08 Jan 2019Mont Marte

Whether you’re an alcohol marker aficionado or you’ve never tried them before, this article has a little something for everyone. Get the most out of your markers with these quick tips!

1. Store your markers upright

When you’re not using your markers, store them upright and keep them out of direct sunlight. It might sound basic, but you should also make sure you put the lids back on properly (you’d be surprised how easy it is to miss the mark if you’re in a hurry).

2. Choose the right paper

Pink alcohol pen and squiggle on white page.

Alcohol markers will work on all types of paper, but you can get better results on a thicker stock. We like to use our bleed proof paper, 150gsm sketch books or water colour pads.

3. Draw from light to dark

Since dark tones can’t be covered with light tones when you’re using markers, you’ll need to lay down your light colours first (unless you’re layering).

4. Have some fun with layering

Hand drawing macaw in colourful alcohol pens.

One of our favourite things about alcohol markers is that you can layer the colours in a similar way to watercolours. For this method, put your dark tones down first and then blend your lighter tones into them.

5. Use a light touch

To avoid damaging your markers, don’t use too much pressure. Colouring and drawing gently will keep your markers in good shape and your paper smooth.

6. Make swatches

Before you start your artwork, test out each colour to see what it looks like on paper. You might like to create a grid to use as a reference point and include some layering samples.

7. Use grey to shade

To create the effect of a shadow, colour over your base colours with a light grey. You can also deepen your tones by shading over the top with the same colour.

8. Create smooth colour transitions

Close up of hand drawing macaw with alcohol pens.

Alcohol-based markers allow you to blend colours together to create smooth transitions. This works best when the colours are still damp and, as we mentioned earlier, when you blend the lighter tones into the darker tones. Use small circular strokes to blend the colours smoothly.

9. Keep areas white with masking fluid

If you want to create crisp lines or keep some areas white, masking fluid is the way to go. Masking fluid is similar to glue, but it can be peeled off your paper or canvas when you’re finished with it.

10. Use with mixed media

Alcohol markers work really well with water-based mediums such as watercolour paints. If you plan on combining these mediums, we’d recommend using a watercolour paper. Since the layering ability of alcohol-based markers makes it tricky to create a smooth block of colour, it’s good to have some watercolour paints up your sleeve.


Before we wrap this up, our final tip is to just have some fun experimenting with your markers and exploring different effects! Feel free to share your artworks by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook so that we can see what you’ve created!