Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol Markers

9 minute read

Are you on the lookout for alcohol markers, but don’t know where to start? Do you need high-quality Artist Markers for your work or hope to start out with some casual artist designs, but don’t know what markers to use? Are you overwhelmed with the large amount of Artist Markers out there, but are on a tight budget? We are here to help!

This guide provides all the information you need to know about artist markers, the history of artist markers, the variations in types, the differences between alcohol markers and other types of markers for art, what they are used for, and most importantly, what you should be looking for in your artist’s journey.

What Is the History of Alcohol Markers?

While alcohol markers, or artist markers, as they are known today, are a more recent invention, alcohol ink has been used as early as 3200 BC by Ancient Egyptians for uses such as writing and drawing. As time progressed,  writing instruments, such as pens, were created to hold the ink and more smoothly apply it onto surfaces. From there, the demand for markers rose as people needed to apply certain quantities of ink more easily.

The first known fountain brush pen was invented in 1926, and a little over 20 years later, the popularity of markers rose considerably due to the production of Magic Markers. When people began to discover all the great uses and possibilities of markers, artist markers continued to rise to fame. More varieties of markers have developed in the many years since then and are widely used to this day.

What Are Alcohol Markers and What Are They Used For?

Alcohol markers, also known as art markers, are currently popular among artists and crafters. They are special writing, drawing, and coloring tools used for a wide range of creative tasks. As they are highly demanded, there are many color markers for artists available on the market, and they come in many different forms. 

High-quality alcohol markers tend to be multi-sided; one side usually has a brush tip, while the other side comes with a fine or chisel tip. A brush tip is the most highly demanded among art markers, as it mimics the shape, texture, and capabilities of a paintbrush.Brush tips allow for very sophisticated coloring techniques. They also are very helpful for a smooth calligraphy experience, which is why many artists prefer markers with brush tips for their work in calligraphy.  On the other hand, a chisel tip tends to have a thicker and more defined appearance.

Chisel tips create more pronounced ink marks with defined edges (think of a highlighter and the type of tip it commonly has). With a chisel tip artist marker, an artist may draw straight lines of varying thicknesses. This can be helpful for certain styles of calligraphy, hand-lettering, and other forms of writing or drawing. A fine tip is the closest to a more traditional pen, and is characterized by a thin pointy tip. This can be used for certain forms of hand-lettering, specifically in lighter and thinner fonts. The exact thickness of a fine tip marker may vary across different marker styles and brands. While brush tips may offer more flexibility, freedom of movement, and a variety of ink strokes, fine tips offer a more distinct approach to drawing and coloring. Every line drawn with a fine tip pen will more or less look the same.

Because each type of brush tip has unique functionalities and benefits, many artists prefer to use multi-sided artist markers. Alcohol art markers that are multi-sided are especially valuable in that they can have many more uses than an artist marker with one sole tip. This helps with functionality, as well as bringing costs down. Multi-sided markers offer two distinct marker types at a lower price than the cost of buying two separate markers. Furthermore, multi-sided artist markers take up less space, decreasing the amount of storage required by half, an enticing feature for artists with minimal space to store their supplies. Another benefit of multi-sided markers is that both sides usually come in the same exact color tone. This removes the necessity to search for the right matching color when using multiple marker tips at the same time. 

Professional art markers are designed to be used for specific skillful techniques that make them preferable over other writing and drawing tools in many specialties.

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Who Uses Artist Markers and Why?

Alcohol art markers are used by both professionals in various fields, as well as amateur or casual artists. Architects, designers, illustrators, and other experts use art markers for their respective professional tasks. Whether they are drawing blueprints or designing products, many professionals prefer artist markers for their many capabilities.

Altenew Alcohol Markers

Casual crafters and artists also use artist markers for various creative hobbies including calligraphy, hand-lettering, coloring, and more. Various calligraphy and hand-lettering modern trends involve using artist alcohol markers. Many artists post inspirational messages, quotes, religious sayings, and other hand lettered writings on social media. Watching the process of writing in special fonts with artist markers can be an intoxicating and enjoyable experience. People love to see the magic that can be created with fine art markers.

Here is a simple Artist Marker Coloring Tutorial that even beginners can try!

Artist alcohol markers are specifically desirable due to many of their notable features that make them preferable over other drawing or writing products. The best artist markers are very low maintenance and require very little effort to continue using. In addition to being easy to use, professional artist markers tend to dry quickly and blend smoothly, which are important features for many art processes. By taking away much of the hassle of drawing with other coloring tools, alcohol markers have risen to fame and are widely used every day.

What Are the Different Types of Markers?

Markers are primarily distinguished based on the type of ink that was used to make them. They are sold in many different types of ink. Artist markers may be water-based, alcohol-based, or solvent-based. Each type of ink has its own specific advantages that appeal to different artist groups.

Water-Based Markers

Water-based markers, as the name suggests, are made primarily from water and usually some type of dye ink. Water, however, is the main component. This type of marker for art can be associated with the common markers that are typically used by children for drawing and coloring. These markers tend to be odorless, and thus, are safer for younger artists or any artist with sensitivities to certain chemicals and odors. 

Altenew Alcohol Markers

Water-based markers are not always the preferred type of artist marker because they can streak rather than blend when coloring. While many types of coloring do not lend themselves well to streaking, certain coloring processes can work with this issue. Water-based artist markers may work for abstract art and other unique coloring techniques. 

Furthermore, when using water-based markers, it is important to use thick paper such as watercolor paper to avoid paper warping that often results from too much color application. While paper warping is a concern, using the right type of paper can easily solve this situation. 

Alcohol-Based Markers

While water-based markers can often cause streak marks, alcohol-based markers easily avoid this issue because they have more smooth blending capabilities. Artist alcohol markers with brush tips are especially useful for smooth blending and work well for experimental coloring, calligraphy, and more. For this reason, many artists prefer alcohol-based markers for their personal and professional use, whether it is hand-lettering for a hobby or graphic design for work.

Altenew Alcohol Markers

On the flip side, because of the intensity of their colors, alcohol art markers can bleed through papers. Therefore, you may want to use thick paper or lining paper to avoid getting ink on other pages or surfaces when using alcohol markers. Watercolor paper or thick cardstock paper would again work well for this purpose.

Solvent-Based Markers

The final type of color markers for artists falls under the category of solvent-based markers. While not as widely used as alcohol or water-based markers, solvent-based markers offer their own benefits as well. They often give off a strong odor due to chemicals, but their ink lasts quite a while, so artists don’t have to worry about their work fading.

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How to Find the Best Markers for You: Water-Based vs. Alcohol-Based Markers

With the many options available out there, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the best markers for artists. When looking for high-quality artist alcohol markers, it is helpful to keep a few things in consideration. 

Altenew Alcohol Markers

The types of markers for art depend primarily on what the markers will be used for. An artist looking for alcohol markers to use for hand-lettering or calligraphy may prefer a different tip than one seeking to primarily color in designs with the markers. In fact, brush tips work very well with both calligraphy and watercoloring-like techniques. Markers with a fine tip are useful for artists looking to draw or write very firm, defined lines of ink. Alcohol ink markers are preferable for coloring techniques that may require smooth blending in between colors.

If you want to know the difference between water-based vs. alcohol-based markers, you can find out more HERE. Each type of marker offers its own list of pros and cons, so it really depends on what you’ll use them for. For example, alcohol color markers work well to create ombré color effects, vibrant color shading, and more well-loved coloring designs and combinations. They are fast-drying, fade-resistant, and waterproof inks. Alcohol ink markers are preferable for coloring techniques that may require smooth blending in between colors.

 Meanwhile, water-based markers also produce beautiful colors, but they are more beginner-friendly markers. Compared to alcohol markers, they don’t bleed, making them perfect for coloring books and art journaling. However, their downside is that they fade faster compared to alcohol-based markers.

Alcohol artist markers work well to create ombré color effects, vibrant color shading, and more well-loved coloring designs and combinations. With the wide range of markers available, there will certainly be an artist marker out there to suit your needs.

Additional Tips!

It is also helpful to search for markers that are sold in sets with coordinating colors to help you during your crafting process. Artist alcohol marker sets usually provide colors that work well together, taking the guesswork out for you. 

Altenew Alcohol Markers

Furthermore, it is preferable to get artist markers that have available refills to add when your markers run out of ink, rather than having to buy an entire new set of markers each time. This can keep costs low and allow you to continue maintaining your marker collection for a long time. 

Another type of art marker set to look for is one that contains double-sided artist markers. This offers you with more options for functionality, and organizes your colors together in a very helpful method. The need for less storage is an added bonus. 

We hope this guide has been helpful to you in your search for the right artist markers, and we wish you all the best in your artistic endeavors.


Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Alcohol markers are a coloring medium that is well-loved by novices and professional artists! They are easy to blend and produce vibrant results. You can use the markers to color in existing images, draw freehand, or do brush calligraphy.
Dried out alcohol artist markers can be easily refilled! Carefully remove the brush nib with a pair of tweezers by applying gentle pressure and pulling straight out. Position the tip of the refill bottle right above the open barrel of the marker. Fill the marker with 8-10 drops, being careful not to overfill. Reinsert the old nib or replace with a new nib.
Many color markers for artists are water-based which mean that they are water-soluble. Alcohol markers are alcohol-based, which gives them a unique vibrancy and blending capabilities.
Different papers will produce different effects. 80lb smooth cardstock 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 the alcohol ink and how it reacts to that surface.
While water-based markers are easier to wash off, alcohol markers are permanent, fast-drying markers. They are more fade-resistant inks that result in vibrant, blendable, and beautiful colors.

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