Permanent markers or water-based? What the difference anyway? You just want to buy the material and get on with your project! But the markers is a big world, it’s easy to get lost and confused. So, here’s a mini guide about markers, to help you out!

What type of markers?

Anatomy of markers.

There is different type of nibs. Some are  doubled end , they usually come with two different kind.  You can have the brush one , perfect for fashion illustration or lettering.

Permanent  markers.

They are based with alcohol. they dry fast and are permanent. They are commonly used in fashion illustration, manga, comic, scrapbooking and craft project.

Watercolour markers.

They are water-based. Famous brands are Tombow or Koi, Aquamarker. Koi are more for rubber stamps, sketches or illustration. (brush tip).  The Aquamarker, look like the pro marker but instead is water-based solvent.

Tombow are perfect for lettering, coloring. They are double ended (brush and fine nib). With the blender or a bit of water you can use it watercolour alternative.


Fineliner can be used to outline your artwork. Be aware! Some black pens, bleed once in contact with markers. Pigma Micron and Faber Castell usually resist.


READ MORE: How to use Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen?

How to blend.

 Mixing your colour.

Alcohol markers dry pretty fast. So, make sure to always put the cup. And if  you mixing colours , do it fast, have them together and prepared. you can also use a blender.

Test your colour before .

Be aware not all markers blend well, so always do a little test before starting coloring your artwork.

Even if they are from different brand, the majority can be blend with each other. (But not all of them, so always test before).

Alcohol marker and…

You can use them with other kind of colour, acrylic , pencils… Remember, that watercolour and watercolour pencils , unless varnish, will react and mix to the alcohol ink. You can get interesting and beautiful result, muddy stains may also happen.  Do not forget to clean your markers after mixing!

Blending palette.

You can buy a blending palette or use a  plastified card, cd box, transparent plastic bag to use it as mix color palette.

Keep it clean.

Clean the nibs, when you mix the colours!

When the markers dry out


There are some refillable marker, like Copic. So, you can buy ink and refill.

Drawing dead marker.

Don’t throw away your dried out permanent marker! You can revive your dead marker!

If your pen dry out, pour few drop alcohol 90 to the nibs it would do the trick

refillable markers

READ MORE: 5 facts you should know about marking pens

Which markers are the best?

Cheap doesn’t always mean bad.

The white brand have their pros and cons.  I found some unknown brand that had very beautiful colour, a shade or nibs that you can’t find in well known brand. On the other hand,  they tend to have one those pain points : they dry out pretty fast, the ink flow is irregular… the worst being is the company disappearing out of the blue and being unable to get more of those markers.

Copics and Co.

Copics is known to be the best markers for artist. Not only for their quality but also for the variety of the nibs and the fact they are refillable.  However, brands like Promarkers, now owned by Windsor and Newton or Prismacolor, Sharpie are also great quality. Other brands that you may found around, are the Touch,  , DB twin, Spectrum noir, Blick….A lot of art supplies store create their own like Blick (us store), Créamarker (French store Rougier-Ple).

But seriously, what matter the most it’s your talent, the marker is just a tool. It’s mostly a question of preferences and you are going to do.

Paper and markers.

Each kind of paper will react differently. But most of the time, the ink will go through it (don’t forget to use add another paper under). Cardboard and mix media paper usually are a good choice. There are  also special papers for markers, like Crescent Rendr (you can read here the review, I wrote about it). Watercolour paper tend to absorb the ink of alcohol markers and it will bleed. (Be very careful!!! Always test before)

READ MORE: Review Crescent Rendr Sketch Book

How marker should be stored

Water based and double ended.

Should be stored horizontally.

Most of the alcohol based, can be stored horizontally or vertically.

Are permanent markers toxic?

Side effects possible.

It can give headaches, nauseas, vomiting. Always color in a ventilated room.

Toxic to dog.

Brand like sharpie , copic are certified non toxicAlthough the normal writing ink probably won’t hurt your pet.


Save time.

Keep apart and nearby  the ones you use the most , so you don’t waste time looking for them.

Keep it organise.

Make a chart . So you know in a blink of eye, which colour and reference you need.

To buy list .

Note in a paper the reference of the ones that are about to dry so you know which one, buying when you go to the art store.

So, now there you are ! Ready to go to the store and buy your art supplies!

 Brands you may want to check out:

Copic , Promarker (Winsor and Newton), PrismacolorTombow, Koi, Pigma Micron,