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On working with markers

Because I have nothing better to do (besides studying), I figure that a quick ramble on markers would clear my head.

When most people think of markers, their train of thought goes on in two directions:

  1. Crayola markers (nothing wrong with them, since I have seen brilliant work with them)
  2. Super expensive imported markers

It must be said that tools DON’T make the artist. Since last year, I have been experimenting with several brands of markers, some cheaper than others. Needless to say, quality art comes from the level of skill you have with them. Here’s a quick summary of the brands I’ve tried out with pros-cons.

  • COPIC Sketch markers These coveted markers are everything they tell you and more. My hun gave me some for my birthday and I proceeded to try them out asap. The Brush point is deliciously fluid and flexible and the colors are rich yet subtle. The Broad tip is small enough to fill small spaces (perfect for me since I work small). Their only con is their exorbitant price, they’re meant for people who plan to work full time traditional art, so DO NOT buy until you’re absolutely sure you’ll use them.
  • Prismacolor Markers These were my very first marker brand back when a 12 set cost $32 (ca. 2002) , and I kept adding to them one at a time until they all died out in my 2nd year of College. They don’t mix in layers as well as COPIC, in fact, you have to buy the marker with your specific shade before you can continue. Honestly, after the first set died out, I never went back to Prismacolor, but I will give them props for having a HUGE selection of markers available. Like COPIC, they have a high price that might not be affordable for the casual artist.
  • Blick Studio Markers I actually bought these on a whim when I felt the urge to reattempt marker art. They are incredibly affordable and good to start out. My favorite thing about them is their selection in grays; I bought Cool and Warm grays for under $35 (24 markers in all). Unfortunately, they require a bit of skill and a careful eye to mix properly, so they are excellent to get the hang of marker art.
  • CHARTPAK Markers Holy crap, these guys are amazing. I bought these in the Skin Set since the COPIC skin set was way out of my wallet’s jurisdiction. They are a little pricey ($55 for 25) but I honestly think they are worth every penny. They paint like watercolors, and like Blick Studio, need a careful eye to successfully pull off.
  • Inking Tools I’ve tried out many a brand of inking tools to figure out the best way to work with markers. The best affordable ones, in my opinion, are the Faber Castell series (please look for the SFMB as it is their most flexible) and Helix Ink Pens. I tried the quill pen method and found it to be way too slow and best for watercolor work, since it tends to get absorbed better in its paper. Sakura MICRON Pens are great but like anything with a Japanese brand, it tends to be out of reach. I’m planning on buying the COPIC Ink Set in the near future to try them out.

Note that you can buy all of this at your local art shop (I only know of one place that sells everything in Puerto Rico and it’s in San Patricio Plaza) or head on over to DickBlick.com to buy online (note: I’m not getting paid to advertise, I just really enjoy shopping with them :D). Hope this little guide helps you in your Christmas shopping.

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