Coloring With Audrey: My Favorite Markers & Basic Techniques

Hello Citizens of The Blogosphere,

If you follow me on social media, you probably already know that I just released my second coloring book, Desert Dames & DoodlesThis collection of illustrations is inspired by the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. It has been a long-standing dream of mine to create a coloring book and I’m overjoyed by the fact that I now have two under my belt.


When I first started coloring, I used crayons and colored pencils exclusively. Over time, I learned that markers were a great option for creating vibrant coloring masterpieces. Today, I will share my thoughts on different types of markers and give you some basic tips & techniques for coloring with alcohol based markers.  This is the second installment of my Coloring with Audrey series. If you’d like to read about my favorite colored pencils and basic coloring techniques, you can read last week’s post here.

Beware of The Paper Eatersannotated audrey markers.jpg

I’m not really a snob when it comes to art supplies. I’m a big fan of making the most of what I have on hand. However, sometimes there are just certain things that I don’t compromise on. One of those things is markers. For the most part, I have one fairly simple rule when it comes to markers.

I  NEVER use water-based markers. (almost)

Here’s why…water based markers eat paper. On the right, you’ll see a simple demonstration of my point. As you can see, not only are the alcohol based markers richer in color, they also layer and blend a lot better than the water-based markers. I’m not sure if you can tell from the swatches, but the water-based markers actually pulled up particles of paper. In fact, there were even chunks of paper left on the marker after I colored the swatch. And it’s not just this particular brand… every water based marker I’ve tried does this to a degree.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re only using one layer to color your pictures, water-based markers are fine. However, if you’re like me and you use multiple layers on your pictures then water-based markers are not the best choice.

My Only Exception

jakie-aaThe only time I like to use water- based markers is when I’m coloring small areas or adding details to a piece. I recently purchased some very fine tipped water-based coloring pens and I really love them for detailed or intricate coloring. Since these markers have such a fine tip, they kind of straddle the line between marker and pen. However, I consider them to be markers as they contain the same type of ink that a marker would. As you might have guessed, since these marker-pen hybrids contain water-based ink… they will eat your paper if you go heavy on the layers. Nonetheless, if you have a detailed image like this one, having thin markers or pens will actually make it easier to color inside the lines.  (Buy these markers/coloring pens in my shop here.)

Now, let’s move on to alcohol based markers, shall we?

Alcohol Based Markers

As their name suggests, alcohol based markers are markers that have an alcohol base rather than a water base. This means that they dry more quickly and thus can be blended or layered on top of one another. Alcohol based markers are typically more expensive than water based markers, but in my opinion… they are worth it. In addition to the improved quality of the marker, they also give you the opportunity to play with some really fun techniques.

Without any further ado, here are three of my favorite brands of alcohol based markers.

Bic Marking Permanent Fine Point Markers abby-colored

Bic Marking permanent markers are alcohol based markers that fall somewhere in between a
Sharpie and a Copic Marker. They come in a variety of line widths, but my favorite to use in my coloring books are the fine point markers. While they are sold individually in Bic’s online shop for around $1 per marker, you can typically find a pack of 36 in most drug stores for around $25. As you will see, this is very affordable in comparison to the other alcohol based markers I will be discussing in this post. Generally, Bic Markings are my favorite budget friendly option and I would even go as far as saying that I prefer them to more expensive brands. (Click here to visit BIC’s website.) 

Copic Sketch Markers

The Desert Dweller By Audrey De La Cruz

Copic markers are some of the most popular art markers out there and for good reason. They are smooth, come in a huge variety of colors and are very fun to use. Copic Sketch markers are dual ended with a brush tip on one side and a chisel tip on the other. My favorite part about these markers is the brush tip because it allows for a smooth application of ink. This is especially wonderful when coloring skin. The image to the right was colored using Copic Sketch Markers.

I absolutely love Copics, but I hate how expensive they are. A set of these markers can be very pricey, and a single marker will run you about $7. One benefit to these markers is that they are refillable, which makes them a good investment if you plan on doing a lot of professional coloring. Since they are so expensive, I would recommend maybe buying 1-2 colors to see if you like them before buying a complete set. Overall, Copic markers are my favorite marker for coloring skin and other elements that require a subtle (watercolor like) application of color. (Click here to visit the Copic website.)

Spectrum Noir Markers

Jane from the Desert Dames & Doodles Coloring Book

Spectrum Noir markers are more of a crafter’s marker. They are vibrant, fairly affordable and great for crafting and coloring. They are similar to Copics in that they are alcohol based and have a variety of different colors to choose from (although, not as many). You can find these markers individually for around $3 each (, in color family packs of 6 for around $11, or in larger sets.  I really like the color family packs because you can buy a set of markers that will automatically blend well with one another. Moreover, just like Copics, these markers are refillable, which makes them an even greater value.  Due to the quality and characteristics of these markers, I would say that they make a fairly decent Copic alternative.  (Click here to visit the Spectrum Noir website.)

 Now that I’ve shared my favorite brands of alcohol markers, here are 5 basic tips for using alcohol based markers in your coloring books.

5 Basic Tips & Techniques for Coloring With Alcohol Based Markers

  1. Alcohol based markers often bleed through paper. To keep pages clean, place several sheets of paper (or cardstock) in between the page you are coloring and the next.
  2. Use small circular strokes to apply ink smoothly onto your paper.
  3. Don’t be afraid to saturate the paper with ink. As long as you don’t go crazy, good alcohol based markers will dry quickly enough to handle the layers.
  4. Take advantage of color families. Blend multiple markers in the same color family to create a more dynamic and multi-dimensional look.
  5. Use a colorless blender to lighten or remove color. You can create some really interesting effects by taking color away.

Just like with colored pencils, it’s hard for me to decide which of these markers is my favorite because they all have different uses. Similarly, they all work great in combination with one another. Generally,  I prefer to use alcohol based markers over water-based markers because they are nice and bright and they won’t eat my paper. Like with all things, knowing when to use a certain product or tool is key to making the process easier and more fun. As I always say, just buy the best quality product that you can afford and have fun.

Thanks so much for following my creative journey!

XO, Audrey

If you’d like to support my art and content, you can purchase my artwork from my online shop.


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