Colored Markers, Part I: Water Soluble Markers


After colored pencils, colored markers are the second most popular media for adult coloring. In this series of posts, we will take a look at the various types of markers and how you can choose and use them.

When it comes to markers, there are a two categories: Water Soluble and Alcohol or Solvent-Based.

Today we’ll focus on Water Soluble Colored Markers.

Water-soluble markers are usually non-toxic and washable, and the student-grade ones are budget-friendly. They’re best for filling in details rather than large areas because they tend to leave lines (“banding”) where your marker strokes overlap. As well, the colors in student-grade water-soluble markers tend to fade relatively quickly (some colors, within days or weeks). For me adult coloring is an activity rather than a means of producing a keepsake, so I honestly don’t care.

Water-soluble markers don’t saturate the paper as much as alcohol or solvent based markers; this means they don’t typically bleed through. On the flip-side, they don’t color as smoothly, hence the banding. Sometimes the color can look uneven. Also, they aren’t as good for blending or shading.

Higher-end (artist-quality) water-soluble markers perform more like alcohol-based markers, meaning the color lays down a bit more smoothly. However, the price is higher as well.

Water-Soluble Marker Recommended Best Buys:

Crayola 50-Count Washable Super Tips Super-tip Markers – $6.26
Colored Markers Crayola SupertipsUse the side of the tip on these markers for filling in larger areas and the tip itself for adding details. These are washable from skin and most clothing. Super-tips don’t bleed through most paper, and the ink is safe even if you leave the markers uncapped for up to 24 hours. One issue with these markers is that the color of the cap doesn’t necessarily match what you will get on your paper. The barrel is 6-1/2 inches long and thin like a pencil, a size that some colorists prefer.

Crayola 50-Count Pip-Squeaks Markers with Telescoping Tower – $13.04
Adult Coloring MarkersTechnically kids’ markers, these stubby ones are 4 inches long and wide-barrelled. Some colorists find the Pip-Squeaks wonky to handle and would prefer the Super-tips (below) while others howl with delight at how comfortable they are. They come in a collapsible plastic tower that is supposed to make selecting your colors “easier.” Frankly, I found the tower a bit cumbersome.

Staedtler Triplus 20-Count Fineliner Pens (for small areas) $20.67
Staedtler Colored MakersThese pens have a unique shape: the barrel is triangular and very comfortable to hold. However, they do have a fine-point so are an excellent choice for detail work as opposed to areas requiring broad strokes. Staedtler’s unique feature is great for those of us who tend to lose caps under the couch: the pen will not dry out right away – and may even last a few days. As a result, they may last longer than other pens, taking away some of the price “sting.” The box they come in does double duty as a stand-up easel.

Tombow 16-Count Dual Brush Pen Set $27.99
Tombow Colored MarkersThis set comes with 15 primary and secondary colors and one colorless blender pen. You can add more colors (there is a total of 96) ten at a time with “themed” sets such as Landscape, Soda Shop, and Brights. In all, the color selection is fantastic. Each marker has a flexible brush tip on one end and a fine tip on the other. The brush tip is like a paintbrush than can make fine, medium or bold strokes; the fine tip is great for detail work.

Next – Part II: Alcohol & Solvent-based Colored Markers

One thought on “Colored Markers, Part I: Water Soluble Markers”

  1. Thank you for the information. I did not know the difference in all of these.

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