In this review we explore 6 types of the best markers for tasks such as coloring, rock painting, calligraphy and illustration. Though I have not used markers as a medium often I have noticed how they have evolved over the years. This evolution has created new niches and plenty of competition in the marker industry and in turn many different types of markers for professionals and beginners have hit the market.
Editor's Top Pick
Researching for the best marker types has been challenging yet very informative and my hope is to capture the essence of how each type can be applied today. Each review below goes over some of the characteristics that separate these markers from one another. They also show the traits they have in common and will help to give you a better understanding of the key differences. With that said, feel free to explore my reviews to learn more about each set of markers before you buy a thing.
Table of Contents
Best Markers by type
Research shows 6 types of markers that are popular among many artists. Some of the ones reviewed below can be used in multiple applications making them more versatile. Below you will find each type of marker and a quick review on some of the popular brands found in today’s market.
Also see my reviews on the best alcohol markers for drawing comics and adult coloring.
1. Best Dry Erase Markers
These are used in schools, business meetings and industry and are mainly used on a whiteboard. Most non porous surfaces will also work. Two important things are tip wear and how erasable it is. You want the tip to hold up over time without blunting and also erase easily without leaving a stain. Be sure to follow all the storage instructions that come with these as this could cause dry spots or leaks.
Bic Intensity Dry Erase Markers
This is a set of 12 bullet tip at a very affordable price. There are many different brands out there but these stood out to me as being close to what the majority of people were looking for. One cool feature is being able to see how much ink is left in the reservoir. It is nice to know when you need to replace one. Can use on many non-porous surface including glass.
- Low Odor
- Fine bullet style tip
- Visible ink supply
- Erases easily
- Not a super fine tip
- Could start leaking if mishandled
I had no trouble finding information on these due to all the positive feedback from other customers. The tip seems to be kind of blunt and does not appear to be a true bullet tip but still draws a semi fine line.
2. Best Metallic Markers
These will work on paper, plastic, wood and leather making this a multi use marker and ready for just about any project. Ability to mark on dark and light backgrounds. These can also be bought specifically for coloring in books where bleeding through can be an issue. They could also be classified as a paint pen since many of them require you to depress the tip for loading the ink or paint. Has metal flaking or glitter in the paint that helps to create the illusion of real metal plate and chrome.
Sunshilor Metallic Markers
This set of 12 fine point metallic markers can be used for writing, drawing, rock painting and coloring. The water based ink is made of environmentally friendly materials and is non-toxic. These are considered to be permanent but you may be able to remove or erase from a more non porous surface.
- Writes smoothly
- Works on most surfaces
- Fine bullet tip
- Vibrant colors
- Affordably priced
- Can bleed through thinner paper
- May leak if stored tip down
- Could be a finer point
- Color may not match the cap
Many positive reviews help to make this a great choice in this category. I did notice some people storing with the tips down having problems with ink in the caps and recommend seeing the manufacturer’s storage guidelines. Even though there seems to be some bleeding it was very minimal based on the research.
3. Best Fabric Markers
Don’t be fooled by the name because these can work on other surfaces such as paper, canvas and even wall art. But the main purpose is to color and draw on fabric using permanent ink that retains it’s vibrancy and color after being washed multiple times. Popular items like shoes, shirts and handbags serve as good canvases. Most of these brands are more kid friendly but care on ingredients should always be noted.
Crafts 4 All Fabric Markers
This is a 24 pack set with a fine to medium bullet tip. Includes basic colors, earth tones and some florescent colors made from pigmented fabric dye that helps with keeping the original quality of the ink from washing out. These are child safe.
- Good color variety
- Fade proof
- Retains color after being washed
- Very affordable
- Ink color does not match cap
- Markers could dry up
Though these are decently priced there were some complaints about receiving old or dried out ones. I recommend contacting the manufacturer about this because many times they will send either a new one or a whole new set.
4. Best Markers For Drawing and Illustration
Being mainly alcohol based and designed for the more professional artist these will also work for a beginner just learning calligraphy or drawing. They typically have dual sided tips which gives the artist more freedom when combining different types of strokes. Fine, bullet, chisel and brush tips can be found in this style. Will dry quickly and permanently on most surfaces with the possible exception of glass and other less adsorbent materials.
Ohuhu Dual Sided Alcohol Markers
48 colors make this a nice set especially when one side is a brush and the other is a chisel point. Fine to medium strokes can be achieved with the brush while larger areas and strokes are done with the chiseled. Caps are color coded to match the ink inside making it easier to find the colors quickly. Also comes with a colorless marker that comes in handy when blending and thinning for a more transparent effect.
- Dual sided
- Fast drying
- Plenty of colors
- Good value
- Blends nicely
- Storage Case
- Bleeds through some papers
- Not refillable
As with most art equipment it is good practice to test before applying to a piece you are looking to keep. This ensures you are familiar with how smooth the ink flows out of the pen and on to the surface. Could be the best choice for the artist interested in illustration and drawing or sketching. Testing the paper will help to solve the issue of the ink going through the other side of the paper.
5. Best Calligraphy Markers
These have finer tips for more accuracy when outlining while also having a brush, bullet or chisel nib for bolder strokes and larger fill areas. Should be comfortable in the hand allowing for the necessary lettering techniques to be used effectively. Beginners take heart as learning calligraphy can take some time and practice with stroke exercises is a must when mastering the art of lettering. The cost of these can rise dramatically as ink and nib quality factors in but more affordable sets can be found.
Aen Art Calligraphy Markers
Set of 36 with a fine liner on one end and a brush on the other at an affordable price. Also good for journals, taking notes and crafts making this a good choice for art student’s. These are odorless, non-toxic and water based inks that will give accurate and consistent lines.
- Kid friendly
- .4mm fine liner
- 2mm brush tip
- Non bleeding
- Cap color may not match ink
- Possible quality issues
I believe this set to be more for kids who are just learning or for the beginner looking for an affordable price. Overall feedback was positive but quality seemed to be the biggest complaint. Proving once again that in most cases better quality comes with higher prices. Some fraying on the tips were noticed on the brush side while the fine point seems to harden after use. This could be a marker that should be stored on the side in order to keep ink on both nibs from drying.
Best Markers And Paint Pens
Being very similar to the metallic ones reviewed earlier in this article. Most of these require a certain amount of pressure to push the tip in for loading paint or pigment. Will work on almost any surface and can be used in art, lettering, crafts and many more projects making this type popular with many people. Some may be toxic so be careful and read ingredients before buying certain brands if they are going to be used by kids.
6. Asani Acrylic Paint Markers
This is a set of 12 different colors with fine bullet tips that can be used in multiple applications. They are permanent on most surfaces but can be removed from glass making this a possible choice for writing on storefront and restaurant windows. Tips must be pushed in for paint to absorb before writing or coloring.
These need to be shaken before loading the nib with paint and a few presses may be required to load the tip to get a better paint flow. The caps fitting tightly will help stop the things from drying out prematurely. Best for rock painting and decorating. Comes in a small box and individually wrapped making them a little difficult to open.
Beginners Guide To The Best Markers
From a beginners standpoint there are numerous factors to consider before purchasing that new set of markers due to a large variety on the market. For example, if you need to fill larger areas with color you should use a brush or chisel tip as this will help in adding color quickly. On the flip side, if you need fine details then a sharper tip would be a better choice.
Knowing the colors you may need ahead of time helps when shopping for your markers. If you are drawing people you would need some flesh tones colors and landscapes would need more earthy tones. Good news though, there are marker sets that have all these and more.
Testing Your Markers
It is always a good idea to try out a new set of markers before starting a new project. Knowing how they are going to react and how they feel in the hand will help to keep you on target. Nothing worse than starting to color or paint just to find out you’re using the wrong type of paper. Here is a checklist to help you get more on a first name basis with your new markers.
Check the Tips
All you are doing here is making sure the tip has a good form and appears to be in working order.
Check the flow of paint or ink
Be sure to mark on some scrap paper before starting your project to make sure the ink or paint are flowing smoothly.
Test on different types of paper
Always test the paper you are going to be working on to ensure it will accept the pigment the way you are wanting it to.
Practice drawing lines and various strokes
Checking your markers on different kinds of strokes will help you to get the feel of the grip and to see how comfortable it is in the hand. This is important if you plan on working for longer periods of time.
Take note that on rock painting the tips may wear faster and require replacement more often.
Ingredients Found In Markers
During my research I noticed only 3 basic types of markers on the market based on the materials and chemicals used in the ink and paint.
- Alcohol Based are composed of alcohol and pigment which may not be the best for younger children. Care should be taken to make sure it is non toxic. The alcohol base allows for faster drying times and is considered permanent while holding up better over time. This type is most recommended by illustration artists and is a popular pick.
- Water-based would be the best choice for kids as they are safe and non toxic. They can take longer to dry and need a thicker paper to prevent the ink from bleeding through. Great for creating a watercolor feel to your paintings without the hassles of loading and cleaning the brush.
- Solvent Based would be considered the worst due to the amount of ink that is created using chemicals. They are not recommended for children and should be put in a safe place when not using them. You can usually tell by its odor which is fairly pungent and not something you want to be sniffing. Versatility is a big plus as these can be used in many different surface applications.
Today markers are being developed with less of the solvent base and more of an all natural ingredient ink such as vegetable oil and water based inks. Making for a more environmentally safe product.
Styles Of Marker Tips
When shopping you will quickly see that there are 4 basic types of tips or nibs as they are called, that can be used together to accomplish fine detail work along with larger pieces of art. On some markers you can replace the tips as they wear out. Nibs are less expensive than buying a new marker. There were not many brands like this from what I have seen. More research may be required.
These are used for fine detail work and are also used largely for writing and calligraphy. Gives a tight crisp line that is especially good for outlining letters and doing fur on animal drawings. A 0.4mm tip is considered fine but there may be some that are even smaller.
This is a dual purpose tip that is capable of a semi fine line up to broad strokes. The boldness of the line is created by holding it at different angles. The more straight up and down you are the finer the line but lean over just a bit and you get a bolder line. Tip sizes can vary but a good starting point might be a 0.7mm to 1.0mm.
If you like the idea of a self loading brush then you will love this kind of tip. Especially nice to use for filling large areas. The watercolor brush tip marker will work well when creating washes in the field without the hassle of carrying paint and brush cleaners.
I found these to be more popular on highlighters but are also used for lettering and creating broad strokes. This tip is used for filling in larger areas quickly and works well when drawing bold lines. By using different angles and turning the marker you can create a line that starts fine, then broad and back to fine all in one stroke.
My Pick For Best Type Of Markers
Though I believe all the art markers above will suit the student because they are all very affordable sets. I also think if you are serious about art you should try to start with a more expensive set. My choice for best type of markers is Ohuhu Dual Tip Markers.
I lean more to the drawing niche of art and may be somewhat drawn to the illustration and drawing types of markers which do not work as well for rock painting like some of the other styles reviewed.
There are other types to be found out there and I will add to this list over time so be sure to like Artanalogy on Facebook or bookmark us.
Thanks for taking the time to read this review and I sincerely hope it helped in some way.
For the most realistic effects you will need to use the best alcohol markers.
The best calligraphy pens will be smooth and easily controlled when applied to your stationary!
Research shows that the best gel pens are highly popular for adult coloring books according to many online reviews!