5 Tips for Using Markers
Art by Will Terrell
Markers are a blast to make art with. They can be used to create a diverse range of styles and are great for both finished art and sketching.
However, if you're newer to markers they can be intimidating because they are so permanent. Erasers don't work on them, so what you lay down on the paper is going to stay there.
Below are 5 marker tips from professional artist and Warner Bros. character & prop designer, Will Terrell. If you start watching Will's videos, you'll see 2 themes that prevail:
- Most importantly - HAVE FUN! We're making art!
- Practice, practice, practice! Try to draw something everyday and you'll get better without even realizing it.
Aside from the 2 most important tips above, below are 5 useful marker tips from Will to help you get started.
TIP 1 - FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH DIFFERENT NIBS AND MARKERS
Different brands of markers will behave differently, so familiarize yourself with the different types of markers that are out there and the different types of nibs (tips) that they have. Different tips are good for different styles & techniques. Get a scratch piece of paper and try coloring in some squares to get a feel for how the different nibs work.
- Fine Point – good for close lines & details
- Brush Tip – Good for spreading ink smoothly in a manner similar to watercolor – flexible like a brush, softer lines
- Chisel / Broad Tip – Good for large area coverage
TIP 2 - GO SLOW
The best way to get even coverage and prevent streaks is to color slowly, unless you're going for a particular look and want the markers strokes to show.
TIP 3 - TEST COLORS ON A SEPARATE SHEET BEFORE WORKING ON YOUR ART
Keep a separate sheet of the same type of paper you're working on next to you so you can test colors first before laying them down on your artwork. Keep these points in mind as you're working:
- The same color marker can look different on different types of paper. In the image below, the same marker is used on 4 different types of paper. You can see how different the color looks depending on which paper is used. This is why it's important to test the color first on the same type of paper your art is on before you use it for your art.
- With certain markers, colors can look different on paper than what you're seeing on the barrel of the marker. This is another reason why it's important to test the marker on a separate sheet first so you know what the color will actually look like when it goes down.
- Also remember that colors dry lighter than when they are first laid down. In the image below, the same marker was used for all the boxes. The boxes on the top are dry, and the boxes on the bottom are still wet.
TIP 4 - WORK FROM LIGHT TO DARK
- START LIGHT! You can always add more color and go darker, but you can't go the opposite way. Color in the lightest shades first, then build up darker colors.
- Try to plan out highlights in advance and know which areas you’re going to keep white (you can’t erase marker!)
TIP 5 - USE COLORED PENCILS TO FINALIZE DETAILS
Once you feel you’re at a good stopping point with the markers, use colored pencils to add in final details and fine lines.
We hope you enjoyed these marker tips from Will and encourage you to give it a try! Will was kind enough to provide the template for his illustration that you can print on marker paper and color in with marker for yourself! CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE TEMPLATE.
Also check out Will's video lessons from the 2016 Online Workshop that you can follow along to for free! Here's the lineup:
- Video Lesson 1: Keeping a Sketchbook
- Video Lesson 2: People Sketching
- Video Lesson 3: Coloring with Markers
- Video Lesson 4: Marker Paper Illustration