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What Are The Best Art Markers For Professionals?

If you are in a hurry and want to know our recommendations on the best art markers for creative professionals, here is our list.

What kinds of professionals use art markers?

Art markers are used by a variety of creative professionals, from Illustrators and concept artists to architects, fashion designers, industrial designers, and more. What these professionals have in common when it comes to pens and markers, it that they require quality tools. But no matter what level you are at, if you are in a position to buy the best tools, why not do it?

Types of Artist Markers

Alcohol-Based Markers:
When you think about alcohol-based markers, it is likely that Copic or Prismacolor come to mind. Alcohol-based markers are generally considered to be higher quality than water-based. They are permanent, non-toxic, and the ink is blendable. Alcohol-based ink comes in a wide range of colors, hues and saturation levels.

Water-Based Markers:
When you think of water-based markers, you might think of children’s markers like Crayola. Yet, there are a number of other water-based markers, that creative professionals have in their toolkit. Even though water-based markers are considered to be of lesser quality than alcohol-based, there are benefits to water-based ink.

Paint Markers:
Paint markers are great for application on all types of materials. They are generally highly opaque and layer very well. The most popular, and my favorite, paint marker is undoubtedly Posca. Poscas are water-based pigment paint markers.

Copic Sketch

Pro-Choice Long-Term (Alcohol-Based)

Our favorite alcohol-based marker is Copic, the worldwide leader in professional artist markers. Copic features an alcohol-based ink that is non-toxic. The markers apply ink smoothly and dry quickly. Copics have the ability to blend and layer ink beautifully. With over 350 colors and 3 types of marker, Copic gives you an unmatched combination of quality and flexibility. 

Copic is more expensive than other brands. However, they provide good value for money, when you consider the ink is refillable and their dual-tipped nibs are replaceable. These are not your ordinary throw-away markers. They are serious tools for artists who demand quality and long-term value.

BENEFITS
  • High-quality permanent ink
  • Consistent ink flow
  • Ink dries quickly
  • Over 350 colors available
  • Great for blending
  • Good for layering
  • Long-term value with refillable ink
  • Long-term value with replaceable nibs
  • Compatible with Copic AirBrush System

Prismacolor

Enthusiast-Choice (Alcohol-Based)

Prismacolor markers are great for professionals and artists of all levels. The permanent and non-toxic ink is available in a wide range of 200 colors. They might not have the range of colors Copic offers. However, Prismacolors do offer brighter, more saturated hues. Prismacolor now features the art brush nib, which is similar to Copics Super Brush. Definitely an improvement over the bullet nib, you can now apply paint brush-like strokes.

Overall, Prismacolor markers are better for beginner to intermediate artists. Especially if you don’t want to think about maintaining markers long term, Prismacolor markers are a great option. In terms of price, the lower price in comparison to the Copics, for me isn’t low enough when you consider they are not refillable like Copics.

BENEFITS
  • High-quality permanent ink
  • New art brush nib
  • 200 colors
  • Available in sets or individual
  • Blendable
  • Color code system (on cap)
  • 4 pen types with different nib types

Tombow Dual Brush

Pro-Choice (Water-Based)

If you prefer to go with water-based ink, I recommend Tombow Dual Brush. These markers are not an alternative to alcohol-based markers like Copics. They are a different tool for a different job altogether. The main difference is that the ink is not permanent, and it does not smell. Another way to describe these markers is like watercolors in pen form.

The best part about Tombow markers is how the watercolor ink blends. Since watercolor ink dries much slower, it is more forgiving. You can mix different colors to create custom colors and beautiful gradients. In addition, Tombow sets come with a water brush, which is another way to create smooth blends.

One downside is that it doesn’t handle delicate linework very well. Reason being, the bullet nib had close to no flex. As a result, you can’t vary your line thickness. Even with the large brush tip, it can be difficult to control.

Overall, if you are looking for a cheaper, non-permanent marker that has excellent blending, Tombow Dual Brush is a great option.

BENEFITS
  • Nylon tips are long-lasting
  • Water-based ink
  • Scent-free
  • 96 colors
  • Sets come with a water brush for blending
  • Can mix in to create custom colors and gradients
  • Blendable

Posca Paint Marker

Pro-Choice (Paint/Water-Based)

Our top-ranked paint marker is Posca. An essential tool for creation and self-expression, it is used by hobbyists and professionals worldwide on all types of surfaces and materials. Posca ink is a non-toxic water-based pigment. The paint is permanent on porous surfaces and removable on non-porous surfaces such as glass.

Posca paint markers have a number of benefits for artists. First is the highly opaque ink. It layers so well, given artists the ability to create high-contrast pieces. Second, Posca offers so much flexibility. They have 8 different tip types and a massive variety of colors. Overall, Posca gives creatives the freedom of expression to create on any material.

BENEFITS
  • Can use on all materials
  • Replaceable and reversible tips
  • Water-based paint
  • 55 colors, 8 metallics, 6 fluorescent
  • Highly opaque, layerable
  • Mixable
  • Blendable
  • Available in sets or individual
  • 8 pen types

What To Look For In Markers

Type of ink:
Knowing what type of ink you need to the most important factor. In this article, we cover the 3 most common types. Alcohol-based, water-based and water-based paint ink. We cover the differences between alcohol and water-based inks below.

Ink Life:
If you use your markers a lot, you probably want a refillable marker. On the flip-side, if you don’t use them regularly enough, disposable markers are better suited.

Tip/Nib:
There are a few things to consider when deciding what kind of tip you need. First is the style of art you are doing. Do you need a brush-like stroke, do you need precision in tight spaces, or are you filling large areas? Another consideration with tips is durability. If you go through tips quickly, finding a marker with replaceable tips would be important.

What Is The Difference Between Water-based and alcohol-based markers?

The most straightforward way to describe the difference is that water-based markers feature a water solution, where-as alcohol-based markers use an alcohol and dye solution. This seems simple to understand. However, this difference in the ink-base gives artists distinct benefits and features, that should be considered depending on use.

Below is a general list of the main differences. Note: all markers perform differently.

Alcohol-based:

  • Alcohol solution
  • Mostly permanent/will stain
  • Generally more vibrant colors
  • Great for blending
  • Shorter drying time
  • Usually, offer replacement ink and nibs
  • Works a variety of thicker smoother papers (heavier weight sketchbook paper, smooth bristol, and cardstock)
  • Have mild alcohol scent
  • Usually more expensive than water-based markers
  • Markers often sold individually

Water-based:

  • Water or water/glycerin solution
  • Not permanent/wont stain
  • Watercolor like blending
  • Longer drying time
  • Generally no replacement ink or nibs
  • Usually works on a wider variety of paper
  • Mostly scent-free
  • Paper can clump up when ink is layered
  • Generally inexpensive compared to alcohol-based markers

Conclusion

If you are trying to level up your art markers, any of these markers is a good start. The four brands we recommend are reputable brands I’d say, have a go with whatever marker best meets your needs. If you like it, add more to your tool-kit from there.

Another consideration that should be taken when using markers, is the type of paper or sketchbook you should use. The fact is, regular sketchbook paper cannot handle most markers. If you want to know more about what paper to use, check out our article:
Best Sketchbooks For Markers

Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is Arturth's founder. A Senior Graphic Designer from the Pacific Northwest, he has a passion for art, design, and bringing people together through the creative process.

More posts by Camden Taylor