• Sofya Benevolenskaya

Starting with Markers?

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

I am Sofya, and I am new to all of this, but you gotta start somewhere, right?! So I hope you will get something from this little 'Intro into Markers' tutorial.

DISCLAIMER: Based on my own, personal experience.

You may have a different one, please share with me.

Markers are tricky to do sometimes. For some people they are easy, for others not so much. Just like any media they need practice.

Markers are kind of like watercolour- you start form the lightest colour possible, which means that you need to figure out what and how to do your piece in advance. You can overlay markers and hence blend them together, but if you don't have full set of, lets say Copics, with all the possible colours (358 colours) then a smooth gradient is hard to achieve. But don't let that discourage you from doing something with markers, just pick them up and experiment. Gotta work with what you have.

A little about markers.

Markers come in all shapes and sizes. There are refillable and simple markers; cheap and expensive; round, square and oval. They generally all have three types of tips: Chisel (thick), Brush (Flexible) and Bullet (Kind of like a point).

Depending on what kind of effect you want to achieve, you will use a different type of marker.

(There are also other types, like Copic Wide, but these are the most common)

Check their website: https://copic.jp/en/product/

I can't, for some reason find the other website, but this should give you the idea about the range.

Markers came in all shapes and types, most common being Alcohol Markers (presented here), there are also watercolour markers and paint markers, but lets focus on one type.

Where to start?

So, many are wondering where and how to start.

Not to worry. A person who is interested in markers and had picked them up in their hands is most likely a creative person. As creatives, we summon imagination to our aid when ever we are in need, and just generally on the daily basis.

Lets first start with the figuring out what materials and types we have, and since we are talking about markers... we figured it out.


I will be using (have) these brands: Winsor&Newton, which come in 2 types- Brushmarckers and Promarkers; Copics; Touch, also two types; and Stylefile.

W&N, Copics and Touch are quite expensive, so I collect them one by one. Stylefile are cheaper, but they are not the same quality (I just use this one, as it's the darkest colour of red/pink I own). W&N and Copics can be found everywhere, so do Stylefile, I think. But Touch are primarily a Russian market orientated markers. I've only seen them in Russia and they are very good.

Now onto the paper. All markers bleed through, ALL of them. The mission is to find and buy paper/sketchbook that will hold it and not transfer it onto the next page. Luckily, main marker companies sell paper to go with their markers. However, not long ago I have discovered a beautiful sketchbook company in Russia that makes amazing sketchbooks, genuine opinion. Maxgoodz. They produce marker sketchbooks that are very high quality and they are affordable.

Lets begin the journey into the unknown.

Starting of a practice is easy and straight forward. Just pick a sketch that you did before or even a drawing, idea for the drawing, anything will do. Its just a practice and if you are afraid you will mess up a brand knew sketch book, then you can skip one page at the start, or even start from the back.

The top practice illustration I made before and thought that the colours didn't look so great.

Start with the simple pencil drawing. Loosely draw out lines and shapes, remember that markers work only one way: from light to dark, and dark intense lines will show through, or may even smudge. Be careful, if the lines are too intense, go over them with kneeded eraser.

Moving onto the first and lightest colour.(Pardon the image, first time for everything)

Colouring in the area that is a bit bigger than intended, leaving that excess colour for blending, otherwise it wont be very smooth.

Moving on to adding colours and creating depth, atmosphere or anything that you want. If you are doing a still life, same principal, just add on colours light-dark and overlap them onto each other so that they smoothly blend together.

As more colours are added, depending on their intensity, colour group and even tip type, it will depend how well they blend together. Brush tips blend perfectly between the different colours and brands, but bullet nibs, not so much. They do leave a cool texture which some one can use as an advantage.

Many people, including myself, forget about the existence of other colours when drawing a particular object. We think "Oh, it's blue, so there should only be blue and a little bit of adjacent to it colours" but this is not true. Blues can have yellow and red in it, depending on the light. This slight colour additions can change the look of the composition, and markers allow the user to do it, because in many cases they are transparent and they allow to be build up, layer by layer.

Useful and almost magical colours are Pastel shades. They layer on top of the colour, tinting it and adding this little something to the picture. In my experience, Light pink and purple are amazing. They add warmth and life to the objects.

At the end, a very rough and sketchy piece was created. I personally love sketchy. In many ways I find it more lively than when finished.


No one, ever truly finishes a piece. A paradox in the world of art, but we have to live with it.

As final touches, and this depends on the artist/illustrator/designer/creater themselves. Add black and white lines, to highlights and specify borders of certain objects. White gel pens help clarify lost detail in the dark markers. After adding details as much as your soul wishes, your piece is finally ready to never be seen by anyone but you. (Unless you did really good and want to share it with the world).

One small step closer to the future.

And this is pretty much it! Small. Quick, and harmless practice with markers. Most important: People make many mistakes, including in side the drawings. A Russian proverb states "Those who never try, never fail, never learn" So I think it's better to try and fail but learn from it, than doing nothing.

After all, no one is going to know.

Links to the materials:

- Maxgoodz sketchbooks

- Markers (All sorts of types)

- Copic paper

- Winsor&Newton paper

- Copic

- Touch Markers

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