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How to create a gradient using markers

By Chameleon Art Products
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Adding gradients to artwork can turn them from ordinary sketches to beautifully blended masterpieces. Creating gradients with markers can be a difficult task, especially in comparison to using paints, pencils and crayons, but it’s not impossible. Here’s how to create a gradient using alcohol based markers.

Why are alcohol markers better at creating gradients?

If you’re reading this with a set of water based markers, expecting to get professional-quality results, then you’re likely to be disappointed. Water based and alcohol based markers are not made to perform at the same level. The truth is, the majority of water based markers tend to be school-grade as they produce washable ink while alcohol markers are usually meant for professional use and the ink is permanent (though not light fast).

On the whole, it’s easier to blend and create smooth gradations with alcohol markers because the ink dries much quicker than their water based counterparts. With water based pens, although blending might sound easier because the ink stays wetter for longer, the gradients often turn out streakier.

In contrast, alcohol markers consistently produce smooth blends and gradients, which make them highly preferred over water based markers for professional use.

There are many different types of alcohol markers available and even professional artists can end up producing streaky work if they don’t know how to use them properly. Chameleon Pens come with a unique Mixing Chamber which allows you to create seamlessly blended gradients, easily and beautifully. Just check out the video below to see how they work.

What can gradients be used for?

Shading gradients using alcohol markers is a great way to build your pen skills because it encourages focus, hand steadiness and skill in creating realistic artwork. When you’re introducing gradients to your work, you have to think about the light source and how that can affect your sketches. Gradients can be used to create:

  • Highlights and shadows
  • Folds in clothing
  • Realistic fur and hair shading
  • 3D objects

How Chameleon Pens help you create gradients

The great thing about Chameleon Pens is that they have an innovative feature - the Mixing Chamber. By fusing the pen nib in the Mixing Chamber, you can dilute the colored ink before you use it and as you shade, the original color slowly comes back through. The longer the fuse time, the lighter the tone. Not only can you access a wide range of tones within that one shade, you can also easily create blended gradients.

One pen gradients

chameleon pens one pen blend


The beauty of Chameleon Pens is that the tone and the color can be changed right at the source due to their Mixing Chamber. You no longer need to constantly change pens to produce a neat blend.

If you’re working from light to dark, simply pick the color that you want and infuse it in the Mixing Chamber to dilute the ink. Then, begin coloring in a section and watch the color slowly go from a washed-out tone back to its original, saturated color.

Two pen gradients

two pen gradient with chameleon pens

You don’t have to create blends with just one color. You can create beautifully blended gradients with pens from the same color family. For example, you can grab two neighboring colors, which are both different shades of the same base color. Apply both colors to your page and blend the darker color over the lighter to create a two-toned gradient.

Gradients of opposing colors

chameleon pens opposing colors blending

If you want your artwork to stand out, sometimes you have to step outside of the box. Why not try blending two different colors together that aren’t in the same color family and sit on opposite sides of the color wheel? The principle will still be the same - a lighter tone on one side and a darker on the other.

Grab your two opposing colors, infuse one in the Mixing Chamber and shade from light to dark. Then, take your other pen and shade in the opposite direction. You’ll create a beautifully blended, eye-catching gradient.

And that’s all there is to it! Gradients enhance a piece of artwork, turning it from unremarkable 2D work to attention-grabbing 3D work with realistic edges, highlights and shadows. Have you used Chameleon Pens to add gradients to your work? If you have, go ahead and show off your masterpieces in the comments below!

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Want to learn new tricks and develop your talent even more?

We've put together an awesome guide to using Chameleon Pens. From creating different textures to tips on shading realistic looking shadows and highlights, this guide will help you develop your creative talents even more.

Unlock Your Potential With Chameleon Pens Guide CTA

Tags: Shading Markers, how to color with alcohol pens

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