When it comes to art markers, there are a lot of different types and brands to choose from. So, how do you know which ones are the best? In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best art markers for both beginners and professionals.
Read the review to find out the details and how different art makers compare.
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Copic Sketch Markers
Attributes: double sided, alcohol based, permanent, non-toxic, 358 colours, refillable, nibs are changeable
This is a professional quality marker, designed for artists, illustrators and graphic designers. It is used in many professional settings, from fashion design to illustration. These pens are incredibly versatile, blendable and highly pigmented. When drawing, the colours look vibrant on the paper, yet they can be easily blended to create new shades and tones. These markers come in a huge variety of colours and tones, including skin tones, sky and sea colours and much more!
You can also buy medium round nibs that fit in the Copic Sketch pen, that are more of a bullet shape. These are sold separately and offer the ability to create fine details.
Overall, for professional artists, this pen is top of the line and one of the best quality marker pens you can get. It offers all the colours that Copic make and the medium round nibs offer great versatility.
Now that you know a little bit more about what these markers are, let’s take a look at some of the specific features of the Copic Sketch Markers.
The nibs: The nibs on these markers are double-sided, meaning that you can use them for both thin and thick lines. The nibs are also replaceable, so you don’t need to throw away the whole pen when the nib wears out. One side has a brush tip and the other has a broad chisel tip.
The ink: These markers use dye and alcohol-based ink, which is permanent and non-toxic. These pens are refillable with Copic ink, so you can replace the ink when your pen runs out. This can make these pens a sustainable option cost-wise and reduce the need to buy more pens.
The barrel: The barrel of the pen is made from plastic, which makes it light and easy to hold. The barrels are larger than Copic Ciao.
Copic Ciao Double Ended Art Markers
Attributes: double sided, alcohol based, 180 colours, low odour, permanent
These markers are similar to the Copic Sketch markers, however, the barrels are much thinner. This makes them easier to hold. They are double sided, with a wide chisel tip on one end and a brush tip on the other. However, dissimilar to the Copic Sketch markers, there are only 180 colours in this range.
These markers are cheaper than the Copic Sketch, making them more affordable for students, beginners and anyone who wants to save money! The reason the marker is cheaper, is due to the lower quantity of ink in the pen. Despite the fact that there are fewer colours, there are numerous sets to choose from, such as their brights set, pastel colours, primary colours and large set of 72.
Overall, these markers are great for beginners or those who want a professional quality pen at a more affordable price.
Copic Classic Markers
Attributes: double sided, alcohol based, refillable, nibs are replaceable, permanent, non-toxic, 214 colours
The Copic Classic is the original marker pen that started the company. It is a professional quality pen that is beloved by artists all over the world. These pens are double-sided, with a chisel tip on one side and a round tip on the other. The round tips enable artists to create consistent fine lines, which can be useful for line art work and precise illustrations. Use the chisel nib for filling in large areas like backgrounds and sky.
Just like the other two types of Copic marker the Classic art markers are wonderfully vibrant, blendable, pigmented and easy to use. The marker is a little more expensive than the Copic Ciao and around the same price per pen as the Copic Sketch.
The Sketch and Classic pens are both compatible with the Copic Airbrush System, so you can use your markers to create stunning airbrushed effects.
Copic Classic barrels are square in shape, feature a higher ink load than the Copic Ciao and come in 214 colours. These pens are the pen of choice for designers worldwide, including architects and fashion designers.
Prismacolor Premier Art Markers
Buy Prismacolor Premier Art Markers
Attributes: dye based alcohol ink, double sided, 156 colours, refillable, nibs are replaceable
These markers appear rich and vibrant on the paper, with smooth consistent ink flow.
The advantage of brush tip markers is that they are excellent for blending, Prismacolor markers come in fine and chisel tip and fine and brush tip options.
Prismacolor Premier Art Markers are dye based alcohol ink markers. They come in a set of 72 colours, which includes all the basic colours that you need for your illustrations.
Prismacolor markers are cheaper than Copic Sketch and Copic Classic Markers, however, Copic Ciao markers are cheapest when comparing the four.
The inks of these markers are not archival quality, so they will fade over time, with repeat exposure to UV.
Winsor & Newton ProMarkers
Buy Winsor & Newton ProMarkers
Attributes: double sided, alcohol based, permanent ink, permanent, non-toxic
Winsor & Newton ProMarkers are professional quality double-sided markers. They have a chisel tip on one side and a fine bullet tip on the other. However, they do manufacture another range of ProMarkers with a brush tip side.
These are versatile markers that artists can use on a range of surfaces, including paper, glass ceramic, wood.
Winsor & Newton offer different types of marker shades, including pastel, neon, metallic, translucent shades and their regular colours. The translucent shades are perfect for layering, to create depth and alter the colour profiles of previous layers.
The markers are available in 173 colours, which is a good selection. The pens are cheaper than Copic Sketch and Classic, but more expensive than Prismacolor Premier.
These markers are great for illustrators, designers, cartoonists and anyone who wants high-quality marker pens.
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens
Buy Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens
Attributes: waterproof, fade-proof, acid-free India ink, various tip sizes, 58 colours
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens are high-quality pens that are perfect for artists who want to create waterproof and fade-proof illustrations. The pens use acid-free India ink, which is archival. India ink uses pigments instead of dyes to make colour. This makes the ink more fade resistant. If you use ink bottles to create art, this could be the perfect replacement, or addition to your art toolbox, as these pens offer all the benefits of India ink, but with optimum control.
The Pitt Artist Pens are available in bullet, brush tips, fine and extra fine nibs. The extra fine tips are great for precise lines and the brush tips are perfect for varying the line width. The pens come in sets and are also sold as individual colours. Although the colour selection isn’t as large as Copic markers, the colours on offer are rich, varied and can be combined to make new tones.
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens are cheaper than Winsor & Newton and all the Copic Marker pens. These pens are ideal for artists who want to create illustrations that will last a lifetime.
artPOP! Infinity Art Markers
Buy artPOP! Infinity Art Markers
Attributes: double sided, alcohol based, water-resistant
artPOP! Infinity Art Markers are professional quality markers that are perfect for artists who want to create vibrant and long lasting illustrations. The pens use alcohol based ink which are vibrant and blendable. For artists who want to make comic or manga art at an affordable price, these are a great option.
The pens come in sets of 12, 24 or 36 and are not available as individual colours on Blick. The artPOP! Infinity Art Markers are available in chisel and fine nibs.
These markers are thick, compared to the Copic and have triangle barrels, which make them feel more ergonomic and comfortable to hold. The colours look bold on the paper and the pens hold a lot of ink.
Bear in mind that because the tips of the pens are on the thicker side, you might not be able to achieve the fine details that you would with some of the markers that offer fine tip options.
Blick Studio Markers
Attributes: double sided, brush tip, alcohol based, water-resistant, quick drying, smudge proof, budget friendly
This is another excellent quality but affordable option for artists who want a dual sided and vibrant marker. The brush tip allows artists to vary line thickness with pressure and is great for softly blending colours.
The markers are made with alcohol based ink, which is quick drying, smudge proof and waterproof. The ink is also fade resistant.
These markers are an excellent option for anyone who wants high quality at a budget friendly price.
ShinHan Touch Twin Markers
Buy ShinHan Touch Twin Markers
Attributes: Alcohol ink, odourless, double sided, brush tip
ShinHan Touch Twin Markers are artist quality markers that perfect for those who want an alternative to Copics.
The pens use alcohol based ink which is odourless, non-toxic and fast drying. These are a similar price to Copic Classic and so are expensive compared to some of the cheaper markers on the list. ShinHan offer fewer colours than Copic Classic, with 204 colours in their range. The colours are compatible with Copics, so if you want to switch up the brand you use, you can interchange them and use them both for completing drawings.
The colours are brilliantly bright and highly saturated. Ink flows from the chisel and brush tips smoothly, making them feel a joy to use. These markers come in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48 or 60 and are also available as individual colours.
The pens have a triangular barrel which makes them more comfortable to hold for long periods of time.
Another great feature of these pens is that they are refillable and the nibs are replaceable, so you spend less money over time when ink runs out.
Spectrum Noir Markers
Attributes: 216 colours, alcohol based dye ink, ergonomic design, double sided, fine tip
Spectrum Noir Markers are a good budget to mid-range option for artists. The pens come in sets and in 216 bold and beautiful colours.
Blend and shade with the huge colour range to create depth and mix primaries to create new tones. The blendability and vibrancy of these markers is good and would satisfy any crafter, student, or colouring enthusiast. The colours look even and smooth on paper and perform well in complex drawings with colour transitions.
The markers have a dual tip, with a fine tip for details and a chisel tip for covering large areas. The ink is alcohol based and so is fast drying, smudge proof and waterproof.
The ergonomic design of the markers makes them comfortable to use for those long colouring sessions.
Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens
Buy Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens
Attributes: budget friendly, brush tip, dye based, transparent
These budget friendly markers would be a great choice for students, with a one sided brush tip, artists can create a range of marks, from thick to thin.
The ink is dye based and transparent, so they would be perfect for layering colours to alter tones and hues. However, these markers are not waterproof and are not fade resistant, so they may not be the best choice for professional artists. However, these pens are odourless, so they are great for those who don’t like the faint alcohol smell of other markers.
Sakura Koi makes a blender pen, which is a great tool for creating colour gradients and soft edges. With this pen, achieve washes of colour that take on a delicate transparent appearance. For artists who enjoy creating subtle artworks with a painterly style, these could be a great option. For a review of the other best brush pens for artists, check out our guide!
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
Attributes: acid-free, archival, fine tipped, pigment, permanent, fade-proof
These incredibly popular, fine tipped, pigment ink pens are a staple in most artists’ toolkits. Because the ink is pigment rather than dye based, the ink will not feather or bleed through the paper. The results are smooth and consistent. This pen is perfect for line drawing, hatching and creating large pieces, as the pens do not run out of ink quickly.
For any artwork that requires thin, long lines or sharp details, these are the best option. They are also UV resistant, so if you’re a professional looking for an ink liner pen, these are a great option.
Sharpie Pro Permanent Markers
Buy Sharpie Pro Permanent Markers
Attributes: use on a variety of surfaces, permanent, fade-resistant, water-resistant
These markers are known for being incredibly versatile and hardy. The range of surfaces you can draw on with these markers is huge, from stone to leather and more. Artists and crafters can even draw on oily surfaces. It’s a multi-purpose pen that is use for a variety of applications.
Winsor & Newton Watercolour Marker
Buy Winsor & NewtonWinsor & Newton ProMarker Watercolour Marker Watercolour Markers
Attributes: highly pigmented, lightfast, 36 colours, double sided
These water soluble watercolour markers are professional quality, vibrant and lightfast. Use them in conjunction with Winsor & Newton ProMarkers, or with watercolour paints. Draw on the surface, then wet a brush and paint over the marks to see colours disperse, like watercolour paints. For artists who enjoy using watercolour media, these bridge the gap between drawing with pens and painting. These are also perfect to travel with, as they create less mess than regular watercolours and there’s no need to clean up palettes. Winsor & Newton watercolour markers are versatile, because artists can use them like regular markers, or add water to create delicate washes and whimsical painterly designs. For a review of other watercolour markers, check out our guide.
Best art markers for students
For students on a budget who want alcohol based ink, Blick Studio Markers are a fantastic option. Students who want to practice using industry standard brands could choose the Copic Ciao marker, which is much cheaper than the Sketch or Original. Faber-Castell Pitt Markers makes a great entry level marker, which is perfect for those who want to try out the medium without investing in a more expensive set.
The best art markers for professionals
Copic markers are the standard for designers and professional artists. However, they are not made from pigment based inks, so they are susceptible to fading over time when exposed to UV. Make sure to mount drawings behind museum glass, which is UV resistant when shipping to a gallery or client. If you’re making a drawing for scanning or photographing, to digitise, then Copic are a great choice. Faber-Castell Pitt pens are made from India inks which are resistant to fading.
Pigment vs dye markers
When it comes to markers, there are two types of ink—pigment and dye. Dye based inks will fade over time, whereas pigment inks are generally lightfast and will not fade. The particles in dyes are much smaller than in pigments and are therefore soluble in liquid. Whereas pigments are suspended in a binder, then thinned with a solvent. Many of the markers that are labelled alcohol based, will also contain oil as a binder.
Because most markers are dye and alcohol based, they cannot be classed as lightfast. Even Copic markers will fade over time when exposed to UV. Violets and purple tones are especially likely to fade quickly when in direct sunlight. So be careful about how you display your work, if you’re concerned with the longevity of pieces.
Winsor & Newton watercolour markers and Faber-Castell Pitt art markers are the most resistant to fading of all the markers on this list. So consider getting those if you’re concerned about the longevity and potential fading of your work.
To protect artwork from fading, either hang behind museum glass, or place in archival boxes.
Alcohol based markers vs water based markers
Water-based markers are made with dyes suspended in water, whereas alcohol based markers are made with dyes that have been thinned with a alcohol solution.
Generally speaking, water based markers are cheap, hobbyist and kid-grade art supplies, whereas alcohol markers are for artists who want to invest in their supplies. However, you can get artist grade water based markers too.
The main differences in the working properties, is that alcohol markers will give more of an even coverage when layered on the paper. Water based markers will not have any fumes and will also be less likely to bleed through paper.
Most water based markers can be reactivated when dry, with the exception of the Faber-Castell Pitt Markers. This means that you can blend with a brush and create washes of colour. Use watercolour paper or marker paper with water based markers and only marker paper with alcohol based markers. Watercolour paper is more absorbent, so it is trickier to blend the fast drying alcohol markers. Plus they will unnecessarily absorb more of the ink, which is expensive.
Marker tip type
When choosing your art markers, there are several different tip types to choose from. Chisel tips are wide on one side and when twisted 90 degrees, they have a thin side. These tips are great for making wide lines, filling in large areas of colour, or making long straight lines.
With a brush tip, you can vary the line width depending on the pressure applied to the paper. With very light pressure, you can achieve a fine line, apply more pressure for a thicker line.
Both fine tip and bullet tip markers give a consistent and thin line. Bullet tips will give a slightly thicker line, however.
Make sure to use marker paper with alcohol based markers. Marker paper is less absorbent than regular art paper and much smoother. As a result, the colours will appear bright on the surface, blend more easily and less ink will be absorbed and wasted in the paper. Pens and paper are the only supplies you really need to make marker art, however, you can get some graphite pencils and kneadable erasers to plan the composition of your drawing before you start.
Now that you know about all the different types of art markers available, it’s time to decide which ones are right for you. Consider what type of project you’ll be working on, how much money you want to spend, and what brand you prefer. With so many great options available, there’s sure to be a set of art markers that’s perfect for you. If you’re interested in getting some more drawing pens, check out our review of the best drawing pens for artists, in the guide you’ll find fineliners, paint markers and more!