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The best alcohol markers comparison

By Chameleon Art Products
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Markers with alcohol based dye ink have plenty of unique qualities. There are so many brands of alcohol markers on the scene now that it can be hard to figure out which one’s best for you. So, we’re narrowing down the alcohol markers comparison to three leading brands - and the third option can actually be used alongside the other two. But let’s get on with comparing.

In this triple threat contest - minus the WWE violence and tiny shorts - we’re going to look at five factors. They are:

  • What’s good about each alcohol marker brand
  • The color ranges available
  • The price
  • How many markers you need
  • Their availability


72 pack of Copic markers 


What’s good about Copic?

  • Comes in four different variations: Classic, Sketch, Wide and Ciao
  • Little odor - something you don’t usually expect with an alcohol marker
  • Good range available for realistic skin tones
  • Able to mix your own colors
  • Replaceable marker nibs
  • Refillable ink
  • Available in different holding styles to suit different artists’ needs
  • Airbrush compatible
  • Their ink colors will never deviate

Copic’s available color ranges

In an attempt to cover every base possible, Copic offer a staggering 358 different colors. You can view the color family chart here to see the massive range they have available - just imagine having to carry all of them around. Obviously, this affects the next factor.

The price of Copic

358 different colors clearly won’t come cheap. However, Copic have many different options available on their website with different price ranges. Too many to list here, in fact. Copic’s most basic option is a four-piece Doodle Pack, which is currently available for just short of $10.00. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Copic’s 72-piece Classic range - which comes in seven different variations - cost close to $400.00 each, at the time of writing. If you want to get your hands on every color variant, you’re going to need to pay that amount for all seven sets. So, they’re not the most affordable alcohol markers out there, though they are very good.

How many Copic markers do I need?

It all really depends on the illustrations you’re working on. If you consistently only use a handful of colors then you obviously won’t need to go all out and buy the biggest set possible. Just search for the set which features the colors you use most often - that can be a six, 12 or even a 36-piece set. However, for the more serious artists who want the full range, then you’re obviously going to need to shell out for the full 358 colors.

Again, check out exactly which tones are in which set before you begin adding them all to your cart. When you think about it, carrying 358 markers isn’t exactly the most convenient option.

Copic availability

Copic markers are one of the most available markers out there. They’re available on Copic’s official website - even if some of the sets are sold out!


12 Prismacolor markers


What’s good about Prismacolor?

  • Comes in four different variations for different projects: Premier Chisel Fine Art Markers, Premier Brush Fine Art Markers, Premier Illustration Markers and Premier Gray Marker Sets
  • Deliver rich color saturation and a smooth ink flow
  • Less expensive
  • Double-ended markers
  • Larger tips and larger barrels
  • Round barrels makes them comfortable to hold in your hand for longer periods of time
  • Easy to source

Prismacolor’s available color ranges

Although Prismacolor have 200 different color tones available in their range, some of them are also available to use in other sets. For example, eight of the 200 color tones can be found in the Illustration Markers set, while 36 of the 200 color tones are available in a separate Gray Markers set.

The price of Prismacolor

As Prismacolor is available from different outlets, the price for each set can vary. As Amazon is a platform where Prismacolor is widely available and aren’t completely out of stock, we’ll stick with their prices. The standard pack of 12 can set you back anywhere between $13.00 to $50.00 - it all depends on the colors that are in the pack.

For the biggest option they have - the set of 200 color tones - you’re looking anywhere between $600 to $800, depending on the vendor.

How many Prismacolor markers do I need?

Like Copic, it all generally depends on the type of illustrations or artwork you’re doing. An artist who strictly uses gray will only need 36 pens in the Gray Markers set, while an artist whose sole focus is on perfecting outlining, lettering and free form drawing will only need a maximum of eight pens from the Illustration Markers set.

However, if you’re looking to go for the full range so you have every color tone possible from Prismacolor, then you’d need to go for the set of 200, even though the packs come in sizes of 12, 24, 48, 72, 156 and 200.

Prismacolor availability

Prismacolor don’t sell directly from their website but you can get them from Target, Amazon, Walmart, Blick and more.


Chameleon Pens

Chameleon Pens carry case full set

What’s good about Chameleon Pens?

  • Features an innovative Mixing Chamber to dilute the color, allowing you to unlock the hidden potential in your pen. Depending on how long you dilute the pen, you can access multiple tones - using just one pen
  • Made of premium products and features a Japanese Super Soft Brush Nib and a Bullet Nib
  • Can produce hundreds of different color tones with fewer markers
  • Compatible with all other alcohol based markers - it works with them, not replacing them
  • They have low odor and are non-toxic
  • Refillable inks
  • Replaceable nibs
  • Dedicated color sets for different projects. For example, colors for skin tones, nature etc.
  • More convenient and cheaper option
  • Eliminates tonal gaps in your marker collection
  • Perfect for 3D effects, smooth transitions, highlighting, shading, gradation and blending - all with one pen

Chameleon’s available color ranges

Chameleon Pens’ marker set offers 50 different, vibrant colors. However, the unique aspect about this is that despite having fewer colors than the previous two, they still produce hundreds of different color tones. This helps you eliminate any tonal gaps in your collection as the Mixing Chamber makes smooth gradations easy.

The price of Chameleon Pens

Despite featuring innovative technology, Chameleon is the much cheaper and more convenient option than Copic and Prismacolor. Again, prices differ depending on which set you’re buying. If you’re specifically looking for the Skin Tones or the Nature Tones range, then that costs $26.99.

However, even Chameleon’s most extensive range is still cheaper than the best Copic and Prismacolor have to offer. The 52 Pen Set is available for $224.99 while the 52 Super Set Bundle with 50 Color Tops only costs $354.89.

How many Chameleon Pens do I need?

Like the previous two brands, it depends on your project. If you’re only working on making skin look realistic, then you might just need the Skin Tones range. However, like many artists, it makes the most sense to get the set where you have every color available so you’re not missing any tonal gaps.

If that’s the case, then you literally only need 52 pens (50 markers, a Detail Pen and Blender Pen are included in our 52 Pen Set). Despite having so few markers, you still get a vast number of color tones because of the Mixing Chamber. This means it’s a cheaper option, it’s a lot more convenient as you don’t need hundreds of pens while you still get killer results.

Chameleon availability

Like Copic, Chameleon Pens are very widely available as they’re available to purchase directly from the official website and various other vendors.

Taking all of the above into account, choose your next alcohol marker purchase wisely. If you’ve used Chameleon Pens in your artwork previously, go ahead and show off your amazing illustrations in the comments section below.


Want your artwork to go the extra mile? Check out our new guide

Coloring in and creating awesome one pen blends aren't the only things Chameleon Pens can do. Our new guide on pen and drawing techniques using Chameleon Pens will give you helpful tips and advice. From the different shading techniques to fuse times and how to hold a pen properly, we'll help you develop your artistic skills even more. 

Unlock Your Potential With Chameleon Pens Guide CTA

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