The Best Art Markers for Vibrant, Bold Brushstrokes
From graffiti writers to architects and graphic designers, many artists love to use art markers in their work. Today, individuals have a wide variety of brands, materials, and styles to choose from. Traditional art markers deliver vivid colors in an easy-to-use tool, while water or oil-based paint markers function like a paintbrush in a tube. Whether you prefer an art marker with dozens of different tips to choose from or pick an all-in-one paint marker featuring virtually unlimited colors. Check out our top picks of best art markers in 2021 and you should find what you are looking for here. For more information about the types of markers available, you can also check out our art marker buyer's guide below.
Marvy DecoColor Acrylic Paint Art Marker
Krink K-55 Acrylic Art Marker
Uni Posca Paint Art Marker
Molotow One4All Acrylic Paint Art Marker
Copic Markers 36-Piece Sketch Art Marker
Prismacolor 3620 Premier Double-Ended Art Marker
Tombow Dual Brush Art Marker
What are the best art makers of 2021?
DecoColor Acrylic markers combine a high-quality paint marker with an inexpensive, all-purpose tool. While DecoColor also produces solvent-based markers, these acrylic markers are water-based, making them easy to wash up while still wet, but permanent once dry. Moderately priced, the markers come in 28 colors, (Including a selection of metallic pigments) available both individually and in a variety of package sizes. Best of all, unlike most other brands, these markers have a handy chisel-tip allowing artists to create a variety of lines with only one tip.
Developed by graffiti artist KR, the K-60 marker is a street artist's best friend and intended to cover large areas fast. While Krink provides a range of traditional markers, this version is actually a small plastic bottle with a broad, rounded marker-tip. These bottles allow artists to control ink flow by regulating the amount of pressure placed on the bottle, giving them more control over the ink. The markers come in 21 colors, including several metallic pigments. Their main drawback is their fairly high price, but the K-60 is refillable and artists can blend inks to create new color combinations.
Posca Paint Markers offer a specially-designed valve to promote even paint flow and smooth color. The brand has been tested on numerous surfaces and works on a range of textures and materials; they’re even suggested for use on leather or eggshells making them truly universal. The paint is permanent on porous surfaces, but can be fixed with a varnish or by baking ceramics, while easily washing off glass and other non-porous surfaces. The markers come in seven sizes of tips and over a dozen colors which can be blended while wet, making them some of the most versatile paint markers available.
A highly versatile marker, the One4All paint marker offers one of the best color selections and tip combinations. The markers use an acrylic-based paint and can be refilled using either one of the standard 34 colors or an original color-blend. To make it easier for artists to blend their own colors, the brand even offers an assortment of empty markers, including its special 60 millimeter flat-tip for fast, wide painting. Some artists find that the paint is a little slower to dry, but it’s very opaque for good coverage. The markers themselves are fairly expensive, but the refills come at a moderate price, balancing out the overall cost.
The Copic Marker has a reputation as being a long-time favorite among artists. The highly versatile markers leave a clear, strong color, and are highly versatile. Each refillable marker comes with a broad tip and a fine tip, but both tips can be swapped out for any of Copic’s nine replacement nib styles. The markers are available in 214 colors, giving artists an extensive array of colors and shades to work with.
The Copic brand produces three other versions of this marker, including one which works with the Copic airbrush system, one with extra-wide tips for covering large areas quickly, and a less-expensive version with a more limited color selection. All said, the original offers the best combination of tip replacements and colors. This marker line is fairly expensive at almost twice the price of similar brands but with their overall quality many artists consider them well worth the price.
Coming from a name-brand art company, Prismacolor markers offer quality color at a fairly reasonable price. One version of the brush has a combination of a chisel tip and a fine tip while the other comes with a brush tip and a fine tip. Either version allows artists the ability to create a wide range of strokes. The markers come in a wide assortment of colors, with 200 unique shades and tones to choose from in a variety of packs in several sizes and color combinations. The markers are not a bargain brand like some general-purpose markers but they do cost less than most of these other top art markers.
Although the name implies a pen, these markers combine the best qualities of a marker, an ink pen, and a paintbrush. Like other double-ended markers, these markers come with a fine tip at one end but instead of the typical broad tip at the other end, these markers come with a special brush tip. The brush tip has a cone shape allowing for an excellent variety of strokes sizes and shapes. Tombow Dual Brush Pens come in 96 colors which may be blended together for a wider color selection, perfect for adding detail to designs. They are moderately priced, especially when bought in packages.
Unlike some other types of art supplies, markers don’t require you to learn a lot of unusual vocabulary. The most important part of picking a marker is making sure that it will work on the surface you want to use and that you have the right shape of tip—and that the brand you pick has enough colors to meet your needs. There are, however, a couple other important details to keep in mind, since they will make your work easier in the end. Here are some basic tips to get you started.
Art Marker Types
Art markers are a great choice for drawing anything from graphs to portraits, and they work best on poster board, card stock or even heavy paper, as long as you expect the color to bleed through a bit.
The most common brands of markers, such as Crayola, are easy to find and use so they're great for kids’ art projects. However, these brands are not the same as professional art markers so they're not light-fast and the markers themselves will not last very long.
Professional Art Markers
These are markers with much stronger colors and are more reliable than your average art markers. They are usually light-fast and fade-resistant so your artwork can maintain its original bright colors. The best brands of markers come in a wide selection of colors and nibs and may be sold as either large sets or individual markers. High-end brands usually offer a selection of extra components such as replacement nibs, refill ink, or special carrying cases.
Instead of the typical dye found in most markers, paint markers contain water-based or even oil-based paints. They are your best choice for unusual projects, such as drawing on concrete, wood, or glass. Most of these markers are quite versatile, but you’ll want to check each brand’s specifications to make sure it works for the project you’re planning. You should also check the brand’s instructions, since some paint markers require special handling and storage.
Traditional art markers use a variety of inks or dyes for their colors. These inks are often alcohol-based, so they are thinner than paint, usually dry fast, and may offer a more controlled flow. As a result, though, they are also less versatile and are mainly used on cardstock or paper for projects like calligraphy, architecture design, portraits, and other types of artwork.
As the name suggests, you can refill these markers once the ink runs out. You can find them pre-filled tubes or empty tubes ready for you to add your own ink or paint. They’re usually expensive but this option allows you to blend your own colors.
These are the marker tips, the piece which controls how the ink flows onto the paper. The most common styles are rounded for standard work and chisel tips for creating calligraphy lines. Broader flat nibs cover the area fastest with fewer strokes while narrow nibs work best for detail areas. Some brands, especially refillable markers, have nibs you can swap out for another style. Other brands offer double-ended markers with a different nib at each end.
As with paints or pencils, the term light-fast lets you know the marker strokes won't fade significantly over time. Most brands will last for at least a few years which is all you need if you’re only creating a sign for a single event. If you want to create lasting artwork, plan on finding markers that are light-fast and will retain their original colors for many years to come.
Storage and Special Handling
Since artists often work with dozens of colors, it’s useful to have a storage system in place. You may want to buy a storage bin or create your own set of bins that will allow you to sort markers by color. While most art markers can just be capped and tossed in a bin, some brands of paint markers need to be stored on their side to prevent them from drying out or leaking.
Paint markers also require special handling so the paint doesn't clog the tips. This means shaking the markers well before beginning to use them, and wiping them occasionally on a clean sheet of paper to clear the tip. You should wipe the tips again before capping them and putting them away. If a removable tip does become clogged, you can usually take it off the marker and rinse it out to clear the dried paint.