A well-stocked studio should always include some permanent markers. These versatile tools, great for both functional purposes (like labeling) and artistic pursuits, are easy to work with and inexpensive, especially when purchased in sets. They come in many nib sizes, which makes them a great tool for detailed artworks. Whether you’re filling in a coloring book, drafting on acetate, or working on a design project for a client, choose the best products to express yourself. Read on to learn about our top picks.
Bic Permanent Markers
Available in 36 blendable colors and compatible with a variety of surfaces, Bic’s markers are our favorite go-to for any job. Each marker is juicy, with easy-flowing ink that doesn’t feather on paper and dries almost immediately to a translucent finish. The ink is acid-free and resists fading unless kept under direct sunlight for long periods. You can write or draw on more difficult surfaces including coated or glossy papers, metal, glass, and even some plastics. Tips are sturdy and available in fine or chisel form, and rubber grips offer comfort and control. Finally, we like that not all the color options are super bold; you can also choose pastels, muted tones, and earthy hues.
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Sakura Permapaque Fine Point Markers
If you want a permanent marker that’s more opaque than the Bics, try the Permapaque series from this revered Japanese pen company. These markers are filled with water-based, archival pigment ink that looks like paint, and they effortlessly deposit bold, crisp lines—no shaking or pumping required before use. Ideal for illustrating and hand lettering, they are available with either a fine tip or a dual tip (comprising a bullet nib and a chisel nib). These markers are also great for mixed media art, as you can use them over acrylic or oil paint. They remain permanent on most porous surfaces and come in sets of “primary” or “bright” colors.
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Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent Markers
If you need a marker that writes well and works on slippery surfaces, Staedtler offers a terrific set for the job. These markers excel when used on plastic, vellum, tracing paper, plexiglass, and other tricky materials, leaving ink that dries quickly, doesn’t smudge, and doesn’t bead. The lines are intense and clean, and the solvent-based ink can be removed with alcohol in some instances. These are available in four tip sizes and eight colors—handy for color coding and utilitarian jobs, but perhaps a little limited for artwork.
Blick Studio Markers
Available in 95 diverse hues, Blick’s permanent markers offer the greatest range of color and are the best choice for serious illustrators and graphic designers. They’re sold in sets of assorted colors, including thoughtfully grouped ones of cool or warm grays, and are also available individually so you can customize your palette or buy replacements as you need them. Each marker has a fine nib and a broad nib that can be angled to produce different line widths. The alcohol-based ink is water resistant and leaves smooth, streak-free lines that dry with a sophisticated, near-matte finish. Don’t forget to pick up the colorless blender to achieve seamless color fusions.
Le Plume Permanent Marker Sets
Equipped with brush tips and filled with alcohol-based ink, these markers are an excellent pick for fine art use. You can incorporate them into paintings and sketches or use them alone for design work, comics, illustrations, and impressions with rubber stamping. Choose from 36 opaque and richly pigmented colors that are highly blendable and dry to a matte finish. It’s clear that Le Plume caters to those who are well versed in color, as it mainly offers groups of related tones—you can select six-piece sets of pinks, purples, greens, cool grays, or other preferred shades. There is also an assorted set of 36, but you can’t purchase markers individually.