Coloring has become a very popular pastime among commuters, holidaymakers, and folks who simply want to start a creative hobby. That said, no matter what your reason is, you should be using quality markers to ensure you get the most out of the experience.
Whilst there are plenty of affordable, well-made coloring pens out there, the problem is knowing where to look and how to choose between so many options. To make life easier, we’ve put together this guide to help you discover your perfect marker. Take a look below to learn more…
At a Glance – Our Choice of the Best Markers for Adult Coloring Books
- Arteza Real Brush Pens
- Copic Ciao Art Markers (Best Premium)
- Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Markers
- Ultra Fine Point Sharpies
- Tombow 56167 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers (Best Budget)
- Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen
- Sakura’s Koi Colorless Blender Set
- ColorIt Dual Tip Art Markers
- Prismacolor Markers
Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.
Key Considerations – How to Choose the Right Markers
Marker pens use liquids that are either water-based or alcohol-based. Alcohol-based markers produce bright, vivid colors but dry quickly and can produce an artificial smell, which can be off-putting.
Water-based markers take longer to dry, are easy to blend, and don’t produce a smell. The disadvantage, however, is that they can take some time to master and you are more likely to smudge them.
Overall, novices are best off starting on alcohol-based markers, whereas experienced artists will usually prefer water-based pens for blending ability.
Bleed through is when the ink or dye leaks through your paper onto other pages and is, unfortunately, a common problem even among quality markers.
To avoid this, make sure to use a coloring book with thick paper and single-sided drawings. To be extra safe you can also place a piece of thick paper between the pages you’re coloring in, to stop the color transferring onto other images.
Shape of Barrel
The barrel’s shape is so important when it comes to coloring, especially if you’re going to draw for long sessions. It’s best to choose a marker that is thick with a rounded triangular stem so that your hand can grip and wrap around it comfortably.
Some markers do not blend well, no matter whether you use water or alcohol-based pigments. For this reason, you should try and use a pen that can achieve gradients and shading if you are thinking of blending colors.
Product Round-up and Reviews – Best Markers for Adult Coloring Books
Arteza Real Brush Pens
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The best aspect of Arteza’s set of Real Brush Pens has to be the number of colors you get considering the mid-range price. In total, there are 96 watercolor markers included, which can be used with water to create light, delicate designs, or without water for bolder pictures. This can take a little time to master, as it involves using a completely different technique to standard coloring. On the plus side, the ink itself is non-toxic and odorless, so you can work away worry-free.
Another great feature are the flexible, brush-like tips that are constructed from tough nylon. This material gives the artist lots of control and enables them to draw seamless, fine detail as well as thicker strokes. The only disadvantage we could find was that the marker tips tend to be slightly irregular. Some are longer than others, which can catch you off guard and affect your drawing if you’re not careful. That said, you can always trim longer sections down.
Overall, we’d recommend Arteza’s Real Brush kit to anyone that wants a wide range of blendable colors to work with. That said, it might take a little time to get used to using the watercolor technique, so be prepared for taking on a new challenge.
- Versatile – These watercolor markers produce lighter blends and prominent bold colors.
- Flexible tips – The durable, nylon tips will last and are capable of drawing thin and thick strokes.
- Bargain – You get 96 markers in total, which is a lot considering the mid-range price tag.
- Tip lengths can vary, which might affect your drawing.
- Using water to blend colors is a completely different technique to standard drawing. So, be prepared to spend some time practicing this new art.
Copic Ciao Art Markers
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Copic’s Art Marker set has a high price tag, but you get some incredible quality for the extra dollar. Interestingly, the manufacturers first designed these pens for Japanese Manga Artists, but they are now used by creatives and pros across the world.
The best aspect, however, has to be the marker’s rich pigment and smooth blending ability. The ink itself is alcohol-based but odor-free and non-toxic, so you don’t need to worry about safety. As well as this, you can re-wet the ink and color with it years after you applied it, so long as you use uncoated paper!
In total, you get 72 different colored pens that are refillable. So, if you care for these markers and replace the nibs every so often, they will be durable enough to last a lifetime. As well as this, every marker is double-ended, featuring a brush nib for smooth blending and an angled nib for fine lines and detail.
The only downside is that the brush tip is squishy and mastering fine lines with the angled tip can be a challenge for novices. For this reason, we’d recommend Copic’s marker kit to experienced artists that need a durable pen with fantastic blending capacity.
- Refillable – If you look after these brushes by replacing the nibs, you’ll be able to use them for years.
- Quality pigment – The colors blend easily and can be subtle or bold depending on your preferences.
- Dual-ended – The brush and angled ends provide artistic versatility.
- Pricey – You’ll need to save up some extra cash to afford this kit.
- Takes practice – The brush and angled tip takes some skill to use.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Markers
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Staedtler’s Fineliner Markers are one of the most affordable options on the market and make a great option for beginners. In total, you get 36 water-based pens in a variety of colors. Their best feature is the very fine, 0.3mm tip that is protected by metal cladding, for coloring very detailed pieces. Staedtler have also ensured that the ink is safe, mess-free and that it won’t bleed through your paper, to ensure that using them is as convenient as possible.
In terms of handling, the Fineliner Markers are comfortable to use for long sessions thanks to the ergonomic, triangular shaft. As well as this, Staedtler have included a clever dry safe mechanism, which means that uncapped pens won’t dry out. The only downside was that we found the colors a little dark and that they didn’t completely match up with the caps or the guide. So, if you buy this set, you might want to organize them by adding labels or color coordinating them to make it easier to select the right one.
In summary, we’d recommend Staedtler’s kit to beginners that want a set of markers that will be great for fine detail. They aren’t really built for filling in larger areas, but for the low cost, you certainly get a lot of color variety and precision.
- Affordable – This kit won’t break your bank balance.
- Fine tip – The marker tips are 0.3mm for precision coloring.
- Dry safe technology – You can leave the lids uncapped without having to worry about your pens drying out overnight.
- Caps don’t match up with the pen color, which can be annoying.
- Colors are quite dark and not as pigmented as other designs.
Ultra Fine Point Sharpies
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Sharpie’s kit is another affordable option that provides some quality features. The best aspect has to be the pen’s intense, permanent pigment, which is capable of coloring on plastic and metal, as well as paper. The tips are also pretty fine, so you’ll be able to draw with some precision. That said, these markers use alcohol-based ink, which does bleed and puddle slightly if you leave the pen touching paper for long enough. This isn’t too much of a problem if you use a sheet of thick paper underneath the area you’re coloring.
In terms of build, Sharpie has kept the design simple, the pens are fairly thick and cylindrical, so feel comfortable so long as you have a break every 20 minutes or so. In total, you get 24 pens of which five are unique ‘Color Burst’ so you can try out some unique pigments if you wish. The disadvantage was that the alcohol produces an artificial smell and that the color-coded caps don’t have a label. This can make organization tricky, but for the price, the ink is so vibrant Sharpie’s kit is still good value for money.
Overall, anyone that wants to work on a variety of materials and get really bright, bold colors will like this kit. Just remember, they feature permanent setting inks, so work well away from anything you don’t want to leave stains on.
- Bright, vivid, eye-catching pigments.
- Can permanently color metals, plastic, leather as well as paper.
- Fine tips for extra detailed drawing.
- The pigments bleed through even thick paper.
- The alcohol-based ink smells quite strong.
- No color labels makes organizing this kit a little difficult.
Tombow 56167 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers
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Tombow’s Dual Brush Marker set is another great kit with a low price tag. The best feature has to be the dual-ended, nylon tips. One is a brush style nib, for larger strokes, whilst the other is fine liner for areas that need precision. The ink itself is water-based and you can add extra water onto your pigments to create a light, blending effect with the brush tip. It’s also non-toxic and smell-free so you won’t be put off whilst you draw.
Tombow have included a blender pen which is great if you like to create color gradients or similar effects to watercolor painting. That said, you can blend with the brush end of the pens too, thanks to them being able to self-clean after use! The caps even feature a clever, anti-roll design, to reduce the risk of knocking them off your workbench. In terms of build, the stems are cylindrical and fairly thick, making them comfortable to work with for short to medium bursts.
The bad side is that the brush end of each marker is quite delicate and can fray if you press down hard or use it on rough watercolor paper. As well as this, the caps are color-coded but aren’t labeled, so organizing your set can be a little tricky. Overall, this set is a great option for anyone that wants to be able to blend colors in a watercolor style and draw fine detail. For the price, it’s worth Towbow’s markers are definitely worth trying out.
- Blendable – You can blend the colors easily or use a paintbrush to mix pigments.
- Dual-ended – The nylon brush tip and fine line nib make these pens versatile.
- Self-cleaning – Simply wipe the ends of the brush with a tissue after blending to clean them.
- Tricky for children and beginners – Blending the colors to get a watercolor effect takes a bit of practice.
- Delicate tips – The brush end frays if you use it to color watercolor paper.
Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen
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Faber-Castell’s kit has a mid-range price tag and includes 24, PITT artist pens that contain India Ink. The best feature has to be pigment quality, which is light and water-resistant as well as odor-free and permanent. It’s worth mentioning that the ink itself will also last for years, thanks to the shafts being constructed from protective polypropylene. This material is environmentally friendly too, which is a nice touch if you’re an eco-warrior!
The marker’s tips are also well-designed, in that they are flexible enough to achieve wider strokes and smaller details. The only downside we’ve noticed was that although the colors are vibrant and bright, they don’t blend particularly well even if you add some extra water after drawing. The other concern we should mention is that rough materials, like watercolor paper, tend to soften the nylon tip. So try to use smoother varieties where possible.
In summary, Faber-Castell’s kit will suit artists that want quality, vibrant pigments for block coloring, rather than watercolor-type effects. The flexible tips make these markers a great choice for anime fans, or if you want to try some calligraphy, a great alternative to buying a calligraphy starter kit.
- Vibrant colors – You get 24 bright and unique markers included in the set.
- Light and water-resistant – This means the pigment won’t fade or smudge once dried.
- Environmentally friendly – The pen shaft is made from polypropylene.
- Not great at blending, even with extra water.
- Tips go soft quickly if you use rough types of paper.
Sakura’s Koi Colorless Blender Set
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Sakura’s Colourless Blender Set is selling for an affordable price, considering you get 24 unique markers for your dollar. The best aspect, however, has to be the watercolor inks, which blend in really well with the other colors.
To create color gradients, you can use either the included blender pen, or you can try adding a small amount of water and spreading the dye with a paintbrush. The ink itself is also odor and mess-free, to make the creative experience as pleasant as possible.
The tips are shaped so that you can perform larger or medium strokes, as well as smaller lines for detailed sections. Sakura says that the nib is supposed to act like a brush, however, we found it’s a little tougher and more rigid than your average paintbrush. That said, being tough makes it pretty durable and able to retain its shape well.
The downside is that these markers aren’t lightfast, so they tend to fade a little once they’ve dried, especially if you leave them in the sun. The other problem was that they dry out quickly if you leave the lid off. But this isn’t a problem if you check after a drawing session.
Overall, we’d recommend this kit to beginners that want to explore water-color markers. They are a convenient way to practice, mess-free before you go out and buy really expensive equipment.
- Blend well – Use the included blender pen or water to create interesting color gradients.
- Brush tips – These allow you to perform large strokes and fine detail.
- Affordable – Sakura’s marker set won’t break your bank balance.
- Ink pigmentation fades after some time, especially if you expose it to light a lot.
- The markers dry out if you don’t keep the caps on.
ColorIt Dual Tip Art Markers
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Next up is the Dual Tip Art Marker set by ColourIt, which is currently selling for a mid-range price. In particular, we found the blending quality impressive here, considering these pens are alcohol-based, rather than water-color style. The ink itself is vibrant and permanent so that you can use the markers to color wood, glass, and metal as well as drawing paper.
Another aspect we loved was the dual-ended nibs. One is bullet-shaped for drawing fine lines and detail, then the other is chisel-shaped, so you can color large areas quickly. In terms of handling, ColourIt has designed this set to have a triangular shaft that gives you extra control and comfort as you draw. The only downside we should mention was that the color sometimes bleeds through paper and can run outside of lines if you’re not careful.
In summary, we’d recommend ColourIt’s kit to both beginners and experienced artists that want a permanent marker set that can work with a variety of materials. Considering the mid-range cost, you get quality of a similar standard to some of the top range models.
- Blendable – Despite being alcohol-based, these markers blend very well.
- Dual-ended – One end is for finer detail, the other is for coloring bigger spaces.
- Triangle grip – This is more comfortable than cylindrical-shaped pens.
- Bleeds through paper – So you’ll need to protect the other pages if you’re using a coloring book.
- Permanent ink – This isn’t really a bad thing, you’ll just need to protect areas you don’t want to accidentally stain.
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Prismacolor’s marker kit is selling for an affordable price considering you get some very vibrant inks. The dye itself is alcohol-based and produces very smooth, vivid colors that blend fairly well. The best feature, however, has to be the dual-ended nibs. One is fine, designed to handle fine detail, whilst the other is chisel shaped to color in larger areas. This saves time you’d have spent switching between pens.
One issue we found was that the ink bleeds through even the thickest types of paper, so you’ll need to place a barrier in between pages to protect your coloring books. That said, the ink is non-toxic, so you don’t need to worry about safety when you draw with Prismacolour’s kit. Just remember, that although the price is low, you only get 12 pens in the set, which is around 50% less than several other kits we’ve mentioned.
Overall, we’d recommend Prismacolour’s marker set to anyone that wants very vibrant, versatile markers that will stand out. The cost is low here considering the quality of the nibs and ink, so you won’t be disappointed.
- Bright, vivid colors that are non-toxic and alcohol-based.
- Dual-ended – One nib is fine, the other is chiseled, making these pens versatile.
- Blendable despite being alcohol-based.
- The dye is such high quality it bleeds through thick paper.
- You only get twelve markers. A lot of budget kits offer 24 for a similar price.
- The ink takes a little time to dry and is easily smeared if you’re not careful.
So, Which Should I Buy?
When it comes to purchasing the perfect marker pen set, there’s no right or wrong choice. It simply depends on what you need as an artist.
For example, if you’re shopping on a budget, then go for Tombow’s Dual Brush kit or Sharpie’s set. Both are affordable options that won’t break your bank balance. Just remember that Tombow’s kit features water-based inks, so is a little lighter and easier to blend than Sharpie’s permanent, alcohol-based pens.
Perhaps you’re a pro that wants the best quality that money can buy? If so, go for Copic’s Ciao Art Marker kit. These pens are blendable, dual-ended, and incredibly versatile, so you won’t be disappointed with your buy.
Happy coloring! 🙂