So your new to sketching interiors and you wanna know what’s the deal with alcohol markers. You wanna know what to look for, which brands to choose from, and what colors to buy. I get it, there is a plethora of markers on amazon and its freaking you out a bit. Especially since this is an investment in your craft. Okay calm down, breathe, ooo saahhh. Relax I got you covered. With this beginners guide to markers for interior sketching, you should have the basic knowledge of what to look for and what to purchase.
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Understanding What Alcohol Markers Are
First off, what the heck are alcohol markers? What is the hype all about. Well to be obvious, they are an alcohol- based ink marker. They dry quick and produce a great color payoff. They are quicker and more portable than paint or watercolor. These markers do have an effect of looking like watercolor to an extent and they don’t buckle the paper. They have the ability to layer and blend beautifully, which is why they are so popular in illustration. Color rendition also depends on the paper that you use. For the most part I would stick with paper that is made for markers. You can use copy paper but that has the tendency to bleed thru and rapidly dry out your markers.
What to Look for When Buying Markers for Interior Sketching.
There are many aspects to knowing how to choose and buy your markers. And honestly its always going to be your preference. With that said here are the main points of what to look at when choosing markers for interior sketching.
Every brand will have a different color range. Some brands will be very limited with only 12 available colors like Crayola. And some like Copic Sketch have over 300 colors to choose from.
How a marker’s ink blends into another hue is a great tool for gradation. Did you know you can go from one hue to another complementary hue? You can see that in the photo down below. The possibilities are endless. However, not all markers have great blend ability. The transition from one shade to another can be splotchy and that will ruin the effect that the design is trying to convey.
If you have not noticed there are actually different types of nibs on these markers. There are the chisel nib, the bullet nib, and the brush nib. Each brands nibs may differ slightly but these are the main ones. By twisting, twirling, and varying the pressure that you use, can create a wide variety of line qualities and coverage of a space. Some brands also have replacement nibs in case you damage it. One of the most popular nibs is the brush nib. This is because it has that artist way about it and it can have a very organic line.
These brands carry brush nibs:
- Copic Sketch, (Sets & Singles)
- Ohuhu (72 count here)
- Arteza, (36 count)
- PrismaMarker (48 count)
- Winsor&Newton Brushmarker (48 count)
- Shinhan Touch (36 count )
- Artxx (90 count here)
- Croma lite (24 count grey values)
Refillable or Not
Now with these nibs, some brands have the option of being able to refill them when the ink starts to dry. This is especially useful for when you want the same marker but don’t want to just buy a whole knew marker. This is also create less waste which is good for the environment. At this point Copic Sketch markers, Sketchmarker, and Shinhan Touch have refills. Arteza stays that they will be coming out with some soon.
Now you probably are wondering if you have to buy a whole set or if you can just get a single one. And the answer is yes and no. Cheaper brands like Caliart and Ohuhu are affordable yes, but their draw back is that if you use you one marker in a pack, you don’t have the option of just buying that single color.
In interior sketching you will use liners. This is especially so when creating line weights in different drawings. Outlining your piece also gives it more dimensions and more recognizable. But depending on the liner there will be smudging. That is where technique comes in. How you law your liner or how you lay the marker will determine whether a smudge is about to happen or its smooth sailing baby.
Layering is another key factor to these markers, and why designers love this medium so much. By layering your markers you can get more shades to that hue or use a combination of markers to get a totally new shade or tone. You can definitely tell the quality of a markers ink by how well it layers.
This subject is a biggie, especially, for students who can afford to buy many. The good thing is that many companies have made it more affordable to get your hand on a set of alcohol markers. Also if you wanting to try and go for the higher tier markers for interior sketching. Some companies offer AfterPay or Klarna which are different payment options that allow you to make payments for your purchase. And if I’m not mistaken you can use the Klana app to be able to create a temporary card to purchase from any website.
I get a lot of questions of which brand should I buy? And with so many brands out there it’s easy to get overwhelmed. No worries though I will narrow that list for you significantly. Here are a few brands that are well known and have really good reviews from other illustrators.
Recommendations for Your First Markers for Interior Sketching Set
Now for the good stuff. Quick disclaimer, these recommendations are based on my experience in interior sketching. These colors are the most grabbed markers in my kit. If you have a tight budget and starting to sketch interior or even architecture these picks are the bare necessities to get started.
My first recommendation is to get 3 markers in a cool grey value and 3 markers in a warm grey value. A light tone, midtown, and a deep tone. There are a lot of grays out there like green grays, violet grey, French grey, toner grey, and neutral grey. But for the bare minimum you should at least have a cool grey and a warm grey. Now I do recommend to try and go for the higher tier markers like Copic, Shinhan Touch, and Sketchmarkers, because grey are tones that you will use a lot, and I mean a lot. So it would be a good idea to invest, however, the recommendations below are just as good, only draw back is that they don’t have refills.
Grey Starter Sets I recommend:
- Arrtx Alp Markers Grayscale 32 count
- Croma Lite Brush Dual Tip Grey set 24 Count
- Arteza 36 Count Chisel & Bullet tip Grey Set
- Arteza Art Alcohol Markers, Set of 36 Grayscale Markers, Medium Chisel & Brush Tip
- Spectrum Noir Classique Grey 6 Count
My second marker recommendations for interior sketching is to pick a palette that are neutral in tones. In interior sketching, unless you are a bold designer and use bold hues all the time, you will more than likely be steering to the more muted and neutral, even pastel hues for your color choices. My personal favorite sets that achieve this are skin tone sets, but there are sets that actually pertain to the architectural category.
Neutral Tone Starter Sets Recommendations
- Arteza Alcohol Art Markers, Set of 36 Colors, Portrait Tones, Medium Chisel & Brush Tip
- Ohuhu Skin-Tone Brush Markers, 36 Colors , Brush & Chisel
- Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Chisel Tip, Portrait Set, 24 Pack
- Croma Lite Brush Dual Tip Alcohol Based Sketch Markers,36 Count
- TOUCH Twin Marker 6pc Wood
- Sketchmarker Brush Pro Warm Gray 12 Set
And lastly if you are just looking for a large starter set for the time being there are a few sets that contain most of what you need and then some.
Full Set Recommendations
- Arrtx Markers, ALP 90 Basic Colors + OROS 36 Skin Tones
- Ohuhu Alcohol Brush Markers, 168-color Art Markers Set Brush & Chisel tip
- Arteza Alcohol Art Markers, Set of 72 Colors, Sketch Pens in Organizer Box, Fine and Broad Chisel
- Prismacolor Markers, Fine and Chisel Tip, 72-Count
- Sketchmarker Brush Pro Outdoor 36 Set
- TOUCH Twin Brush Marker 36pc
My personal favorite brands
I personally use Copic sketch, Arteza, and Prismacolor Markers. Copic Sketch markers are by far the most high quality by far. They blend so well and there is a big range of colors. I love how they have a lot of very light tones and hues. Now Arteza is like the underdog. They are an up-and-coming US brand that honestly goes head to head in blending ability. Their only downside as of right now is that they don’t sell refills yet, but they say they will be soon. Once they do, man that’s like a game-changer. And lastly Prismacolor markers. They are mostly a nostalgic brand for me. I started with Prismacolor in design school and they are very reliable in all categories. Like Arteza though, their only downside is not having any refills. They haven’t announced that they will be coming out with some anytime soon.
Update Jan. 2022: Okay my new top 3 marker brands I love at the moment are Copic Sketch, Arteza, and SketchMarker. You know the reasons for Copic and Arteza, but man oh man the SketchMarkers blew me away. I am in love with their muted tones and blendability.
Now it’s up to you to choose. All the brands and sets I mentioned are really great, its just up to your preferences on nibs, refill availability, and budget. My number one tip when picking out a set is to imagine what are your typical material textures that you use in your designs. And make sure it’s got a good range of warm and cool grey values. Okay there you go. Happy hunting!