Best Art Markers
From graffiti writers to architects and graphic designers, many artists love to use art markers in their work. Today, individuals have a wide variety of brands, materials, and styles to choose from. Traditional art markers deliver vivid colors in an easy-to-use tool, while water or oil-based paint markers function like a paintbrush in a tube. Whether you prefer an art marker with dozens of different tips to choose from or pick an all-in-one paint marker featuring virtually unlimited colors, you should find what you are looking for here. For more information about the types of markers available, you can also check out our art marker buyer's guide below.
Best Art Markers:
Looking for fast color, a versatile tool, or a brilliant palette? From posters to portraits, markers offer artists a fun tool and a vivid color selection. Most markers leave bold colors like a painting but are much easier to control since the color comes in a tube and the brush leaves an even flow without the worry of refilling it or cleaning it after use. As with any art material though, quality is important.
These best art markers were chosen based on criteria which included their exceptional color saturation, convenient non-streaking tips, non-toxic inks available in a wide range of color choices and manufacture by top brands known for their quality products.
A favorite for many artists, the Copic Markers leave a strong, clear color. Each refillable marker comes with two tips, but Copic offers up to nine replacement or substitute tips making these markers highly versatile. They are available in 214 colors with their only drawback being a relatively high price point. Read Full Review
With this double-ended marker, Prismacolor offers artists good-quality color at a reasonable price. The markers come in 200 distinct colors with a choice of either a chisel tip and a fine tip combination or a brush tip and a fine tip. Read Full Review
Like other double-ended markers, the Tombow Dual Brush Pen has two separate tips, but it’s unique for its flexible, paintbrush-style tip. This tip allows artists to create a variety of strokes while the 96-color palette and blendable colors make this a highly versatile marker. Read Full Review
Instead of offering artists multiple tips, the Chartpak Ad Marker uses one tip to create a wide range of strokes. The markers are available in over a hundred colors and are reasonably priced, though they may leak slightly or leave a faint odor. Read Full Review
With 148 colors and a simple combination of tips, the ProMarkers are a fun, highly versatile tool. They are designed to work on a variety of materials such as wood, ceramic, or glass. The combination of a fine tip with a chisel tip allows artists to create a wide range of strokes. Read Full Review
Best Paint Markers:
Paint Markers are specialized marking pens which apply paint instead of the usual highlighter or permanent marker fluid. Paint markers use a variety of fluids including acrylic paint, paint-like varieties of ink, and oil-based paints. Regardless of their specific type, these markers are great for working on posters as well as glass, fabric, and other unusual materials. Paint markers are a specialty item so it can be hard to find a brand offering more than a score of colors. Each of these best paint markers were selected based on their smooth, non-streaking tips, long-lasting lightfast colors, non-toxic pigments, overall range of vibrant colors and their permanence when applied to porous materials.
DecoColor produces both oil-based and water-based markers, but these water-based Acrylic Markers are easy to wash up while wet and become permanent once they dry. The markers are moderately priced, come in 28 colors and feature a unique chisel-tip making them a versatile, all-in-one tool. Read Full Review
The Krink brand was developed by a graffiti artist and these markers offer a great amount of control, as well as the ability to cover large areas fast. The K-60 markers are actually small plastic bottles, allowing artists to control the speed of the ink flow. They are expensive but may be refilled. Read Full Review
Sharpie, a brand defining marker, produces these water-based paint markers. The markers come in several sizes of tips and around a dozen standard and metallic colors for a good, basic palette. Their main advantage though is their low price. Read Full Review
A highly versatile marker, the Posca Paint Markers come in seven different tip styles and over a dozen colors. They have been tested on a wide range of textures and materials, with even leather and eggshells listed as a suggested material. Read Full Review
One4All Paint Markers offer one of the most versatile markers available with a good selection of tip sizes. They also have one of the largest color selections with 34 colors, and are refillable, allowing artists to mix any shade they might need. Read Full Review
Art Marker Buyer's Guide
Unlike some other types of art supplies, markers don’t require you to learn a lot of unusual vocabulary. The most important part of picking a marker is making sure that it will work on the surface you want to use and that you have the right shape of tip—and that the brand you pick has enough colors to meet your needs. There are, however, a couple other important details to keep in mind, since they will make your work easier in the end. Here are some basic tips to get you started.
Art Marker Types
Art markers are a great choice for drawing anything from graphs to portraits, and they work best on poster board, card stock or even heavy paper, as long as you expect the color to bleed through a bit.
The most common brands of markers, such as Crayola, are easy to find and use so they're great for kids’ art projects. However, these brands are not the same as professional art markers so they're not light-fast and the markers themselves will not last very long.
Professional Art Markers
These are markers with much stronger colors and are more reliable than your average art markers. They are usually light-fast and fade-resistant so your artwork can maintain its original bright colors. The best brands of markers come in a wide selection of colors and nibs and may be sold as either large sets or individual markers. High-end brands usually offer a selection of extra components such as replacement nibs, refill ink, or special carrying cases.
Instead of the typical dye found in most markers, paint markers contain water-based or even oil-based paints. They are your best choice for unusual projects, such as drawing on concrete, wood, or glass. Most of these markers are quite versatile, but you’ll want to check each brand’s specifications to make sure it works for the project you’re planning. You should also check the brand’s instructions, since some paint markers require special handling and storage.
Traditional art markers use a variety of inks or dyes for their colors. These inks are often alcohol-based, so they are thinner than paint, usually dry fast, and may offer a more controlled flow. As a result, though, they are also less versatile and are mainly used on cardstock or paper for projects like calligraphy, architecture design, portraits, and other types of artwork.
As the name suggests, you can refill these markers once the ink runs out. You can find them pre-filled tubes or empty tubes ready for you to add your own ink or paint. They’re usually expensive but this option allows you to blend your own colors.
These are the marker tips, the piece which controls how the ink flows onto the paper. The most common styles are rounded for standard work and chisel tips for creating calligraphy lines. Broader flat nibs cover the area fastest with fewer strokes while narrow nibs work best for detail areas. Some brands, especially refillable markers, have nibs you can swap out for another style. Other brands offer double-ended markers with a different nib at each end.
As with paints or pencils, the term light-fast lets you know the marker strokes won't fade significantly over time. Most brands will last for at least a few years which is all you need if you’re only creating a sign for a single event. If you want to create lasting artwork, plan on finding markers that are light-fast and will retain their original colors for many years to come.
Storage and Special Handling
Since artists often work with dozens of colors, it’s useful to have a storage system in place. You may want to buy a storage bin or create your own set of bins that will allow you to sort markers by color. While most art markers can just be capped and tossed in a bin, some brands of paint markers need to be stored on their side to prevent them from drying out or leaking.
Paint markers also require special handling so the paint doesn't clog the tips. This means shaking the markers well before beginning to use them, and wiping them occasionally on a clean sheet of paper to clear the tip. You should wipe the tips again before capping them and putting them away. If a removable tip does become clogged, you can usually take it off the marker and rinse it out to clear the dried paint.