For most artists and hobbyists, I recommend the Spectrum Noir Alcohol Markers as the best alcohol based markers for quality and affordability. A good friend who is a comic book artist agrees, but as a professional artist he uses Copic Sketch Alcohol Markers which are regarded as the very best high quality alcohol marker for artists. Read on for the rest of our picks and a short marker guide!
I absolutely love drawing and have been doing so ever since I was a kid. I started out sketching comics I used to read and coloring them in with markers. The best type of marker for that is an alcohol-based marker due to the superior blending ability. As you can imagine, without a high-quality marker, my coloring just won’t look that great.
There are so many options out there today, searching for the best alcohol marker brands on the market can be daunting. Luckily, my artist friends and I want to pass our knowledge on.
|IMAGE||BRAND||# OF COLORS*||NIBS||NIB |
|Copic Sketch||358||Brush, Chisel,|
|Yes||Yes||$80.99 set of 12 |
|Spectrum Noir||168||Brush, Bullet, |
|Yes||Yes||$50.99 set of 24 |
|Letraset Promarker||148||Bullet, Chisel, |
|Yes||No||$35.95 set of 12 |
|PrismaColor Premier||156||Brush, Chisel, |
|No||No||$30.99 set of 12 |
|Ohuhu Color Markers||80||Broad & Fine||No||No||$40 set of 80 |
*Click the number of colors to view the manufacturers color chart.
How Did We Come Up With The List
Typically we look for high-quality markers that are long-lasting, beautiful, and fun to color with. One thing we try to stay away from are markers that run, bleed or seep through the paper (though this also depends on the paper you are using), or are just messy to work with.
Between us, there was certainly some overlap in the marker sets we use. We managed to come up with five of the best alcohol based markers currently on the market. Each of our choices is high-quality sets of markers that offer many color options and usually a nice case to keep them all organized.
Whether you are an aspiring professional artist or just want the best markers for your adult coloring books, I can help you pick the right one for you! Check out the guide below if you want to know what artists look for in alcohol markers. Below the guide is a quick review of each pick.
How To Choose: A Guide to Alcohol Markers
Alcohol markers are used by many different artists, including stampers, paper crafters, and drawing artists who color in their work. Alcohol-based markers have special qualities that appeal to these types of artists. Most will agree, the best thing about alcohol based markers is the ability to blend different shades or colors.
This, of course, isn’t the only thing to consider when choosing a coloring marker that is best for you and the intended use. If you aren’t sure what to look for in alcohol base makers read on.
Alcohol Markers: How Do They Perform
- BLENDING: A color markers ability to blend is important as it helps create a gradient between the shades, creating both shadow and highlight areas in the image. When applying darker and lighter shades together, the artist can use the marker tips to blend or mix the two shades where they meet. Not all color markers will blend as well which is very important in creating high-quality images with smooth blends between the light and dark color groups. A quality blend-able marker will take your art a long way. Here is a great article on marker blending.
- INGREDIENTS: Alcohol-based markers typically contain two ingredients, dye and isopropyl alcohol. There is not much to the alcohol but the dye quality used in the marker will definitely impact the way a color marker will perform. The best coloring markers use superior dyes which have better color saturation, have a brighter appearance, and will blend better. This is something that is not exactly easy to determine by reading a label but is gleaned more through reputation.
There is also such a thing as a Blending Pen which contains only the alcohol, allowing you to smooth out gradients even more without adding additional color to the area. Blending pens can even be used to erase color to lighten or remove it completely.
- COLOR RANGE: Color range is very important for professional artists and serious colorists. Artists who use alcohol based markers will have an unlimited number of colors to work with if they are able to mix blacks and whites with colors, as well as colors with other colors. Since some manufactures offer a broader range of colors than others, you will want to consider your need for a broad color palette when determining which brand you should go with.
- MARKER NIB/TIP: The marker tip, also known as a nib, is another important piece as it allows the artist to lay different type of lines. Some nibs may have a dedicate line style while others may have the ability to lay color differently with different sides of the marker nib.
Alcohol Markers: Other Things To Consider
- COST: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your budget is constrained but you need many different colors it is something to consider. The cost to build a wide color palette of markers can really add up.
- REFILLS: Saving money by refilling them instead of purchasing a new marker is also a big plus as everyone has that favorite color that gets used most. Not every manufacturer offers the ability to refill their alcohol based markers.
- ACCESSORIES: Having the ability to replace marker nibs can be important as they can wear out before running out of color if you are hard on them. It is also cost effective to have multiple tips for often used colors rather than multiple markers. Some manufacturers offer an assortment of interchangeable tips while others do not.
The Best Alcohol Based Markers and Brands- Top 5 Reviews
Countless comic, manga, and anime artists prefer Copic color markers and it’s no secret why. Copic is the best alcohol based color markers for professional artists because they have the largest assortment of colors, the nibs are interchangeable, and you can refill them. These things alone will give you a very long working life of each color marker which is important for professional artists.
The biggest and most important reason professionals continue to choose Copic color markers is their superior blending and dye quality. Copics alcohol markers won’t over soak the paper which allows the ink to mix on the surface delivering perfect gradients between blended colors. These color markers also dry very quick allowing you to move around the art piece without worrying about smudges or runs. Pair a set with a Copic Blending Marker and you will be amazed.
For professional color artists who want the best color markers out the Copic is really the only way to go. Being the best usually comes at a premium price and the Copic Sketch is no exception. These are the priciest option on the list but it is a premium worth paying.
Professional artists expect this price premium but if you are a hobbyist wondering if it is worth it, consider this. Copic is such a high-quality alcohol marker and offers an array of replaceable tips as well as the ability to refill them, they will easily last you years and years. The initial investment is high but the longer you own them and use them, more you are getting for your initial investment. Lastly, I think it’s worth noting these are also the best alcohol based brush markers, as they resemble the soft paintbrush feel most.
If you are looking for a quality marker that still performs the Spectrum Noir is just that. The Noir has the second largest color palette on the list and features an array of nib choices which are replaceable. It is also the only other color maker on the list that allows you to refill the ink. Spectrum has provided a worthy alternative to the Copic Sketch if you need the best coloring markers at a more affordable price point.
For such an affordable marker, the Noir also blends really well. If you are blending colors that are very close to each other, the Noir blends extremely well. In addition to the multi-color packs, Spectrum Noir is available in sets of 6 like colors which makes blending easier if you really need a smooth gradient in a particular spectrum. The sets really take the guesswork out.
When coloring with the Spectrum Noir I also liked how quickly they dried. It allows you to work fast without worrying about messing up prior work. The dyes also seemed to be of nice quality and provide for good color saturation.
One thing to note about the Noir, is they only come with a broad chisel tip and a fine tip. If you want a brush style nib you will have to purchase it as an accessory which be an additional cost. The caps are also sometimes difficult to remove. Neither of those I consider to be a deal breaker but certainly worth noting. With such a great selection of colors, availability of refillable ink and replacement nibs, the Spectrum Nibs is another great option to consider against your needs.
The Letraset Promarker is yet another great color marker in the premium tier of manufacturers. Promarkers have the least amount of color options by a slight amount. What it lacks in options it makes up for in the vibrancy and bright contrast of available colors. These color markers have very little smell, colors don’t bleed across lines, and dry evenly.
The pen is comfortable to hold and contains a good amount of ink. Letraset priced the Promarker at a middle price range which makes it a very accessible high-quality artist marker. This would be a great choice for the color artist just beginning to build a collection. While they are not refillable, you can buy replaceable nibs adding life to the marker.
The colors are nice and the way the ink lays on the paper is great. These are certainly worth a try and while you may not replace an existing collection with these, it is a great compliment to an already established collection.
If you are just starting to put together a collection of markers, I’d definitely recommend you buy at least one of the six packs. They just may become the best art markers in your newly started collection.
You get just what you’d expect from a premium artist marker, in the Prismacolor Premier. Rich colors that lay smooth lines. Premiers achieve smooth blends between gradients, especially when used with a blending marker. Prismacolor also uses an ink blending that is especially resistant to fading.
Prismacolor Premier offers two options in tips, a chisel with either a brush or fine tip. When considering this as an option, know that nibs are not replaceable so what you buy is what you get. I will also note you cannot refill this marker either. You will find a wide and vibrant color palette for the Prismacolor Premier.
Providing artists with very high-quality ink and vibrant colors that contrast really well on paper are what stands out about this pick on our list. If you don’t need the ability to replace nibs or refill ink and are looking to try something new, these are worth it at their moderate price.
The richly saturated ink makes these a great option for stamping and priced well for such. Some have noted they tend to be a bit dry but this is easily remedied. Just saturate the nib with pure isopropyl alcohol a few times and let it sit 24 hours.
Ohuhu Art Markers are a great option for those only needing a cheap alcohol marker. Not everyone needs professional grade art markers, and for those people, this is the perfect option. At less than a dollar per marker, Ohuhu delivers a no-frills marker that colors great and has plenty of color options for the hobbyist.
You will notice the Ohuhu Art Markers only have a total of 80 different colors which is substantially less than the others. They do cover a wide range of colors and shades and most hobbyists won’t be lacking the right options. They do tend to bleed a bit more than the others which are expected and likely due to a higher ratio of alcohol.
Given the price of these and the great vibrant colors, I think these are the best markers for adult coloring books, enjoyed by so many casual hobbyists. Lately, I have seen a ton of new cheap alcohol marker brands pop up but these are certainly the best markers in the bunch.
I hope you found the list and guide useful. I’d love to hear what others think and if there are any up and coming brands I should try out!