Best Alcohol Markers and Buyer’s Guide

For the most realistic effects you will need to use the best alcohol markers.

I have enjoyed art for about as long as I can remember and have learned a lot throughout my life and am still learning more. I have not been a big fan of markers but as I researched for the best alcohol markers I found them to be more and more interesting and fun to use.

Through extensive research, hours of video and my own experience I found the Copic Markers to be the best alcohol markers due to their ability to blend above and beyond the competition. This creates a more realistic effect by adding depth with value and color variations. 

My #1 Pick for Best Alcohol Marker

Copic Sketch - Basic - 24 count

24 count basic copic sketch markers

One of the things that make Copic markers stand out is the ability to layer and blend your colors using a method very similar to colored pencils. This helps to add a sense of realism that is hard to achieve with markers and is why Copic has led the industry for so long.

Having refills and nib replacements also drove the Copic Markers to the number one spot. Not many other markers have all these capabilities along with the high quality.  

Find out how some other alcohol markers stack up by reading my quick reviews where I evaluate the pros and cons and share the facts about what the research reveals.

Table of Contents

Best Alcohol Markers Reviews

As a quick side note is all alcohol markers will have some bleeding. Some markers bleed more than others and extra care should be taken to protect surfaces and other pages if you are coloring in a coloring book. Try using a scrap piece of paper to protect surfaces and other pages.

#1. Copic Sketch Markers - Basic 24 piece Set

#1 Copic Sketch Basic Set of 24

The Good:

  • Replaceable tips
  • Refillable
  • Blends and layers nice
  • Long lasting vibrant colors
  • Comfortable Grip
  • Dual Tip – Super Brush and chisel
  • Oval barrel

The Bad:

  • Most Expensive

Though the Copic Marker brand was designed in the beginning for comics and manga style art it has evolved into one of the most trusted brands on the market for many different styles of art. The price tag on these markers in my opinion was the only negative thing about these markers but the research showed that the quality was worth the money.

Out of all the markers reviewed you can expect to pay more for these markers as they are considered to be highest quality and well worth the money in the long run. I recommend getting the basic color set, a skin tone set and the gray scale set if you are a beginner as this will allow you to create your own colors, tones and values while keeping the cost at a minimum.

Having an oval shaped barrel provides a comfortable grip and being refillable along with having replaceable nibs translates to years of use. I did find where Copic discontinued their Various line of ink refills in July of 2020 and replaced them with a new Copic 12ml Inks. I also noticed some of the Various Ink refills are still available on Amazon.

The super brush tip will produce a medium to fine line for details. While the chisel tip will provide a broad to medium line for filling large areas of color quickly.

These markers will work for adult coloring books that have one sided pages as they can bleed through the paper especially when layering colors. Just to be sure not to mess up the page underneath I would place 1 or 2 sheets of paper between the pages. A heavier weighted paper for markers is recommended for the best results. Copic brand paper is also available.

#2. Ohuhu Markers - 72 Count with Case

#2 Ohuhu Alcohol Markers 72 count

The Good:

  • Dual tip – brush and chisel
  • Affordable
  • Blends and layers well
  • Fast drying
  • Comes with colorless blender
  • Carrying case
  • Oval barrel

The Bad:

  • Caps don’t match actual color

Ohuhu markers are quickly becoming the best alternative to the more expensive copic markers. With it’s fast drying blendable pigment and affordable price makes these markers a good choice for beginners on a budget and the professional illustrator. The brush nib is comparable to the copic sketch.

A color swach chart may be necessary since the caps do not match the actual color of the pigment on paper. You may also want to take note to not force the cap on the other end as some of them want to get stuck resulting in possible damage to the cap or marker.

Personally I like the brush and chisel nibs these markers offer but there are many who prefer the fine point over the brush. I have found that you can draw a fine line with the brush and also achieve a broader line if needed which makes the brush slightly more versatile than the fine point.

Ohuhu has over 200 colors to choose from but can only be bought in sets making it more expensive to replace a marker that may have run out or dried up. Update: Single markers are now available. Refills may also become available in the near future since Ohuhu is looking to up their game.

#3. Prismacolor Premier Art Markers - 48 Count - Case

#3 Prismacolor Premier Art Markers 24 count

The Good:

  • Blends and Layers
  • Good saturation of pigment
  • Dual tip – Fine and brush
  • More affordable
  • Zip up carrying case
  • Round Barrel

The Bad:

  • Non Refillable
  • Hard to remove caps
  • Non removable nibs

Prismacolor is a well known name in the art industry and has become a trusted brand over the years. These markers are more affordable and make a good choice for beginner to intermediate artists because they are affordable and blend nicely.

I think the fact that you can not get refills is a little annoying. Having to replace the marker over time will cost you more money in the long run.

Research shows that many people had a hard time removing the caps. My best recommendation here is to contact the manufacturer for a replacement set. 

These markers require a light touch or you can damage the nibs which can not be replaced. Of course there should not be a need for much pressure using markers unless they are drying up. If taken care of these markers should last for quite a while.

These will work for adult coloring books but only on one sided pages. I recommend using protection under the piece you are coloring to protect other pages from the pigment bleeding through. A thicker paper is also recommended for the best results.

#4. Shuttle Art Markers - 204 Count

#4 Shuttle Art Alcohol Markers 204 count

The Good:

  • Dual Nib – Fine bullet and chisel
  • 50 page marker pad
  • Blender
  • Zip up carrying case with handles
  • Color charts
  • Long lasting
  • Blends
  • Affordable
  • Square barrel (some sets are triangular barrels)

The Bad:

  • Nibs could be softer
  • Nothing to secure markers in the case
  • Non refillable
  • Slow drying
  • Can over saturate paper

I remember Shuttle Art from when I was younger which could expose my age so let’s just say they have been around for a while and are great for beginning with markers.

The square barrel shape is comfortable and will stop the marker from rolling around which compliments how well these blend. There is a learning curve to using these markers to achieve the best results especially for the beginner. 

I read many complaints about the case not having a grid or something to hold the markers in place. I believe the case is designed to stand the markers up to fit correctly and eases access. I recommend standing markers in the case but if you’re storing your markers turn the case so the markers are horizontal to help keep the nibs wet and not dry out.

The nibs themselves are somewhat stiff but may have to be used to break them in. The nibs are kind of loud and squeaky on the page but lay down generous amounts of color.

Have to be careful not to hold the tip to the paper as these can bleed rapidly and cause over saturation which can cause your colors to become muddy. One possible solution is to use a light touch with quicker strokes to slow the saturation rate.

These markers seem to take a little longer to dry but this could be in part due to the amount of pigment being released from the marker itself.

#5. Sharpie Ultimate Marker Collection - 115 Count

#5 Sharpie Ultimate Collection 115 count

The Good:

  • Vivid colors
  • Best for coloring
  • 8 Metallic colors
  • 5 neon colors
  • Multiple nib assortment – 40 fine bullet, 42 ultra fine and 8 chisel
  • 12 twin tip – ultra fine and bullet 
  • Oval and round barrels

The Bad:

  • Hard to get a crisp line
  • Harder to blend and layer

Sharpies seem to have a following like Star Trek has trekkies. There are plenty of positive customer reviews to be found with this set and many were being used in adult coloring books.

The colors do tend to bleed a little more which makes it hard to get a crisp line even with the ultra fine tip. Sounds like a faster stroke may help but bleeding seems a little excessive for outlines. A better suited paper designed for markers may also be a contributing factor.

The box they come in also has compartments that hold the pens nicely and allows for easy access so quick color choices can be made. 

One awesome feature about this particular set is you get more nib variety which can come in handy when first starting out. By being able to test the nibs you will quickly learn the best uses for each one. The only downside here is they did not include a brush nib which can be somewhat more flexible than a bullet nib.

#6. Crayola Signature Blending Markers - 14 Count

Crayola Blending Markers 16 count 32 colors

The Good:

  • Very affordable
  • Best for kids ages 9 and up
  • 2 colorless blenders
  • Blends well
  • Brush nib
  • Tin case
  • Round barrel

The Bad:

  • Limited color selection
  • Possible drying out issue
  • Single nib

It seems that Crayola is on the right track with these but they seem to be in the beginning phase of marker art. I think this may be because the Crayola brand is targeting a younger market for students and kids. 

With that said the quality of the strokes with their brush nibs is up there with the best of them. They blend nicely and this set comes with 2 colorless blenders. Not sure why you would need 2 blenders except for using one as a replacement.

One of the biggest things I noticed was the limited supply of colors which can make it a lot harder to get the right variations of color and value.

There were many people buying these markers for learning calligraphy and most but not all were happy with application of pigment to paper.

I recommend these markers for the beginner to use since there is a nice balance with the quality and value. The flexibility of the brush nib is great but a dual marker with a liner or chisel nib would be nice on the other end.

Photo of 4 different styles of marker nibs

Best Alcohol Markers Guide for Beginners

This guide is for beginners just starting out with markers and will help you to avoid some common mistakes when buying your first set of alcohol markers. Sounds like a good place to begin.

Be Sure of What You Are Buying

One of the most common mistakes I found online was someone mistakenly buying water markers instead of alcohol. The two types of markers vary greatly between what is achievable and not achievable with a marker. Alcohol being the best for blending and creating more realistic pieces.

Always read the packaging to ensure you are getting what you want. One thing to note here is that some markers require more digging in order to find this information because the packaging will not say.

One other important piece of information is that there are many brands that have the same marker casing or barrel where only the brand name has been changed. Not sure what that means but just be careful before purchasing a brand you’re not sure about.

Best Alcohol Markers – Nib Types

There are four basic nib types to choose from:

  • Bullet – Medium to fine strokes.
  • Chisel – Broad to medium strokes( Fine in some sets).
  • Brush – Fine to medium strokes(can achieve broader strokes in some sets).
  • Fine or Liner – Used for outlines and detail.

Of course there is also an ultra fine in some brands. There is some controversy over the brush tip versus the bullet tip as to which is better. I lean more to the brush as I think it blends better and is more flexible. The brush also feels more like painting than coloring. Either way both nibs are good.

Price

I could not finish this guide without saying a few things about price since the numbers can vary quite a bit. I do recommend buying more affordable brands for learning but also believe you will miss the full spectrum of detail that can be achieved with professional grade alcohol markers.

If money is a factor then I recommend either purchasing a basic set and start building your collection over time or to buy the 2nd best that is quite a bit nicer on the wallet. The most expensive markers run around $8 per marker vs the 2nd best at a $1 per marker. This huge gap in price was somewhat of a surprise to me.

Why I Think Copic Sketch Wins for Best Alcohol Markers

Though most markers are affordable to most people the Copic Sketch markers are not. I found that these markers were easy to find information on and are highly popular on the internet in spite of the high price.

The ability to blend is far better than almost all the other alcohol markers out there with the exception of the Ohuhu markers that rank really high in this category. The depth that can be created with these markers is almost unbelievable. Plus the ability to change the nibs and refill the barrels saves you money in the long run and is more environmentally friendly.

Remember that Copic Sketch Markers can be bought in smaller sets. I recommend a basic color set, flesh tone set, a warm gray and cool gray for getting started. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this article.

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