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Ebony Woodgrain – A How To

Ebony is a rich and heavily-grained wood. Because of that depth, it is a  3-layer graining process. Typically, woodgrain finishes are completed in a 3-layer process; 1- background, 2- graining, 3- overglazing. The finish in this post is similar from these typical layers because it is a rich, heavily grained wood.

Below is a light version of real Ebony wood. But it’s more common to find real Ebony having a very dark color – practically black grains. Pierre Finkelstein of Pierre Finkelstein Institute of Decorative Painting shows you how he created this finish.

HOW TO CREATE THIS FINISH

Use our step-by-step instruction below

MATERIALS NEEDED:

Here is a list of the tools & supplies you will need to achieve this technique.  Supplies available at fauxbrushes.com are linked below and listed at the bottom of the page.

1

PROPER PREPARATION

STEP 1 – PROPER PREPARATION:  Proper preparation for a woodgrain finish requires a Level 5 substrate. This is the highest level of preparation. In order to look like the actual form in nature,  a smooth, refined finish is required. Substrates must be properly cleaned, primed, and basecoat to achieve this level of finish. Sanding and dusting between coats is a must. Basecoats are tinted and must be boxed and tested so it is a true match to the control sample. 

This sample below was painted using an alkyd satin basecoat. However, quality eggshell latex is fine. 

2

BACKGROUND LAYER - FLOGGING TO CREATE PORES

STEP 2 – BACKGROUND LAYER – FLOGGING TO CREATE PORES:  Sand and dust before glazing. Paints used in this woodgrain technique are primarily fluid Acrylic Colors with a proportion of acrylic Glazing Medium. Depending on how big the project is, the use of slow-dry colorants and mediums are used to achieve the correct viscosity and open time. To decrease drying time of your background a fast drying medium can be used.

A mother glaze is mixed to be used as a medium-toned glaze that will be used in a palette cup.

Mother glaze

  • glaze
  • raw umber
  • black
  • a touch hansa yellow to brighten.

The first step in this particular wood is the flogging video. This step adds the look of wood pores, which instantly gives a “woodsy” appearance. The whipping motion of the Flogging Brush is the most efficient tool for this background. Let dry.

3

GRAINING LAYER - PAINT STRONG, DARK GRAINS

STEP 3 – GRAINING LAYER – PAINT STRONG, DARK GRAINS:  The major grains are painted (wet-on-dry application) with a mother glaze: heavily pigmented glaze mixture (black, van dyke brown, and touch 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.

Next, soften the grains with a Softener brush. It is very important to soften in a thoughtful manner. Soften in one direction at a 70-degree angle to get the desired effect and make sure not to over-soften.

Pass over the surface with the same Tooth Veinette 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 with a Softener brush. Let dry completely.

4

OVERGLAZING LAYER - STRECH THE GLAZE

STEP 4 – OVERGLAZING LAYER – STRECH THE GLAZE: Once completely dry, apply a transparent overglaze with the motherglaze to the surface with a pointed Glazing Brush.  

Mother Glaze: a warm and deep transparent tone.

  • burnt umber
  • van dyke brown
  • transparent iron oxide
  • black

Stretch (even out) the glaze with a Spalter Brush (size 80 or 100).

5

OVERGLAZING LAYER - ADD MOIRES

STEP 5 – OVERGLAZING LAYER -ADD MOIRES: Using a mottler Skunk Brush, add 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 Softener Brush. Let dry

6

PROTECT AND FINISH

STEP 6 – PROTECT AND FINISH: Varnish the finish with desired sheen (dark woods look better with a glossy finish). A trompe l’oeil effect can be added to make a baseboard using a faux molding technique.  

See also: Oak Trompe l’oeil on a Elevator Door 

COMPLETED FINISH

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