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art markers

Whether you’re a burgeoning graphic designer, creating your own comic book, or tackling colouring pages in your down time, it’s important that you have the right tools. In this article, we’ll help you determine which marker type works best for your artistic needs. We’ve got you covered when it comes to formula, tip shape, and blending ability, plus we’ll run you through some quick tips when using your own markers.

Overview

Don't know which art marker is right for you?

Markers have always been popular with graphic artists and manga illustrators, but not so much with hobby artists. Over time, the versatility of markers, along with their affordability and wide range of colours, have proved to be more and more popular with beginners and experts alike. This demand has resulted in a huge range of marker options on the market that can be tricky to wade through – but you’ve got us at Officeworks to help guide you when it comes to sketching and drawing markers.

Markers are cost-effective, versatile, compatible with other media types, not messy, and easy to use. Because of their quick-drying reputation, they’re convenient for use outdoors and on the go, from travel to urban sketching. Markers also have quick and easy application properties, making them well-suited to sketching, doodling, and colouring. With their ability to blend smoothly, they’re capable of photorealism and abstraction, among other techniques.

Not to mention the huge surge in adult colouring books that has taken over recently! Hobbyists love the wide range of colour choice, the often-comfortable barrel shape, and the convenience of different tip sizes and shapes. This demand has resulted in a huge range of marker options on the market that can be tricky to wade through – but you’ve got us at Officeworks to help guide you when it comes to sketching and drawing markers.

 

Art Markers

Exploring Art Markers

Water-Based markers

Water-Based markers

Water-based markers are more readily available and can be found in art kits for kids as well as artist-quality sets. Because they’re less prone to bleeding through paper, they’re a great option for colouring sheets and books,however they will warp the paper if enough ink is laid down. They’re also a popular option for hand-lettering. One of the most common brands of water-based markers is Tombow, who produce individual markers, packs, and accessories like blenders.

Water-based markers are cheaper, more likely to fade over time, odourless, and disposable. Sometimes, they can warp paper and they do not dry as quickly as alcohol-based markers. Water-based ink can also be re-activated using water, creating interesting wash techniques.

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Alcohol-based markers

Alcohol-based markers are usually more expensive but also offer a wider range of colours. They boast increased fade resistance, dry quickly, and are often refillable so you can avoid excessive waste and cost. Alcohol-based markers tend to have an odour and can bleed through paper, however the ink has transparency which can help create layering effects.

They are usually the preferred choice by professional artists thanks to their smooth blending and ability to create shades, tints, and ombres through layering. They are popular with graphic design artists thanks to their versatility. At Officeworks, you will find an extensive range of alcohol-based markers, from brands like Copic and Born.

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Alcohol-based markers
Art Marker Nibs

Understanding Art Marker Nibs

Bullet Tip

Bullet Tip

A bullet tip is common in kids sets and entry level markers. It’s good for bold lines but is too broad for fine details and too small for filling in large areas with colour. Bullet tip markers are an excellent choice for those new to drawing and sketching as the tips are durable and designed to withstand pressure, like being pushed hard onto paper.

They can produce streaks and do not have the same blending capabilities as high-quality brush or chisel tips, so they are best used as a starting point for newbies.

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Brush Tip

A brush tip, sometimes known as brush pen or marker, offers versatility. This unique shape can switch between thin strokes for detailed work and being flattened to fill in large areas. Brush tip markers are a good option for creating broad strokes of colour, whether it’s colouring books or illustrations. They’re a popular option for water-based ink as they can deliver soft washes over broad areas.

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Brush Tip
Chisel Tip

Chisel Tip

A chisel tip is one of the more common tips and is useful as you can use the edge for different purposes. Its wide and flat side is ideal for laying down lots of colour, while the pointy side is great for thinner strokes. Chisel tip markers are common in calligraphy and lettering art. They’re a popular option for alcohol-based ink and are common among graphic design artists.

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Fine Tip

A fine tip is small, thin, and perfect for precise lines, patterns, and details. They’re impractical for covering large areas and laying down lots of colour. Fine tip markers are used for writing, sketching, and drawing in fine detail. Fine tips are also a popular option for alcohol-based ink and are useful for graphic design.

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Fine Tip
Double Ended Tips

Double Ended Tips

With double-ended tips, you can get the best of both worlds! These kinds of markers have one ink reservoir with a different-shaped tip on either end. Many high-quality, alcohol-based markers are double-ended, most commonly with a brush tip and a chisel tip.

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Art Marker Techniques

Exploring Art Marker features and techniques

Blending

Both water- and alcohol-based inks are capable of blending, a technique that can really bring artwork to life. However, they can both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both can have different outcomes on different paper types.

When blending water-based ink, it’s important to note that excessive blending can warp or damage paper, so you should ensure that you’re using a suitable type of paper like one made for watercolours or markers. As well as blending with caution, of course!

When blending with alcohol-based ink, it’s easier to achieve a smooth blend but you have to move fast due to the quick-drying properties of the ink. Once your ink is dry, you shouldn’t risk trying to blend further as the dried ink is difficult to remove and will likely just result in darkened colour.

That’s why blending alcohol-based ink is perfect for smaller areas but not a great choice for large areas. However, one of the features of the alcohol-based Copic markers is that you can go back and re-wet your paper and blend your markers even after they’ve dried.

At Officeworks, we stock blenders, which are markers that don’t contain dye, making them clear and colourless.

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Water-based ink vs Alcohol-based ink
Helpful Tips

Tips for Using Alcohol-based Graphic Design Markers & Water-based Brush Markers

Using Alcohol-based Graphic Design Markers

 

  • When using alcohol-based markers for graphic design, try to use uncoated, smooth paper to avoid fraying the nibs of your markers or drawing uneven lines
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  • Because alcohol-based ink can bleed through paper, try placing your page on top of something porous – placing paper underneath will pull the bleed downwards instead of outwards, meaning your work won’t be ruined and the colours will remain vibrant
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  • Try working from light to dark and blending any harsh lines with the lightest colour; alternatively, you can work from dark to light for an abstract effect
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  • When using alcohol-based Copic markers, you can try working over the area with a lighter tone to facilitate a smoother blend
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  • When rendering, use the chisel tip to create quick strokes
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  • With these kinds of alcohol-based graphic markers, you can try your hand at creating cartoon characters and manga, freehand artwork, 3D shapes, shading, highlights, shadow work, and realistic fur and hair
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    Using Water-based Brush Markers

     

    • When using water-based brush markers, opt for heavy, absorbent paper like watercolour paper to avoid warping or disintegration when you use different techniques
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    • Work on small areas at a time as it’s easier to blend when the ink is wet
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    • Try your hand at soft washes on large surfaces by scribbling your marker on a plastic palette or plate and using a brush to apply it to your work – this will help you to avoid streaks
    • For a smooth blend, you can slightly wet the paper first before adding your colour
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    • You can vary the stroke width of your marker by using the tip for a fine line or applying more pressure for a thicker line
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    • When rendering, use the chisel tip to create quick strokes
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Discover our whole range of art markers
Here at Officeworks