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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.
Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Markers, Set of 12
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. The ink is very blendable, and you can layer colors to create lifelike effects. Each marker is double-ended, providing both a fine tip and a chunky chisel tip that glide across the page. Markers also feature a single ink reservoir for color consistency when switching tips. These beloved tools are sold in sets from six colors up to 200, so you can always find—or create—the exact shade you envision.
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Tombow Dual Brush Pens and Sets
Suitable for artists of all skill levels, Tombow’s brushes are excellent everyday pens, whether you intend to use them alone for illustrations, for hand lettering, or with watercolors. The nylon fiber brush on one end balances firmness with flexibility, offering control to produce crisp lines or cover larger areas with ease. On the other end there’s a fine bullet tip that is ideal for writing. Each pen comes with water-based ink that you can use to create watercolor effects; they are also very blendable and can be layered to achieve darker shades. We like that you can buy individual colors or choose from precurated sets, including a handy palette of grays.
Chartpak Ad Marker Sets
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. Though Chartpak sells blenders, you don’t really need one to blend colors with ease. While you can’t buy individual colors, the color variety in the custom sets—ranging from flesh tone to pastel to portrait—is impressively wide ranging. These markers are also remarkably long-lasting. Our only gripe is that they do have a strong smell.
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.
TOP OF THE LINE
Copic Alcohol Markers, Sketch Set of 12
Copic markers are infamous for being rather expensive, but they are tools that last forever: The nibs are replaceable, and the ink is refillable. 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. Copics are also great for artists prone to migraines, as they are essentially odorless.