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All About Alcohol Markers
I have never used alcohol markers until the Merry Mead Castle project. I had drawn out the castle with colored pencils but it just didn't pop like I wanted it to. So I figured I would give alcohol markers a try.
And I was right. The colors really pop! Terrific little product here. On this page I will show you a few things about them and give you some guidance on how to use them, what they are about, and how much they cost.
I also have a video about alcohol markers at the bottom of the page.
First let's take a look at the paper castle (Merrymead). This gives you a sense for the richness of color with alcohol markers.
Types of Paper:
Let's take a look at what happend with regular printer paper. I have used a couple of alcohol markers on this sheet of paper. There is another sheet under it. (Notice how wonderfully rich the colors are.)
Now we flip that sheet over and we can see that the color bled through quite easily. And you can see a little bit of color even got onto the sheet of paper that was under it.
So, be careful when using alcohol markers and regular printer paper.
The same thing applies with thicker paper but to a lesser extreme. A common thicker paper is called 90 pound paper. It is often referred to as card stock. The color will bleed through that paper too. But... if you press very lightly and go very easy with the marker you can usually get it to not bleed through, or to bleed through very little
They make paper specifically for alcohol markers. If you are really liking the alcohol markers you should get some of this paper. It gives you more freedom to work. This particular pad is called a "Bee Paper Pad". This is because the company that makes it is the Bee Paper Company.
All alcohol markers come with a tip on each side. One side will have a broad tip and the other side will have a fine tip. These tips do vary in type and by manufacturers. But for the most part the broad tip will be called a chisel tip. And the narrow tip will be a bullet type tip. But some markers have something called a brush tip.
A Brush tip is a type of fine tip with more control. It is a bit larger and a bit softer. It acts similar to a firm paintbrush. You can use a brush tip on it's side to make brush strokes whereas most fine tips are made for just drawing crisp lines.
The color numbers and codes
Every marker has a number to help you identify the exact color. There are hundreds of colors and it can be near impossible to reliably identify the exact color you need or previously used. The numbers take the guesswork out of them. And there are color families in the numbering system.
This is important for blending.
In the picture above you can see that each marker has a colored cap showing you the color. And it has a number and a name.
Colors also come in families that are shades of the same color. And the numbers go by darkness of the color. So, in the picture below you can see that the color is Warm Grey. And you can also see that the numbering system shows you the darkness. The lightest of this set is WG0.5 and the darkest is WG5.
Using the markers
One of the beautiful things about alcohol markers is that the ink dries extremely quickly once it is applied to the paper. But this means that the markers can dry out extremely quickly if you forget to put the cap back on, or if you don't put it on tightly. The caps make a snapping sound when fit correctly. Always listen for the snap!
And well, they are markers so you already know how to use them. Experiment a bit if they are new to you. Get a feel for how the color is applied to paper and how the different tips can be manipulated to get different strokes. But the big thing about alcohol markers is that they can be blended within color families. This is a very big tool in the alcohol marker repertoire.
Blending with the markers
This next picture shows blending with those greys in the previous picture. WG0.5, WG1, WG4 and WG5. See how there is transition between the colors. It isn't just four bands of separate colors. You can blend them.
You should experiment with blending. And experiment a lot!! Practice will make you better. And some brands of marker blend better than others. Keep that in mind.
How to blend:
Typically the process goes like this:
1. Lay in the full area with the lightest marker.
2. Add some of the darker marker to an area.
3. Switch back to the lighter marker and pull some of the darker into the light area.
Every manufacturer of alcohol pens also makes something called a blending marker. It is a clear marker with only alcohol and no pigment. It is used to blend and pull colors.