While many graphic designers work largely on computers these days, markers remain a must-have tool in the profession. Ideal for sketching ideas and working through challenges, markers are easy to use and are remarkably capable. Armed with the right set, you can achieve incredible detail and depth. Also, they’re easy to slip into a pocket or bag and whip out to capture those spontaneous ideas. Whether you’re looking for your first set or searching for something new, our picks below will help you make a good choice.
1. Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Markers
Prismacolor’s markers strike the right balance between performance and affordability. Suitable for professional use, these implements feature super-vibrant alcohol ink that flows with ease. It is very blendable, and you can layer colors to create lifelike effects. Each marker is double-ended, providing both a fine tip and a chisel tip that glide across the page. These markers are sold in sets from 6 colors up to 200, so you can always find—or create—the exact shade you envision.
2. Sakura Pigma Assorted Colors Brush Pen Set
If you prefer the feel of a brush, consider Sakura’s Pigma series of markers, which feature brush tips. Sold in a pack of eight intense colors, including pink and orange, these implements leave flawless lines on the page. Their ink system is very responsive to pressure, so you can achieve supersaturated or subtle effects as well as alter the stroke thickness. Because the bristles are quite soft, we find that it takes a little while to achieve ideal precision. With some practice, these brushes are just the right tool for lettering and sophisticated outlining.
3. Ohuhu Double-Tipped Alcohol Markers, Set of 48
Ohuhu’s beautiful set of dual-tip alcohol-based markers are an affordable high-quality alternative to more expensive brands. You get a great variety of colors with this 48-marker set, which will cost you just under $25; it includes a blender to create gradations and mix colors. Artists love the dual tips: The fine bullet point creates precise lines and the chisel tip puts down thick lines and brushlike marks. While the colors do not blend as beautifully as higher-grade tools, this ink dries quickly to intense shades. End caps have the ink’s color and number code, and the cap colors are true to the ink color. The markers come in a convenient canvas storage case that zips.
4. Copic Marker Sketch Set
Copic markers are infamous for being rather expensive. But if you want the best, look no further. Originally developed for manga artists, these Japanese implements boast unparalleled blending capabilities, allowing you to render shadows and highlights that bestow lifelike volume to drawings. The alcohol ink is permanent and fast-drying and goes down unbelievably smoothly on the page. Choose from two drawing ends: a brush tip and a chisel tip. The nibs are replaceable, and the ink is refillable.
5. Chartpak Ad Marker, Basic Colors
If you’re not a fan of flipping markers to use different nib types, consider these smartly designed, alcohol-ink markers from Chartpak. They feature a single nib that can yield a fine, medium, or broad stroke by carefully adjusting its angle. The control you get with this single tip is pretty much unparalleled—and does wonders for professional illustrators who depend on precision. They also glide on the page like magic while laying colors down evenly. The color variety in the custom sets—ranging from grays to pastels to variations on a single hue—is impressively wide ranging; we find this basic colors set particularly useful. These markers are also remarkably long-lasting. Our only gripe is that they do have a strong smell.