Coloring Pens are great for… well, coloring! A lot of artists like to work with colored markers. The main reason is that it can give your drawings a lot of vibrancy and even if you use neutral tones, they’ll pop up more than pencils.
If you love to give life to your drawings and have a very colorful style, then colored markers are perfect for you! I own some sets of copics, poscas, and even sharpies. Overall I prefer to use grey tones, to add shading to my inked drawings. From all of the pens and markers I’ve tried, so far, I can highly recommend the Copic markers.
It’s one of the best brands and I really like their touch and how they look on a finished product.
My Recommended Markers!
The Copic Marker 12-Piece Sketch Basic Set (click to check it out on Amazon) is a great choice.
The Copic Marker 12-Piece Sketch Basic Set has a really nice assortment of markers, with most of the colors you’ll need for a long time. It is perfect if you’re a beginner, a nice variety of markers for you to try out and practice. If you feel that’s not enough, though, or if there are other colors that you want, they have a LOT of other options! Check out the link and see what you prefer.
The Copics may be more expensive than other brands or store bought markers, but the quality speaks for itself. They are super smooth, and they blend really well together. So if you’re interested in blending a lot of colors with each other, I would suggest you save up by getting one of the larger packs with even more markers!
The ink is permanent, alcohol-based, but non-toxic, so you there’s no reason for you to worry about unless you paint your shirt by accident. Even then, your shirt can be salvaged! I do talk in more detail about Pen Ink Toxicity and how to clean ink stains from fabric, so check that out, if you want to know more.
On another note, if your Copic markers run out of ink, you can buy ink refills for it, instead of buying a whole new marker. The nibs can also be exchanged, whenever they become too spent and shabby.
Alternatively, Posca Markers
Posca Markers (click to check them on Amazon) are a great alternative!
The great thing about Posca Markers is that you can use them in all kinds of surfaces and applications! Do you want to draw on a plastic surface? Use a Posca. Do you want to draw on fabric? Posca will also do the job.
They might be harder to adapt too tough.
The amount of ink is regulated by a valve system. This means that before applying some color to what you wish to, you need to test out your marker on a piece of paper first, to better regulate it. In short, you kinda have to start up your pen, it’s almost like it’s turned off before using it.
This regulation might be hard to tackle at the beginning. Too much ink, too less, oh no my hands are dirty now!
Other than that, these are very fun markers to use. They have permanent ink, but if you draw with them on glass or plastic, it’s still possible to erase them. Of course, if you let it dry for too long, it will be harder to clean.
Speaking of drying, this is something you’d have to pay attention to. Posca Markers take some time to dry, so do be careful when you’re painting and drawing with them, so you don’t end up smudging your drawing nor dirtying your hands.
Once again, the ink isn’t toxic, just very hard to clean, so prepare to have those ink spots in your hands for a day or two.
Another point I wanted to make here, is that since these markers are very inky, do be careful with what’s underneath the surface you’re drawing.
If you’re drawing in a wall, glass or plastic, there’s no need to worry. But let’s say you want to draw with Poscas on paper! Be sure to have very thick paper, 160gsm or more, just to be safe. If the paper is too thin, the ink will be absorbed by the paper, but it will also go through the back of it, smudging all your other pages.
The same goes for fabric.
The best advice I can give you is that if you’re using your Posca markers on paper or fabric, to always put some surface underneath them. It can be a piece of hard cardboard, wood or even plastic. Anything that you don’t have any other use for and won’t mind if it gets some ink on it.
This set comes with 15 markers, with a wide range of colors.
You can already do a lot with them and will last you for quite some time. There are, of course, other sets and other types of nibs (thin, chiseled, brush, etc) and even if you’re just looking for one color in specific, you don’t need to buy a whole set. You can easily find individual markers, in any color.
Unfortunately, there are no refills for these markers, so if you run out of one, you’ll need to buy a new one. On another hand, you can take out the nib, to wash it, whenever it gets too dirty.
In short, Posca markers are very versatile, can be used in any surface you can think off, the ink is water-based and they’re permanent markers. But, on the other side, you need to have in account that these markers have a bigger learning curve. It will take you longer to learn them properly.
They’ll also take a bit longer to dry, so you also need to have a bit more patience when using them. Other than that, the colors are very vibrant and very fun to use!
Why I Chose The Copic Markers
One of the main reasons why I really like the Copic markers is because they have two ends.
One side is chiseled and the other one has a brush.
Both with the same amount of ink and same color. Now, the one I use the most is the brush side and the greatest thing about this brush is that it isn’t 100% malleable, there’s some strength to it, which makes it easier to control.
Even though its ink is alcohol based, it doesn’t have a very strong odor.
Compared to the Posca markers, which I feel have too much odor and I never do well with strong smells. If I used them for too long, I’d expect to have a headache at a certain point. Of course, not everyone is the same, so if you’re not sensitive to certain odors, you won’t have a problem.
Another reason I really prefer the Copic markers to anything else is how well you can blend with them!
Unlike water-based ink, which tends to spill and soak your paper when trying to blend, the Copic mix on the surface of your paper, drying very fast and leaving you with beautiful, vibrant colors and blendings.
Because of this reason, when using different tones or colors, on top of each other, the inks won’t mix up, mixing the colors together and giving weird, muddy results at the end.
The sets, usually come in a plastic, sturdy case, which helps in keeping your Copics organized.
Smaller sets can come in a malleable plastic box, but it’s still a good place to keep your markers since it won’t break apart easily.
You can also find a great variety of colors. You can go with a set like the one I mentioned, with very different colors between them, but there are also specific sets, for example, a skin tone set, that comes with 6 markers, ranging from creamy tones to brownish ones.
A blending set, with grey, pastel tones, a grey scale set (which I own and love it), that comes with 5 markers, from a very light grey, almost white, to black. This one is very nice if you prefer to work with black and white!
Lastly, there are sets with either basic colors (yellow, blue, red, green, etc) or harmonized palettes for you to use in your drawings.
Finally, even if your markers run out of ink, you can buy refills for them!
Instead of having to buy a new whole marker, you can buy ink refills, that will let you refill your marker more than once. You just need to look for the color code and buy the respective refill. Buying these makes it way less expensive, so you can use the same marker over and over again.
The nibs can also be changed, whenever they get too spent. A pack of nibs come with 3, 4 or even 10 spare nibs, so you can change them whenever you need.
You can find both the chiseled and brush nibs and they’ll last you for a long time!
The Copic markers are great for learning to draw and paint with markers because they are pretty intuitive and easy to use. They blend with each other perfectly and it’s only of matter of adapting yourself to markers.
Once again, they are made specifically to use on paper and you should still use thick paper, with 130 or more gsm, so that the ink won’t pass through the paper.
Features to Look For in Coloring Pens
Very easily put, it all depends on what you want to use your colored pens for.
If it’s only on paper, you can find them very easily. But do pay attention though, if you want markers to use on coloring books, for example, you might want something very simple, because the pages on those books are usually very thin.
If it’s to color your own drawings with vibrant colors and blends, the Copics are the ones for you.
If you’re getting into new hobbies, like making your own drawings on t-shirts or painting stones, you’ll want something that can be used on any surface. Like the Posca markers I mentioned, you can go wild with your art and imagination and add a something special to any surface you want at your home.
Finally, when looking for coloring pens, you want to decide what kind of nib you want to use and size.
You can find markers with brush, chiseled or hard, pointy ends. In each one of these types, you can also find different sizes, from thin/small, passing through medium and ending in large and very large sized nibs.
Having a variety of types and sizes is always nice, so you have something for each occasion.
You might end up preferring using just one type and from then on, you just need to buy the ones you know you like.
And the most important thing you need to remember is that starting to draw and paint with markers is different from pencils or other tools. You need some time to adapt, learn them and be better at them.
Now that you have your tools handy, it's time to practice! But first read up on my article on Color Theory for Artists, so you can use your tools to full potential!
As always, have fun with your markers and make the best out of the experience!