The Ultimate Watercolor Brush Guide for Crafters and Artists

Don't you just love the look of watercolor? From the mesmerizing way the colors blend and flow to the immense creative freedom they offer, watercolors have captivated the hearts of crafters and artists alike for centuries. Here at Altenew, we love watercolors - especially in the form of watercolor brush markers! 

A beautiful butterfly artwork colored with watercolor brush markers

Rich and Highly-Pigmented Watercolor Brush Markers

If you've ever wanted to play with watercolors but wanted a cleaner, more portable, and more controlled flow, then watercolor brush markers are perfect! Whether you're a seasoned watercolor enthusiast looking to refine your technique or a curious newcomer eager to embark on a colorful journey, this guide is tailor-made to inspire, educate, and empower you in using watercolor brush markers. So grab your favorite brush markers, and let's get coloring!

What Are Watercolor Brush Markers?

Watercolor brush markers are an innovative and versatile medium that has taken the art world by storm. Combining the convenience of markers with the fluid beauty of watercolors, these artistic tools offer both artists and crafters an exciting way to express their creativity. 

A card made with watercolor brush markers for crafting

Watercolor Brush Markers - Autumn Festival Set

At their core, most watercolor brush markers are markers filled with water-based ink. What sets them apart from ordinary markers is their flexible brush-like tip, which emulates the strokes of a paintbrush. The brush tip allows for smooth, flowing lines and allows you to control the width of your strokes, making it an ideal tool for fine details and broad sweeps of color. These brush tips are perfect for applying fluid strokes, filling larger areas, and even doing calligraphy!

Moreover, instead of normal ink, these watercolor markers have barrels filled with concentrated pigment, which you can dilute with water or use straight on your paper for flowing, watercolor looks.

Find Out More About Watercoloring and How It Started Here! 

The Best Kinds of Watercolor Brush Markers

Many reputable brands, including Altenew, offer a wide range of watercolor brush markers, each with its unique attributes. From the quality of pigments to the durability of the brush tip, choosing the right brand can significantly impact your artistic experience. 

Altenew's Watercolor Brush Markers are a good fit for any beginner, as they are available in a wide range of vibrant and pigmented colors. Plus, they're refillable, saving you more money in the long run! The ink is formulated to blend smoothly and offer excellent color coverage. With their ergonomic barrel design and a versatile brush tip, these markers are ideal for creating various watercolor techniques, such as layering, wet on wet, and gradient looks. 

Watercolor Brush Markers vs. Other Water-Based Mediums 

You may be wondering - what's the difference between these watercolor brush markers from other types of watercolors, such as pans and tubes? These three are all popular forms of watercolor paints, but they differ in terms of composition, presentation, and application. Here's a breakdown of their key differences:

Watercolor Brush Markers Watercolor Pans Watercolor Tubes
highly pigmented ink that is water-soluble solid watercolor paints arranged in small compartments or wells within a palette contains a concentrated paste or liquid form of watercolor paint
flexible brush-like tip, which mimics the strokes of a paintbrush easy to use, clean, and maintain, perfect for artists who like painting plein-air available in both student-grade and professional-grade quality
portable and are perfect for on-the-go artists not as vibrant as markers, but they are more inexpensive offer strong color intensity and are well-suited for large artworks
can help you achieve watercolor-like effects without the need for a separate brush perfect for beginners who want to practice color mixing and work with more colors they require a separate palette and a separate brush
typically bought in a coordinating set of colors you can buy these in a set or individually can be bought as a set or individually for custom color palettes


Overall, the main differences between watercolor brush markers, watercolor pans, and watercolor tubes lie in their form and convenience. Watercolor brush markers combine the convenience of markers with the fluidity of watercolors, making them easy to use, while watercolor pans offer portability, making them popular for outdoor sketching and travel. On the other hand, watercolor tubes provide intense color and are suitable for larger works, but they require more setup and materials.

A wonderfully colored card with brush markers

Watercolor Paper Pad (9"x 12")

Each form of watercolor paint has its advantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your preferences, working style, and specific project needs. Some may prefer the versatility of watercolor brush markers, while others may lean towards the traditional feel of using pans or tubes. Whichever option you choose, watercolor paints offer a beautiful and expressive medium for all your crafty creations! 

How to Use Watercolor Brush Markers 

Using watercolor brush markers is a delightful and intuitive process, offering a seamless combination of watercolors and markers in one versatile tool. To get started on watercolor painting with brush markers, you only need a few supplies: 

  • Watercolor brush markers
  • Watercolor paper
  • Mixed-media paper
  • A water container 
  • A paintbrush for additional blending

Once you're set up, take a moment to explore your marker set, familiarizing yourself with the colors and the brush tips. Experiment with gentle strokes and varying pressure to understand the range of lines you can create. If you would like lighter and softer colors, you can dilute it with water or use it directly on your paper for a bolder and richer color. 

Coloring and Blending

To learn how to blend with watercolor markers, begin by applying the marker colors directly to your paper. Hold the marker at a slight angle and use the brush tip to draw smooth lines, add details, or fill in larger areas. Notice how the pigments interact with the paper's texture. 

To unleash the watercolor magic, grab a clean paintbrush and lightly dip it in the water. Touch the wet brush to the marker strokes on your paper, and you'll see the colors start to blend and flow, creating watercolor-like effects. You can adjust the water level to achieve your desired color intensity.

Discover the Best Watercolor Brush Markers for Beginners! 

Making Color Washes and Gradients

To create washes or gradients, lay down a few strokes of color on your paper and then blend them together with a wet brush. You can tilt the paper to guide the flow of colors or use the brush to spread the pigments evenly. 

Another advantage of watercolor brush markers is that they allow for easy layering. You can add more colors on top once the first layer dries to build depth and intensity. The transparent nature of watercolors allows underlying colors to shine through, producing captivating visual effects!

A beautiful card being colored with vibrant watercolor brush marker colors

Bright and Bold Liquid Watercolors

Adding Fine Details

Use a fine bullet-tip pen to add intricate details or outlines to your artwork. This tip is perfect for defining shapes and enhancing your painting's overall composition. Don't be afraid to experiment with different techniques and styles!

You can create textures by repeatedly dabbing the brush tip, exploring color blending by overlapping strokes, and incorporating other media like colored pencils or ink for mixed-media effects. Just make sure to let your colors dry completely before making any additional adjustments or adding more layers. This will prevent unintentional smudging or bleeding. 

Storing and Taking Care of Your Watercolor Brush Markers

Once you're done playing around with your watercolor brush markers, it's time to clean and store them! Storing and taking care of your watercolor brush markers is essential to maintain their performance and extend their lifespan. 

Moreover, proper storage and maintenance ensure your markers are always ready to create beautiful artwork. Here are some tips to help you keep your watercolor brush markers in excellent condition:

  • Store Them Properly: When not in use, store your watercolor brush markers in a cool and dry place. 
  • Keep the Caps Secure: Always make sure to put back the caps securely after each use. The lids help to seal the markers and prevent the ink from evaporating or drying out. Additionally, secure caps prevent the brush tip from fraying or getting damaged. 
  • Clean the Brush Tips: Clean the brush tips of your watercolor brush markers regularly to maintain their performance. Use a paper towel or a clean sponge to wipe the brush tips after each use gently. This prevents the colors from mixing and ensures you get the actual color when using the markers next time. 
  • Avoid Exposure to Extreme Temperatures: Protect your watercolor brush markers from extreme temperatures. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight or exposing them to heat sources, as this can cause the ink to dry out or leak. Also, avoid leaving them in extremely cold conditions, as this may affect the consistency of the ink.
  • Use Proper Paper: For optimal results, use high-quality watercolor paper or mixed-media paper designed for water-based media. These papers can handle the water and ink without buckling or bleeding, allowing you to achieve the best results with your watercolor brush markers. 
  • Test on Scrap Paper: Before using a new color or blending different markers, test them on scrap paper first. This way, you can get a feel for how the colors will react and blend together before applying them to your artwork.
  • Prevent Cross-Contamination: Avoid dipping them into water containers used for other media. Cross-contamination can alter the color quality and may result in unexpected effects on your artwork.
  • Recap and Store Properly During Travel: When taking your watercolor brush markers on the go, ensure they are securely capped and stored in a case or holder designed for markers. This protects them from damage and prevents the ink from leaking. 

By following these simple tips, you can keep your watercolor brush markers in excellent condition, ensuring they continue to bring vibrant colors and creative joy to your artwork for a long time.  

Find Artists’ Top Choice of Watercolor Markers Here! 

Watercolor Brush Marker Techniques for Beginners

When it comes to basic watercolor painting techniques, your experiences may differ when using watercolor brush markers, but that's what makes it more fun and exciting to use as a medium! Whether you're new to art or just starting with watercolor brush markers, here are some beginner-friendly techniques to help you get started:

Basic Strokes and Lines

Practice creating basic strokes and lines with your watercolor brush markers. Experiment with different brush pressures and angles to achieve thin and thick lines and variations in between. Mastering these fundamental strokes will build your control and confidence when working on more complex pieces.

Blending Colors 

Blending is a fundamental technique in watercolor art. With watercolor brush markers, you can blend colors directly on the paper. Apply one color, then touch the tip of another color to the wet area and let the colors flow and mix naturally. This creates beautiful gradients and smooth transitions between hues. 

Tip-to-Tip Technique

The ‘tip-to-tip’ technique refers to mixing and transferring color from one marker to another by touching their tips together. This technique allows you to create beautiful gradients, blend colors seamlessly, and achieve unique color variations in your artwork. 

Creating Washes

A watercolor wash is a translucent layer of color spread over a larger area. To create a wash, apply a generous amount of water to the paper using a wet brush. Then, touch the brush marker to the wet area and let the color spread naturally. Experiment with different water-to-ink ratios to achieve lighter or more intense washes.

Wet-on-Wet Technique

The wet-on-wet technique involves applying color to a wet surface, allowing the pigments to blend and flow freely. Wet the paper with clean water first, and then add the watercolor brush marker to the wet areas. Watch the colors merge and interact in a beautiful, organic way!

Wet-on-Dry Technique

Unlike the wet-on-wet technique, the wet-on-dry technique involves using wet paint to apply the color to dry paper. You can use this technique for more controlled and precise details, as the colors won't spread as much.

Lifting Color

If you make a mistake or want to lighten an area, you can lift color from the paper using a clean, damp brush or a paper towel. Dab the damp/thirsty brush or towel on the area you want to lift, and the color will lift off, creating a lighter spot that's also perfect for mimicking highlights.


Masking involves covering certain areas with masking tape or masking fluid before painting. This protects those areas from receiving paint and creates a reserved white space in your artwork. Once your painting is dry, carefully remove the masking to reveal the untouched areas.

Stamping Technique

Want to get more out of your brush markers? Why not use them to stamp artsy and loose watercolor images? Simply add watercolor ink to the stamp, spritz with water, and then stamp on watercolor paper! You can level the stamped images even further by using a gel pen or a fine liner pen to add more details. 

Remember to experiment and have fun! Practice is key, and everyone has their unique style. Be patient with yourself as you explore these watercolor brush marker techniques, and allow your creativity to flow freely. Happy painting!

Fun Watercolor Brush Marker Project Ideas

Watercolor brush markers are versatile and easy to use, and there are a lot of ways you can use them in your DIY designs. If you need some easy watercolor art ideas to do with these liquid watercolors, here are some projects you can try: 

Create Beautiful Watercolor Looks With Heat-Embossed Designs 

A beautiful floral card featuring green tones

Autumn Festival Watercolor Brush Markers & Refill Bundle

Did you know that heat embossing creates water-resistant designs? After embossing your image, you can freely use watercolor brush markers to add vibrant and captivating colors easily. This technique allows you to create intricate, raised designs for your artwork, which beautifully interact with the soft, flowing watercolor pigments. 

Bring Vibrant and Lively Colors to Your Botanical Images 

Botanical images come to life when infused with vibrant and lively colors, capturing the essence and beauty of nature. If you'd like to know more tips on how to color realistic floral images, read our How to Capture the Beauty of Florals With Liquid Watercolors!

A green floral card featuring two flowers as its focal point

Fine Watercolor Brushes

Make Unique, and Eye-Catching Mixed Media Art Projects

Find the best watercolor brush markers for coloring here at Altenew!

Watercolor Brush Markers - Tropical Fiesta Set

Doing mixed-media art projects is so fun! When using watercolor brush markers, try combining various materials, textures, and techniques when you color with them. You can create captivating collages, textured papers, and even embossing paste! You can also blend watercolor brush markers with colored pencils and ink to achieve stunning mixed-media illustrations. 

Use Beautiful Washes as Backgrounds for Your Cards

With the elegant fluidity of watercolor brush markers, you can achieve a seamless blend of colors to form a dreamy background for your cards! Simply wet the watercolor paper and gently layer the brush markers, allowing the pigments to merge and dance across the surface. The key is to let watercolors run freely because that's where their beauty lies! 

Try Ink-Smooshing With Heat-Embossing Techniques

Another variation of the color wash technique is the ink-smooshing technique. You can use this method to create colorful and abstract backgrounds or textures in various projects. It involves "smooshing" or transferring the ink from the markers onto your paper or other surfaces to create vibrant and dynamic effects. 

To do this, on a watercolor paper panel, stamp an image in embossing ink, sprinkle embossing powder, and heat set with a heat gun. Then, on a non-porous surface, apply a mixture of inks and spritz with a light mist of water. Finally, gently apply your panel to the color mixture, and let dry.  

Beautiful and romantic roses colored with watercolor brush markers

Fine Mister - Perfect Craftroom Companion

You can experiment with various color combinations, from soft pastels to bold gradients, depending on the mood and theme of your cards. 

Use Watercolor Brush Markers Like a Pro With This Guide!

Overall, the world of watercolor brush markers is a mesmerizing realm that beckons both crafters and artists to explore its boundless potential. 

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, the possibilities are endless with watercolor brush markers!

Today, we talked about the properties of this medium, how to use them, store them, and make the most out of them. We hope that this post has given you the confidence and motivation to try the convenience of watercolor brush markers on your projects. If you do, don't forget to tag us on social media! Thank you for reading, and if you're interested in more tutorials like these, browse through our other watercoloring guides!