Dos and Don'ts of Using Alcohol Markers

Just bought a new set of alcohol markers or artist markers? If so, you may be wondering what the do's and don'ts are when it comes to using them. This blog post will share tips on getting the most out of your markers. There will also be some friendly precautions on how to handle these fun coloring mediums. So, whether you're a beginner or an experienced one, you’ll take away some helpful advice!

Collage of Altenew alcohol artist markers. Alcohol markers, artist marker refills, and alcohol inks laid out on pastel surfaces along with beautiful DIY cards

Altenew Alcohol Marker Sets

Did You Know? Whether drawing blueprints or designing products, many professionals like architects, designers, illustrators, and other experts prefer artist markers for their many capabilities.

Is There a Correct Way to Handle Alcohol Markers?

There is no strict way to use artist markers. However, some tips and tricks to using them make so much sense! From using the right paper for alcohol markers to using colorless marker blenders to correct mistakes - there are a few things you need to know. Those beginning to use these coloring mediums would be surprised to see some of the fantastic projects completed with alcohol markers.

Storage

Alcohol markers come in either a single tip or dual tips. It’s best to store either design horizontally. There are organizers explicitly made for alcohol markers to keep them lying straight and beautifully organized. Storing them horizontally prevents the ink pooling on one nib and drying out the other. It is the best way to keep the nibs saturated with just the right amount of ink so there aren’t any sudden bleeds when using the marker. 

✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Store alcohol markers horizontally.
  • Keep them away from direct sunlight.
  • Store them in a cool, dry place.
  • Use organizers and containers.
  • Expose them to sunlight.
  • Keep them in a humid space.

 

Set of Altenew Island Garden (Set H) Alcohol Artist Markers, boxed and unboxed.

Altenew Island Garden Alcohol Artist Markers Set H

Other ways to store alcohol markers would be simply using pen baskets or DIY marker organizers. Place your alcohol markers in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. This prevents the sun from affecting the ink by altering the formula and can even start changing the color of the ink.

✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Store alcohol markers horizontally.
  • Keep them away from direct sunlight.
  • Store them in a cool, dry place.
  • Use organizers and containers.
  • Expose them to sunlight.
  • Keep them in a humid space.

 

Capped set of Altenew Alcohol Artist Markers lying vertically with their corresponding colors as backdrops

Altenew Alcohol Markers coordinate with our existing ink colors!

Fun Fact: Alcohol markers are popularly used in drawing and creating Manga, graphic novels and comics!

Paper

Using alcohol markers for the first time can be an extremely intimidating experience. They pack so much color and pigment in one go that it can be easy to make a mistake. To start, use paper that is appropriate for their characteristics.

Different papers will produce different effects. An 80lb smooth cardstock for artist markers is a great all-purpose surface for coloring and blending. However, slick coated paper will also produce exciting results! This is due to the nature of alcohol ink and how it reacts to that surface. 

A coloring page with bird and wreath motif, colored with Altenew Alcohol Artist Markers

Coloring is easy peasy with the Space Garden Artist Alcohol Markers Set I

In general, it’s best to use thick and smooth paper to be able to apply simple alcohol marker techniques. Use thick paper to prevent bleeding and avoid tears caused by all the layering of the ink. Use smooth paper so the ink won’t soak, and even the most basic blending techniques will work. There’s a tendency for toothed paper to absorb the ink and produce patchy colors. 

Did You Know? Toothed paper will also damage your alcohol marker nibs over time. So invest in a good quality paper for artist markers.
✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Use thick, smooth paper like cardstock.
  • Use rough or toothed paper.
  • Use thin paper, like regular printing or copy paper.

 

Artist Alcohol Markers Set F & Exotic Blooms Marker Coloring Book Bundle

Artist Alcohol Markers Set F & Exotic Blooms Marker Coloring Book Bundle

Application

There are different types of alcohol marker tips, and the best way to use each of them is according to their form. For example, to use a brush tip, hold them diagonally and according to the mold of the tip. To use a chisel tip, hold the slender part of the nib and press it for thinner lines. Use the wider part to achieve a thicker line, and so on.

The idea is to use the nibs accordingly. Avoid forcing or pressing a brush nib to get more coverage, and use a chisel tip instead. Similarly, avoid using a chisel tip for coloring in small areas. Instead, try using bullet nibs to color in details! This simple rule saves you time and product.

Uncapped blue Altenew Alcohol Artist Marker being used to draw on a cardstock. Set of Alcohol markers nearby.

Artist Alcohol Markers Bundle (36 Colors)

✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Use alcohol markers according to the purpose of the tip.
  • Use brush and fine tip nibs for smaller areas.
  • Use chisel tips to color in larger areas.
  • Place the caps back after using the markers.
  • Forget to recap the marker.
  • Put too much pressure on the nibs.
  • Force the marker tip to create shapes or lines that compromise the nib.

 

Bunch of Altenew Alcohol Artist Markers being held together upright by a set of hands.

Artist Alcohol Markers Bundle (60 Colors)

Coloring with Alcohol Markers Like a Pro

Outlining

One of the best ways to practice using alcohol markers is to use alcohol marker coloring books or use stamped designs for outlines. However, let the outline ink dry if you prefer to draw them yourself, preferably with a pigment-based pen. This prevents smudges and bleeding when you start coloring over the outlines.

✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Practice on alcohol marker coloring books.
  • Practice on stamped outlines.
  • Let the ink dry entirely for outlines.
  • Color in immediately when the outline ink is still wet.
  • Put too much pressure on the nibs.
  • Color images stamped with solvent ink as the image will smudge

 

A coloring page with floral designs from Altenew Exotic Blooms Alcohol Marker Coloring book, colored with Altenew Alcohol Artist Markers

Alcohol Markers are beginner-friendly and perfect for coloring stamped images

Layering & Blending

Before you even do any coloring, it helps prepare all the colors you plan to use to save time. Then, test your chosen set of colors on scrap paper to avoid color mistakes. After choosing, lay out all the colors you’ve picked next to your work area.

When blending artist markers, it's best to keep your paper or ink wet before applying your next color, so they blend smoothly. This is why it’s super important to have your colors planned out and within reach to avoid the ink drying fast before the next one. Additionally, alcohol ink dries rapidly, which is how the markers achieve beautiful blends!

Uncapped orange Altenew Alcohol Artist Marker used to draw on cardstock with stamped flower image. Set of Alcohol markers nearby.

Altenew has a wide range of alcohol artist marker colors

Another thing to note is to pick out at least three tones or shades of the same color. This may be a preferential thing, but a good coloring tip when using alcohol markers is using a medium-tone color to blend out your light and shadow colors. Choosing to color with the lighter area versus the darker area depends on the colorists. So you can have fun at this part.

Fun Fact: Altenew currently offers 108 vibrant artist marker colors! We are growing our collection, so watch out for more sets and colors in the future!
✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Choose alcohol markers you plan to use and place them on your craft desk.
  • When coloring, apply the next color while it’s still saturated for easy blending.
  • Let the ink dry entirely for outlines.
  • Use the lightest shade of color for blending two-tone colors.
  • Test the colors you’ve chosen on a separate paper.
  • Start coloring without preparing your markers first
  • Wait for the ink to dry before applying the next one when blending.

 

 

✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Color by sections
  • Start with sections that have similar color families.
  • Color everywhere all at once.

 

Cardstock with flower designs and sentiment colored with a set of Altenew Alcohol Artist Markers.

Water Garden Artist Alcohol Markers Set G

Direction

Along with coloring by section, following the direction of the outline will put together the piece. Start by the edges of a section and color using quick but gentle strokes. Keep making short brush strokes, and before you know it, you’ve colored off a whole area, and it looks smooth!

✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Use strokes following one direction
  • Start coloring by the base, or where the shadow or color would be the darkest.
  • Use strokes of varying directions
  • Start coloring in the middle or blank area of an outline.

 

Colorless Alcohol Marker Blenders

Alcohol marker colorless blenders are known to help with correcting mistakes and more! They are typically made with the same alcohol-based solution used in artist markers, without the colored ink.

What Are Colorless Artist Marker Blenders For?

  • Blending
  • Priming
  • Layering
  • Fading
  • Correcting
  • Highlighting

Altenew Colorless Alcohol Marker Blender

Altenew's Colorless Blender is great for blending alcohol-based markers

How to Fix Mistakes Using Colorless Alcohol Marker Blender

1. Excess color

A popular method to correct marker mistakes is with the help of a colorless blender. For example, when you’ve accidentally colored over the lines, use a blender to push the color back in.

  • Do this by starting from the edge of the mistake and creating strokes with the colorless marker that blends or pushes back the colored ink into the outline or image.
✔ DO’s ❌DON’TS
  • Wait for the colorless marker to dry before blending until the mistake is completely gone.
  • Expect the mistake to be erased after one try.

 

2. Fixing patches / Smoothen lines

Blending colors takes practice and patience. Sometimes, the ink dries quicker than you can blend, creating patches or marker lines. These mistakes can be corrected by taking the lighter color used and going over the area to blend. Using a colorless marker this way also helps.

  • First, take the light color and apply it to the colorless marker’s nib. Then, blend the patchy area with it. You get a muted version of the colored marker used and can then be applied as a middle tone for blending.
  • Second, cover the entire area with the colorless marker to prime it. Then go over the primed patchy colors with the same colored markers again.
Did You Know? While artist markers as they are known today are a more recent invention, ink was used as early as 3200 BC by Ancient Egyptians for uses such as writing and drawing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Alcohol Markers

Alcohol markers are fun to add color and life to any project. These versatile coloring pens can be used to make both bold and delicate lines, and they come in a variety of colors. However, if you're new to them, it's essential to know how to avoid common mistakes and get the most out of your markers. By following these alcohol marker tips, do’s and don’ts, you'll be able to enjoy your markers for years to come!

Check out our All About Crafting page to get more alcohol marker art ideas, inspiration, and prompts to start creating your masterpiece!