Markers 101: Exploring the Different Types

We’ve created a simple guide to help you find the perfect marker for any creative project!
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Markers 101: Exploring the Different Types

Markers are used for a variety of art forms – calligraphy, hand-lettering, illustrations and technical drawings, to name a few.

Over the years, art markers have had many different names, from pens to simple felt-tip pens.

Today’s art brands offer a slew of different markers, each with their own unique features, so it can be difficult to find the right marker in a sea of choice.

Alcohol-based markers are mainly used for illustration or design (fashion or objects). One of the key features of these markers is that they can easily be blended together according to chosen colours. In addition, you can create precise gradients with a colourless marker. We recommend using alcohol-based markers on ink-resistant paper to avoid smudging, while ensuring sharp lines. They are available in fine, chisel or brush tips.
Water-based markers are great for illustration – and they are a cheaper alternative to alcohol-based markers, too. These markers stand out thanks to the richness of their pigments, which can be diluted with water to imitate watercolour effects. We recommend using smooth paper, but sketch paper is also an excellent option when drawing with water-based markers. However, if you decide to dilute the ink with water, watercolour or mixed media papers are recommended. They are available in brush and fine tips.
The most versatile of all markers, these can be used on virtually any existing surface: paper, cardboard, canvas, wood, metal, glass, plastic, or even fabric. Please note that the surface must be well treated before application. Paint-based markers beautifully complement brushstrokes when working with acrylics because you can create lines of the same width in a single stroke. Tips range from very fine, to medium and chiseled.
These permanent, water-resistant markers are mainly used for the final rendering of a drawing, for example when signing a work of art on paper. Traditionally, they feature carbon black pigment ink, but in recent years, brands such as Faber-Castell have begun offering a greater variety of colours. They come in many different sizes, but smaller sizes – up to ultra fine (0.005) – are more popular since they are used for detail work. Brush and flat tips are also used for calligraphy.