One of the most common questions I get asked, mostly on Instagram, revolves around what pens and markers I use for my 10 Minute Doodles on Instagram and my bigger art projects.
I know when you walk into an art supply store it can be frightfully overwhelming to a newcomer (or even an experienced artist if you’re moving to a new genre!), not to mention, there can be some sticker shock. So a few weeks ago I took to Periscope to talk about the tools I use and which ones I like and don’t like and why.
You can watch the entire video below from Katch but, I’ve also outlined some of my favourites here in this post. So let’s get started!
Entry Level Colouring Markers & Pens
Crayolas are a great place to start. They may be marketed to kids but don’t be fooled: they come in a wide assortment of colours and marker tip widths, they’re very reasonably priced and easy to find. Back to school is an excellent time to get them on sale too! And, they’re very versatile. Check out Alisa Burke’s post on a whole plethora of ways you can use Crayolas for adding colour to your art projects – you’ll never look at them as “just kid’s markers” again!
The good old Sharpie! They don’t just come in black anymore and you can do a lot more with them than just signing your autograph. Sharpies come in a wide range of colours and tip widths – they make a very fine tip that’s great for drawing but you’ll probably want a thicker one for colouring. The won’t break the bank and you can get them everywhere.
Other Great Ones To Try:
Artsist’s Loft – Crafting super store Michael’s house brand – great range of colours, the tips are fine enough to draw with but wide enough to colour with. Reasonably priced.
Laurentian Markers – a Canadian school classic, both as markers and pencil crayons that you can still find in drugstores and office supply stores.
Mid Range Colouring Markers and Pens
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are one of my favourites. They have an extremely fine tip (0.3mm) which doesn’t make them ideal for colouring but they are great for drawing colour doodles. Like all Staedtler products, they’re very well engineered with ergonomic design that make them a great fit in your hand. You can buy them in packs of 10, 20 and 30 at Staples and many art stores but, what I really love is you can also buy them in open stock from many art supply stores (there are 30 colours in all!) for about $2 each. I love how smooth they write and I’ve rarely found them to bleed or smudge on most papers.
Sakura Gelly Roll Pens
Sakura Gelly Roll Pens are really fun. Again, not great for colouring because of the roller ball pen nib but they are fun for doodling with – especially on black paper. I like doodling on black because it gives such a great sharp contrast but none of the other pens and markers in this article will be of much use on black paper. The gelly rollers, however, will not disappoint! You can buy these in packs and in open stock from most art supply stores. They’re not too expensive – about $1.20 each – less if you buy them in packs. Plus, they have glittery ones for added fun!
As a side note, their white gelly pen is my favourite pen for doing white on black doodles. I’ve tried the Sharpie pens that most people recommend but have found them to be very frustrating!
Faber Castell Pitt Markers
The Faber Castell Pitt Markers are my favourites. I use these every day, both for my 10 minute doodles and for larger art projects. I have small hands and I like to do a lot of fine, detailed work. I’m also ridiculously picky about how pens and markers flow on different papers. All those things had me struggling to find pens that worked for me until an artist friend introduced me to these last December. I haven’t looked back since.
They have a great range of colours that you can buy in small packs, larger gift sets (pricey but oh so dreamy!) or, in open stock. They range around the $3 each for open stock markers but, you can often find them on sale if you’re patient. I buy them in open stock and have almost completed my collection of the regular brush nib. Pitt markers also make a larger brush nib marker that would be great for large colouring projects, as well as extra fine tips, but both have a more limited range of colours and are a bit more expensive.
The Pitts flow beautifully on all the papers I’ve tried them on, they dry quickly so smudging is minimal and, they layer nicely so you can deepen the colour or blend them with other colours. Plus, they just fit my hand so nicely! They would be a great choice for colouring.
Higher End Colouring Markers and Pens
Prismacolor & Copic Markers
Prismacolors and Copic Markers are higher end, very good quality artists’ markers and have a price tag to match. Prismas are in the $4 range per marker and Copics are usually $6-7 each. For most people who just enjoy adult colouring books, they’re overkill. But if you’re looking to get serious about creating drawings and other artwork they can be worth the investment. They’re smooth on paper, layer beautifully and also work nicely for hand lettering. And they both come in a great range of colours. My only complaint is these markers are very fat and don’t really fit my hands well so I always feel a bit awkward with them.
Both markers come with dual tips – usually a fine tip and then either a brush tip or a chisel tip – be careful if you buy these that you get the tips you want otherwise you’ll be making an expensive mistake! One thing to take note of is that because of their high price tag, these markers are often kept in locked cases or behind the counter in many art stores.
Pencil crayons are, of course, a great option for colouring. I prefer markers because I like the more vibrant, saturated colour they give but pencil crayons allow for much subtler shading and blending than markers. Both Faber Castell and Prismacolor make great starter sets that are very reasonably priced and you can find them in Staples and other art stores and even in some drug stores that sell school supplies. I grew up using Faber Casetells but my current set is a Prismacolor set.
There are three other tools that I can’t work without – these are more for doodling and artwork rather the colouring:
- My Staedtler Pigment Liners that I use for outlining all my artwork. They’re smooth, smudge proof, and they don’t bleed. Plus, they come in a wide variety of widths. The 0.9, .0.7, 0.5 and 0.3 widths come in packs that you can find almost anywhere but you can also get few other widths in art stores in open stock!
- Mechanical pencils for rough sketching doodles. I don’t use anything fancy – just plain old disposable mechanical pencils that you can pick up cheap during back to school season!
- My Staedtler Gum Eraser/Cleaner. This is a magic eraser – it really does clean! It doesn’t smudge and sometimes if I make a small ink mistake, it will even get rid of that without eroding the paper. It really is magic!
There are, of course, so many more options out there but hopefully this will give you a place to start and help you find something you like in your price range. I’ve used all of these from time to time and in different projects and they will all work well. You’ll find that choosing markers and pens is a very personal decision based on a lot of different factors but it can get expensive to experiment too much and there really is no need to spend a lot of money when you’re starting out.
If you’ve got a favourite that I’ve missed here, let me know in the comments – I’m always looking to feed my art supply habit with new tools!
Be sure to check back again soon when I will have a new colouring sheet download for you all for fall and and colouring book giveaway!
Disclosure Notice: This post contains affiliate links (Amazon) which means if you purchase anything when clicking on them, I will earn a small commission that helps me keep this site running. I only use affiliate links for items I use or would purchase myself.