Watercolour markers are an incredibly fun medium to draw and paint with. Artists can achieve the precise and satisfyingly bright, vibrant and smooth effects of markers, to create illustrations. With the addition of water, watch the colour disperse across the paper to create delicate, fluid watercolour effects.
There are lots of different brands of watercolour markers and they all have slightly different qualities. In this review, find out how the different brands compare and find the best watercolour markers for your art practice.
This is an art medium that is great for students, as well as professional artists. One other great use case of watercolour markers, is for travel. They are much lighter to carry around than tubes of watercolour paint and a brush, plus they’re far less messy.
So, if you’re looking for the best watercolour markers for artists on the go, this review is for you!
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Winsor & Newton ProMarker Watercolour Markers
These watercolour markers from Winsor & Newton are double-ended, with fine and brush tips. They’re filled with high-quality, water-based ink that is non-toxic, acid-free and lightfast. These attributes make the pens professional quality, as the highly pigmented colours are resistant to fading. These are one of the only watercolour markers on the list advertised as lightfast, so you can be sure that the colours in your drawings will last. When using other types of markers that are not lightfast, make sure to frame them behind museum glass, so they stand the test of time!
The pens come in 36 vibrant colours and sets of 6 or 12. For example, choose the set of landscape colours to create wonderful organic hues and designs in your drawings. The brush tip is great for creating loose, painterly effects and blending. Whereas the fine tip enables artists to create tiny details.
These markers are a great choice for mixed media artists as they are compatible with watercolours and regular art markers. Simply dip a brush in water and wet the marker on the paper to turn your drawings into paintings. Use various watercolour techniques, like lifting, blending and washes with the pens.
Winsor & Newton ProMarker Watercolour markers are cheaper than Albrecht Dürer markers, but more expensive than some of the student grade options on the list.
Caran d’Ache Fibralo Brush Markers
These water-based markers are filled with vegetable-based ink, with fibre-tips. The pens come in a broad range of 72 colours, which are easy to blend to create soft gradients. Caran d’Ache Fibralo Brush Markers have one tip, a medium brush tip that will maintain its shape over time. The Caran d’Ache colours seem to activate more easily with water compared to Winsor & Newton, however you will still see some residue of the lines beneath, unless you work a little harder to brush them away. Make sure to choose a good quality paper, if you want to achieve smooth washes free from pen lines, as thinner papers have a tendency to pill.
This is a good choice for professional artists, illustrators and designers as the high-quality ink is fade resistant. The markers are also compatible with other water-based media, so you can use them in mixed media illustrations.
Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Markers
Albrecht Dürer watercolour markers are very similar to the Winsor & Newton ProMarkers. They are also double-ended, with fine and brush tips. And they contain high-quality, water-based ink that is used by professional artists.
The main difference between the two brands is the colour selection. Albrecht Dürer markers come in 30 colours, compared to 36 for Winsor & Newton. However, the Albrecht Dürer makers come in larger sets, which is more convenient for those wanting to buy in bulk.
The shades are also slightly different, with Albrecht Dürer offering a greater variety of muted tones. However, the colour selection is diverse.
The colours are bleed-proof but should be used on watercolour paper for the best results.
Arteza Real Brush Pens
Arteza Real Brush Pens nibs are made from nylon, which gives more control when painting. You can achieve different widths of line, just like when using a paintbrush. The nylon tips also spring back into their original shape, making them more durable than other brush tips on the market.
If you’re apprehensive about starting with watercolour paints, these are a great place to start. They mimic the feel and effects of watercolours, but they’re easier to control and you have the option of using them like regular markers. Artists can choose to apply them to a watercolour palette first, then use a wet brush to pick up the colour and paint it onto the paper.
These pens are filled with water-based ink that is also non-toxic. The 48 colours come in a plastic case, which is great for travelling or storing away neatly. The only drawback with these pens, is that they’re not double sided, however, the brush tip allows artists to vary line thickness, by applying more or less pressure.
Arteza Real Brush Pens provide great value for money, as they are cheaper than the Winsor & Newton and Albrecht Dürer markers. They come in 48 colours, which is more than some other brands on the list and these colours blend beautifully. Grab a brush and some water and blend the colours into one another to create smooth gradients and soft edges.
Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush
Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens are another great choice for those looking for a watercolour marker with a brush tip. These pens have an extra fine bristle tip, which is great for creating detailed drawings. The fine brush tip allows for excellent control over the ink and although the pen has only one side, it has a flexible tip that brings variety to drawings, allowing artists to create painterly effects.
The Zig Clean Color markers come in a large variety of sets, from portrait colours to smoky colours, pop colours and more. These pens are perfect for travel, as they are portable and can be packed away easily in a pencil case or roll. Kuretake have recently added some new exciting colours to the line, including a variety of purples and greens and they also make a blender pen. Per pen, these are one of the cheapest options on the list that also provides artists with a quality drawing tool.
Another positive attribute of these pens, is that they come in a huge array of colours, with 80 colours, in total, to choose from. The Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens provide great value for money and are perfect for those who want a pen that offers excellent control, vibrant colours and colour choice, including fluorescents, pastels and more.
Marabu Graphix Aqua Pen Sets
These double-ended, artist-quality markers have a bullet and brush nib for added versatility. The ink is lightfast and odourless.
The fine bullet tip is perfect for outlines, details and contour drawings. This is the perfect pen for cartooning, illustration and manga art, due to the high quality, permanence and vibrance. The inks do not bleed through paper, however some artists report that these colours do not spread as well as other pen brands when water is added. These are not the cheapest on the list, but not the most expensive either.
There are 30 colours available in sets of 6, 12 or 24. If you’re just starting out with watercolour markers, it might be a good idea to choose a set of 12 first. This way, you can test out the colours and medium without committing to a larger pack.
Staedtler Double-Ended Watercolour brush pens
Staedtler’s Double-Ended Watercolour brush pens are perfect for creating drawings with control and precision. The fine bullet tip is perfect for contouring and drawing small details, while the flexible brush tip is ideal for painting and calligraphy.
The ink is water-based and non-toxic. The colours are vibrant and pigmented, but some users report that they are not as lightfast as other brands on the list. These pens come in a set of 12, which is a good number to start with if you’re new to watercolour markers.
The nib flexibility is good, which gives a decent range between thick and thin lines depending on how much pressure is applied to the brush.
Overall, Staedtler’s Double-Ended Watercolour brush pens are a great choice for students, beginners and hobbyists. The colours are also reasonably priced and come in a good selection to start with.
Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Pen Markers
The colour flow from the tip of the Royal Talens Ecoline pen is consistent and the colours blend wonderfully to create gradients and colour mixes. Hold the pen at an angle and apply a small amount of pressure to achieve thicker lines.
The colours are dye based and vibrant. They are also long lasting; they hold a lot of ink owed to their larger size. The colour choice is excellent, with pastels, primaries and more, so you can create an artwork with a wonderful range of tones and hues. Blend the colours with the addition of water and create beautiful watercolour effects.
Use these pens on a variety of surfaces, like watercolour paper or boards. Experiment with the range of colours, try a set or get a single pen to see if you like the brand.
Tombow Dual Brush Watercolour pens
Tombow makes an affordable and popular watercolour brush pen that is suitable for all manner of art projects and skill levels.
The dual nibs include one fine point nib, made from hard nylon fibres and one brush nib. The brush nib is soft and flexible, also made from nylon bristles. The ink is water-based and the tips can be dipped in water to create washes on the paper.
There are 108 colours available in sets, which is a huge range to choose from! The colour selection includes naturalistic shades, primaries, brights, pastels and more. There is also a colourless blender, which is the perfect tool for shading and smoothing colours.
These pens are great for a range of projects, from school work to adult colouring books. The Tombow Dual Brush Watercolour pens are an excellent choice for those on a budget or who are just starting out with watercolour markers.
What are the best watercolour markers overall?
For professional artists looking for lightfast colours, consistent colours and vibrant effects, the Winsor & Newton watercolour markers are the best on the market. These pens are made with high-quality pigments and dyes that won’t fade over time. The ink is also acid-free, so your artwork will still look great years down the road.
The Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Pens are a great choice for students and beginners. The ink is water-based and non-toxic. The colours are also dye based and long lasting.
For hobbyists and those on a budget, the Tombow Dual Brush Watercolour pens are an excellent choice. These pens have two nibs, a fine point and a brush tip. The ink is water-based and the colours are vibrant.
No matter what your skill level or budget, there is a watercolour marker out there that is perfect for you. So grab a set and start experimenting! You’ll be surprised at the beautiful effects you can create. If you’re interested in finding more brush pens to add to your toolkit, check out our review of the best brush pens for artists, including alcohol ink markers and more!