Floating Pictures Using Dry Erase Marker and Water Trick

Want to add some flair to your drawings?

Make them float and wow your science buddies with this super quick and simple science experiment!

This is an interesting chemistry activity that will get the kids fascinated as they see their floating drawing magically move across the water’s surface.

In this activity guide, we’ll take you through the secret science behind this magic trick and how you can do it at home!

What is a float drawing?

A float drawing is a drawing that appears to be floating on top of the water. It moves with the water and looks 3D.

What are the materials needed for this activity?

This dry-erase water trick is easy to do and only requires a few materials that you probably already have around the house and from your art supplies.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A dry-erase marker / erasable marker (marker used for whiteboards)
  • A cup of room temperature water
  • Two shallow trays or ceramic plates with a smooth surface

Note that only dry erase markers or a white board marker like Expo markers will work for this activity! The reason behind this is that the dry erase marker ink ingredients include a solvent such as alcohol which dissolves the color pigment that determines the marker’s color.

Once you have all the materials for the experiment, you’ll need to find an activity area that can tolerate water spills so that the kids can enjoy this activity without making a mess.

How do you do the dry-erase water trick?

Doing the experiment is a fun and easy way of understanding how different substances work when mixed or joined together.

Here’s a step-by-step instruction guide on how you can do this:

1) Draw on the surface

Create a new drawing like stick figures on a ceramic plate or glass using a dry-erase marker. Use as many colors as you want just make sure that your marker drawing is big enough so that it can be seen clearly when it’s floating on the water.

Note: We recommend using a smooth plate or any non-porous surfaces as dry-erase markers work best on these types of surfaces.

2) Pour water into the container

Pour water slowly on the plate and watch the drawings float. By doing this, water will slip underneath making the ink float or the colors float.

You can also check out this video guide on how we did this interesting chemistry experiment:

There you have it! It’s so much fun to watch the drawing move on top of the water, right?

Now that you know how this magic trick works, try it out for yourself and see how your drawings float on top.

How does the dry-erase marker float on water?

The secret to making this trick work is in the dry-erase marker.

Dry erase markers contain a substance called oily silicone polymer. This type of dry-erase marker prevents your drawing from sticking to the surface. When the dry-erase marker ink is placed on top of the water, it creates a barrier between the water and the ink.

The oil silicone polymer in the dry erase marker is less dense than water so the drawings float on top of the water’s surface. This makes your drawing appear to be floating on top of the water which explains the reason why this is only the type of marker you can use for this experiment.

SUPA Challenge & Conclusion

To be successful with this activity, you have to make sure that you’re using the right type of materials – from the dry-erase marker to the surface where you’ll draw.

The right materials should allow you to create a cool 3D drawing that appears to be floating on top of the water!

Now that you have successfully completed the dry-erase water trick, try experimenting with what other materials can create this kind of effect.

Here are some things you might want to try:

  • Use a different type of marker like washable markers or a permanent marker
  • Use warm water or cold water instead of a room temperature water
  • Use other surfaces like a paper plate

By doing this experiment, you’ll better understand how different materials work when mixed or joined together. Additionally, you’ll be able to see how the properties of the materials you’re using can create different effects.

That’s all for now!

If you want to learn more about chemistry experiments, check out our free activity ideas eBook featuring 21 simple STEM activities that you and your science buddies would surely enjoy and learn a lot from.

We hope you had fun with this art and science activity. We can’t wait to see your amazing creations!

Stay tuned for more interesting science experiments that you can try at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions about this activity? We’ve got answers.

Q: What happens if you use a water-based marker?

A: Water-based markers will not float on water because they are not hydrophobic. The ink in these markers is water-soluble, which means it will mix with water. It will not float on the surface of the water as a dry-erase marker does.

Q: Can I use real permanent markers for this experiment?

A: No, a permanent marker cannot be used for this experiment and you can’t expect the same result to happen. A permanent marker contains an acrylic polymer resin which functions as a binding agent. So when used, the permanent marker drawing remained stuck on the surface as it makes the ink stick to the surface.

Q: Can I use any type of plate with a smooth surface?

A: We recommend using either a ceramic or glass plate with a smooth surface for this experiment. Additionally, it’s best to use a white plate so that the colors of the drawing will be more visible.

Q: Can I use a glass surface instead?

A: Yes, you can also use glass surfaces for this experiment. The ink will appear to be floating on top of the glass which creates a cool 3D effect!

Q: How to remove dry-erase marker ink using a paper towel?

A: To clean up & remove the remaining drawings, you can use a napkin or paper towel soaked in alcohol. 

Simply pour rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel and wipe off the drawing. The ink will easily come off from the surface and be transferred to the paper towel. You can also use this method to clean up any mistakes while you’re doing the experiment.

Q: Do dry-erase markers wash off with water?

A: The ink in dry-erase markers is water-resistant but not waterproof. So while it can resist being washed off by water, it can still be removed using other cleaning materials like alcohol or acetone.