Sunday, May 01, 2016

Revisiting: Crayola Supertip Markers on Watercolor Paper

In the past few months, I've really cranked up the number of waterbased markers I've reviewed on this blog.  I know a few of you probably wonder why, as they have a mediocre reputation among artists and illustrators, but I have a hunch that for many of these markers, it's all in the paper you use.  Regular paper like sketchbook paper and cardstocks aren't designed to stand up to the combination of stiff nibs and repeated application of (relatively slow) drying waterbased inks, so I decided to beef up my paper selection, and reached for a wood pulp watercolor paper- Fluid's cold press watercolor blocks.  Cotton watercolor papers are great for actual watercolors- soft and absorptive, but I thought the stiff nibs of the Crayola Supertips I'm testing in this post would tear that surface up.  Woodpulp watercolor paper like Canson's cheaper options (Montval, Biggie) and Fluid watercolor pads are not always idea for painting on, but I thought they could better stand up to those non-flexible Supertips.

Since writing this post, I've also reviewed Up and Up's Supertip markers, and using cold press, cellulose based watercolor paper has now become a regular feature in my waterbased reviews.

Materials Used in this Post

The Field Test

I was a chicken and used the watercolor marker technique (covered in my original Crayola marker review!) of applying color to Kara's skin, but promised myself that I would dive right in on applying marker directly to the paper for everything else.

 Surprisingly, the watercolor paper handles the marker quite well- if you apply deliberate, slow strokes, the paper doesn't show any streaking!  I know Walmart sells Canson's watercolor paper, maybe that is the key to applying waterbased markers in a professional way.

 If you can work quickly enough, you can get a streak free application of color.

  If you give your marker sufficient drying time, you can even layer the waterbased marker without paper surface abrasion. I even became brave and applied a skintone on top of my original skintone application, as a dark shadow, and it looks ok.  Keep in mind that while you can layer markers, you can't BLEND them except with water, but that's a technique I've already covered.  You can mix the techniques, but make sure your paper is totally dry before you apply marker directly to paper.  Since blending marker to marker isn't really an option with the Crayola Supertips, I highly recommend you work closely with your swatch sheet, and make sure your colors match.

 Large areas will show some streaking, although its not nearly as bad as on smooth papers like marker paper, sketchbook paper, or cardstock.  I recommend working in sections and working carefully if streaking is an issue for you.  You can ease color transitions if you apply your basecolor first, allow it to dry, apply your shadow, and then go back with the base color, but keep in mind that with every layer you add, you're darkening your color.

Unlike on sketchbook paper, cardstock, or even marker paper, you can layer without pilling on wood pulp watercolor paper because the surface is strong enough to take a little scrubbing.  Make sure you allow your layers to dry before applying another coat, or your paper will pill due to abrasion from the stiff Supertip.

If you are careful and deliberate, you can also do a little bit of blending out, by using your original color on top of your new color, you can ease the transition between the two colors.

I thought the piece looked a little blank without a background wash, so I tried to apply one after everything was finished.

This can be a big mistake, as adding water, especially from a waterbrush, will reactivate other layers of ink you've put down.

Fortunately, it cleans up easily with a paper towel if you can work fast.

It's better to apply the marker wider than you normally would for watercolor markers, then SPARINGLY (and I mean, wipe all the water out of the brush of your waterbrush first) apply water away from the main figure.

waterbased markers, using waterbased markers for illustration

I recommend you do your water-based blending first, because doing it at the end will reactivate colors you've already put down, and make a big mess.  I'd switched to a waterbrush to apply a blue background, and it lays down WAY too much water (even if I try to dry the tip out a bit), so I do not recommend using a Pentel travel waterbrush for applying washes at the end of your waterbased marker rendering session.

The Verdict

On watercolor paper, these waterbased markers are actually pretty fun to render with, and are far less likely to give you fume headaches the way prolonged exposure to Copics sometimes can.  Yes, streaking is still an issue, although far less of an issue than it was on marker paper or cardstock.  I realize some of my readers might not have wood pulp based watercolor paper laying around, but I know Canson's cheaper offerings, like their Biggie pads, are wood pulp, and might be worth playing around with if you enjoy using waterbased markers.

More on this blog about Crayola Markers

If you're interested in waterbased markers as an alternative to alcohol based markers, consider reading these watercolor marker reviews as well:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Alcohol Marker Review: Peter Pauper Alcohol Markers from Barnes and Noble

I was tipped off about these markers through a Tumblr ask, so of course I had to investigate.  Barnes and Noble alcohol markers?  Way too intriguing for me to not check out.  I appreciate the tip, and if you guys have any more products I need to check out, feel free to drop me a line however you're most comfortable. 

Posts like these are funded in part by the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon, as well as through generous donations to the PayPal tip jar in my sidebar.  If you enjoy these alcohol marker reviews, please consider either joining the Nattosoup community by becoming a Patron, or making a one time donation to the Paypal tip jar to help offset the costs of maintaining a review blog.  As almost always, this post was NOT sponsored, and was paid for entirely out of my pocket.

The Stats:

These markers are officially sold as Peter Pauper's Studio Series Professional Alcohol Markers- Dual Tip on the Peter Pauper website.

  • 23 colors and a colorless blender
  • Sold at Barnes and Noble, Amazon (cheaper price), on Peter Pauper site
  • Non refillable
  • Non replaceable nibs
  • Not available open stock
  • $39.99 at Barnes and Noble in Baton Rouge, La.

Colors Included:

Colorless Blender
Canaria Yellow
Aqua Mint
Grass Green
Pastel Blue
Cool Grey 4
Light Violet
Terra Cotta
Cool Grey .5
Cool Grey 3
Pale Cherry Pink
Cool Shadow
Prussian Blue
Emerald Green
Melon Yellow
Tender Pink
Deep Red
Pearl White
Sky Blue
Dim Green
Mauve Shadow

      The site promises:

•Case measures 4 inches wide by 6-1/2 inches high by 3-1/2 inches deep (10.2 cm wide by 16.5 cm high by 8.9 cm deep).
•Professional grade markers measure 6 inches (15 cm) long.
•Also great for Studio Series Artist's Coloring Books.
•Use with high-quality, heavyweight paper like Studio Series Premium Drawing Pads and Sketchbooks.
•Alcohol-based ink is archival, dye-based.•Works on paper, fabric, glass, wood, metal, and ceramic.
•Great for illustration, design, sketching, crafting, coloring, cartooning, and more.
•Optimal ink flow for even saturation.
•Super blendable, both before and after ink dries.
•Dual tips: fine and brush, for detail work and broad-area coverage.24 vivid colors in a versatile range.

The website also extols the virtues of alcohol markers over other types of markers, as shown below:

WHY ALCOHOL INK MARKERS? Alcohol-based inks lay down vibrant, smooth areas of color. Blend them to create beautiful shading and subtle watercolor effects. Unlike water-based markers, they won't damage the surface of your paper. They'll write on nearly anything and are made to last. They're ideal for artists and crafters of every stripe and any experience level.

The Brand

Peter Pauper specializes in affordable books for the whole family.  According to the blog:

In 1928, at the age of twenty-two, Peter Beilenson began printing books on a small press in the basement of his parents’ home in Larchmont, New York. Peter—and later, his wife, Edna—sought to create fine books that sold at “prices even a pauper could afford.”
Today, still family owned and operated, Peter Pauper Press continues to honor our founders’ legacy—and our customers’ expectations—of beauty, quality, and value.

 They have recently introduced a line of art supplies and coloring books to cash in on the coloring for therapy/meditation craze. 

The Packaging

Peter Pauper's Studio Alcohol Markers come in a reusable hard plastic case with a clear plastic cap.

Barnes and Nobel markers, alcohol markers, peter pauper

The case outlines the markers attributes and has an illustration of the two tips- a bullet nib and a brush nib.  The brush nib is really what intrigued me the most- I have never seen a cheap alcohol marker with a brush nib, let alone a decent brush nib. 

The package promises that these markers are:
  • Blendable
  • Vivid
  • Alcohol Ink
  • Dye Based
  • Archival

And explains why the consumer should try alcohol markers.  This text is the same as that from the website.

Once the tape disks were removed, it was difficult to keep the clear plastic top on the body- it never firmly snapped on, and it meant that the markers were liable to spill everywhere if slightly upset.  This case is meant for desktop use, and you'll need to tape the top on securely for travel.

These markers claim to be professional grade, with optimal ink flow for saturation.

The interior of the case has divisions to hold the markers securely in place, and markers can be displayed upright (not recommended by this blog) or horizontally (the proper orientation for marker storage).

The Markers

The bodies of the markers are very similar to the Shang Hai Touch markers I reviewed awhile back.

The body is screened with Non Toxic, Conforms to ASTM D-4236
Made in China

The caps include color names and families, although I'm not sure why the numbers are necessary, as I haven't seen larger sets available.

The brush nib is made of fiber rather than rubber foam.

Left to Right:  Peter Pauper marker, Prismacolor marker, Winsor and Newton Brushmarker

Top to bottom: Winsor and Newton Brushable Marker, Prismacolor Marker, Peter Pauper Marker

The Swatch Test

The set includes two good Caucasian skintones, several pastels useful for shading, a couple good darker skintones, and several vibrant colors.  All in all, not a bad selection for 23 colors and a colorless blender.

The Field Test

Sadly, the fiber brush tip does not take use, much less abuse, and begins to fray almost immediately.

That said, colors layer well, and react to the colorless blender almost too well, so be careful with your colorless blender application.

Unlike the Kuretake Kurecolor markers and the Winsor and Newton Promarkers and Brushmarkers, you can easily layer the same color for deeper saturation, which extends the value of each marker.

The only color I had difficultly layering was the aqua used for the dress- it was pretty much as saturated as it was going to get.  Although this isn't a neon, I've noticed the same issue with neons regardless of brands.

The bullet nib tends to bleed out pretty badly, which made my flowers look blobby, but this would be an issue with most markers as the ink is absorbed by the paper.

These markers bled through to the back of my thick Strathmore Mixed Media paper, but did not ruin the following page.

The Field Test (coloring books)

The following samples were provided by Denise Hillburn for use in this review. After my tests, I gifted her with my markers, as she enjoys meditating with coloring books.

These markers were sold next to the colored pencils and coloring books in Barnes and Noble, but they are not coloring book friendly, as they bleed through even thick pages, ruining double sided pages and sometimes even the following page.

The Verdict

Despite the brush tips mushiness and inability to handle fine details, these marker's aren't bad for their price.  The colors are fairly vibrant, you get a decent selection, and the skintones layer well.  The greens don't layer nearly as well, so it was difficult to build up contrast in the dress, and the fumes made these markers unpleasant to render with for long periods of time.

While I don't recommend these markers over other brands like Copic, Prismacolor, or Blick Studio Brush, if you are given these markers, or have already purchased these markers, there are ways you can make them work for you until you're able to replace them.

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.