Do you remember coloring with markers as a kid? Maybe you had an awesome collection of vibrant Crayolas that you’d use when drawing? While we often associate markers with childhood, they still come in handy today—especially if you’re an artist who loves sketching or consider yourself an adult coloring book enthusiast.
There are many great reasons to try art markers. One is because of how easy they are to use and their portability. Whether you’re staying in your studio or drawing on location, it’s effortless to grab a handful of the hues that you’ll need and put them in your bag. And speaking of colors, many artist marker sets come in packs of 12, 18, or even 60 pens, so you’ve got a variety of hues at your disposal. For pigments that you don’t have, many markers—like Copic—allow you to blend like you would colored pencils.
Types of Artist Markers
Two of the most popular types of artist markers are pens that are alcohol-based or water-based. Each type has their own characteristics that are essentially the opposite of one another.
Alcohol-based art makers comprise a combination of pigment and alcohol. They are known to dry quickly and are permanent—meaning that if you apply water to them, they won’t smudge. There is a downside to alcohol-based markers, however; they sometimes have an odor. If they have a strong smell, it’s best to use them in a well-ventilated area.
Water-based markers contain, as their name suggests, water (or a combination of water and glycerin). They are often not permanent and will bleed if water touches them. But, they are odorless which makes them great for kids—just make sure you let them fully dry.
Best Art Markers
Copic 12-Piece Sketch Basic Set
Copic brand is one of the most popular artist markers out there. An alcohol-based ink, the colors are non-toxic and are refillable once you’ve used all of the pigment. They are more expensive than other brands, but people who use them understand why they are so pricey. “They are INCREDIBLE,” one reviewer writes. “Coloring with them is a similar process to watercolor, where it's all about layering and blending. The markers go on smooth and wonderful and they are able to blend with similar colors beautifully.”
Copic 6-Piece Skin Tones Sketch Set
This set is the same great Copic-brand markers but tailored to skin-tone colored hues. It's perfect for drawing portraits!
Staedtler Double-Ended Fiber-Tip Pen Set of 36
Staedtler's double-ended pens are like two markers in one. Each utensil features a fine nib on one side and a broad nib on the other, so you have more creative flexibility in your coloring.
Uni-posca 16-Piece Paint Marker Pens
In the world of art markers, Uni-posca (aka Posca) has been gaining traction in creative circles. They are water-based pigments that are lightfast and waterproof—but they don’t bleed if they have water applied once dried. Their opaque felt tip can even write on a variety of surfaces including metal and plastic; reviewers on Amazon say they’ve decorated things like their Gameboys and surfboards.
Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens Set of 12
These brush pens by Sakura are perfect for illustrators. They feature flexible nibs that allow the user to create fine, medium, and bold strokes depending on how much pressure they apply to the pen. Plus, these utensils are completely odorless.
Winsor & Newton Promarker Brush Markers Set of 6
This set by Winsor & Newton features six alcohol-based markers that are ideal for rendering and shading. As dual-nibbed pens, they feature a fine nib on one side and a brush tip on the other.
Ohuhu 36 Colors Dual Tips Markers
Ohuhu has created a set of dual-ended markers that feature a broad tip on one end and a fine-liner on the other. This makes it easy to move from precise highlighting and underlining to drawing with thin lines. These pens will go the distance, too. This particular set allows you to color in at least 984 feet worth of drawings.
Prismacolor 12-Count Double-Ended Art Markers
Prismacolor remains one of the top brands for artist supplies. This highly-regarded set is a great deal for the quantity as well as the quality of markers; the alcohol-based, dual-tipped pens come in 12 rainbow hues that beginners or professionals alike will be happy with. “You can tell these are artist quality,” one reviewer shares. “I have already been able to achieve things in this medium that I previously didn’t know was possible. For example, it was relatively easy for me to figure out how to colour without streaking, something I found impossible with other markers and therefore didn’t know was an option.”
Tanmit 40 Dual-Tipped Brush Pens / Art Markers
Another set of double-ended markers, Tanmit brand gives you an incredible amount of colors for a reasonable price. Both tips are on the narrower side—one is a brush style while the other is a pen—so they are ideal for sketching or filling in your art journal.
Feela 100-Count Watercolor Dual Brush Tip and Highlighters
Looking for a ton of colors? Feela has it with their watercolor pens. Designed for both broad strokes and fine-detailed work, the water-based ink blends smoothly and won’t bleed through your paper (unless you go over the same spot multiple times). If you’re an adult coloring-book enthusiast, this could be the set for you. The consensus among reviewers is that this set is great for casual coloring.
Faber-Castell 12 Pitt Artist Brush Pens
Faber-Castell is another brand synonymous with artist-quality supplies. Their PITT Artist Pens combine a synthetic brush nib with traditional India ink. The results are “deep and true color” pens that are fade-resistant and waterproof.
Caran d'Ache Fibralo Marker Set of 30
Sketching, drawing, coloring—the Fibralo Markers by Swiss art company Caran d'Ache can do it all. Each marker contains water-soluble ink that is vegetable-based, non-allergenic, and won't bleed through paper. Plus, even if you forget to put the cap back on, these durable pens retain their vibrancy for up to seven days.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens Perfect Blend Set of 20
Tombow markers are among the most popular double-tipped pens out there. The hard nylon tip allows you to draw fine lines and lettering, whereas the fiber brush tip can fill large spaces with the odorless water-based ink.
Chartpak Landscape Marker Set of 25
Instead of a dual-tipped marker, Chartpak has designed a single nib that allows three distinct line weights with just a shift of the wrist! These markers go from a fine point to medium weight and even broad strokes.
Windsor & Newton ProMarkers Student Designer Wallet Set of 24
If you're looking for markers to use in design, comic art, or illustration, Winsor & Newton's ProMarkers are the way to go. These dependable tools provide even application of permanent, alcohol-based ink and are available in a wide variety of sets and colors.
Remember: Have Fun and Never Stop Creating!