Watercolor paints are a popular medium for both professional artists and hobbyists alike. But, let’s face it: they can be a bit inconvenient to use. While there are some portable watercolor sets out there, you still have to make sure that you have a palette, paintbrush, and a cup of water handy. If you get discouraged by all of the accouterments needed for watercolor painting, give watercolor markers a try.
As their name suggests, watercolor markers are essentially watercolor pigments packaged in the form of a drawing utensil. Available in sets of 12, 24, or even 48 pens, they are perfect for sketching and painting on the go. Best of all, they retain the same qualities of conventional watercolor pigments. Many brands of watercolor markers are formulated so you can blend their colors with water and a brush.
Looking for more drawing supplies? We’ve got you covered in our guide to the best colored pencils, best drawing pencils, and best artist markers.
What to Look for in Watercolor Markers
You’ll find a lot of similarities among watercolor marker brands. Most of the highest-rated marker sets have nylon brush tips that will give you a painterly stroke when you draw with them. Additionally, they have water-based pigments so that you can use your favorite watercolor techniques and special effects with ease.
There are, however, some markers that use oil-based inks. This means that you won’t be able to add water to your drawing and will instead have to blend colors using other oil-based ink markers.
Before you buy a set of watercolor markers, be sure to consider what type of drawings you’ll want to make. Do you still want the option of adding water to your artwork? If so, make sure to buy a set of markers with water-based ink. Or, would you simply prefer a painterly look to your drawing? If that's the case, then you'll probably enjoy using the oil-based markers sans water.
Best Watercolor Markers
ARTEZA Real Brush Pens (Set of 24)
ARTEZA brand brush pens boast the vibrancy and fluidity of watercolor with the ease of a pen. Their utensils have soft nylon brush hairs to give you a fine tip when drawing. They’re versatile, too. Use them for dry-brush, sketching, or add water to create your favorite watercolor effects.
Winsor & Newton Watercolor Brush Markers, (Set of 6)
This set of 6 Winsor & Newton watercolor markers are dual-tipped. On one end you have a fine nib for sharp lines, and on the other side, you have a brush edge for larger areas. Don't worry about sacrificing quality when you use their markers; the company intends for its pens to be the same high-quality pigments you’d find in their tubes and pans.
Kuretake Zig Historic Art Watercolors (Vincent van Gogh Set)
Inspired by artist Vincent van Gogh‘s masterpiece Café Terrace at Night, this set by Kuretake includes six pens matching the color palette of the painting. Each pen is dual-tipped, with one fine side for details, and another more brush-like side. The set also includes two sheets of blank paper so you can start creating right away.
Staedtler Easy Watercolor Brush Pen (Bird Set)
Staedtler curated a whimsical set inspired by the colors of birds. Inside the package are three watercolor brush pens, one black pigment liner, and one paint brush. It's the perfect little set to see what all of these tools can do for your art.
Kingart Watercolor Brush Marker Set
Kingart‘s set of 36 is ideal for both beginners and proficient artists. Each marker featuree flexible nylon tips that can create both fine and broad strokes depending on the angle and pressure applied. Plus, with so many hues to choose from, you're sure to be inspired for a long time.
Brite Crown Watercolor Brush Pens (Set of 24)
Paint the rainbow when you use this set of watercolor markers by Brite Crown. Geared towards art enthusiasts and professionals alike, the nylon brush-tipped markers are filled with watercolor ink that includes pastels, skin tones, and vibrant hues. In addition, the set comes with a refillable water brush so that you can blend the colors once they’re on paper.
48 Premium Watercolor Brush Pens (Set of 48)
Looking for an art supply gift set? This pack of 48 watercolor pens is a great present for the creative in your life. Like other brands, Doodle Hog says that their markers pack a lot of punch, color-wise. Reviewers agree. “I actually was shocked when I swatched these,” one person wrote, “and found them comparable to Tombows [a premium brand] in a waterbrush.”
24 Brush Pens for Watercolor Painting (Set of 24)
PaintMark brand brush markers are different than some of the other watercolor pens on the market. They use an oil-based ink which means you can’t blend them with water. They are, instead, intended to give you a watercolor paint effect. This difference makes them resistant to fading, smearing, and damage from water.
Watercolor Brush Pens (Set of 24)
This collection of brush pens by Reaeon is focused on helping you create watercolor effects in the ease of a marker. With its flexible pen tips and acid-free water-based inks, you can do everything from pastel washes to shading to gradients. And hand-lettering? You can try that “without fuss, muss, mess.”
Watercolor Brush Pens (Set of 24)
Like other brush sets, Castle Art Supplies has created brush pens with a nylon tip so that you can produce the strokes you want without having to break out your paint palette. But with 4.5-star reviews, the company has stood apart from other brands. Coloring book fanatics, in particular, love the markers for their bright colors and how similar it is to using a real paintbrush.
Faber-Castell Watercolor Markers (Set of 30)
Like Winsor & Newton, Faber-Castell has produced a dual-tipped watercolor marker that'll give you a variety of lines. The set of 30 hues is geared towards artists of all skill levels, but with the higher price tag, this might be something that serious watercolor artists want to try. But for those confident in their skills, Faber-Castell won’t disappoint. The water-based colors are odorless and do not bleed through most papers, making them a great option for sketching. But it doesn't stop there. Add water and try your favorite watercolor techniques like glazing, wet-on-wet, and the salt method.
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This article has been edited and updated.
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