Art pens, paint pens, markers or felt tips, whatever you choose to call what you use to color is your choice. But before we get into how marker drawing techniques differ, we'll briefly explain how markers are different from felt tips and other pens. Then, we will explore marker drawing techniques in more detail.
Okay, we've got 30 Seconds. What's the difference between a felt tip and a marker?
What you call a marker or a felt tip depends on two things: where you're from and your level of art and design knowledge or background. They can basically both be the same thing.
'Felt tips' are typically soft tipped with a water-based, non-permanent ink and are child-friendly. 'Markers' normally have various nib types and hold permanent or semi-permanent inks which are alcohol or solvent-based. These aren't child-friendly.
Time's up. Onto the techniques. And, from here, we'll be using 'markers' and 'pens' interchangeably.
Here's a picture of what you'll know as 'felt tips' (left) and 'markers' (right).
Marker drawing techniques & some starter tips
The biggest thing to come to terms with when drawing with markers is that they're permanent. But that doesn't mean you have to get it right first time or your whole image is ruined. Far from it. To get around accidental bleeding between line art and coloring, use a pigment based fineliner pen (such as our Detail Pen) as this shouldn’t react with the alcohol ink in your markers. This preserves the neat, black outlines you're after.
By creating the framework or line art of your drawing in an editable medium (ideas in the list below), you can make sure you're happy with it before you start drawing with marker pens and getting that desirable, strong color finish that they create.
Let's be honest (yes, we sell pens so we're a little biased), the colors offered from markers are your only possible option when drawing certain images. It's also just super-satisfying to color with pens and you don't have to mix messy paints or keep reaching for the pencil sharpener.
However, if you're using a coloring book, make sure the paper is of a suitable quality. Don't just use a pencil coloring book as you'll ruin the book. What may be perfect quality paper for colored pencils might not be right to use with Chameleon Pens.
To see how these markers can be used in coloring books, check out the video below featuring our very own Julia Benben.
That said, pencils shouldn't be forgotten. They're great for coloring, work perfectly in combination with markers and can be used in the early stages of a drawing to help improve the finished design. Here are some other tips that can help your technique when you’re starting out:
- Sketch in fine pencil first until you're happy. Draw over in marker or a pigment pen later.
- Practice the image a few times first. And practice a bit more. Then do your final piece.
- Use computer software to create framework line art that you can print. Then, use markers to add to the detail of the line art or to color it in.
- Use pre-provided templates and draw the finishing touches to the line art with a fineliner.
You can keep the markers' focus on giving you the vivid and vibrant color finish you're looking for. To get that high-level finish of marker drawing, here are some more introductory tips...
10 Tips to Improve Your Marker Drawing Technique
1. Investing a little in the right pens can make all the difference. The more reliable the pen, the better it will be to use and your drawings will improve as a result.
2. Alcohol or solvent-based pens will let you layer colors and control darkness, but be aware they're prone to bleeding so you'll need to manage that.
Image by Tyler Goodrum.
3. It's also worth investing in heavier papers or card when drawing and coloring with marker pens. This can help you to overcome any ink bleeding through the page.
4. Always start with your lightest colors first. Darker colors will always work on top.
Image by Dino Tomic.
5. Stick to a single light source point in order to improve the overall look of your drawing. Think; if your light source has created this lighter color, where's the shaded spot? And vice versa.
6. Research which additional colors to include in your drawings in order to add depth. For example, did you know when coloring a person’s skin, you should include red even when the person isn't blushing?
Image by Nick Kakanis.
7. Look into using blending pens - like Chameleon Pens. These are pens which come in a wide variety of colors and can be blended together in a similar way to paints and pencils. But they're markers.
8. If you’re using more than one pen brand, make sure they are compatible with each other before you use them in your final piece/artwork.
Image by Devin (TamberElla).
9. Don't just color in long or short brush strokes. Use dotting, dabs, small circular motions and crosshatching to help add texture to your work.
VIDEO TIP: Use alcohol markers for drawing & shading
Using alcohol-based markers for shading is advised if you want to add an extra layer of quality to your drawing and coloring. The alcohol-based ink is quick to dry and can be built upon without soaking your paper through. However, this is only achievable if you're using high quality paper or a card stock.
If you're laying down multiple layers of ink, then you're more likely to experience bleeding through a low-quality paper. So, make sure you're covering your work surface.
See how alcohol markers can be used for achieving brilliant shading and drawing finishes in a quick and easy way:
Want to see what else you can do with marker pens? Get creative and start Changing Color by getting this bumper download
Now you’re ready to see what else you can achieve. Our Chameleon Pens are the best when it comes to creating beautiful blends and unlocking your true coloring skills. They're super-versatile too. Take a look at our download which shows you how to get the most out of your pens.