Art markers (whether water based or alcohol based) are a niche tool for art enthusiasts in any field. Whether you are a child, beginning to learn art in school, or if you are a professional artist, markers are invaluable. These specialized pens help to achieve effects similar to those that we get with paint. They are easily portable, come in tons of gorgeous colors, and may be double-sided with different tips (brush, chisel, fine, bullet, etc.). Their versatility in producing smooth solid lines, or brilliant layered hues is what makes them so popular in the paper crafting universe..
The two most trending types of markers are water-based markers and alcohol-based markers. Each has their own set characteristics, and are essentially the opposite of each other. How are these markers distinguished? The ink in these markers is what differentiates them from each other. This ink is composed mainly of two parts: the pigment (which is the actual colored dye particle) and the solvent (the liquid in which the color is suspended). In simple language, alcohol markers use alcohol as their solvent while water markers use water. Each of these compositions gives the ink their distinguishable properties, like drying time, blendability, permanency, vibrancy, etc.
What are water-based markers?
Water-based markers have a significant appeal to all starting from students to professional artists. Water markers have water-soluble ink, which means they are perfect for water coloring. Since water markers can be reactivated after they’ve dried, you can add color, and make it darker (once the paper is dry), or you can add water (and remove some of the ink with a paper towel). Because one of the main compositions is water, very obviously, these pens are cost-effective, chemical-free, odorless, dry slower, and are safer for children to use. Water-based markers are amazingly versatile. The ink in a water-based marker is usually less heavy than that in an alcohol-based marker, hence causing lesser bleeds. Water markers are therefore preferably used in coloring books and journals. Though water-based markers do not come with a vast color range like alcohol ones, their color variations can definitely compete with those of alcohol markers. Water-based markers can be used as watercolors. How? Simply paint over with water to have the color spread, lighten and act like a watercolor. This means that with just one marker you can create lighter shades by just adding water or using a blender brush.
What are alcohol-based markers?
Alcohol ink markers are highly versatile. Their ink is made up of dye pigments suspended in alcohol. This ink is permanent, vibrant, and highly saturated. Because it is made up of alcohol, it also dries very fast and the colors remain vibrant!. With alcohol markers, not only is blending a dream, but the ink is also buildable. Therefore colors may be layered on each other to create brilliant shades, tints, and ombré. A well-planned set of alcohol-based markers can go a long way if strategically used. Alcohol pens in most companies have refillable inks, and replaceable nibs/tips. One downside of alcohol markers is that they do tend to bleed and therefore are not recommended for use in journaling or double-sided coloring books.
Alcohol Markers vs. Water based Markers: What’s the difference?
|Alcohol Markers||Water Markers|
|Cost||Affordable to expensive||Mostly cheap|
|Hue options||Fantastic range||Limited range|
|Effect on paper||Bleeds through paper||May warp paper|
Water based vs alcohol based markers: Is there a clear winner?
The answer is no. Neither marker type is perfect, but both are unique in their own ways. It depends on what effect you are trying to achieve with your markers. Deciding between alcohol ink markers and water based markers is like picking between apples and oranges. Both have their distinguished advantages and disadvantages.
While water-based ink is lighter and can give your artwork a glorious watercolor appearance, the brilliant blendability of alcohol markers, along with its huge range of hue selection, can take that very art to a whole different level. The key is to understand and know how each marker works. While it is ideal to reach for water-based markers when looking to play with water and color, it is similarly ideal to reach for alcohol markers when looking to create detailed, layered, colored illustrations!