Artists Tool Box: Markers
So today I want to talk to you guys about one of my favourite colouring tools: markers. We've all seen them and used them, from the scented ones that some of us tried not to lick in grade 1 to the Crayolas that are everywhere to Sharpie Markers in the back-to-school section to the fancy markers that can only be bought in art supply stores. So here's what you need to know about markers The Basics
Cheap or expensive, easy to find or not, markers can be easily broken down into 2 types: water-based and alcohol-based. For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to stick with 4 of the most common brands of art markers: Sharpies, Prisma Colors, Copics and Lyra Aqua Brush Pens. Of these, only the Lyra markers are water-based; the other 3 are alcohol based.
Lyras, Copics and Prisma Colors tend to be double ended; one end tends to have a wider, wedge shaped tip and the other end typically has a finer tip or a brush. Sharpies are single ended.Uses and cost
Lyra Aqua Brush Pens: These are good for fine lines or colouring areas of a drawing. They do not streak very easily so you can get a solid look from them. They do not layer amazingly and can only be blended with other water-based markers (water-based + alcohol-based = awkward smears and general ickiness). You can also add water to them with a paint brush, effectively using them as water colour paints. They work well on regular sketch book paper (80lb paper or higher to avoid bleeding), watercolor paper and canvas. They are not very effective on bristol board or card stock, however. Due to the fact that they are water-based, they are not anywhere near to permanent and wash off of skin and clothes very easily. They are non-toxic and on the cheaper side, as far as art markers go; a 24 pack runs for about 25-30$ Canadian.
Sharpie Markers: These are also good for fine lines or colouring areas of a drawing. They are prone to streaking however, as they dry quickly. They layer and blend okay with one another as well as with Prisma Color markers but do not seem to want to blend nicely with Copics. They are alcohol based and marketed as permanent. These work great on card stock, watercolor paper, fabric, glass, ceramic and canvas. Light weight papers will have problems with bleeding and may tear if layered too heavily. The color selection for these is smaller than that of Lyras, Prisma Colors and Copics yet still leaves a lot of choice. This is perhaps the cheapest marker option, running from 15-30$ Canadian for a 24 pack.
Prisma Color Markers: I have used these for a number of years and find them to be very good for colouring large or small projects. These come in double ended markers as either a chisel end and a fine tip end or a brush end and a fine tip end. These are an alcohol, dye based ink that are non-toxic. They work great on sketch book paper, watercolour paper, card stock and work okay on bristol board. Prisma Colors are also good for doing a base color layer in marker and shading over top of the layer with pencil crayons; other markers get a weird goopy effect. These come in the widest variety of colours and run anywhere from 3-8$ per marker, with sets of 24 starting at around 60$ Canadian. The only con; they stink. The smell is overpowering in a small space, so open a window or have a fan going while working with these!
Copic Markers: Are my favourite. I have used these for a number of years as well and they work really nicely. They layer with each other well, they blend nicely, they don't streak as long as you colour in a way that allows wet edges to touch (and they do not dry instantaneously, which allows for nicer blending). They work well on all types of paper, canvas and one of my friends even used them to dye a white wig green. Unfortunately, they do pick up the ink from Micron pens, so really let your pen work dry before colouring with these! They are available in a multitude of sizes and colours. They can also be used with a Copic Air Brush machine. You can also buy refills and refill your empty markers!
But... they are pricey; the smaller Copic Ciao markers are about 4-6$ Canadian per marker, while the Copic Regulars and Sketch Markers are about 6-9$ Canadian, per marker. A 24 pack of Ciaos costs between 80-90$ as does a 12 pack of Sketch Markers. The Sketch markers do hold more ink and last longer than the Ciaos though.Some Tutorials to Start You off
If you want to pick up some marker techniques, such as layering or blending, these are for you!