6 Best Alcohol Based Markers – It’s Not Just About Copics

Best Alcohol Based Markers Feature

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Today we are looking at the best alcohol based marker. This is a medium which has a big player that we are sure you will have heard of, but with a little digging we’ve also found a few gems that may also be of interest. We’ve also gone ahead and answered some of the most common marker related questions, as well as letting you know what to look for if you decide to go marker shopping on your own.

Hopefully, this article will be a one stop shop for all your marker needs!

If you are interested in other types of markers you might want to check the recent rundown of our favourite watercolor markers.

In a hurry? Here are our favorites

Best Alcohol Based Markers

Here is our look at the best alcohol based markers. We have done our best to cover the range of prices, while maintaining a high quality. These are all markers that you can trust and will help you to create some great art work. 

Copic Sketch Markers

Copic Sketch Marker Set - Basic Colors, Set of 12

It should be no surprise that the first markers that we are talking about are the Copic Sketch Markers. These are the default choice for many in this medium. The markers are generally considered the best alcohol based markers that you can buy, and for good reason.

For those looking to get their first copics we recommend the basic colors set of 12. This is a set that contains a good range of colors that will enable you to have a go with these markers before going all in.

The markers themselves come in with the professional quality that you would expect for such a brand. With each pen coming with two versatile ends, a brush nib and a broad nib. The pen should have you covered for all your design and illustration needs. Copic also excels at the little things – Such as he markers are designed in such a way as to prevent them rolling off of the table. 

The area in which the copic sketch markers really shine is in use. These markers are really a cut above the competition in some key areas. Firstly, these markers blend effortlessly. This paired with the smoothness of the pen stroke make them a real joy to work with. That’s not all either. Users often report that the pens do not bleed in the same manner as other pens when the nib is left on the page for too long. With the color being drawn down instead of bleeding out.

Honestly, the only real downside of the copic sketch markers is their price. Though the markers do give the value that you pay for them, the money may be a step too far for some. In short, if you can afford it. Buy these markers. You’ll love them. 

Blick Studio Brush Markers

Blick Studio Brush Markers - Assorted Colors, Set of 24

Moving on from a marker where price is the only downside, to a marker with a very attractive price. The easiest way to describe blick studio brush markers is as the “no-name” cereal that you cannot tell a appart from the branded stuff. These pens are just great but not in a flashy way.

The markers themselves give you no indication of their affordable price. They produce some wonderfully vibrant colors. Blend in a way that is honestly comparable to the copics, and just generally do the job that’s needed of them without any fuss. The brush tips are also pretty steller, with a nib that seems to be particularly resistant to fraying. They also have a colorless blender pen on offer, which is a really handy tool to have on hand. These markers really have it all. They’re even refillable!

If you want the best bang for your buck, and a set of markers that almost takes the crown of best alcohol based markers at the fraction the cost of the competition. Then the blick studio brush markers are a great option.

Spectrum Noir Illustrator Markers 

Spectrum Noir Illustrator Markers - Basic Colors, Set of 6

The Spectrum Noir Illustrator markers are a great option for those that are looking for a way to dip their toes into the world a alcohol based markers

The markers themselves are available in various sets, with a range of different color selections. Dual tipped with a brush tip on one end, and a fine nib on the other. These markers have been designed specifically so as not to roll off a table. We also think they look great! The markers perform well, with nice colors and are applied evenly and easy to blend. 

The reason that we have framed these as a starter is due to the way they are sold. With pens only available in sets, this limits the usefulness in the long run where you may want to increase your tool set by buying specific colors. That being said, the Spectrum Noir Illustrator markers are still well worth checking out, a great offering that is available at a very reasonable price.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen Set - Gift Box Set of 24

Faber-castell is a brand that you will definitely be familiar with. The art supply giant brings it’s Pitt Artist Pens to the alcohol marker world. The markers are a comprehensive offering. With a large range of colors available, as well as a selection of different nibs to choose from. Faber-Castell also adds some professional level features to these markers, with there being lightfast. This means that the work done with these markers will not fade over time when exposed to light.

Overall, the Pitt Artist Pens are a great choice. They are definitely worth a look and could also make a great gift for a budding illustrator, with their gift marker sets coming in a handsome faux leather box which also doubles as a pen stand.

Prismacolor Premier Double Ended Brush Tip Markers

Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Brush Tip Markers - Brush-Tip, Set of 48

The Prismacolor Premier Brush Tip Markers are probably the markers that are most commonly pitted against the Copics for the title of best alcohol based marker , and for good reason too. 

These are another brand of marker to have a look at if you are looking for the very best. Each marker features a doubled ended design with a large brush tip on one, and a fine nib on the other. The Prismacolor Premier Brush Tip Markers match the copics in most important areas, even outclassing them in some key metrics. With the vibrance and consistency of color being one of the main reasons that many have named these markers as their favorite.

Winsor & Newton Brush Markers

Winsor & Newton BrushMarkers - Student Designer Colors, Set of 24

Winsor & Newton is another one of those brands that will show up every time you are looking to bolster your art supplies. Their brush markers are attractive in more ways in one. For starters there are some really cool options in terms of sets, such as the new student designer colors set of 24. These sets are tailor with a  certain use case in mind. With the option to add other colors by buying individual pens. Secondly, these pens just look amazing. What a texture black plastic contrasting nicely with a band which very clearly indicates the pen color.

Lastly, and most importantly, these pens are attractive because of how good they are in use. The markers themselves come with a chisel nib and a brush tip on either side of each color. The ink flows well from each of these ends, producing a pleasant color without any streaks.

The markers are generally a solid choice. One of the perks of going for the student designer colors set is that the markers come in a handy wallet carry case, which makes that great for drawing on the go. The case also sits at angle on a table, working great as an easy access marker holder. Very well thought out.

Buyer’s Guide – Finding the Best Alcohol Based Markers 

With alcohol markers having become such a popular art form over the last few years, this has brought with it a multitude of different different marker brands and series. This little guide aims to walk you through all the things that you will need to know as you go out to try and find the best alcohol markers.

Color

Color is really important, we are hoping to create art all. This is especially true when using alcohol markers as they tend to dry really quickly on the page. While blending is possible, and a key skill that you will learn as a marker artist. Things are a lot easier when starting with the right tools. 

Image of sack full of markers
Photo by Ryan Ancill 

The key thing to look for when getting markers is making sure that there is a large range of colors available for the series that you are entering. You don’t have to get them all at once (or ever), but there is nothing worse than trying to find a particular color marker to go with your existing set and finding out that one doesn’t exist.

In a similar vein, when getting started it’s important to have a balanced and varied variation of color. You don’t need to go mad to start, you’ll be surprised what you can do with 10-20 markers. If you aren’t sure what selection to go with, buying a set of markers will be a huge help. These sets are put together by professionals who know what the most regularly used and essential colors are. 

Refillable Markers

We think refillable markers are definitely the way to go. Not only does it save the hassle of trying to find new pens when one of yours runs out. But it’s also better for the environment. No need to throw away a perfectly good pen to create plastic waste when it could just be refilled.

Nibs

Similarly, replaceable tips are also a great feature – again as a way of minimising the amount of waste produced, but also as a way of giving a marker a new lease of life and making it feel like new. Marker nibs can become worn over time, especially with heavy use. So being able to replace them can be a real cost saver. 

Blendable

One of the great advantages of using alcohol based markers is the ability to blend the colors. You want to make sure that the markers that you choose are not going to work against you in this regard. Make sure to look at the reviews to see how a particular pen performs.

Frequently asked questions

If you are going to be parted with your hard earned money it makes sense that you might have some questions. We want to make sure that you not only get the best alcohol based marker for you, but also that you get the most possible out of them. Here are some of the questions that we get asked most frequently.

What paper is best for alcohol based markers?

It’s really important to draw on the correct surface when using markers. They work best on smooth cardstock for a couple or reasons. Firstly, a smooth surface allows the marker tip to move freely across the surface. Paper with a tooth can often accelerate the wear of the tip causing it to fray. The use of cardstock is advised because of the alcohol solvent used. When used on normal paper alcohol markers are prone to bleeding through.

Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Pad - 11'' x 14'', Smooth, 20 Sheets

If you are looking for paper you can’t go wrong with the Strathmore 300 series bristol pad. It’s a paper that fits the bill well, and many use it regularly for their marker illustrations.

With all that said alcohol markers are actually quite versatile and can be used on lots of different types of paper as long as it is smooth and not too thin. 

What’s the best way to use alcohol markers?

The best way to use any media is to go ahead and have a go. Make mistakes and learn from them. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • First and foremost have fun. This may sound silly but the single best best predictor of improvements in a skill is time spent practicing. And who’s actually going to do something that they don’t enjoy. Draw the things you feel like drawing, experiment, and stretch yourself. Mistakes are your friend, just try to learn from them.
  • Make sure that the area you are trying to blend is still wet with ink. The alcohol solvent in alcohol based markers dries quite quickly, but if you make sure that there is a bit of moisture in the area you are trying to blend, you will see a great improvement in the gradient and smoothness of your blends. 
  • If you are looking for a blend with a natural look, it’s best to go from the lightest color through to the dark. This will allow you to produce a smooth and natural progression of color. You can blend out any harsh lines with the lightest color in the range.

How do I look after my alcohol based markers?

Markers aren’t cheap. So when we get a set that we enjoy it’s best to make sure that you do everything to keep them in top shape. Now there are a whole bunch of cleaning techniques and ways to revive a dead pen but it’s best not to let it get to that. You can prevent the worst by keeping two simple things in mind.

  1. First, you should store your alcohol based markers horizontally. This prevents the pooling of ink in one of the ends and allows for the even flow of ink when you pick up your markers again.
  2. Keep your pens away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can play havoc on both the plastic casing and ink of your marker. Light will over time degrade both, meaning that you will require a replacement much earlier than otherwise.

Quite simple really. This along with some common sense, i.e. making sure to cap your pen properly when not in use, should mean that your markers remain useful for the long haul. 

What are cheaper alternatives to copic?

Copic markers have become the default name in the markers world in recent years, but they can be a bit pricey. A good alternative for the copic is the Blick Studio Brush Marker. These are markers with a remarkably similar quality to the copics but at a fraction of the cost. Sure you lose the brand name, but in terms of use and results that these markers can produce, you’d be hard pressed to spot the difference.  If you want more alternatives check out our rundown of the best alternatives to copic markers.

Where can I buy alcohol markers?

There are a whole array of places that you can buy alcohol markers on the internet and in person. Our favorite is the art store Blick. With in person stores and a great website to order from. Blick is a well renowned and reliable art supplies store. You can’t go wrong with them.


Conclusion

Well that’s it. We hope you’ve enjoyed our compilation of the best alcohol based markers. There are so many great markers out there, and with our tips and tricks you will be drawing like a pro in no time. 

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