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 fluid nib, 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. Shuttle Art Dual-Tip Markers
Alcohol markers are typically quite pricey, but this is a pretty good set that won’t break the bank. It includes a great assortment of 50 hues that cover the color spectrum, and each marker features both a broad tip and a pointed tip. There’s also a blender tool that works very smoothly to create even more tones. Don’t expect the best results—these show more feathering and streaking, for instance, than higher-grade markers do. But if you don’t demand perfection, this set is a great way to experiment with the medium.
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. iMissiu Graphic Marker Pens
This set comes with 60 markers for less than $25, making it a good choice if you crave a plethora of hues but can’t afford larger set of Copics of Prismacolors. Like most of the markers on this list, each implement is double-ended, offering the choice of either a chisel tip or a fine tip. Where these differ is in their ink, which is water based rather than alcohol based. This means they are more forgiving, as you can use water to blend or wash away pigments; however, they require more time to dry and are harder to layer, and the ink is less bold.