Markers Review for Artists

Updated: 04 Jun 2021

Marker pens review

Table of contents:

Intro

Below is a review for artist-grade maker pens types & brands. They can be used for drawing comics, cartoon characters, manga, product design, concept art and much more. They are also great for painting coloring pages.

Disclosure: some links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.

Practical Information about Markers

Most markers are designed for drawing on non-absorbent paper.

Many markers have a high level of transparency, so they are quite light. Adding more layers of the same color will make it more opaque and therefore darker.

Different brightness values with one marker

Marker Nib Types

Marker pens nib types

Different nib types are suitable for different tasks. Which to use, is a matter of personal preference and the type of task.

When in need of straight lines, a chisel tip is perfect:

Drawing of a highlighting marker with chisel tip

For filling areas (coloring), a brush nib creates a smoother surface:

Painting comics with markers with brush nib

A bullet nib is suitable for drawing or creating fine details, while a real brush is great for mixing colors or combined with water (for water-based markers).

Marker Caps

Marker caps can be very helpful.

Some brands have the number and color of the marker written on the top part of the cap.

Text on marker pens caps

Many markers come with two different heads.

Some brands have two different cap structure, while other have a dark mark to indicate a specific head (for example brush).

Cap indicator for brush nib

Few marker brands have a body that does not roll on the drawing surface (like Copic Sketch, Spectrum Noir and Touch).

For round markers, there is either a small cap brake to prevent rolling:

A brake to prevent marker from rolling

Or a clip:

A clip to prevent marker from rolling

What Can You Do with Markers?

You can use markers for almost any drawing or painting style.

I use them for drawing cartoon characters for my daughter.

Here is my guide on how to draw accurately from photos (and draw your favorite comics).

Comics and cartoon paintings with markers

For my tutorial on how to draw treasure maps.

Map paintings with markers

And, as one of my (realistic) render styles, when drawing concept art and product design.

More on that, you can find in my guide on how to draw from imagination.

Examples for drawing from imagination with markers

Alcohol-Based Markers Review

Alcohol-based markers are usually of higher quality.

Promarker Brush

Winsor & Newton Promarker Brush (formerly known as Brushmarker) are alcohol-based markers.

They are great for painting, and they blend with other brands of alcohol-based markers.

Color range: 72.

Nibs: One flexible brush nib and one broad chisel.

Note: Carefully close the cap in order to avoid damaging the brush nib.

Winsor & Newton Brushmarker markers Brushmarker
Hello Kitty painted with marker pens Hello Kitty with Brushmarker

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

See on Amazon

Promarker

Winsor & Newton Promarker are alcohol-based markers.

Color range: 173.

Nibs: Twin-tipped, with a broad chisel nib and fine bullet nib.

Due to their bullet nib, they are great for drawing. The chisel nib can be used to fill large areas.

Winsor & Newton Promarker, alcohol-based markers Winsor & Newton Promarker
A comics drawing and painting of Lisa Simpson Lisa Simpson with Promarker

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

TOUCH Twin Brush Marker

TOUCH Twin brush markers are excellent alcohol-based markers.

Color range: 204.

Nibs: Fine brush nib on one end and a medium-wide chisel nib on the other.

Touch Twin Brush blue markers TOUCH Twin Brush Markers
Drawing of two Smurfs with markers Smurfs with TOUCH markers

Pros:

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Conclusion:

Copic Marker

Copic markers are professional, alcohol-based markers. They are highly regarded by many artists.

Color range: 358!

Nibs: Medium broad and flexible brush nib combination.

All types of Copic markers can be refilled.

Replaceable nibs.

Keep in mind: Opening of the cap should be gentle. Otherwise, the paint may squirt.

Copic sketch is the most popular among Copic markers and it comes in the widest range of colors (358):

Copic Sketch marker pens Copic Sketch markers

Copic Ciao is the most economical of all Copic markers. They deliver the same quality but at a more attractive price.

They come in 180 colors.

On the Copic Ciao, there is no caption on the cap and its cylindrical structure causes it to roll on the work surface:

Copic Ciao marker pens Copic Ciao markers

Using the broad nib for painting:

Screwdriver & fountain pen painting with markers Painting with Copic Markers

A third model, Copic Classic has a hard pointed (bullet) nib.

Copic Classic comes in 214 shades.

It has a massive square structure that prevents it from rolling on the work surface, but is less comfortable to use.

Copic Classic marker, alcohol-based markers Copic Classic
Copic marker ink refill bottles Copic ink refill bottles

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

See on Amazon

Winsor & Newton Pigment Marker

Winsor & Newton Pigment Marker are alcohol-based (ethanol) markers with quality ink that is made of quality pigments.

Color range: 100.

Nibs: One side bullet nib, other side flat nib (chisel).

There are two types of blender: a transparent blender, as in other brands, and a unique white blender.

Winsor & Newton Pigment Marker alcohol-based pens Pigment Marker
Winsor and Newton Pigment marker blender Transparent & white blenders

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

Spectrum Noir Illustrator

Spectrum Noir Illustrator are alcohol-based markers for drawing and painting.

Color range: 216.

Nibs: One brush and one fine bullet nib.

Spectrum Noir Illustrator markers Spectrum Noir Illustrator
Painting contact lenses case with Spectrum Noir Illustrator markers Painting with Illustrator

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

Water-Based Markers Review

Water-based markers are less suitable for painting on a regular sketching and drawing paper sheet.

They work best on non-absorbent paper.

Zig Clean Color Real Brush

Zig Clean Color Real Brush are water-based markers and can be used together with water and a brush like painting with watercolors.

Color range: 90.

Nibs: One real brush from synthetic bristles.

Zig Clean Color Real Brush synthetic bristle marker Zig markers
Zig Clean Color Real Brush water-based markers Synthetic bristle brush

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

See on Amazon

Koi Coloring Brush Pen

Koi Coloring Brush Pen are water-based markers.

Color range: 48.

Nibs: One brush nib.

Koi Coloring Brush Pen water-based markers Koi markers
Castle painted with Koi markers My daughter's castle with Koi

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

See on Amazon

Promarker Watercolour

Winsor & Newton Promarker Watercolour are water-based markers that can be used for drawing and painting.

Color range: 36.

Nibs: Two nibs, one brush and one bullet.

Winsor & Newton Water Colour Marker pens Water Colour Marker
Winsor & Newton Water-based Colour Markers Two kinds of nibs

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion:

See on Amazon

Faber-Castell PITT

Faber-Castell PITT artist pen are water-based markers.

Color range: 60 including 11 gray shades that are equipped with a soft brush.

Nibs: One brush nib.

Markers with durable ink that contain pigments and can be purchased individually or as part of a set.

Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen markers Faber-Castell PITT artist pen
Woodstock painted with water-based markers Woodstock painted with PITT

In addition, PITT artist pen are available with a big brush for quick coloring of large areas.

These marker pens come as individuals or as part of a set.

Faber-Castell PITT artist pen big brush PITT artist pen big brush

The black PITT artist pen big brush marker is great for silhouettes. (The small details are drawn with a fineliner).

A painting of a tree with black marker Painting with PITT

White markers are great for highlights.

Drawing highlight marks with PITT marker Highlights with white marker

Pros:

Cons:

Good to know:

If you like drawing trees, make sure you visit my guide for drawing realistic trees with pens.

Examples for drawing trees with pens and markers

Zig Clean Color f

Zig Clean Color f (dual tip) are water-based dye pens with bullet nibs.

Color range: 56.

Nibs: extra fine (0.5mm) and large (1.2mm) tips.

Zig Clean Color f - dual tip Zig twin tip markers

Unlike other markers, which are intended for painting and coloring, Zig clean color f is suitable for drawing, sketching, cartooning and illustration work.

Dish soap sketch with Zig markers Sketching with Zig f

Pros:

Cons:

Acrylic Paint Markers

Operating Instructions:

Liquitex Paint Marker

Liquitex Paint Marker are made from acrylic, water-based ink, which is lightfast due to the pigments it is made from.

Color range: 50.

Nibs: Flat, stiff nib.

The Liquitex markers come in two sizes: 2mm by 4mm and 8mm by 15mm.

Liquitex Paint Marker, acrylic water-based Liquitex Paint Marker
Daffy Duck painting with water-based markers Daffy Duck painted with Liquitex

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Uni POSCA

Uni POSCA are opaque, water-based markers.

Color range: 55.

Nibs: Bullet, they come in many sizes.

Uni POSCA paint markers POSCA paint markers

Pros:

Cons:

My favorite covering marker pens are Uni POSCA: See on Amazon

Lightfastness

Lightfastness is the durability of paint (pigment or dye) to resist fading when exposed to light.

All marker pens in this review are of high quality and by well-known brands. I had no issue with any of them when it comes to fading, as long as they are kept away from direct sunlight.

Direct Sunlight Test:

Paints from most markers in this article were exposed to direct sunlight for 10 days.

The results:

Lightfastness test for marker pens Marker pens lightfastness test

Conclusion:

The marker pens that did not fade from direct sunlight are POSCA, W&N Pigment Marker, Faber-Castell PITT, W&N Watercolour & Liquitex.

It is a good practice to hang drawings and paintings away from direct sunlight. If they are not displayed, they should be kept in a drawer, cupboard or any storage that protects them from light and moisture.

Example:

Here is my Smurf drawing after exposure to direct sunlight, for more than a year.

Some colors are completely gone, while others are highly desaturated.

Smurf marker drawing exposed to direct sunlight Before & after direct sunlight

Blender Marker

Most marker brands provide a blender marker that is actually a marker with colorless liquid for mixing colors.

A liquid layer for blending can be applied before or after coloring with markers.

In addition:

Copic alcohol-based blender Paint outside the outline
Copic blender marker for mixing colors Partially erasing with blender

Pens for Outlines

When drawing comics, the outlines are made using a technical pen (also called fineliner).

To find out which are the best pens to use with markers, check out my review on drawing pens for artists.

Paper Sheets for Markers

As noted above, painting with markers is done on suitable paper that is smooth, does not absorb paint, and allows for smooth mixing between shades.

Most marker brands provide paper sheets suitable for the same brand, but can be used with other marker brands.

Thin sheets of paper are convenient for training and testing different combinations of colors, and their price is low.

For paintings intended for sale or display, it is recommended to use thick sheets of paper that do not bend easily.

Paper sheets for pencil drawing and sketching can also be used, especially with alcohol-based markers.

Paper sheets for Pigment Marker pens Paper sheets for Pigment Marker
Paper sheets for painting with markers Paper sheets for markers

Marker Pens Storage

Marker pens can be stored in plastic bags or plastic boxes that can be left slightly open for ventilation.

There are designated cases for markers, but they are less effective for a large amount of markers.

Markers can be stored as color groups in order to quickly find the desired marker.

I store my markers in a horizontal position.

Markers stored in plastic bag Markers stored in a plastic bag
Markers stored in a designated case Case for storing markers

Highlighters

A highlighter is a marker designed to mark text so that the area around the text is highlighted and the text is still easy to read.

Therefore, highlighters come in bright neon colors, with high transparency.

Yellow color is the most common for highlighting.

Below is a review for recommended highlighter markers:

STABILO BOSS

Introduced in 1971, the STABILO BOSS highlighters are water-based. They come in 9 fluorescent colors and 6 pastel colors.

Stabilo Boss Original highlighter markers

See on Amazon

Faber-Castell Textliner

Faber-Castell highlighters come in a classic, rectangular shape or ergonomic shape with small bumps for a better grip.

Faber-Castell's highlighters are water-based.

Faber-Castell Textliner highlighters

See on Amazon

Staedtler Textsurfer

The Staedtler Textsurfer highlighters come in 8 colors.

Staedtler Textsurfer classic Highlighter markers

See on Amazon

Children & Highlighters

Children love to draw and paint from an early age.

For adults, highlighters are for highlighting text. For children, these are cool, shiny markers for painting.

A painting with highlighter by a child My daughter's painting with highlighters

Summary

Alcohol-based markers:

Different brands of alcohol-based markers can be used together.

Alcohol-based markers are usually higher in quality and price and are better for drawing comic books and manga.

Copic Sketch markers offer the widest range of shades, superior replaceable nibs, and they are refillable. They are expensive, but, in the long run, when using the refills, it pays off.

Water-based markers:

Water-based markers are less suitable for regular paper sheets.

Most water-based markers can be used together with a paintbrush and water.

Compared to alcohol-based markers, Water-based markers are relatively cheap.

Zig marker pens offer a nice variety of colors.

Other:

There are simple markers at lower prices and non-toxic markers for children.

Additional resources you might like:

My recommended YouTube drawing and painting channels.

*The marker pens review is based upon my personal experience. All marker pens in this guide are owned and tested by me, and all drawings were made by me.