Graphic markers (also known as art markers) are an art medium preferred by many for uses such as illustrating, sketching and calligraphy. They are typically a large brush-tip pen, with a large internal tubing to hold the ink.
Art markers come in three different forms: alcohol-based, solvent-based and water-based.
Alcohol-based markers use ink that has been combined with alcohol. While these markers have a great durability and are waterproof, they dry out relatively quickly and have a strong smell to them which can be irritating to some. They can be blended together effectively using rubbing alcohol or by layering them.
A popular, well-known brand of alcohol-based markers is Copic Markers.
Solvent-based markers use ink that has been combined with a solvent, most commonly xylene, methyl isobutyl ketone, or butryl acetate. This form of graphic marker is durable but not quite as long-lasting as alcohol-based markers. They have a much stronger chemical smell that some find irritable to the lungs and eyes.
A great brank of solvent-based markers is Chartpak Markers.
Water-based markers use ink that has been combined with water. These chemical-free graphic markers are ideal for children because they don’t contain irritants, and are great for blending colours. They don’t dry down as quickly as alcohol-based and solvent-based markers, making them a great tool for those learning how to illustrate and draw. They create vibrant, colourful drawings and are extremely opaque when used on paper.
A well-liked brand of water-based markers is Tombow.
Why Use Graphic Markers?
Graphic markers are a great alternative to other art media such as watercolour, paints, pencils and biro.
There are endless advantages to incorporating graphic markers into your art work. Firstly, they’re very beginning-friendly. They’re generally very straightforward to use, and don’t require a lot of practice to get used to so they’re ideal for those learning how to illustrate and draw. Depending on the type of marker, they are usually easy to blend, and can be used on virtually any surface (especially solvent-based markers).
Graphic markers are easy to store (as long as they’re capped and in a cool, dark place) and there is virtually no preparation time when you sit down to draw. On top of that, they’re portable and pretty much mess-free to use, so you can take them with you on-the-go.
Many art markers are also refillable which makes it easy to top them up when they run out. They’re also quick-drying, which is excellent if you get slightly impatient waiting for your art work to dry!
The fact that they’re quick-drying can also be a disadvantage, especially for beginners learning how to illustrate. It means that it’s not as easy to correct mistakes as it would be with coloured pencils, for example.
You also don’t have the ability to mix colours before they hit the paper, which can prove limiting if you have quite a small collection.
In addition to this, markers (especially alcohol-based markers) tend to bleed through paper, so it’s important to protect your work surface or pick a thicker paper to work on. Graphic markers also have a tendency to fade in sunlight, so they aren’t great for displaying your work.
Uses for Graphic Markers
There are many brilliant uses for graphic markers. Here are a few of the most common.
Graphic markers are the perfect tool for calligraphers. Their flexible brush tips mean that a varying amount of pressure can be used to create varying thicknesses of line, which is perfect for elegant brush calligraphy. From wedding invitations and name card design, to brand font design and logo creation, art markers help beginner and expert calligraphers alike achieve their desired effect.
Lettering is another great use for art markers. Lettering is the art of writing single letters in any style, and, similarly to calligraphy, it can be used for a variety of things. Signage, logo design, illustrations, murals and font creation are all fantastic uses for lettering using graphic markers.
Illustrating is another area where graphic markers really shine. Their permanence and vivid colours make them the perfect tool for book, comic and magazine illustrations. When learning how to illustrate, art markers are an excellent tool as they are fairly forgiving and are easy to use.
Art markers are an invaluable tool if you love to sketch. Anything that you draw will benefit from a brilliant pop of colour, as art markers add a vibrancy that can’t be achieved with watercolour or coloured pencils. If you’re learning how to draw and how to illustrate, art markers are the perfect art medium for you.
5. Adding Depth and Colour
One of the reasons that graphic markers are such a fantastic tool that pair really nicely with other art media. They are brilliant for adding depth and colour to line drawings drawn with felt-tips or biros, or for combining with watercolour paints and acrylic paints.
Art markers add another layer and dimension to an art piece that is difficult to replicate with other media.
6. Costume and Product Design
If your job involves designing costumes or clothing, then graphic markers are a great addition to your collection. They’re easy to use, making them a great resource if you’re learning how to illustrate clothing, and are quick to set up and dry down which makes them ideal for getting your ideas down quickly on paper.
They’re also brilliant for product design as their blend-ability means that a variety of shapes and colours can be instantly drawn to reflect your idea.
Graphic markers are perfect for scrapbooking and journaling, especially if you love experimenting with colour. If you want to create lasting mementos of your holidays and special occasions, or make a great gift for a family member or friend, art markers are an essential part of your toolkit. Especially in combination with your photos, sketches, and lettering, markers are a brilliant tool for creating beautiful designs.
If you’re at school or university and struggle to take in lots of information when it’s writtem in solid paragraphs, then graphic markers will be a great tool for you! Separate out your revision notes with brightly coloured titles and diagrams, and inject a bit of fun into exam revision!