Quick Review: Types of Markers for Coloring
I’ve noticed David has mentioned quite a few different brands of markers that he has used in his coloring. I’ve asked him to write up this summary of the markers he’s used and what he likes or dislikes about them. I’ve added a few factual notes about each time of marker, and handy links to buy them on Amazon. Click a heading to search Amazon, or see our top picks below each section. Shopping our affiliate links helps pay for this site and bring you more product reviews. -Sue
Like myself, many colorists use markers in their work either exclusively or combined with an arsenal of pencils and gel pens. You can cover a lot space in a short time or use fine-liners for the more intricate. While not a professed expert, I would like to share some of my thoughts and findings with the marker sets I own and use.
Let’s start with Sharpies. They’ve been around a long time and come in a wide variety of colors. I have the 24 set of Electro-Pop and 5 piece set of neon colors in fine tip. I also have their ultra fine tip set. These are plain-Jane, affordable, plastic workhorse markers that get the job done. There are no color names, but the cap color matches pretty well with what comes out. They do tend to bleed through and will bleed over the line edge if you’re not careful. A few of the tips feel scratchy when using them, but lay down color fine. With a little practice you can blend with them. One of the biggest dislikes for many is the smell, if you can take the odor you have a great set of markers. (Alcohol based, non-refillable.)
Bic Mark-Its (also called Bic Marking) are another affordable, multi-colored markers set. I have the 36 set in both fine and ultra fine. Like Sharpies, Bics can be found most anywhere and many times on sale. These have a soft grip and I really like the colors in these, they have some colors that Sharpies don’t. These do have the color names on them if that’s important and the caps match pretty well. These also have an odor about them but it’s not as strong as Sharpie I find. These are a very nice set of markers that come in a handy folding clear plastic case. (Alcohol based, non-refillable.)
I’m not so sure about this set of 8 metallic markers. The colors are okay, but are pretty much opaque on paper meaning you will cover up any lines on a coloring page. They don’t seem to play well with other markers for me. They seem to lay down a lot of pigment which could be a trait of the metallic colors. Soft grips and named.
I got the 42 color set on sale, and it is an excellent variety of colors. These markers are great for small or tiny spaces with a 0.3mm tip. The 3 sided shape is comfortable to hold and the caps are true to colors. These are marketed as Dry Safe, meaning the ink won’t dry up quickly if left uncapped for days at a time. I haven’t tested this. I’ve found if using these on larger areas, they tend to pull up the tooth of the paper. They have no discernible smell. Great set of markers. (Water-based, non-refillable.)
This 24 markers set was really inexpensive on an Amazon Lightning Deal and came with a small, pocket size coloring book. Pretty much standard 24 colors with a 0.4mm tip to use in small spaces. Very budget friendly, colors seem true, and no smell. (Water based, non-refillable.)
The 96 set of Tombows was another lightning deal that was a little pricey but still hard to pass up. These also come in smaller sets if you want to try them out. They have a fine (bullet-shape) tip on one end and brush tip on the other. They are water-based and blend-able but since they are water based you have to be careful not to lay down too much on thinner papers. I really like these markers—they offers a big variety including grays and browns. I don’t have bleed through problems but you can lift the tooth and wrinkle the paper with them. They are numbered, not named, but the colors match the caps well. The brush tip works pretty much like you would expect a brush to work. Because they are water based, there is no odor if that’s a problem for you. These are one of my favorite types of markers. (Water based, non-refillable.)
I purchased the Darks, Lights and Brights sets on sale. These markers are a bit more pricey than Bics or Sharpies. These also come in smaller, color tone family sets and you can purchase color refills if you run out. They are alcohol-based markers with a bullet tip and chisel tip. I really like these as well and they have a wide variety of vibrant colors. I don’t get the color naming scheme yet and the letters/numbers rub off the end caps easily. The caps and colors don’t always match so well. These lay down nicely but will bleed through easily. They have a strong alcohol smell. (Alcohol based, refillable.)
These markers have a double end, with brush and fine tips. These come in many set sizes and are a little more pricey marker. These are becoming a marker I go to more frequently. They offer a very nice choice of colors and very smooth lay down. They do bleed through. If I was a serious professional I would consider the set of 200, but not at a $600 price tag—I bought my set on sale. Colors are named on the markers and barrel color matches what comes out. These markers have a slight alcohol smell. (Alcohol based, non-refillable.)
I hope you find this summary of various marker brands useful, and are now more prepared to try markers for your coloring books!