a how-to for Ebony woodgrain.  It is a 3-step process to create this rich and heavily-grained wood.  If you use a fast drying medium like matte medium,  it’s possible to do all 3 steps in one day — or at least 2.

Below is a light version of real Ebony wood.   Often, you will see real Ebony a very dark color – practically black grains.real-ebony-wood

The example in this post had an satin oil basecoat.  However an eggshell latex (like  BM Aura) is perfectly fine.  Sand and dust before glazing.  The first step is in this particular wood is the flogging.  We’re missing pictures, but check out this flogging video for a tutorial.   This step adds the look of wood pores which instantly gives a “woodsy” appearance.  The whipping motion of the flogging brush is the only tool that can achieve this background.  Mix a glaze:  fast dry matte medium plus colors; raw umber, black, and touch hansa yellow to brighten.

Once dry, the major grains are painted (wet-on-dry application) with a heavily pigmented glaze mixture: slow dry low-viscosity medium plus colors;  black, vandyke brown, and touch trio (transparent iron oxide) to brighten.   The applied grain must be parallel lines (but not perfectly straight) and the grains should be varied in size and distance between.   A brush like the tooth veinette with a sparse amount of long, stiff hair is the best tool.  For a better visual on this technique, see this veinette video to see how the tooth veinette brush makes this prominent but delicate print.  It is important to fully load the brush for such a large print.




Soften the grains with a badger softener.  It is very important to soften in a thoughtful manner.  Soften in one direction at a 70 degree angel to get the desired effect.  Don’t over-soften.

Pass over the surface with the same brush one more time using less of the same glaze.   The goal is to create finer (double)  veins within the first pass and with a slightly different angle.   Soften these veins lightly.

cross veining

Once completely dry, apply a transparent overglaze to the surface with a glazing brush.  Glaze contents:  slow dry low-viscosity medium plus colors;  burnt umber, vandyke brown, touch trio and black.  Looking for a warm and deep transparent tone.  Stretch (even out) the glaze with a spalter.

over glaze

Using a skunk brush (short and stiff), make a moire by waving your brush in a narrow zig-zag movement, displacing the glaze as you go.  Soften side to side like the brush marks with a badger brush.


Let dry and varnish (dark woods look better with a glossy finish).  I’ve added a trompe l’oeil effect on this baseboard-sized sample.  See this post for a how-to on trompe l’oeil molding over a dark wood.





  1. Hi Pierre, can you please tell me what medium are you using for wood grain pattern. I am looking for a VOC free medium that can be vanished over with a VOC free water based varnish. We usually use beer and pigments, but a water based varnish washes off the pattern.

    • Pierre Finkelstein says

      Hi Eva. When using beer and pigments, you must varnish in oil to secure the reversible medium.
      But that’s high VOC. We use a lot of Proceed products found on our website — http://www.fauxbrushes.com. I would recomend the low viscocity glaze, mixed with slow-dry colors to tint.
      Good luck!

  2. Mr Pierre how you doing. I love you work
    U inspired me to Learn and be a better painter
    I own some of you book and they grate.
    I would love to take one of you classes hire in NY
    Marbeling it’s my thing. Please could you let us knw
    When you next class would it be hire in Ny.
    Thank you.

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