Marble Art Nail Designs – a successful technique to recreate water marble nails

Marble Nail Designs are one of the most popular nail art methods used today, despite the fact that the fantastic look is slightly difficult to master and a bit time consuming. But if you love a good manicure and are a DIY kind of girl, you’ll have no choice but to try this look out for yourself.

Since you are a nail art enthusiast, you might also find interesting my Half Moon Manicure tutorial and my Triangle Moon nail art. If you are looking for something more glamorous, then check out my selection of glitter nail polishes and help yourself to some shimmery delights. Just remember to have handy the best nail polish removers and some quick drying top coat to avoid ruining your design.

Water Marble Nail Art is a technique invented in Japan, that allows you to create an intricate pattern on the nails, by free-dropping or free-dragging polish drops in cold water.

It sounds complicated, and truth be told, it does take practice to master, but thankfully, you guys have me to guide you through the process and to learn from my experience (read as initial fail attempts :P) with this nail design.

Marble Nail Art is a complex technique and despite the fact that prior to my first attempt I watched countless YouTube tutorials and read tons of useful tips & tricks, I still encountered some unexpected surprises and a bit of bad luck. So I decided to post this complex guide, in order to save you the frustration, help you through the process and to share with you my successful technique to recreate Water Marble Nails.

Tools needed to create Marble Nail Art

In order to successfully apply this kind of nail art on your nails, you need to use the proper tools and learn series of specific skills. One bonus is that you don’t need any brushes, dotting tools, rhinestones or other embellishments, as the pattern is a statement in itself.

  • Distilled or filtered room temperature water
  • Colored Nail Polishes (at least two matching shades)
  • Base Coat & Top Coat
  • A brush for clean-up
  • A bowl or a cup
  • Scissors (to cut the tape)
  • Basic manicure tools (file, scissors, cuticle remover & co.)
  • Toothpicks & a needle (for cleaning up the extra polish from surface of water and for drawing the design )
  • Q-tips, Cotton pads, Scotch tape & Vaseline (to keep the messy process to a minimum)

Tips will follow throughout the post, so be sure to go through the material first and only after attempt to accomplish the nail designs. The process itself takes about 40 minutes to do and up to 10-30 minutes to dry, so make sure you have enough time on your hands.

Fashion Marble Art Nail Design

Fashion Marble Art Nail Design

Water Marble Nails – a step by step technique

Basically in order to water marble, you are going to drip drops of polish onto the surface of the water, draw a design in the polish, and dip your nail into the design so it sticks. Easier said than done, I know, but at least this gives you a general idea of the process itself.

Now that you have everything at your disposal, start off with a regular manicure, by trimming your nails, filing them and applying one base coat. This can be transparent, but it might be better to choose a Nude nail polish because the colors disperse in water and they become slightly transparent themselves.

  • Protect the skin around your nails

After the Base Coat has dried properly, wrap your fingers in tape without covering the nail bed, in order to protect your skin when you dip the fingers in polish. I find tape to be the easiest to use but you could still use Vaseline to cover the cuticles.

You can rub Vaseline onto the skin around your nail bed, so when you dip your finger into the water you can remove the polish from your skin. The Vaseline is really good for your cuticles and it helps with polish removal especially around that area.

The technique I use to keep my fingers as clean as possible is taping the Scotch tape first, so it will adhere to the skin and then applying the Vaseline in the unprotected areas around the cuticles.

  • Prepare your instruments

Start by filling a bowl or a cardboard cup with room temperature water. It’s easier to use a cardboard cup, instead of a bowl that you use for cooking or storing food. But in case you don’t have one, use the ruined bowl only for this purpose. Do not use a disposable foam bowl as the fingernail polish will dissolve the plastic.

Tip: I strongly recommend filtered water, because if the water from your tap is too hard the polish won’t spread out.

Select the nail polish shades of your preference (keeping in mind that the Marble Nail design will look best with bright, vivid colors) and leave the lids unscrewed so you can get the drops in quickly. You need to work somewhat quickly for this to nail design to work.

Tip: It’s best to use fairly new polishes, because old ones freeze up in the bowl too fast.

The perfect marble nail design

The perfect marble nail design

  • Creating your Marble Design

Now that everything is at your disposal, drop your polish into the cup, just above the surface of the water. If you drop it from too far away, the polish will end up at the bottom of the cup or you’ll get air bubbles, that ruin your design.

If your first drop doesn’t spread out as much as you want, you can gently pull the sides out, using a needle.

Continue by adding drop after drop, one the the center of the previous, focusing on obtaining a “bulls eye pattern”. Since I don’t have video tutorials yet, you can check out some of the many ones on YouTube in order to get the right idea and to understand how to do a specific design.

Tip: This is a pretty polish consuming pattern, so if you want to preserve a specific shade, it’s best to start off the pattern by using drops of polish that aren’t the focus of your design.

Shortly after you created your bulls eye pattern, you want to very gently drag your design tool (I used a needle) through the nail polish circles in the water. The trick is to create the pattern without sticking the polish to the tool and wasting time, nail polish and energy.

Tip: Don’t start dragging your design tool from the exterior circle in, but rather from the second or third one out.

Wipe the polish off your toothpick in between each “swirl” when you’re marbling to ensure clean lines and continue until you achieve the desired pattern.

  • Sticking to a pattern

Once you are pleased with the design, it is time to dip your nail into the water at the right angle, thus allowing the nail polish to stick to your Base Coat.

Aim a spot where your design looks best and gently dip one nail in the water, in a consistent angle. Once your nail is under the water, leave it there for a few seconds. This gives you time to clean the surface of the water with a toothpick. Scrape the polish of your tool gently, careful not to damage the design.

Once your water surface is clean, slowly slide your finger out at the same angle you put it in. Pull your finger straight out of the water, angles can sometimes cause water bubbles. If you do get some bubbles, try to blow them off towards the edges of the nails and use a cotton bud to absorb the drops.

Once you’re all done with that finger, you can cut the tape off or leave it until you finish with one hand and start from the beginning, dipping each finger in a Water Marble design.

That’s it! You’ll sport gorgeous nails and receive a great deal of compliments for your manicure, making the time consuming process all worth it.

Hope this step-by-step tutorial has been helpful and I’ve been encouraging enough to motivate you try out Marble Art Nail Designs.


As a professional make-up artist and beauty enthusiast, Luiza's expertise has become highly prized over the years. As owner of this site, she set her mind to create a publication for those who are focused not just on beauty trends and popular brands, but also on the industry's most well-kept secrets.

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