Alcohol markers are great for artists on-the-go. They’re compact, dry quickly and come in every color of the rainbow. The ink can be layered for intense effects, and it’s easy to blend with alcohol or blending pens while the paint is still moist. Some pens are refillable and have replaceable parts, for those who want the convenience and cost-saving benefit.
Some of the most common brands are Spectrum Noir, Prismacolor, Copic and Sharpie. Ink is suspended in an alcohol solution and is permanent and waterproof.
Just like painting with brushes, size matters when it comes to creating the proper shape and dimension of strokes on your paper. Markers are available with several different size nibs.
The chisel nib allows the artist to lay down large areas of color quickly. Fine point and bullet nibs are best for detail work, while brush nibs are long and flexible to create soft lines. Some manufacturers have dual end markers, so you don’t need multiple pens of the same color with different tips.
Some marker manufacturers, mainly artist-quality products, sell replacement nibs for their markers. When a nib shows fraying or distortion, it’s time for a replacement.
By using tweezers, it’s fairly easy to replace the worn nib with a new one and manufacturers provide replacement information for their various products. Some nibs have a soft outer covering and a hard inner core that must be removed.
Always keep the caps on your pens when not using them. Even for a teensy bit of time. Like, the instant you’re done with that color, snap the lid in place. This stuff dries fast.
Store the markers in a cool place away from sunlight and heat. You don’t want your markers baking in the reflected shaft of light beaming through a window. Storing the pens horizontally helps keep them from drying out. This is particularly important for dual-tipped markers.
Marker rack for storage is a good idea, as they are designed to hold the pens in a direction that optimizes shelf life as well as easy access while working.
You can use a wide variety of papers for your alcohol ink art work, but there are several supports made specifically for work with art markers.
One paper, Copic Marker-Coloring Foundations Art Paper, can be used in a printer to print line art you’ve created or downloaded for coloring. Since it’s made for markers, it’s compatible with alcohol blending and multiple layering.
Bristol board and uncoated cardstock are also good for alcohol markers, and glossy paper is another type of support you can use. Bristol board and cardstock absorbs the ink readily, while gloss paper resists the ink. You can build up depth of color with multiple layers to achieve really dark passages.
You’ll find that gloss paper gives a softer appearance and layering is limited. The softer appearance and lack of layering ability prompt many artists to use darker colors on this paper.