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The Watcher
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Registered: 12-2008
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Marker Comparison (WIP)


Reposting this from my post over at Scoundrel (been looking for new marker brands, because I love experimenting). I was asked to compare the brands I have tried. I say "WIP" because I will be updating this as necessary.

"Prismas and Copics do play well together, IMO emoticon Here's that review I said I'd work on. It's not super comprehensive, but should give you a pretty good idea, comparatively:

Prismacolors
These are the markers that most people start with. There’s not too much to say about them. They have a decent variety of colors (156 at last count). And honestly, I’ll probably always have some of these, even though I’m trying to move onto higher end markers. They’re very vibrant, and the colors lay down smoothly. They have a broad nib (that flares out a little near the base, so they’re not a typical chisel point). They also have a bullet nib, which is handy for the smaller details (and likely the end you’ll use most). They blend decently, but not great. The biggest fault in these markers is the naming system. There’s no real “organization”, so finding the right blends/gradations can be troublesome with these. And don’t let the names fool you. You may think “Light Cerulean Blue” and “Cerulean Blue” are a great match, but I can tell you, you’ll find much better blends in the differently named colors like “Slate Blue” and “Periwinkle”. The price on average is about 2 dollars a marker. These are alcohol based, and a good start to learning. Dick Blick has their own brand of Studio markers that are direct competitors to Prismacolors, and about 2/3rds the price, so you might want to start there if you’re unsure (although I have no experience with the DB markers, so I can’t say how close they are to Prismacolors).

Letraset Tria
These markers are kind of an inbetween from Prismacolors to Copics. They are refillable (via a replacement cartridge), and you can replace the nibs. The first batch of the ‘new design’ (about 2 years ago) turned out to be faulty. The nibs aren’t the best. The ink flow from the cartridges can be a little uneven (so even though I normally recommend storing markers on their sides, with these I’d recommend picking a tip and storing the markers that tip down, to maximize flow). They have a typical chisel nib, and a brush nib. The brush nib has a bad habit of drying out at the tip, and actually falling off. Now, I’m talking on a marker that I use minimally, so I can pretty much guarantee it’s nib quality rather than simply a case of ‘needing to replace the nib due to normal usage’. The best thing about these markers are the numbering system. They original set was “Pantone Trias”, but I don’t know if the Letraset Trias (the newer version) is also fully pantone compatible. Even so, each color has a letter, and each marker under that letter set is numbered in succession of value, making them a LOT easier to match up (and find blending mates). However, I don’t have enough markers from this set to actually determine how well they blend with each other (I mostly got several markers for fill ins). They are also alcohol based, but for some reason act differently with certain pens (outlining/inking) than Prismas and Copics (also alcohol based, and react pretty much the same way to pens). Trias tend to bleed line art more than most marker brands given the same amount of drying time for the line art. If you decide to use these, give yourself more drying time for your line art. They are mid ranged markers, around [sign in to see URL] each. I honestly can’t recommend these except for some fill in colors, but if you do want to upgrade from Prismacolors, but can’t afford the Copics, these are not the worst alternative.

Copics
I was tempted to leave these for last, since most people would agree that these are practically the end all-be all of markers. Kind of hard to disagree. The Copic Sketch markers have a chisel tip and a brush tip (the wide markers have a super wide chisel tip, the Ciao also have a chisel and brush tip, but are smaller and round, and the originals have a chisel and bullet tip). ALL types of copic markers are refillable, and the nibs are replaceable. They are a high end marker (usually running around 4-6 dollars each), and the refills cost the same as the marker. However, you get *nine* markers worth of refills from one refill. So for the price of 2 markers, you get 10 markers worth (not including nib replacement). These markers blend like nobody’s business, too. You can blend light to dark, or dark to light. What I like best about the blending is, you can add color to the shadow tones. It’s just the way the ink works with them, the lighter color can displace the darker tone just enough to add color to the shade, but not muddy it up. The brush tip has a nice amount of give, but it’s still strong (so you get great control over them). This is a Japanese made marker, and it really is tops. The organization system is decent. Not the best, but not horrible. Again, each color gets a letter/name, and a number. However the numbers don’t quite go in tonal succession. Granted the values are close numerically, so you don’t have to go nuts trying to find a good shade to blend with (just look within a few numbers, higher or lower), but there are some that seem to change abruptly (a suddenly significantly darker shade than the color before or after it, numerically in the order). The biggest downside is the initial financial layout (nothing says you have to get the marker AND the refill all at once, you can hold onto the markers until you can get the refill, plus they do have empty markers that you can actually create your own colors with). I highly recommend these.

Neopiko Deleter
Another Japanese made marker, and contrary to what some retailers would like you to believe, these are NOT designed to be direct competitors to Copics. Although I’m fairly certain Trias are not big in Japan, these would basically be in between Prismacolors and Trias. They are similar in size, shape and design to the Copic Ciao’s (round, chisel tip and brush tip). They clock in (price wise) at just a bit more than Prismacolors. Nothing is replaceable (except the entire marker, which is pretty standard at that price). They aren’t horrible, but take a little getting used to. For smooth color laydown, you pretty much MUST use the chisel tip. The brush tip is more flexible than the Copic brush tips, and you can get some nice painterly effect with it (makes for good blendable shading, but you need a solid base underneath it, because the brush tip doesn’t cover larger areas well). Store these on their sides, because you will be using both ends interchangeably. They are harder to get in the US, but I would recommend these. They blend better than Prismacolors, IMO, and really aren’t that bad (if you remind yourself that they are not meant to compete with Copics). And the price is pretty good, even for imported markers.

Tombow
Tombows are water based markers. They are fairly long, have a brush tip, and a bullet tip (but their bullet tip is a little thicker than the typical bullet tip). The problem with water based ink is it’s nearly impossible to get a smooth color laydown. The paper you use it on is important for the color laydown (even or ‘textured’). They don’t really blend well (with each other, and definitely with other markers). They’re reasonably priced (on par with Prismacolors), and work best for sketching with minimal coloring (like maybe just using them to shade a darker area, rather than a full on coloring job). The black Tombow marker is great for doing convention sketches emoticon I’d recommend these for limited usage, but not for full coloring jobs.

Chartpak
These are the juiciest of the juiciest. I used to use these to color the backgrounds of full sized (11x17) comic pages for my first semi-pro gig. These are one of the few markers that can actually cause photocopy linework to bleed. They bleed more than the Spartans in “300”. You cannot do small details with these. But they lay down color great, and with the right colors can blend nicely. So I still use them for backgrounds (even on sketchcards!) But because of the bleeding, you need to ‘dab’ them a lot (just dab near the outline, and it’ll bleed up to the line art if you do it right). Like with Prismacolors, the tonal system is anyone’s guess. They go by names, and you really just have to experiment to see what colors blend. They are priced similar to the Trias (about [sign in to see URL] each), and it’s not bad to have a few colors on hand for backgrounds or other large areas (like if you’re doing a lot of space scenes, they cover large areas fast). They also stink even worse than sharpies. So ventilation is important!

ShinHan
ShinHan’s are Korean art markers. They are square-ish in body shape, and have a chisel tip and a bullet tip. Again, nothing is replaceable except the marker itself. My experience is a bit limited with them (I only have the primary 12 color set and the Blue Gray/Green Gray set). I will say that the color it lays down is a lot darker than the color on the marker, so be aware of that. They are priced similar to Chartpaks and Trias. They have some more unique colors, which works for fill ins, and they blend pretty well with each other, and decently with other markers. So I can’t really recommend these for other than the unique colors. (btw, that darker color laydown also makes them bleed through the paper a bit more, although they don’t seem to bleed out any worse than Prismas or Copics).

Pitt Brush Pens
These are also water based, and the same style as the black brush pens that Pitt basically made the brush pen market viable several years back. They really don’t blend well, but they’re *great* for small details. Unfortunately, the price has been going up on these for the past year and a half. They started at just over a dollar each, now they’re closer to 2 bucks apiece. They are European in make (I forget where specifically) and the prices started going up with gas and import fees increasing (at least, that’s what I was lead to believe). They have only 48 colors, and honestly I’d only recommend these if you’re going to buy the set. They’re not really that worthwhile just buying a few markers here and there, as they can’t cover larger areas well. Some people recommend them for using manual color holds (ie colored outlines instead of a normal black outline), and while I agree, again, I say get the set, because you don’t know what color you’re going to need when for just such a thing. If you do color larger areas, they have a grainy texture to them, seemingly despite whatever paper stock you’re coloring on. The tips are pretty good, too.

TriArt
(I’m reposting this blurb from an email I sent to the retailer, they asked me to give an assessment of the markers):
“The biggest problem is that they're [sign in to see URL] have three sections. A brush, broad, and a fine/bullet tip. Only thing is, each section is like a third of the marker, so unless you're using the broad tip, the marker itself is easily a couple of inches longer than a copic or any other marker. This makes it a tad unwieldy. The color itself doesn't lay down too badly, but I have yet to test the full blendability of these markers (see above comment about lack of proper colors), and compare them to Copics or the Neopiko Deleter markers (which blend wonderfully, IMO).
Triart markers are refillable, and made to be direct competitors to the copics (as opposed to the DickBlick markers which are targeting prismacolors). I'd say you get the same value from them as you do Copics (1 marker + 1 refill = cost of 2 markers, but you get about 9 markers worth out of them), only they are a little cheaper (about 6 dollar layout as opposed to 8-10). Only thing is, the tips do wear down, so you'll have to take that potential cost into account as well.”
These are another Japanese marker, and they ARE a direct competitor to Copics, so take what you will of the review.

Pantone Universe
These have got to be the oddest shaped markers. They have a larger brush tip, and a bullet tip similar in size to the Tombow bullet tip. But the marker itself is rectangular, and it tapers towards the bullet tip end. The coloring system is ridiculous. Everything has a pretty name, and a fanciful description. IE “ALASKA BLUE; clean, soft, heavenly”. It’s a nice cerulean shade of blue. All the colors are like that, with the added (but totally useless, and in some cases even laughable) descriptors. However, don’t let that fool you. The markers blend excellently (I need more colors to get a better feel, as most of what I have are close enough tonally to blend well), and the color laydown is excellent. They are a little over 3 dollars each, and nothing is replaceable. I’d like to futz around with them more before I can definitely recommend them or not, but I like them a lot better than Tria’s already. The color laid down versus the colors on the markers are a little off, but nothing nearly as bad as the shinhans. They don’t bleed through or out really either. The worst things about these so far, is their numbering system, and small details are a bit tricky (you’ll wind up using the brush tip, but it’s not a really small brush tip, so it takes a little getting used to.

Added 09/13/09:
Zig Kurecolor:
Another alcohol based marker. The color range is a little limited (it has 106 colors, but skin tones seem to really suffer in this set. I bought 5 of the colors that would be the main core of skin tones in this set, and they're just too dark for the most part). However, these markers blend probably better than any of the others. Or at least as good as copics. They have two tips, a bullet tip and a wide nib (the bullet nib is identical to Prismacolors bullet nib, and the wide nib is identical to the Tria wide nib). The price is about [sign in to see URL], and they are refillable, and the nibs are replaceable. These markers hold a LOT of ink (they are a little shorter than most markers, but they're a lot bigger around). That girth is their biggest shortcoming. My hands aren't small, but they're not large either (they are fairly meaty though), and they take some getting used to to hold. If you have small hands, I don't think you'd be comfortable at all (I just barely can hold them comfortably, I can't imagine someone with smaller hands trying to use them). The ink covers beautifully, and they don't smell which is nice. I could have done with a third, even a quarter less ink if it meant tightening up the girth of these markers. Still, for the smooth color laydown and the refillability, I'm going to pick up some more. They also have a couple of colors that I previously could only find in older sets (the "Dawn Grey" is almost identical to the old Design 2 "Steel" color, which was one of my favorite unique colors and I'm glad to have found a 'new' version emoticon The colors are fairly vibrant, on par with with the Prismacolors (although Prismas have better flesh tones).
]Color list/order form.
]Info on the replacement nibs and ink refills.



I did leave out some of the above mentioned markers like the Design brands, because they’re out of production a long time now. Although if they weren’t, I’d still be using the Design2 markers emoticon
I hope this was comprehensive enough. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask."


When I say further questions, I don't just mean of the markers themselves, but "peripheral" accoutrements (like different types of lining pens, and drawing markers, and marker interactions, etc).


Last edited by Autonymous Rex, 9/13/2009, 4:27 pm


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9/4/2009, 5:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Autonymous Rex   Send PM to Autonymous Rex MSN Yahoo Messenger
 
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Time to ROCK!
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Registered: 12-2008
Posts: 355
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Re: Marker Comparison (WIP)


Little note on the copics. I don't know why but refilling doesn't last as long as getting a fresh marker. I noticed this with C01. I've used a new one for 2 months straight til it was time for a refill. I filled it to capacity. Less then 2 weeks later it needed another refill. Plenty of juice for refills (probably an eight of the bottle is gone in almost 3 weeks time). I did have to replace the brush nib.

I've found myself preferring to just get a new marker. Comes with a new nib and fresh ink.

Funny no one mentioned this all too me but then I got a bit observant and noticed that most people using them end up just buying new ones altogether.

I like em for their brush tip. The multiliners are nice too (though I'd like to see more colors).
9/11/2009, 5:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to GeoArt   Send PM to GeoArt
 
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The Watcher
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Re: Marker Comparison (WIP)


Sounds to me like you over filled the reservoir. Refill bottles hold 25cc's of ink. Copic sketch markers only hold 3 cc's. It sounds like you put too much, which will cause a lot of extra ink outside the reservoir (but inside the body of the marker) and it dries up and gets sticky, so you're only getting a little of the ink that didn't dry out in the reservoir. Rule of thumb: Only use about 10 drops to refill your marker. It's not a full refill, but it's the most effective refill to usage ratio. It'll still last awhile between refills also.

Also keep in mind, the lighter colors tend to *seem* to dry out quicker, but that's not really the case.

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9/12/2009, 6:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to Autonymous Rex   Send PM to Autonymous Rex MSN Yahoo Messenger
 
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The Watcher
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Re: Marker Comparison (WIP)


Added a new note on another brand.

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9/13/2009, 4:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to Autonymous Rex   Send PM to Autonymous Rex MSN Yahoo Messenger
 


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