Alcohol Markers for Coloring: Options for Various Budgets

I initially resisted alcohol markers, even though so many colorists raved about them.  I didn’t like the way Sharpies smelled, and thought they were all like that.  I found a small set of Bic Mark Its and they had much less strong odor, so I got their largest set.  They blended well and I liked the results.  No streaks like I got with water based markers, and different colors blended well into each other.  The paper didn’t pill and the colors were nice and bright.  I colored this page (from my book Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Encouragement, also available as an electronic download) with Bic Mark Its:Colored with Bic Mark Its Alcohol Markers The largest Bic Mark Its set was only 36 colors, and I loved the way they blended, but I wanted more range to work with.  After asking around and doing some research, I decided to try a small set of Spectrum Noir markers.  Like Copics (which are very expensive) Spectrum Noir  markers are dual tipped, refillable, and you can replace their nibs – but they are a more affordable price point than Copics.  Like Copics, they have a large color range (more than 200), you can buy them individually, in small sets of six or sets of 24.  The sets do not overlap, so you can build up your collection slowly over time without buying duplicates.  So I tried a small set.  And I really loved them!  It had so many colors to choose from and they also blended beautifully.  This page (from my book Simple Mandalas, also available as an electronic download) was colored with Spectrum Noir markers:Colored with Spectrum Noir Markers from book Simple MandalasI’m slowly building up my collection of Spectrum Noir markers.  They have expanded what I can do with markers and there are a lot of colors to choose from.  But I was left with a small budget set with limited colors, and a high end set with lots of color choices, but nothing in between for everyday coloring.   So I tried one of the mid range alcohol marker sets, the Sketch Set of 80 Alcohol Markers by Arrtx.  They have a good range of colors and they blend well.  They have numbers and this is what the colors look like sorted by number: Arrtx Sketch Markers 80 ColorsOf course, to be able to use them, I spent some time sorting them into colors and made a new color chart.  Arrtx Sketch Alcohol Markers Sorted by ColorAs you can see, they have a decent range of colors in the pinks, reds, blues, greens, and browns.  The only thing they seemed to be a little short on are purples/violets.  I used them to color the page below (from my book Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Encouragement, also available as an electronic download.) They were juicy (not one dry marker in the batch – I have heard that has been an issue with markers in this price range) they also blend well, and they come in a handy carrying case with labels on top so they are easy to store or take with you.   They are also dual tipped – have a broad tip and a fine tip. They are not refillable.  I recommend them as a good set of mid range markers for coloring.  I also made the color chart above into an electronic download for anyone who’d like to use it.  It’s available with my other electronic downloads. Arrtx Sketch Markers Set of 80 with color chartThe paper you use makes a big difference for alcohol markers.  Some paper, like office paper, is more likely to bleed outside the lines.  I color in the books with alcohol markers and they work fine, but whenever I print out or copy pages for coloring, if I’m using markers, I choose Georgia Pacific Premium Cardstock, in white, 110 lbs.  If you look closely, this paper has two sides: one is smooth (ideal for markers) and one that is lightly more textured, I use that side for pencils, or for markers with accents or additional shading in pencil (always add after the marker is completely dry!)  Remember to store your alcohol markers on their sides so they will last longer, especially these dual tip ones, otherwise one end will have too much ink and the other will be dry.  For the Arrtx makers, I just zip the case closed and set it on its side when I am finished using them.  And of course, alcohol markers bleed through paper, even cardstock, so always have an extra 2-3 sheets of paper behind whatever you are working on to avoid any permanent marker stains.

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