How to Use Alcohol Art Markers

7 minute read

Are you a coloring enthusiast who wants to learn how to use alcohol markers on your arts and crafts? Do you want to find the best art markers to help you create beautiful and one-of-a-kind handmade cards, scrapbook pages, journals, and other DIY paper crafts? Did you know, artist markers are suitable for both beginners and professionals? This quick, 5-minute read will answer every burning question you have about alcohol markers for beginners and more!

Alcohol-based markers are all the rage in the coloring and crafting community, and for a good reason! These vibrant, fast-drying, and versatile markers are more beginner-friendly than other types of coloring supplies for artists. Whether you’re into abstract art, mixed media projects, or papercrafting, alcohol markers are a must-try! Alcohol ink is one of the most versatile inks readily available for both newbie colorists and experienced ones. Due to its transparency, vibrancy, and durability, it is easier to create gorgeous artwork instantly using various coloring techniques.

Alcohol markers from Altenew

If you want to level up your coloring game, alcohol-based markers are just the thing you’re looking for! With these incredibly versatile markers, creating beautiful, realistic, and seamless coloring on your handmade card or any paper crafting project is a piece of cake. Let’s face it. Seeing those stunning alcohol marker art on Pinterest and Instagram might be a bit intimidating, especially for those who are just about to embark on their coloring journey.

If you are thinking about investing in artist markers, you need to know the basic details, features, pros and cons, as well as a few alcohol marker brands to look out for.  

What are alcohol art markers?

So what are alcohol markers and why do you need to try them today? At its core, alcohol ink markers are a type of marker that is filled with alcohol ink. Alcohol ink is a great coloring medium because it is quick-drying and easy to blend. This type of ink is suitable for different types of surfaces - cardstock, glass, plastic, metal, wood, etc. It also works well on a number of porous and non-porous surfaces.

Altenew alcohol based markers

Here are 10 important features of alcohol ink markers that you should know!

  1. These markers dry quickly. 
  2. They are permanent.
  3. They blend easily and seamlessly.
  4. Since they dry fast, there’s a slim chance of smudging.
  5. They are easy to layer.
  6. They are slightly transparent - making them perfect for color layering!
  7. They are perfect for creating color overlays and multi-toned highlights.
  8. Most alcohol marker brands offer dual-tipped markers: brush tip or fine tip and a chisel tip.
  9. They are easy to use and beginner-friendly.
  10. These markers are refillable with alcohol ink.

To help you better understand what are alcohol markers, watch this quick video:

What is the difference between alcohol markers and regular markers?

Water-based markers, solvent-based markers, or alcohol-based markers, which marker is the right one for you? Compared to other types of markers, alcohol-based ones are more forgiving. Of course, each marker type has its own beauty and advantages. Whatever type of marker you choose, make sure that it suits your needs and complements your style. Most coloring enthusiasts will stick to one marker type, while others will experiment with different markers. 

The biggest difference between different types of markers is the type of base that they are filled with. Artist markers are filled with alcohol ink and dye pigment. Alcohol ink markers are more permanent and will produce fewer lines and streaks as compared to water-based markers. This is why they are perfect for blending colors seamlessly and doing mixed media art projects. They are also ideal for alcohol ink techniques like shading, tinting, and creating ombré because they are acid-free and lignin-free. 

Here are a few differences between alcohol ink markers and regular markers:

  • Regular markers usually have one side which is either a brush tip or chisel tip.
  • Alcohol ink pens are usually dual-tipped. The tip can be a brush tip and a fine tip, or a brush tip and a chisel tip. 
  • Regular markers come in one or two shades or tones per color family.
  • Most alcohol-based ones come in 3 or 4 shades or tones per color family. 
  • Regular markers are usually non-refillable.
  • Alcohol ink pens are easily refillable.
  • Regular markers are thinner and harder to grip.
  • Alcohol-based ones are ergonomically designed for easier grip.
  • Regular markers are not easy to blend.
  • Alcohol ink pens blend easily and smoothly.
  • Regular markers are not as transparent and opaque.
  • Alcohol ink ones are slightly opaque and transparent.

Artist Marker Starter Set from Altenew

Brush Tip vs. Chisel Tip?

As mentioned above, alcohol ink pens are dual-tipped; one side usually has a brush tip, while the other side comes with a fine tip or chisel tip. Why is this important? What is the difference between these tips? Is one better than the other? Here’s what you need to know about them.

Brush Tip
Chisel Tip

It mimics the shape, texture, and capabilities of a paintbrush.

It has a thicker and more defined appearance.

It is great for sophisticated coloring techniques.

It creates more pronounced ink marks and defined edges. 

It is great for calligraphy and hand-lettering.

It is similar to a highlighter.

It is perfect for hard-to-reach spaces.

It can also be helpful in certain calligraphy styles.

It offers more flexibility and freedom of movement. 

It is ideal for drawing lines of varying thickness.

It is great for a variety of ink strokes.


Another kind of tip to take note of is the fine tip. Here are some of its features:

  • It is the closest to a more traditional pen and is characterized by a thin pointy tip. 
  • It is great for different forms of hand-lettering, specifically in lighter and thinner fonts. 
  • Its thickness varies across different alcohol marker brands
  • It offers a more distinct approach to drawing and coloring. 
  • Every line drawn with a fine tip pen will more or less look the same.

Find out more about Altenew’s alcohol art markers!

How do you use alcohol markers for beginners?

With so many brands and sets of artist markers out there, it could be a daunting task just wading through them and finding the right one for you. Just like any other arts and crafts tool, there is no “one marker that fits all.” Some of the best art markers - the most raved about or highly recommended - may not work for you. Choosing one that suits your needs is the number one priority. Remember, some of these markers might work better than the others - regardless of the brand name or the price point.

If you want to know how to use alcohol markers, the best way is to just start using them. The more you practice coloring with them, trying a wide variety of techniques, creating your own artwork, the better you will be. Of course, mistakes and imperfect results are to be expected. Remember, practice makes progress. In any hobby, it’s essential to aim for progress, not perfection. 

Check out this quick and fun video tutorial by our design team member Therese. Here, she explains the difference between no-line coloring and line coloring techniques.

There is a plethora of tutorial videos and project inspiration on how to use alcohol markers readily available online. You can always rely on YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram to help you get started on your first alcohol marker art project. The video below by our design team member Erum will show you one of the easiest coloring techniques that you can try with your alcohol-based markers.

Before you kickstart your coloring journey, here are 10 tips and reminders that you should keep in mind.

  1. It may be expensive to invest in a good art marker set to start with, but it’s better to practice with high-quality ones.
  2. To create seamless blending with these markers, you will need at least two colors with the same color tone (or from the same color family) but different shades.
  3. It is highly recommended to use 3 to 4 markers from the same color family to get that polished and professional look. 
  4. It’s crucial to use decent and high-quality alcohol marker paper. A regular printer paper won’t do. Cardstock is usually preferred by colorists. Its ability to hold the ink to avoid bleeding makes cardstock paper the best alcohol marker paper.  
  5. Practice a few simple and basic techniques first. Try the flicking technique where you use the darkest to the lightest marker color and add color to your image by doing a short and light flicking motion with your hand. In this technique, the trick is to add more dark colors to show depth and details and blend out the colors properly.
  6. Floral images are usually the best images to practice your coloring with. 
  7. Having trouble with a project you started and can’t figure out how to finish it? Take a little break and come back to it. Having a fresh set of eyes can spark your creativity and help you see where you need to improve.
  8. Even the best art markers that money can buy need to be stored properly. You can either buy some decent marker storage or make your own!
  9. These markers dry fast. And we mean really fast. You need to work fast when you’re using them.

They come in sets of 12, 24, 40, or 72, and in a wide range of colors. Having too many choices might be overwhelming you at first, especially if you know nothing about these types of markers. The important thing to remember is to choose a decent, high-quality, and affordable marker set that can withstand daily use since you’re going to need to practice a lot as a beginner.

Altenew Artist Marker Sets for beginners

As a beginner, finding a good art marker set is only half the battle. Even if you already have an idea of how to use alcohol markers, you still need to learn a few tips, tricks, and hacks to help you make progress. As mentioned above, you don’t need to get intimidated by the incredibly stunning alcohol marker art that you see online. Everyone - even the best colorists out there - started somewhere. Now it’s your turn to take the next step toward your alcohol marker coloring journey! 

View our products here to find high-quality and cheap alcohol-based markers!

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